Shepherding our Children in Times of Trouble
by Kari Johnson
I don’t know about other parents, but like me, you might be feeling a little extra challenged these past couple weeks as we have taken to shelter and social isolation. Can I get an Amen? Recently, I sat (at a safe and acceptable distance) in our staff recap meeting. Before our meeting began, we all sort of took a collective sigh and reminisced about our last several days and how hard this time has been as a parent. Our kids are cranky, they are scared, they are driving us crazy, they have too much time on their hands, and the weather is not cooperating these last several days, which really adds to the craziness of everything around us. What stood out to each of us was that our kids have a lot more time to think and process. Some of the things they are saying are deep and seem to come out of nowhere. It’s times like these that we as parents need to dig in and really evaluate what it looks like to shepherd our children.
Lamentations 3:22-23 says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” If I’m clinging onto to anything as a parent in this season, it’s the hope of new mercies each day. I know I need them, as do my children. I’m so incredibly thankful that God knows we need a clean slate every morning. Aren’t we all thankful in this season that we only have 24 hours in a day and not a second more?! As I share my heart and thoughts here, I’m really preaching to the choir and trying to remind myself that, with God, we can get through this time of staying home and staying together. Here’s some ways we can do this:
Take care of yourself – Spiritually, Mentally, Physically
More than anything, I know I need to be in a good head space in order to roll with the punches around my house. So in a mixture of time with God—time moving my body indoors or outdoors and time to catch up with friends-I’m trying to keep my cup full so I can tend to my children and be in a healthy space.
Grow with your kids spiritually
Our kids need us to lead them spiritually in this time more than ever. Even if you think you’re having quiet adult conversations, your kids are still tuning in. There is a lot for them to sift through in this time. If you’re raising school aged children, their entire world has been turned upside down. (I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that!). Use this time to pray with them, read the Bible with them or do an easy devotional with them. When we point our children to God we are not only helping them build their trust in God, but we’re building our own trust in God as well. You don’t have to be perfect at this; your kids just need you to be you. So lead them and enjoy the process.
Have open conversations
Be curious and ask questions. Take time to hear them and understand where they are coming from. Be brave and share truth with them in age-appropriate ways. Show your kids that you are a safe place for them to share their fears and weird questions! Instead of having a face-to-face conversation, play an easy card game or sit down to draw or color or play with toys together. While you interact, you can then have conversations that flow out of a more relaxed atmosphere, which most likely will be easier than forcing an opportunity.
Pastor Aaron has already talked about this several times, and I agree! In this strange season of being home, we have a LOT of free time on our hands. Be intentional with your kids in this time. Spend time together. I love hearing that many of you are out taking long walks or having family play time together. We’ve been out riding bikes when we can as a family. Our hope is that our kids will look back on this time and remember that we did lots of fun stuff together. But Michael and I have to be intentional in our planning. Some days are easier than others.
All these thoughts urge me to end on the thought of grace. As parents, we need God’s grace in large doses daily! I’m in the process of reading an amazing book called Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp. In his chapter on Grace he shares this statement:
“So it needs to be said and then explained that as a child of God, you have been given not only glorious past and future grace, but amazing present grace as well. This grace reaches you wherever God has placed you. This grace reaches you in your darkest parenting moments. This grace addresses your feeling of inability. This grace touches you when you feel you are at the end of your wisdom. This grace is yours for the taking when you’re walking down the hallway and you know that you’ve just blown it. This grace reaches you when your child seems rebellious and hard-hearted and you don’t know what to do. This grace touches you in moments of deep parental regret.”
He goes on to explain that God designed us to be dependent on Him.
“God calls unable people to do important things so that he will get the glory and not them…He calls you to do the impossible so that in your search for help, you would find more than help – you would find him.”
So parents, in this season where we desperately need to lean into God for daily strength and ability, may you find him. May you grow in your personal relationship with him. May you grow in a deeper love with your children and your family. This is my prayer not just for each of you but for me and my family as well. We can do this together.
Some Recommended Resources:
Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp
Love Does for Kids by Bob Goff & Lindsey Goff Viducich
Indescribable: 100 Devotions for Kids About God and Science by Louie Giglio
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Llyod-Jones
Upbeat Songs for Quarantined Kids Spotify Playlist Gospel Coalition
Group Lifetree Kids Worship Videos