It was a day like any other day. Normal morning routines resulted in everyone out the door . . . on time even. I made myself a cup of tea and sat down to enjoy my quiet morning ritual.
A few minutes later the phone rang. My sister called for a long overdue chat. I cherish these calls from loved ones who live far away.
We’d only been talking a few minutes when suddenly I heard a beep. Since I basically hate call waiting I ignored it figuring they’d leave a message. A few seconds later, I heard the interruption again.
Oh brother! Really? I don’t talk with my sister all that often and I have to get two calls within less than a minute?
I interrupted my sister, asking her if she could hold for just a minute. The call was from my sweet husband.
Odd. He didn’t usually call me until lunchtime.
I answered the phone call.
“You’ll never guess what happened,” husband says.
Well, not in the mood for a guessing game, I don’t believe I was very kind in my response. I wanted to get back to my sister’s call.
His next words took my breath away.
“I no longer have a job.”
Six words. Altered life.
What? How could this be? Without warning? Surely he’s joking. He’s gotta be.
My sweet husband decided to come home shortly. After all, he no longer had a job.
I picked up the call with my sister and burst into tears, thankful it was my sister on the phone. She reassured me that we would be okay, would figure out the next step, and that she would pray for us.
A few years earlier, we faced another life-altering crisis. During that devastating time, a dear friend asked this question:
How are your children going to learn to conquer problems if you don’t model it?
This counsel seemed counterintuitive. Everything within me wanted to fiercely protect my children from pain, discomfort, and a wounded heart. Mama Bear is hard-wired to nurture and protect.
We wrestled with how much of the struggle to share with our children.
But, the truth is that if we, as parents, don’t teach our children how to work through problems as they come, we handicap them for life.
Here’s what we learned through these crises:
- Admit the struggle
Talk honestly about the issue, as appropriate and according to their age. Our kids were all in their late teens and early twenties during these crises. We discussed what happened as well as our feelings. Dealing with the emotions surrounding each of these crises was an important part of moving through the situation. However, even if your children are younger, you can still model how to work through difficult issues. They are always watching you, learning from you whether you are intentional or not. We decided to be intentional.
We believe that nothing happens in our life that is out of God’s control. Therefore, we prayed diligently and often about the resolution to these crises. We asked our children to pray for us and with us. We talked about how thankful we were for God’s peace in the midst of each crisis. As we expressed our gratefulness we experienced extraordinary peace.
- Discuss the possible solutions
We brainstormed about our options. As the kids asked questions, we answered them as honestly as we could, seeking their input toward the solution to the crises. Even with young children, you have the opportunity to model problem solving.
- Listen well
It’s very difficult to stop the “what if’s” and “what are we going to do’s” that ricochet through your mind during a crisis. We had to consciously stop the panic, breathe slowly, and then listen – to God, to our hearts, to each other, and to those around us we trusted.
- Accept help
Blessings overflowed during these crises. Our needs were met – financially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Our family, friends, and kids provided job leads, resources, emotional encouragement, and much more.
Each time we found ourselves trying to protect our kids from the harsh reality of the crisis. Yet, when we tried, one of them would confront us and ask for the truth.
And when we were as honest as we could be at the time, our children learned again that they would survive a crisis.
Everyone experiences problems, setbacks, and troubles in life. By watching us work through the issues, children of any age learn they can as well. Problems don’t have to spell disaster. They are simply part of life.
What we do with the crisis reveals who we are.
When we choose to grow through each crisis, we strengthen our children as well.
How are you teaching your children to grow through the crisis?
Great article. Thanks for sharing, Kirsten!