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.
WIPE THE SLATE CLEAN
Posted by Autumn Ward
So there we were, standing on a sidewalk in the middle of downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. A couple in their mid-thirties with three kids ages 5, 8 and 10 struggling to have fun and enjoy a vacation together.
It wasn’t happening.
People were passing us on either side much like water going around a rock in the middle of a stream as we argued over kids not obeying, how much money had been spent, who was chewing too loudly, and whatever else we could get mad about. To be honest, I don’t really remember what we were upset about . . . what I was upset about . . . but boy was it getting ugly (and by “it” I mean ME).
I do remember it was CHRISTMAS. And rather than having peace on earth and goodwill towards men, I was having an all out total meltdown. No seriously, I was losing it. I felt like screaming or throwing something or even hitting something (or someone). Before I knew it I blurted the words, “I’m done. Let’s just forget it and go home” and then I walked away. Yes, I turned my back on my family and walked away (not my best moment).
There are many “not my best moment” moments in parenting. Oh, we strive to be our best, do what’s best, say what’s best—all those best things great parents do—but it’s hard. Parenting is hard. And the more I try to do my best, the more I realize how hard it is.
One thing I learned during this “not my best moment” is that what I do—what you do—after times like these can actually become your best moments as a parent.
I made it about ten steps down the sidewalk and then stopped. My heart was heavy with conviction. I was wrong. And I knew it. As the rage turned into remorse I made the choice to turn around and go back to my family. I had no idea what I was going to say or do, but in those ten steps back I came up with this:
“Guys, I love you. I love Daddy. I love Joseph. I love Sarah. And I love Anna. Mommy was wrong. I was wrong for my attitude and for getting so angry. I want to have fun with you. Do you think we can start over?”
My family responded with a heartfelt, “we forgive you” and, “we love you” and then did something I will never forget. They began admitting their own contributions to the Ward family “moment.” Each one said what they did wrong and asked for forgiveness. They had followed my example.
That’s when I came up with the “wipe the slate clean” thing we do. I told them to pull out an imaginary slate (I explained it’s like a chalkboard, they got it.) and pretend to write down the things they shouldn’t have said or done and then we would pull out our imaginary erasers and wipe them away.
And that’s what we did.
On the same sidewalk where I had my meltdown, we wrote down our wrongs and wiped them away. We had a clean slate. A new start. Another chance to get it right.
“This is why Jesus came, kids. Forgiveness. God knew we could never be good enough on our own so He sent Jesus to take our punishment. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, our slates can be wiped clean. We can have a new heart. Ok, now who’s ready to hug it out and go have some fun?”
It turned out to be an awesome vacation and one of my best parent moments.
My kids are now 13, 16 and 18. We have wiped our slates clean more times than I can count. When things start unraveling in our home, tempers flare and words are carelessly thrown around any one of us will say, “Hey, we need a clean slate. Let’s start again.”
Kids don’t need perfect parents. Which is good news for you and me because perfect is not possible.
Kids do need imperfect parents who are willing to humble themselves, admit their wrongs, ask forgiveness and let it go.
When we do this we give our kids a front row seat to the gospel, the grace of God, Jesus living and breathing right in front of their eyes. Our kids are watching and waiting. Let’s make sure we give them His best.
“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12
About the Author:
Autumn Ward has been a writer for The reThink Group’s First Look preschool curriculum for the past 10 years and is the Creative Director for Parent Cue Initiatives. She believes every parent can be a spiritual hero in their child’s life and it’s never too soon to begin sharing God’s story of love with them. Autumn and her husband, Chad, live in Cumming, GA with their three teenage children Joseph, Sarah, and Anna.
Posted by Kendra Fleming
A while ago something painful happened to our family. It hurt. It was a betrayal. It was out of our control and it was someone else’s fault. It left our whole family reeling. The details of what happened are not important, but what is continuing to happen in us as a result is very important.
As we were navigating the days and months ahead, Gary and I had one primary concern and that was for our children. Each of my four children was affected in a different way. I watched them struggle with anger and betrayal. I knew that how they came through this would forever change them.
My heart broke to think that some one’s poor choices could forever damage the hearts of my children. I struggled with this and cried many tears. I prayed that God would protect the hearts of my children and help them come through this without bitterness.
I asked everyone I trusted for advice. I wanted to know how I could help them navigate this painful situation and come out on the other side whole? How should I guide them?
One day I was sitting on the bed of one of my daughters. She was unloading her anger…I could see she was building walls. I knew these walls would be damaging. In that moment I knew the answer.
The only possible way to protect the hearts of my children was to guide them towards forgiveness.
Not a quick, I’m sorry.
This would take some time…some work.
This would require an I accept you, I care about you, and I love you in spite of what you’ve done, kind of forgiveness.
It would require an ability to put aside your desire to make someone else pay.
And to open your arms wide and give them a chance they don’t deserve.
And a realization that none of us are perfect.
We all need forgiveness.
It’s the only possible way to walk through pain and be changed for the better.
Your children will be treated unfairly. They will be lied to. They will be betrayed. There is no question that someone will hurt your children someday in someway.
The question is how will they survive? Choosing to forgive makes it possible for them to emerge on the other side with a heart that is whole.
If you want to invest in the future emotional health of your children…teach them to forgive.
About the Author:
We are honored to have Kendra Fleming, a dear friend, guest post on our blog. Kendra is the Director of Children’s Ministry at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA. She lives in Cumming, GA with her husband Gary and their four children, Jessica (19), Catherine (18), Jack (15), and Emily (13).