Strong families CAN get through hard times and raise confident kids. In fact, adversity can be the fuel that produces growth and strength.
I realize that the title of this post is very broad and the information addressing this could easily fill a book.
But my goal today is to break it down into some simple principles that can guide you. Each principle itself is also book-worthy, but for today, we will take little bites.
How does your family get through a hard time?
There are a number of ways that families deal with hard times. They ignore it and pretend it’s not a big deal. They blow up and take it out on each other. They self-medicate to ease the stress, or they come together to talk, support each other, and learn from it.
The first three options are not unusual. But they are also not going to help your child grow up emotionally healthy and ready to take on difficulties they will inevitably face when they are on their own.
If your desire is that your family would be able to communicate, support, and learn, then here are some steps you can take, the small bites I was talking about earlier, that will get you on track for handling hard times that come your way.
1. Use Your Compass
If you’ve taken the time to establish core values in your home, you’ve given your kids a compass. When tough times hit, go back to those values and apply them to your present difficult circumstance.
For instance, let’s say that your child is having a hard season in sports. They are not getting the playing time and this frustrates them AND you. This is a tough season for the parent and athlete and this is also where your core values can help.
If “Seeking to Understand” were a core value in your home, then you could apply that to this situation. Seek to understand the coach’s reasoning by asking him or her. Seek to understand what your child needs to work on to get more playing time. Seek to understand the importance of the role that your child has on the team.
That core value is a compass that guides the thinking of you and your child through a hard time. I suggest that you and your family come up with several core values that will provide that compass for you and your child.
2. Keep Communicating
It’s easy for families to shut down and avoid talking about difficult things because it’s too painful. This is when it’s so important for parents to be intentional about communicating.
Good communication starts with active listening. Put down the distractions, look your child in the eyes, read their body language, and listen to what they’re saying and not saying. Listen without judgment if you want them to continue talking. At some point, you will have an opportunity to insert your guidance and parental wisdom.
Ask open-ended questions and one of the best ways to get them to talk is to ask their opinion when you sense they are in a receptive mood.
Good communication also includes parents asking themselves good questions: What does my child really need to learn from this experience? What is the best way for me to help them learn it?
Filtering your words is another important piece of good communication. Of course, you cannot filter every word that comes out of your mouth, but when you are talking about a topic that is sensitive to your child, filtering will save you from saying things that will only cause conflict.
3. Build a Good Team
Even if you are an awesome parent, it’s hard to go it alone. Build a team of people who can support your family’s core values and have a positive influence in your child’s life. Look for teachers, coaches, youth pastors, older family members, and mentors that will echo your values to your child.
Building a good team also includes the people surround you. Friends, family, neighbors–allow yourself time with positive people who will love and support you and keep your exposure as short as possible with the negative, toxic ones.
4. Focus on Others
If you are in the midst of a hard season, the thought of focusing on others may seem counter-productive. Shouldn’t you instead be focusing on your own family?
Well, yes, and no. Of course, you must put your family first and deal with the issues that you are facing, but in the midst of the difficulty, taking time to focus on others can actually be part of your healing.
Let me share an example. My husband works in a family business and there are times when it gets very very difficult. His dad and brothers are verbally abusive and often treat my husband like crap. A couple of weeks ago, the s— really hit the fan and my husband and I were having a hard time coping with it all. We were both down in the dumps for a couple of days…until Wednesday night.
Every Wednesday we serve at our church with the middle and high school students. During this particularly down week, we did as we usually do and went to church on Wednesday night. For 2.5 hours we were wrapped up in loving people, so much so that we totally forgot our own problems. As we walked to our car that night, we felt light-hearted, and it occurred to me that focusing on others instead of our own problem is very healing.
Try this in your own family. Look for opportunities for your kids to get their minds off their own problems by helping others. There is power in being compassionate, for those you are loving and for you.
Raising Confident Kids
Let me get back to the title of this post: How Strong Families Overcome Hard Times To Raise Confident Kids. You may be wondering: how do those two tie in together?
Children raised in a home where the family comes together to face hard times and where the family learns to overcome difficulties together will be more likely to grow up confident. Why? Because they’ve learned that hard times and inconveniences do not have to defeat them. They are more resilient because they’ve learned how to overcome.
Every family will go through hard seasons, and the question for you is this: will you be ready to weather the storm and help your family grow closer and stronger through it? Or will you run and hide, waiting and praying for it to pass and just leave you alone?
Have you established core values in your home? Do you struggle with good communication? Do you know how to build a strong team? Have you figured out a way to help your children focus on others? If you need help with any of these, I am here for you. I’m a parenting coach and I’d love to tell you about my 5-week program that will ready you for those tough seasons: Click here to learn more.