How to Teach Your Kids to Trust God When Life Is Hard
“Do you remember when Beezus and Ramona’s cat Picky-Picky died?” eight-year-old Savannah asked from the backseat of our mini-van.
It was almost 8 p.m. on a Friday night. My daughters and I were on our way to an after-hour emergency animal hospital. Our two-year-old tabby cat Socks had suffered an extreme vaccination reaction.
First, his gait had changed. His normally limber, relaxed form had become sloth-like slow and hunched over. He hissed anytime we came near him and refused to eat. It was clear to us that something was seriously wrong.
Without hesitation and with much urgency, I packed him and my girls into our van.
As I drove, Savannah continued her Ramona Quimby reminiscing.
“Their parents weren’t home, and they buried him in the yard,” she stated matter of factly. “I hope we don’t have to bury Socks in the yard.”
The truth was, we were all worried he might die. But none of us, except Savannah, were brave enough to actually say it.
Practical Ways to Teach Your Kids to Trust God When Life Is Hard
While I too loved Socks, as a mom, what scared me the most was how my daughters would react if we did lose him. I knew walking through the sorrow of a dead pet would be difficult and heartbreaking, to say the least.
Yet, in the midst of my fear, I was also confident that my husband Ted and I had steadily and faithfully prepared our girls to trust God even when life is hard.
How had we done this? And how can you do the same when your kids face those hard seasons in life? Here are several ways.
Model for your kids how to trust God
How do you respond when life is hard? After all, you can’t compellingly impart what you don’t personally believe.
Your kids not only listen to what you say when struggles and disappointment come, but they also observe how you react. Do they see you:
- Digging into God’s Word
- Spending time in prayer
- Reaching out to trusted community for support
The next time life is hard for you, take note of your first response. Is it a reaction you hope to see your kids imitate when they experience loss?
Remind your kids of God’s track record
In my book Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life Is Hard, I mention how God encouraged the Israelites to have an attitude of remembrance. He instructed them to build memorials to remind themselves of His track record. It was one of unwavering faithfulness and care.
You can do something similar with your kids. You can use stories – from Scripture, from history, and from your kids’ lives – to remind your children that they serve an unchanging God. You can:
- Read about individuals in the Bible such as Joseph, Moses, and Esther
- Remember how God comforted your family through past disappointments
- Ponder beauty that was birthed from hard times in your lives
Feed your kids gospel-centered truth
If your kids are anything like mine, they most likely love music. At our house, we are purposeful to make sure some of the music they listen to feeds them gospel-centered truth that speaks of God’s faithfulness, goodness, and love.
Need some suggestions on what to listen to? For younger kids try:
- God Rocks!
- Hillsong Kids
- Chris Tomlin
For older kids, give these a listen:
- David Crowder
- Toby Mac
- Francesca Battistelli
A Tabby Cat, an Unexpected Vet Visit, and God’s Faithfulness
Three hours after Savannah recalled Picky-Picky’s death, we drove home with Socks in tow. While we still needed to monitor him, he’d pulled through. There would be no backyard grave digging at our house.
Someday, though – hopefully a long, long time from now – we will have to say goodbye to our family pets. When that day does come, I hope that I’ve continued to prepare my girls to trust God when life is hard.
Ashleigh Slater is the author of the books, Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life is Hard and Team Us: The Unifying Power of Grace, Commitment, and Cooperation in Marriage. She’s also a regular contributor to a number of popular blogs and websites. With over twenty years of writing experience and a master's degree in communication, she loves to combine the power of a good story with practical application to encourage and inspire readers. She and her husband Ted live in Atlanta with their four daughters. Learn more at AshleighSlater.com or follow Ashleigh on Facebook.
Don’t miss Ashleigh Slater’s new book, Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life Is Hard from Moody Publishers.
Moody is offering the community of The Better Mom 40% off with the code BRAVE40 through 11/30/2017. Click here to grab your copy.
How do you cope when life is hard? Is there a way to grieve so that seasons of loss become seasons of growth? Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life is Hard is about where to turn when life is hard. Ashleigh Slater weaves together Scripture, personal stories, and guest entries to comfort the suffering and encourage hopeful grieving. Whether your trials concern health, employment, relationships, or even death, grief can turn into growth when we lean on Christ and others. Braving Sorrow Together provides solace for hard times and advice for getting through them with grit and grace.
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