How to Parent a Child with a Sensitive Spirit
Most of us enter into parenthood desiring to be the best parents in the world! We have pre-determined expectations we lay on ourselves based upon what we experienced personally and what we witnessed in friends homes. The moment we enter motherhood we want to be the better mom.
But let’s do a parenting audit, a soul-shaping check.
Are our parenting decisions unintentionally corrupting our child’s innocence?
This is a really hard question to ask isn't it? I don't like asking it. But to be honest, I think about how I have allowed my younger children to watch movies I would have never let my oldest four children watch, all because I am tired or I have let my guard down. When I think about it, I want to scold myself and give myself that pep talk, "Angie, buck up. You need to put into your younger children like you did your older ones." We can be so hard on ourselves, can't we?
Now, I know that God is bigger than my weaknesses, and I want to remind you of that here!
I was recently taken by a lesson our Lord Jesus was teaching the disciples, and He intends to teach us.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.“
Why is it that Christ Himself encourages us to become like a child? What is it about children that He values and that we seem to lose as we grow older IF we don't protect it?
Think about when your children were young, about who you were when you were young. Did certain things just seem obviously wrong to you? Was there ever doubt on certain issues? If you were to ask a child if it was ok to steal or commit murder, what do you think their response would be?
A child’s reaction and opinions on such thoughts are obvious to them. There is a clear right and wrong on many things that we as adults rationalize, and in our sin justify. Now, I am not suggesting that a child's reasoning is more spiritual than an adults, or that we should all be as black and white as a child.
What I do want to impress upon us all, myself included, is these two questions:
1. Do we as parents make decisions based upon Biblical conviction more or worldly persuasion?
2. And then how does this impact the molding of our child's worldview?
One of the biggest struggles I have been challenged to overcome as a parent is...Comparing my parenting decisions or falling to parental peer pressure on convictions my husband and I have made, especially concerning our spiritually sensitive children.
If we are willing to be honest, we have all been there and struggled with comparing our parenting, our child's behavior, etc. This is part of the Comparison Trap that disables us, within the Church, from doing what we are called to do: make disciples.
As parents, we are entrusted with disciple-making within our home foremost!
But what is even harder is parenting a child with a sensitive spirit in a world that thinks you are raising a weak child and tells you that you are not parenting right.
Do you have a child with a sensitive spirit? We do.
We have two of them, but one is much more sensitive than the other. In fact, out of our six children, we have noticed a different level of sensitivity in each of them. No two children are alike.
With all the media, entertainment, and confusing propaganda, parenting a sensitive child is not easy in today’s world.
What do I mean by spiritually sensitive?
A child who tends to sense things or gets a bad gut feeling when they are exposed to something scary, morally wrong, or against the Spirit of God which resides within them.
You may desire all of your children to respond this way to the examples I have given, and we do as well, but what I am speaking of specifically is a child who has a tendency to be even MORE aware of and disturbed by things such as: immodesty, inappropriate images in the mall, movies or video games that glorify darkness, evil, or satanic images, etc. A spiritually sensitive child may even be able to sense when an untrustworthy person is around, or even sense a spirit of darkness or sin in another.
Do we as Christian Parents Value the Spiritually Sensitive Child?
Are you encouraging your spiritually sensitive child to accept that this is not something to be ashamed of, but rather something to embrace? Could I challenge you that maybe your child has been given the gift of spiritual discernment by God? Are you encouraging that in them or viewing it as a limitation to your family activities?
God's word teaches that He disperses His gifts among the Body for the edification of the whole. (1 Corinthians 12)
If your child has a sensitive spirit, I would challenge you to encourage that in them. We need more Christ followers embracing the gifts God has dispersed for His glory! A relationship with God is not cookie cutter, and we cannot limit God’s ability to work His Spirit through them, just as He would through us.
We need those with the gift of spiritual discernment.Those with spiritual discernment have that gift to warn the rest of us. If not, then what other purpose is there for its existence?
Thoughts to Ponder:
Help her/him to be comfortable and thankful for their gift, not view it as a limitation. We have to find ways to edify the gifts we see in our children. This gift of spiritual sensitivity is often mocked and disregarded. Don't fall into the trap of our culture that mocks children who are scared of movies that they deem entertaining.
-For the spiritually sensitive child, their temptation to sin may be to judge or misjudge others. It is essential that as when we notice a spiritual gift growing in a child that we train them up in how to exercise it Biblically so that they do not fall into the temptation of sin. When encouraged, spiritually sensitive people can nurture and compassionately empathize with the hurting and needy. Fertilize this gift with the spiritual discipline of prayer, it can grow the gift of intercession in a child.
-Teach your other children to be thankful for their siblings spiritual gift and not look down on them or be impatient with them.
-Teach your children to protect their purity of mind. The more they are in the word and not exposed to worldly philosophies or sins as being acceptable, the more you will notice that their convictions are formed by Scripture.
-Teach your children what this verse 1 Corinthians 10:23 means in regard to why you make different parenting decisions for different children in some circumstances. Help them to appreciate that not all people are like them and that it's alright for their brother or sister to watch that movie even though they can't. While a book or a movie may be permissible for one child, it might not be beneficial for your spiritually sensitive child.
Let’s Pray Together:
Lord Jesus, thank you for the gifts our children are in our lives. We recognize that we do not always acknowledge just how much of a gift they are from You and we fail to appreciate the unique gifts and talents you are growing in them. Open our eyes to see them the way You do and help us all to have a desire to have faith and humility like a child, to listen to the voice of your Spirit and obey it as they often do. Help us not to parent in fear, but to parent with confidence in You and be guided only by Your Word and Spirit. Help us not to compare our parenting decisions to others, or to allow the enemy to tempt us to find our value in our parenting, but in our identity in You alone. Father, we thank You for the gift of Your Spirit to live among us today and guide us. Help us not to drown it out or undervalue it. Help us to raise children who are confident in who You Created them to Be, gifts and all. Amen.
Your Sister in the Journey,
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