If I had to choose one word for the past 11 months, that word would be “changes.” Our family experienced our share of changes the past year and somehow we’ve managed to keep a relatively consistent home life. When you are the provider and protector for your family, it can be a little scary to look the others at the dinner table in the eye and assure them that all will be fine. Especially when you are not exactly sure yourself. I am certainly no expert in the area of parenting. I am VERY quick to point out that my wife is the leader in our home. Some (myself included) might even say that she is raising 3 children and a husband. So for whatever this is worth, I thought I would share a few of the ways that we’ve attempted to maintain balance in the face of uncertainty.
1. We’re gonna be fine – When the United States was attacked on 9/11, one of the lasting images was then President George Bush climbing a pitching mound in a packed Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch. I’ll never forget this because I would guess that “W” had no confirmation that he would be fine. We had just been attacked and the entire country was on edge. Yet here was our leader, putting himself in the middle of a packed stadium, all alone. It let anyone that saw the game know that we don’t have to be afraid. We can be uncertain, but we don’t have to fear. Our kids are the same way. When changes come, they will look to us to see how we respond. Are we willing to step into the uncertainty with confidence? Somehow, we must communicate in our words and actions that “we’re gonna be fine.”
2. Find their fears – One of the best ways to know how to navigate our children’s fears is to ask them what they are most afraid of. A few years ago, we seriously considered a move to Nashville, TN. At one point our youngest child broke down in tears. We asked why she was upset and she didn’t want to leave her bed, dresser and stuffed animals behind. Obviously we informed her that we’d be taking all of that with us. Her tears were calmed and her fears released. Had we not discussed her fears, we would have never known. Communicate and find their fears.
3. Speak in terms of what matters to them – My fears and uncertainties can be pretty elaborate. I’m a worst case scenario planner. One thing we need to remember is that our little ones don’t have the experiences and long term vision that we do. What matters to them and what matters to us are often very different things. Again, communication is the key. If we know what matters to them, we can help them see that regardless of what happens, we will do our best to maintain those priorities too. We will consider what matters to our children with whatever decisions may come. This doesn’t mean that we won’t have to make some changes, but when we communicate those changes, we can do so in a way that they know we did what we could. We considered what mattered to them.
4. Make them a part of the decision process – Our biggest “changes” in the past 12 months have been employment related. Before every interview I would talk to the kids about what I was interviewing for. After the interview, I would share the benefits and concerns that I had for the position. As the list got shorter and shorter and a decision needed to be made, we openly discussed what each position would mean. Some positions meant travel and time away from home. Another position meant late nights and possibly weekends. When the final decision came, I shared the news with the entire family. I also gave them my reasons for making the decision that I did.
One thing that is certain in the economy and culture we live in is change. People are changing jobs and relocating all the time. While these can be a scary time for children, it is an opportunity to show them that we place our faith in Christ. Pray together over the decisions you need to make during change. Share with your little ones what you believe God is calling you to do. While change can bring unknowns, God is good and God is faithful. These are prime opportunities to share these truths with your children as well.
**Written for my friends at JellyTelly.com