We were speaking in Birmingham over the weekend. During the q and as, one question kept coming up. How do we protect our children from depression, self-hatred and anxiety? How can we raise them to be strong, but weak in all the right ways?
I wish I knew the answer. So I asked some friends.
Here’s some of their wisdom – and please share yours.
- don’t try and be perfect. Kids don’t need perfect parents (and trying will kill us), but they can learn from messy parents who make mistakes, say sorry and model forgiveness and grace.
- don’t blame yourself. We don’t make our kids good and we don’t make them bad either. We just do our best.
- work with what you can. You can’t change circumstances, but you can pray for your child and give them guidance.
- teach them that it’s okay to have emotions. It’s not “bad” to feel angry or sad or upset, and these things won’t harm us. But we can learn to talk them out and express them in healthy ways; with God and with others.
- keep the lines of communication open. If your kid likes computer games, play one with them. Ask about what they enjoy. Get them to teach you new skills.
- Encourage them to think critically about the media. You can’t take them out of the world but neither do you want to leave them to it. If you’re watching a video of say Beyonce, ask: what do you think about the song? Her clothes and her dancing? What do you think the bible says about this? What’s good about it? What do we need to be careful about? Social media is neither good or bad in itself. BUT set limits.
- Remind them that Jesus loves them unconditionally and is concerned with their heart, not their appearance. As far as you can, do the same. And keep reminding them that Jesus loves you like this too. If you make a mistake, apologise to God and to them. Practise forgiveness.
- For at least part of the day, give your child your full attention. When they’re talking but you are focused on what you will say next, you can miss what they’re really trying to say.
- Identify your child’s personal strengths and talents and encourage them.
- Be consistent in what you expect and how you behave.
This is the post I hope you’ll write for me. Over to you…