I love to read. Since elementary school books have taken me to amazing places. So when I became a mom I was certain I’d pass this love of books onto my kids. My late-husband was the same way. He even went to so far as to think through whether our firstborn son’s name would sound good as an author, “J.S. Buell? Yeah, I can see that on a dust cover.”
I have four amazing kids. Each one is unique and gifted in his or her own way. When it comes to reading, only one of them seemed to excel at it on his own. My first born took to reading like a pro. But three of them, for one reason or another, struggled with it. My youngest didn’t mind it but hated that it didn’t come easy. So this week when I awoke to find her up on a summer morning, without the TV on, curled up with a new book, my heart soared.
This wasn’t something I could force on her. I could push her and schedule reading time, but until it clicked, it just wasn’t something she wanted to do. It was a battle and I didn’t want to make reading a battleground. I could provide space and tools but as much as I wanted, I couldn’t magically fix her struggle with reading.
Sometimes as much as we’d like to, we just can’t fix it for them.
A child learning to read isn’t the most drastic problem. There have been other times in my children’s lives when I’ve wanted to fix it but can’t. Maybe you can relate to a few of these:
When they struggle to make friends long after the age when I can just schedule a play date.
When a subject is hard in high school.
When a boss is difficult at a first job.
When trying to choose a career path and a college.
When they struggle with anxiety and depression.
These are the things that they encounter long after the days of kissed boo-boos and easy answers. As our kids get older, our jobs change. As moms, our job is to work ourselves out of a job. And that can be so very difficult to make peace with. But I have learned to trust God–trust that God’s got them and God can take care of what we can’t is essential for this new stage in mothering.
So how do we do the mom-thing when we can’t just magically make it all better? I think there are a few things we can do for them.
- Listen and advise when asked. Sometimes they don’t need or want us to fix it. They just need to know they can vent to us the struggle they are having. Offering that freely can be the help they need. And, when we’ve proven we will listen, often they will ask for our advice.
- Pray. Oh my word do I pray for my kids. There are so many things in their lives that I can’t fix. But God can. Time and again his word tells us to bring our cares, our burdens, our problems to him and he’ll listen and give wisdom freely. Praying for our kids is so vital. Plus, when our kids see us relying on prayer for help in tough situations, they learn this is a place to turn themselves.
- Get help when necessary. There’s nothing weak about getting counseling for a child who is struggling. There is nothing lazy about enlisting a friend they respect to take them to coffee if we aren’t the best one to advise them. There’s nothing wrong with asking a youth pastor for backup when we just aren’t sure what to do. We were meant to live our lives in community and asking for help is sometimes the bravest thing we can do.
The older our kids get the more likely they are to encounter problems that we just can’t fix for them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need us nor that there’s no hope. God loves our kids more than we do and when they see us turning to Him for answers when we have none, we show them where true help comes from. He can be trusted to help our child through difficult things we can’t fix—either by giving us the right way to go, providing a resource they need, or simply by helping our child grow through a difficult situation.
What’s one way you’ve had to trust God for a seemingly impossible situation in your child’s life? You don’t have to go into great detail but I’d love to hear from you. We are better as parents when we do it together.
This is the fourth in my summer series about Trusting God with our kids. Here’s the links to the other posts: