With Free Printable: 12 Practical Ideas to Help You, as You Support Your Child in Difficult Times
It’s kind of strange. I’m 45, have got four wonderful kids, and have never felt broody over other babies before. But the last few weeks, I’ve really wanted another baby! I’ve been thinking about it, had a dream about it, and even mentioned adoption to my husband the other day (that was a shock to him)!
I’m sure it’s a phase that will pass. I’m in a hard place right now, and I just have fond memories of the cuddles, the chubby smiles, and the simple, uncomplicated love and joy that each of my babies brought into my life.
I miss being able to carry my babies!
They are now teens, and almost teens. I love them so much for who they are, right now. I am so proud of them, and so grateful for them.
But I can no longer carry them. Neither physically, nor, I am realising, emotionally. And, just maybe, I was never meant to carry them emotionally in the first place.
We hear of kids getting into, or experiencing, the following: relationship problems, sexual issues, loneliness, bullying, depression, fears, negative/suicidal thoughts, self-harm, eating disorders, pornography, alcohol and drugs.
It’s hard to say this, but a couple of my kids have gone through, and are going through, some of the things on this list. These are things that I did not expect to happen to my kids.
Others tell us that we are a lovely family (we know that too). Our kids are great. They are polite, respectful, helpful and kind. We love and serve Christ. Some even revere us for living and serving overseas. (Please don’t do that! We are simply living life, where God has placed us. You are living life, where God has placed you. No difference there.)
Let me share with you that the messy stuff, the tough stuff, does not just happen to the ‘bad’ families, and the ‘bad’ kids. It can happen to the lovely families, and the lovely kids, too.
I don’t say this to scare you. Keep praying your best and believing your best for your kids, and your family. Please don’t expect the bad stuff. But do know that there are many lovely families who are having a tough time, who face issues you know nothing of, and whose kids are not as happy as you think.
Maybe that’s you. If so, God bless you. You are not alone.
I’ve come to an end of myself many times in the last few years. As a mum, it is the hardest thing to see your child struggle with issues they should not have to face. It is the hardest thing to come alongside them, and help them find a way forward.
It requires huge courage to even talk about it with them, a tenacity of faith to keep believing in them and the good God has for them, energy and determination to put things in place to help them move forward, and then a whole lot more courage, a whole lot more energy, and a whole lot more determination to keep talking with them, to keep following up, again and again, to keep loving and caring.
It is exhausting. It is hugely emotional. It is overwhelming. I’ve tried to do it, and I can’t do it anymore.
Jesus, I can’t do it anymore. I can’t carry my kids. Please help me.
This last week has been one of the hardest. I’m writing this as I live it. But even in the overwhelming emotion of the week, God has been whispering to me:
You cannot carry your kids. But I can.
That’s amazing to hear.
And even more amazing is he carries me too.
(I’ve just realised that as I write. He not only carries my kids. He carries me! Isn’t it strange? I knew that in my head, but it’s just travelled to my heart!)
Peace comes with that. A lightness. It’s going to be ok.
I am still learning to let go, to let go of my kids, and all they are going through; to still care, but to give them to God.
It isn’t easy. It helps to see them no longer in my arms, but in the arms of their Heavenly Father. He has them. He loves them even more than I do.
He has all strength, all wisdom, and all power to deal with what they are going through (and what I am going through). He has every belief in them, and a wonderful destiny for them.
But practically, how do I let go, and let God? How do I balance trusting my kids to God, but still be alongside them? How do I continue to help my kids move forward, without my becoming overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted?
I would like to share some ideas with you that God is showing me.
Maybe you are in a hard place too. Maybe your child is struggling with one of the issues listed above. Maybe it’s something different. Maybe, it’s something ‘small’ but because it affects your child, it’s actually huge. Maybe it’s a personal struggle.
Whatever it is, join me in reaching out to God. It’s ok to come to the end of ourselves. In fact, we should come to the end of ourselves before we really do come to the end of ourselves, if you know what I mean! We should acknowledge we cannot do it. Let’s let go, and let God, together.
Here are some practical suggestions on how to do this, in no particular order:
(This list got rather long! It is meant to lighten your load, not add to it. So feel free to skim through the bold headings and focus on one or two ideas that will help you right now. Or download a copy of the ideas here and come back to them again.)
12 Practical Ideas to Help You, as You Support Your Child In Difficult Times
1. Invite God’s presence into your day.
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, even before getting out of bed. Be aware of God throughout the day. Take time to read his word.
At the moment, I’m using a devotional book called ‘Abide’ by Elisa Pulliam. This book is helping me connect with God, and his word, in a way I haven’t for years. In the middle of this difficult time, I’m finding a new depth of relationship with God, a new joy, and freshness in life. That’s amazing, isn’t it?
Sometimes, it’s just good to use something new to get deeper into God’s word.
(Update: check out my new FREE devotional: 3 Things You Never Knew About Eve and my FREE eSeries 10 Days 10 Ways to Meet God in the Midst of Motherhood.)
2. Rest. Spiritually.
Rest in God, and in his love. It helps me to hear God whisper ‘Goodnight’ to me, and hear him speak his words of love and affirmation to me. It helps me to have worship music playing and lie down and know his presence. It’s wonderful to know I can rest in his arms. He carries me.
A song that is ministering to me today is ‘Who I Am’ by Casting Crowns.
3. Rest. Physically.
Sleep helps. A lot. When I’m tired, I’m more emotional. When I’m tired, I’m less able to cope. And it’s a circle, when I’m emotional or not coping well, I’m less likely to sleep well.
Make time for rest. Make time for extra sleep. Ask others to pray for you to sleep well.
4. Do less. Focus on the things that bring you joy and life.
I’ve realised I need to drop some things, if I’m to support my children without detriment to my own health and well-being.
I have just resigned from my part-time job as librarian. It was just one thing too much. I’m making time for the things that bring me joy and life – writing, and seeing friends.
As I nurture myself, I know I’ll be in a better place to help my children. It really is ok to say ‘no’ sometimes.
5. Give your child to God each day. Give everything to God each day.
Say something like,
Lord I give you (child’s name) today. I trust him to you. Thank you, you love him and hold him. I give you (all the problems) and leave them with you. I let go. Thank you for your peace. I rest in your arms.
Picture your child in God’s strong arms and love. Know he holds them safe, and has good things for them.
Give yourself to God each day. He carries you too.
6. Talk to God.
Tell God everything. You can tell him every detail of every situation. You can tell him how you’re feeling. You can cry with him, and cry out to him. You can tell him you can’t do it, and ask his help.
Sometimes, I write down all I’m feeling as a prayer, a kind of psalm, I guess.
7. Be thankful.
Praise God each day for something positive. Thank him for your child. Thank him for the small steps forward. If nothing else, thank him that he’s with you, and that he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Thankfulness changes my heart, it brings perspective, it allows God to work.
8. Share with others.
I share with my husband. We talk. We pray together. He supports me emotionally and practically. We are in it together (though, I do often take things on myself too much, emotionally and practically).
If you don’t have a husband who is there for you in that way, find someone – a close friend or church leader – who can listen, pray, and help you practically.
I share with trusted friends too, who are a great encouragement.
Be vulnerable with others. Ask for their help. Maybe a friend could watch the kids for a while, so that you can rest, or cook you a meal, so that you have one less thing to think about.
9. Cover your mind with the blood of Jesus.
Satan gets at our kids to get at us. When our kids struggle, we struggle. We may be bombarded by feelings such as fear, guilt, hopelessness, worry, suspicion, anger, confusion, condemnation and inadequacy. These feelings are not from God. He calls us his precious daughters.
‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ 2 Timothy 1:7.
I’m learning to cover my mind by saying something like this:
‘I cover my mind with the blood of Jesus. I refuse every condemnation (and other feeling). It is not of God. I am a precious daughter of God, loved and special. (Speak a truth that counteracts the lie/negative feeling. Use the Freedom in Christ ‘What is Truth?’ list for ideas.) I speak peace to my mind. I thank you, Jesus, that you died for me and that your blood covers and protects me from every lie and attack of the evil one. I thank you for your goodness. Amen.
Another practice that has been very helpful to me is this: every time a negative thought comes, I think of something to praise God for. After a while of doing this, the negative thoughts stop coming. Satan is not going to continue throwing negative thoughts at me, if each time all I do is praise God. That’s the last thing he wants!
10. See a Christian counselor, or seek other professional help.
There is no shame in saying you need help (and that your child needs help). I have seen three counselors this past year. I wasn’t expecting that! Their wisdom, love, care and prayer has proved invaluable and a huge blessing. It is a relief to know there is someone else involved. Everything does not rest on me!
11. Pray for your child.
This could be with your husband or friends, or with the actual child. (You can do this with the child in person – they will feel your love and care – or quietly over them as they are sleeping.)
Speak words of love and affirmation, and God’s truth over them. Ask God to help and bless them. Proclaim God’s goodness and destiny over their life.
It’s also powerful to pray in your child’s room when he or she is out. I pray something like this, out loud:
I speak the peace of Jesus in this room. I cover every wall, window and doorway with the blood of Jesus, the blood of Jesus that brings deliverance, that brings healing, that brings peace and joy. I cut you free (child’s name) from (whatever things are afflicting them), and I speak life and blessing to you (child’s name). Holy Spirit come and fill this room. Holy Spirit come and touch (child’s name).
You can also pray in the spirit, whether this be in tongues (1 Corinthians 14), or a crying of your heart:
‘In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.’ Romans 8:26-27
To be honest, there are days when emotion and tiredness overwhelm me. All I can do is cry, and trust God knows my heart. I don’t always have the energy to take a stand and fight for my child in prayer. That’s ok. And that’s why it’s so good to have others standing with me.
12. Take small steps. One day at a time.
Sometimes I know the way forward. I have ideas of how to help my child, but even one simple task can paralyse, and seem too much to do. Last week, I needed to send an email to my child’s teachers. It took me several days to have emotional capacity and energy to do so.
But, it’s ok. I don’t have to get everything set in place at once. It doesn’t all depend on me. I can take small steps. One day at a time. God is holding my child.
I pray these ideas help you get in a good place with God, in a place of rest and hope, in a place where you can let go, and let God. I am learning along with you.
I began this post feeling overwhelmed with my current situation, and with no energy to move forward. I wrote some of it in tears. A few days on, and God has ministered to me deeply. The greatest change, I know, has come with spending deliberate time with God each day. I feel new life, fresh hope, and a lightness in my spirit. Praise God.
Have hope! As you connect with God, he will lighten your load, give you hope for the future, and a practical way forward.
He carries you. He carries your children. Let go, and let him.
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Matthew 11:28-29
PS. When our kids experience tough times, it is actually an opportunity for them to call on God themselves, and discover his saving love and grace. We cannot always be their answer. You may want to share some of the ideas above with your child, for them to implement in their own life. They, too, can know that God carries them, and learn to rest in him.
PPS. I’m going to print out 12 Practical Ideas To Help YOU, As You Support Your Child In Difficult Times and keep it by my bed. There’s been another incident this morning, a fresh wave of emotion, a testing of all I’ve just written…I’m going to have to keep giving my children to God.
Update: 18 Months On
God has moved miraculously! Everything that was a struggle when I wrote this post has turned around. God has broken through for my children.
Be encouraged! God is able to take the most desperate of situations and bring something amazing out of it.
Yes, there are new challenges…different children…and I am coming back to this list of practical helps again…but I know God holds me; I know he holds my kids; and I know that he is able.
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