Honesty in Hard Times

Whether you’re a mother, father, grandparent, aunt, or uncle raising a child, you know that this job title comes with many challenges along the way. You’re responsible for helping grow, nurture and teach that child all about life before they run off at the young age of 18.

One challenge that every person raising a child faces is how much information to give them. Do you tell them about the financial situations, do you tell them about the work decisions, do you tell them about the relocation possibility? This Monday edition of Raising a Child is just about that: how to be honest with your children and include them, even in the hard times.

Children are so perceptive. Even though your words may say that everything is “OK,” they will know differently if your eyes, your tone of voice, your face delivers a different message. We believe that honesty in the good times and in the bad will lead to a depth of relationship that will weather the most challenging of storms. So many parents think that they are “sheltering” their children from “bad stuff” when they pretend that everything is ok–even when it isn’t. Being honest with your children about your own problems may prevent them from thinking that they have caused the problem. Never forget that no communication is often the very worse kind of communication.

One of our goals when communicating with our children was to let them know that successful people are not people who do not have problems. Successful people are people who learn how to solve their problems.

It is critical to not have the children feel “responsible” for the problem or “guilty” because they “cost money”. Sensitive children–out of their love for their parents –will “buy” a problem as their own. Separating the problem from the children becomes a must if the children are to maintain security of mind and heart during a crisis time. In defining the problem, make sure to separated the problem from the people.

Support and positive reinforcement are essential during this process. We all need some encouragement–and you can’t get this kind of support anywhere else. The kind of unconditional love and support that you need to weather a crisis has to come from within. When a family cannot receive this type of support from within the walls of their own home–they seek it elsewhere–and the strength of the family dwindles.

Norman Vincent Peale (The Magic of Believing) refers to the scripture, ” I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” – Philippians 4:13. I, personally, say that verse over and over in my mind concentrating on one specific word with each recitation. I have found that through the years, my children remember and refer to that scripture. The planted seed has blossomed within them. It may be a subconscious recognition of that scripture that has tied them to it. Who knows? It doesn’t matter. They understand the significance of the message and have come to confidently depend on not only the message but the expectation of result.

What to Do

1. Identify problems. Get them out on the table. Let the problem stand as an entity within itself–unattached to blame. Know that the problem if solvable. Follow a predetermined problem solving system within the family.

2. Be positive and optimistic (even in the hardest of times) about the possibilities. Do not let yourselves, as parents, succumb to negativism or to “giving up.” You teach your children a self-defeating lesson in life when you “roll over and play dead”. In the toughest of times, look harder.