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Kid and dad

Today Chelsea Bayne our Parent Ministry Coordinator at Grace Community and my wife talks about how to handle difficult topics with our kids. Great advice that we have had to put into practice this week in our family. Check out the post…

These past couple weeks we’ve personally been working through some tough issues in ministry.  Through all the heartache comes the reality that, somehow, we have to explain this to our kids.  We will all face this at some point in our lives, having that tough conversation with our child.  So how do we do it, and do it well?  I believe there are a few guiding principles to use when talking with our children about difficult topics.

  1. Be honest  // This in no way means to give children all the gory details!Developmentally children don’t have the same level of discernment as an adult.  Even if you’ve been able to handle the details, it doesn’t mean your child will.  However, they will need to know ENOUGH about the situation to feel confident that Mom and Dad always tell them the truth.  The level of information will vary at different ages.  My 9 year old can handle more than my 6 year old.
  2. Be gracious // Difficult situations are a great time to help children understand the character of God.  When someone makes a mistake, our response should be forgiveness, even if people don’t ask for it.  Help your child remember, “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8.  We should never change who we are or how we treat someone based on their behavior.  Even when we need to set boundaries with others, we are still loving toward them.
  3. Honor feelings // Just like adults, all children respond differently to disappointing news.    Once you’ve shared the truth, ask them how they feel.  Don’t force them to feel anything.  Allow them time and space to think/process.  Hopefully, you’ve already had multiple conversations with your child so you know their go-to response.  We know Jesus Himself experienced many feelings; anger, disappointment, sadness, etc.
  4. Expect questions // It’s human nature to want to know.  As followers of Jesus, we know this to be gossip.  Help your child understand when enough information is enough.  Again, our desire is to help our kids be like Jesus, so use these opportunities to point them to His character.

Whether it’s talking with your child about death, divorce, loss, bullying, disappointment with friends, etc. we can point them to respond as Jesus would.  When Jesus was sad, He cried.  When Jesus was angry, He vented.  When Jesus confronted, He did so in love.  Let’s remember that every difficult situation is one in which we can lead our child to our GREAT God.