No matter what I do, I cannot protect them from all the heartaches, sadness, devastations, frustrations, and evils of this world. They will get hurt and experience pain physically, emotionally, mentally.
With all my heart, I want to protect them, keep them having to experience the hurt of someone breaking their heart, of a loved one getting sick and dying, help them avoid all their fears and stresses, give them everything I possibly can.
But that'd be the biggest disservice I could do for the two children I love with all my heart.
Because that's not real life. That is not how their future is going to be. There is no perfect life, free of hurt, not for anyone.
I'd rather face those things head on now. Talk to my children about the pain of loss, the hurt that others are going to cause by their actions and words, teach them to face fears, to realize they can't get everything they want in life.
Because someday life is going to hit them square in the face and I want my kids prepared for it. I want them to have the tools ready to handle the tough stuff that is inevitably going to come up.
How do you teach these little ones to deal with the big stuff?
With some tips from an amazing childrens pastor, these are pretty much the guidelines I follow when I help my kids deal with life:
-One thing I have learned (but am not perfect at putting into practice) is to respond to life's difficult situations with as much calmness as I can muster. Even if that means waiting a couple hours for my anger to simmer before discussing the problem...
-There is no subject that is not allowed. Even when we're not in the middle of drama I try to encourage open conversation about anything. And I try to always be willing to listen. Sometimes I have to put my kids off for a few minutes before I can give my complete attention, but I try to listen to it all. Even fart stories...
-Engage them by asking questions: How do they feel? How about the other person? Do you think you handled it as God would have wanted you to? (This makes them think, as they have to answer instead of just ignoring you as you lecture.)
-Figure out the next action: Is there something that you need to do to make it right? How could you handle it better next time? What does the Bible say to do in this situation? (Ultimate guide, right there.)
-Prayer and forgiveness: Jesus will help, He's got amazing strength and power (even more than me!) Do you need His strength? His guidance? His forgiveness? Does someone else need your forgiveness?
This whole process is hard and time consuming and involved. But worth the effort. Because someday I I won't be with them as they encounter one of life's tricky situations, but hopefully the habits I've instilled for dealing with real life will be there.
The most important of which is turning to Jesus for help.