A PLACE TO FAIL
Posted by Brooklyn Lindsey
Ninety percent of parenting is mental, the other half is physical.
In other words, it takes all of you and a little more.
Parenting is no joke and lends itself to forming humans who can eventually wake up on their own, bathe themselves, sort out tasks for the day, and speak without grunts, groans, or whining. At least, that’s the hope. Right?
When parents come to me, it’s usually not because everything is perfect in their world. (I’ve never met one of those parents.) It’s usually because something isn’t going well and they’ve run out of ideas and electronics to ban.
It can be hard for parents to see how their child’s current crisis can become a positive thing. I don’t like suggesting that pain or failure is good (in the moment), but it’s usually where the conversation leads. I want parents to be able to see how these failures work well for kids.
I want to suggest that this failure, this struggle, this really hard to bear moment is a gift. It’s the chance for you to teach your child truth. It’s difficult when a parent’s heart is hurting to encourage them to say this out loud and believe it every time their child experiences failure.
“Pass or fail, this struggle can be good for you as you’re becoming the adult I’m preparing you to be.”
It’s awkward giving this advice to parents, especially parents of middle schoolers. It’s awkward because it seems ludacris. These kids have a lot going on in the phase of life they’re currently in. This phase alone is enough to keep a parent (and their entire support system) entirely occupied.
So why would we humbly ask a parent for some space on their last nerve to imagine the end?
Because I’ve learned through experience and research that what an adult believes about his or herself controls their biological makeup, that biology controls behaviors, and behaviors determine successes in life. Belief is a huge. Parenting involves helping kids grow into adults with healthy beliefs about themselves, developing confidence.
If you can imagine confidence being a part of a kid’s belief system, then you can also imagine kids needing exercises in confidence to help build their belief system.
Beliefs are formed over time.
Here are some ways you can help coach kids through failures onto a path of confident independence:
There’s nothing more important in a kid’s life than what they believe to be true. Those beliefs will guide them into adulthood and for the rest of their lives. If we don’t give them a chance to exercise the beliefs that they are loved, forgiven, strong, and resilient, they will struggle finding the ability to believe it when they’re adults.
We don’t have to look very hard for places where our kids will fail. They will fail (and we will too). We may have to be a little more intentional when looking for ways to use failure as the best place to teach them about who they are.
Imagine how your kids will react to failure when they are 18, 20, 35. What do you hope they will believe to be true in those moments? That imagination will cue you as a parent to lean in a little closer to the fail when it shows up at your front door. Give your kids a safe place, while they are with you, to help them navigate through it.
About the Author:
Brooklyn has been a youth pastor since 2001. She has authored numerous books and projects and is a youth pastor at Highland Park Church of the Nazarene, her first priority. Second, she is a speaker who loves teaching from the Bible and leading people to live in response to God’s love. Brooklyn, while named after a city in New York, lives in the sunshine state with her husband, Coy, and their sweet girls, Kirra and Mya.
RESOLVING TO ENDURE
Posted by Tim Walker
I ran a 5k once.
Once is the operative word.
I might do it again some day when the faint smell of impending death finally leaves my nostrils. The race was fine, it was the runner who had a problem.
I had always wanted to do it and wondered if I could. So when I turned 40, a friend of mine said he would run it with me. His company put on an annual 5K as a fundraiser for a local charity, and he had done it before.
So with the promise of a running buddy, I signed up. We trained separately, but on race day, he promised he would stay with me the whole time. I figured that promise would fade away once we got out there and the lure of a finish line and a good time would win over running alongside dead weight.
I was wrong. My friend John stayed with me every step of the way. And I do mean step. Because I ran some, walked some. Prayed—a lot. And the entire time I thought “my lungs are going to explode,” “my legs feel like they are made of lead,” and “is this how I’m going to die?”
5K seems so much shorter on a piece of paper. After all, 5K is like a really small computer file size. But on this particular course, 5K felt like an endless loop.
But I endured, finished the race, and got a t-shirt. It really was all about the finish line and that t-shirt. I was proud of that t-shirt. Now five years later, and a few pounds heavier, I don’t ever wear that shirt. But I survived.
Some seasons of life are like that. They seem okay, then you step in and it’s so much more than you realized it would be. It’s hard. It’s painful. You just want it to stop. But you have to see it through to the end. You have to endure. And as a parent, those seasons are part of life.
Endurance is a word associated with triathletes, not families. In fact, some might even take issue with it being used in that context.
I can’t imagine a wife being happy with her husband responding to a moment of time spent together by saying, “I endured it.”
Or a parent being happy with a child enduring the words of wisdom they are trying to impart.
But parenting and families require endurance. There are sexier words, like commitment, for example. But commitment feels like something in our head at times. Endurance feels like something that requires something of us—physically, mentally, emotionally.
And family requires enduring those seasons. Like illness. Or hormones. Or new freedoms. Or bad choices.
The t-shirts for this race are poop or vomit stained, or years out of fashion.
But you endure. You keep going. Because the cost of stopping is too great. The relationship with your kids is too important. You have to see them through.
When they’re younger, you may be holding their hand through the “race.”
And as they get older, seeing them through may be simply cheering on the sidelines and praying fervently as they take step after step on their own.
And if you have more than one child, you get to walk through those seasons in a different way with each different child.
It all requires endurance. Staying the course. Never leaving.
Seeing it through to the end.
Sometimes that involves running, other times it’s walking, limping or even crawling.
Because the race was meant to be finished.
And to do that, sometimes you just have to resolve to endure.
About the Author:
Tim Walker is the lead editor for MarriedPeople.org, and also works on other projects for Orange. He has been married to his wife, Jennifer, over 20 years and has three sons, twin boys in high school and his oldest in college. He blogs at timswords.com and tweets @timswords.