I often pass a school sign that has this message for their students in giant letters:
Have a safe and fun summer.
Somehow, this sign strikes me as slightly ludicrous. Are these really our two highest values for our children?
Often, with all of our focus on “safety” and “fun”, I am afraid that we are giving our children a very false idea of life. Because, let’s face it, real life is not exactly safe. Or fun.
What if, instead of focusing on safety and fun, we spent a summer focusing on resiliency? Resiliency is the ability to get up and keep on going after we have gone through a hard time or been hurt. And, resiliency is kind of important for real life.
How can we teach our kids to be resilient? Here are some life lessons that will help our kids to start exercising their “resiliency” muscles.
1. Life is Not Fair.
In an effort to make our kids happy, we are quick to correct any perceived injustices so that everything is fair. If one of our children gets six crackers and the other seven, we encourage the one with seven to split the cracker in half so that everyone is “happy” and no one feels bad because they didn’t get their fair share.
But, real life is not fair.
It is super hard bounce back from disappointments when we are expecting life to be fair. If we are expecting life to be fair, then we respond to unfairness with shock, a sense of personal injury, and self-pity.
We need to teach our kids that life is not fair. Sometimes the cookies don’t get divided up evenly. We need to take a deep breath, and let it go.
Talents, intelligence, beauty, wealth, and health aren’t divided evenly. Life is not fair. But, we can’t let that stop us in our tracks.
When life is unfair, we pick up the pieces, thank God for what He has given us, and we move on.
2. Life is Not About YOU.
It is hard for kids to be resilient when they are certain that the world revolves around them because every bump in their little roads becomes a personal affront.
Our children need to learn that life does not revolve around them. It revolves around God. And, while God loves us fully, there are many times when He allows us to go through trials.
Point your kids to Jesus Christ, the trials He went through, and the beautiful salvation that He offers to us as a result of His trials and death. Help your kids learn that, when bad things happen to them, God will carry them through.
3. You will Get Hurt
I hate to see my children get hurt. So, I do all within my power to help my kids avoid pain.
But, with all of my emphasis on safety, I am afraid that I sometimes leave my children with the impression that if they do all of the “right”, safe things, they can avoid pain in life.
We need to help our children understand that they will get hurt in this life. Pain is unavoidable. When our kids understand that pain is a part of life, they are not going to be quite as shocked when they get hurt, and they will be better equipped to bounce back after they get hurt.
4. You Are Not a Victim
We must teach our children that even when bad things happen, they must not see themselves as “victims” but as “over comers”.
When you are a victim, something bad has happened to you which you are now allowing to define your day, week, year, or life. When you are a victim, you continue to give power to the bad thing.
When you are an over comer, you acknowledge that something bad has happened, you grieve over it, but then you go on with your life. You refuse to let the bad thing that happened continue to exercise authority over your life, because YOU are so much more than that trial that you went through.
5. You Will Get Hurt, But You are Strong Enough, With God’s Help, To Bounce Back.
Instead of teaching our children that “safety” and “fun” are the highest values, let’s teach them that they are strong enough to bounce back after hurt and disappointment.
As parents, we have the wonderful opportunity to come around our kids when they fall down, and encourage them to get back up.
We have the opportunity to speak truth into their lives, to give them the help they need to find their feet again, to be their biggest encouragers and supporters.
We can point them to a great God Who is always strong enough and will never disappoint. We have the chance to help them discover just how strong they truly are.
This is the beautiful message of resiliency that we can teach our kids. This message will help to prepare them for life.
What do you think? What do we need to be teaching our kids in order to help them learn to be resilient? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please scroll down to comment.
I agree with so much of this! I have a bit different method about the “life’s not fair” thing, though. Because it’s true…life is not fair, and naturally will give us plenty of examples, so I don’t feel the need to intentionally create those examples in our home.
Our home shouldn’t be a re-creation of an evil, sinful world, it should be a safe haven from it. Also, I feel that in practicing justice and fairness in our home, we teach our children that even though life isn’t just or fair, WE should be. Being unfair in your home doesn’t teach your children that life’s not fair, but that you are not fair. Just something to think about.
Of course, we also do what we can to protect our children from harm. Again, not because we want to over shelter them, but because we recognize life will provide plenty of natural teaching moments without our creating them.
Excellent thoughts, Sarah. Thank you so much for taking the time to share these reminders. May God bless you!