If you’re a parent, at some point you will have the unsettling task of navigating crisis with your kids. It’s not a topic we spend much time talking about, but it is something that we all face. There isn’t a right or wrong way to help our kids when they’re in crisis mode, but I want to share some things that we have learned over the years that have helped us work through each crisis.
It’s important to keep in mind that what may seem insignificant to you may actually be considered a crisis in the life of your child. A crisis is defined as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. Intense difficulty to a 6-year-old is different than to a 16-year-old. Raising five kids in our house, we have had our fair share of intense difficulties. Regardless of whether the crisis was brought on by a poor choice our son or daughter had made, or by others’ actions or accidents, there are some important things to keep in mind as you help your family navigate the crisis.
Take a Deep Breath: The first thing I do when I know something hard with one of my kiddos is coming my way is to take a couple of deep breaths and remind myself who God is. He is their Redeemer and Father. He loves them way more than I do, so I remind myself that I can trust Him to work out whatever situation we face for their good and His glory. It helps to think about the history that I have with Him and the truth that He has brought me through significant crises and I am stronger because of them. Romans 8:28, 1 John 3:1
Listen and Love: Oftentimes once a child or teen has had the opportunity to talk through a hard situation with a parent, their perspective shifts. When we take the time to put everything else aside, turn off our phone and truly listen to our children, it communicates how valuable and loved they are. Try to avoid the temptation to offer solutions or opinions and listen to understand what your child is feeling. Avoid downplaying their feelings, comparing them to someone who is worse off, or even saying, “everything will be fine.” Simply listen for the sake of learning about what your child is feeling. James 1:19-20
Be a Safe Space: A vital component of navigating a crisis is becoming a safe space for our kids to share their feelings. Even if you are shocked by the things that are coming out of your child’s mouth, keeping a poker face and breathing through their explanation will set you up for success. Security and acceptance are reinforced in the heart of a child when you take the time to validate their feelings without repercussions. This is especially true when kids are facing a crisis. Allowing our people to share what they are feeling or experiencing without fear of judgment is critical to establishing trust and becoming a safe place for our kids. Galatians 6:2
Keep an Objective Perspective: When our kids were little, we had a simple phrase we reminded them of quite often, “nothing is as bad as it seems.” After the smoke clears, you’ll almost always see that this is true. Keeping God’s purposes and perspective in mind, particularly in regards to what your child is facing, can usually help you reframe almost any situation. As a parent, keeping an objective perspective while offering empathy and allowing them to feel their feelings allows them to process emotions in a healthy way. Jeremiah 32:17
Seek Wise Counsel: There is little more important in a child’s life than the trusted circle of family and friends who believe the same things you believe. The same is true in our own lives. Growth happens in the context of authentic community. When I am facing something hard myself or with one of our kids after we talk together and take it to the Lord, we go to our community. They are the people who pray for, advise, handhold, and pick us up when we don’t have the strength to do it ourselves. The Bible is filled with examples of people leaning on one another. Now more than ever, we need each other. When you are faced with a hard decision or intense difficulty, find people that you trust to speak into the situation! Proverbs 19:20-21
Take the Very Next Step: We don’t have to have all the answers or even know what will happen next in order to take a step in the right direction. We simply have to do our best to take the best next step and trust God with the outcome. Tackling a crisis one step at a time breaks overwhelming thoughts into bite-size pieces. Our character is strengthened in the process of taking steps in the right direction. Allow yourself to see the bigger picture when your kids are facing difficulty and allow God to use their natural (and parental if needed) consequences to build perseverance and grit in your family.
Psalm 37:23-24 “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Molly Pontius: email@example.com
Debra Kirby: firstname.lastname@example.org