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Talking Harsh Truths with Our Kids

I was thinking about the difficult things in my life that have led to some pretty hard conversations.  I hold vivid memories of the day my aunt told me she was moving from California to New York and would come back to visit me. I was eight years old at the time and didn't see her again until I was in my late thirties.  My aunt's home was my safe place.  She took me away on weekends when my parents weren't getting along or when I needed a break from my younger siblings (perks of being the oldest).  It was a treat.  It broke my heart when she left.  We talked and she wrote me letters for quite a long time.  As an adult, I never considered what it might have been like for her preparing for that conversation with me.  She was facing some difficult things, too.

I'm a mom now and my children are ten and twenty.  It's crazy to think that I have had babies at the beginning of two different decades.  By the time my daughter Chloe was just four years old my dad had died, my marriage ended, my car broke down, and we ended up sleeping on my mom's couch.  I am not sure at what age your kids went through the "Why?" stage but here we were with lots of questions.  It felt like the whole world was on my shoulders and I never wanted it to be on hers.  We kept talking through the hard things; we played, we laughed, we baked cookies, and we went to church.

I have since remarried and our story has changed.  The conversations look different but we're still having them.  This year brought another hard season amidst a pandemic.  My ex-husband died tragically, my daughter is mourning a relationship that won't be reconciled this side of heaven, and my son grieves coming home from school one Friday afternoon in March with no idea when he will return.  Don't get me started on social media, dating, and sneaking the tablet under the covers to play games when you should be sleeping.  Can I break for a funny story?  My son Logan saw pictures of me with Chloe's biological dad and the only thing that concerned him was that my hair was "weird" back in "those days"...Ok, thanks dude.  That's a ten year old boy, for ya!  

We get to influence our kids' lives, however that gift of parenting has been given to us.  Tenderness, nurturing, loving, and even feeding them comes (fairly) easily.  Talking through harsh truths with them is like a punch in the gut.  Be honest with them.  Keep open conversations with them.  Acknowledge their feelings.  Lead with love and acceptance even when discipline is necessary.  Seek wise counsel.  I hope you have an older, more mature relative, faith friend, mentor, etc., who you are able to be vulnerable with and talk through things.  It is a blessing.  Humor isn't a bad thing, either.  There will be a time when laughter comes and feels appropriate.  When it does, embrace the giggles.

Eight year old Elena needed to know she was loved and she was safe.  It was right around that time that my other Aunt, who is my namesake, asked my mom if she could take me to church.  I accepted Jesus into my heart that year.  The best thing we can do for our children is strengthen our relationship with God and put our hope, trust and dependence fully on Him --so that we can lead them to do the same. Remember that we cannot do it alone.  That's GOOD NEWS, friends!  The gospel of John, chapter 14 talks of Jesus calling the Holy Spirit our advocate.  The original Greek word for this title was actually a legal term with a broader meaning than just a "counsel for the defense."  It actually meant "one who is called alongside to help."  We can depend on the Holy Spirit to guide, instruct, and encourage us in all things.  At the end of verse 27 Jesus says:
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 

Let the imagery of those words comfort you with peace the next time you scoop up your kiddos to utter the same.  Your father in heaven is whispering them right back to you.

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