Recently, I was talking with a counselor who works with young adults. One of the concerns many, including this counselor, share is the increasing lack of resiliency they are seeing in children, teens and young adults.
Resiliency is the ability to recover quickly when one encounters tough times or something bad happens. It allows the person to “rise from the ashes” and move on with their lives. People who lack resiliency are often those who seem to get stuck when they encounter an obstacle or life doesn’t go the way they had hoped. In fact, a lack of resiliency can even lead to self-destructive behaviors, including suicide.
Unfortunately, helicopter parenting or its mirror twin detached parenting don’t provide ways for young people to learn how to be resilient. Helicopter parents prevent anything from happening to their children that is even unpleasant. They don’t give their kids the chance to learn that they can indeed bounce back from unfortunate events. Detached parents barely notice their kids are encountering tough times and surely don’t provide guidance on how to bounce back from them.
The ironic thing about all of the articles on resiliency is that if we have been teaching our children about God and who He is, they will already have the tools for resiliency at their fingertips. So what are some of the tools of real godly resiliency? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Belief God has given their life meaning and purpose. Share with them the stories from the Bible – especially those that mention certain things happened because of God’s love for us. Talk about scriptures like Proverbs 16:9 that indicate God will direct our steps – your children are here on earth because God created them and has plans for things He wants them to do.
- Understanding that through everything, God is by their side loving them, guiding them and caring for them – even if no one else appears to be. Share with them scriptures like Psalm 23 that describe in beautiful detail how God loves and cares for them. Tell them the stories of Daniel, Shadrach and friends and others who God protected in what seemed like hopeless situations.
- Learning how to be content and have godly joy in all circumstances. The Apostle Paul is probably one of the best examples we have in the Bible of people who had every horrible thing one could think of happen to them – multiple times and still said he was content and joyful in all circumstances. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Paul gives a laundry list of everything that had happened to him (so far!). It’s enough to make the average person want to pull the covers over their heads for the rest of their lives. Yet Paul kept preaching, writing and teaching until the very end. He understood how to be resilient and find contentment and joy even in the midst of all of his troubles.
- Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit. If your children have been baptized, they are not only forgiven Christians, but they have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. I don’t think anyone can claim to totally understand how the Holy Spirit works, but we do know he helps us pray and Jesus called him the “counselor”. Help your children understand they have the help of the Holy Spirit no matter what is happening around them.
- Learning to fully take advantage of prayer. Read to your children some of the Psalms David wrote when he was running from King Saul or during other tough times in his life. He poured out everything in his heart to God – good, bad and even ugly. God must not have minded, because He made it a part of the Bible. The very act of praying and understanding God hears and answers their prayers – even when they don’t like the answer – will help your kids be more resilient.
- Realizing the hope of eternal life in Heaven. Sometimes, that is the only thing that will make your children resilient. That little spark of hope that reminds them that even if their worst fears are realized, they have the hope of eternal life in Heaven. Their few years on earth may have bleak patches, but eternal life – is just that – an eternity spent in the glorious presence of God.
Other things, like healthy parenting, a safe environment, caring adults outside of their family and more can also help your child’s resiliency. Make sure though, that at their very core, your children understand who God is and how He has given them everything they need to bounce back and continue obeying, worshipping and serving Him – even after experiencing events that are unsettling or even traumatic.