Change… some of us thrive in it and others would rather die than endure it. But no matter what side we’re on, God more than likely has a few plot twists in the story He’s writing for us, so it’s important to not fear change — and it’s imperative we teach our kids the same.
To show them that a deeply rooted faith will be the answer to peace in the midst of trial and change will be one of the greatest lessons you can share and will also encourage the development of surrendered Christ-followers instead of nominal Christians.
I’m sharing a few practical ways our family has walked through change in the last decade, and for us that change came in the form of big moves during extremely formative ages for our kids. But I don’t think your plot twist has to be the same as ours for these practical tips to help!
We’ve done several big moves with kids, but our last two were at what most would describe as very inopportune times in their adolescence. One was back in 2012 when I had a 4th grader and a 6th grader, and then the most recent with a sophomore and senior. Yep, I said senior. We pulled our almost-graduated kid out of school halfway through her final year.
Let me first say, nothing was easy. Not one part. But God delivered a peace that flooded our hearts through it all, so as much as it wasn’t easy, I can truly tell you it was joyful. He also directed our steps. Every single one. We prayed a lot and we tried to prepare for the tough conversations that we knew would come. However, teenage hormones + real fear and anxiety don’t always give you time to prepare for the mini (or massive) explosions that happen, and there WILL be emotional explosions (for girls and boys.) In those more challenging moments, I clung to a few things.
- These are not their words, it’s their fear I’m hearing.
- There’s no excuse for disrespect, and I can’t allow it just because I feel guilty about their circumstances.
- Love wins every time – love them through it. Even if the words I had to use were harsh (I have always been a brutal truth kind of mom) my physical stance, the tone of my voice, and the timing of the lecture mattered. My assurance AND my correction had to look like love, sound like love, and feel like love to them.
So here’s how it went for us. These are the five things we did that I would do again if a big change came our way!
1. We never acted like where we were was where we would be forever. I think the biggest mistake parents can make is getting ahead of God when it comes to their family’s future plans. Whether it’s relationships, college, or geographical location, we have to surrender those decisions to the Lord. We were totally content with our life but contentment isn’t a reason to say “no” to God. Walking with the Lord is an adventure, and that’s a perk, not a punishment. We made sure our kids knew that.
2. We always told the girls everything first. Before our friends or our parents, they were at the top of the list for new information. There weren’t any meetings they were unaware of or details that they weren’t briefed on. When we first told our girls that we had been asked to send a resume to a new church our youngest instantly had the biggest smirk on her face — I will never forget it. She said to us, “Oh, well this makes sense, I just wrote about this in my prayer journal a few months ago.” We were dumbfounded. The Holy Spirit had been preparing her all along. He will do that in the hearts of our kids – this is NOT to say your kids will always be super-duper excited, but we can’t forget they are not ours; they are the Lord’s! There’s Someone who loves them even more than we do, and He is paving their way and protecting their hearts. Let them walk with you, not way behind you, in the steps of your big change.
3. We visited what would be our new city a lot! We found all of the wonderful restaurants, the cute shops (I have girls, so that is obviously a big selling point) and we probably stopped in every quaint coffee shop in the area just so that we could dream with each other. I would highly suggest that you do whatever you can to familiarize yourself and your kids (whether it’s a geographical change or just a situational change) with what the new normal will be.
4. We let them each confide in a close friend that we knew we could trust. The church we were at was a large church that loved us very much, so of course we couldn’t go sharing details to everyone before we knew for sure what would happen. Take note, this step of the journey is exactly where things can get really hard and go really bad, not just for your kids but for you! Change and transition are hard enough, don’t you dare do it alone! And don’t let your kids either. Especially if the change that is taking place isn’t due to a positive circumstance. If the friend thing isn’t an option or if you have younger kids than mine, find an adult or relative that they love and can talk to. It’s important they have someone they can go to, other than you, that will check on them, pray for them, and have their back when they start to panic. Because there WILL be moments of panic! This goes for you too, mom. Don’t isolate yourself for the sake of keeping a secret. It’s not worth it!
5. Do what you can to make their life easier during the transition, NOT OUT OF GUILT, but out of genuine care for their heart. A little more support, a little more special treatment, and a lot more grace is appropriate. It won’t spoil them, it will help them to see that our obedience is noticed. Just like God took care of the little details Kent and I were most fearful of, He helped Kent and I do that for our girls. It was no surprise that when they found out we were definitely moving, one of their scariest fears was having to start in a new school halfway through the year and as older kids. They both asked if it would be possible to home-school, so we began to explore that option, and they are now both enrolled in Liberty Online and thriving. My opinion is, if I can make some part of a really difficult situation less difficult for my kid, I’m going to at least try. To me that’s not coddling. It’s just good “momming.”
Change is hard, harder for some kids than for others, but it also creates really well adjusted adults who can’t be shaken by a new assignment from God. So to me, it’s absolutely worth it. Whether the change is brought about by good situations like a relocation, or unfortunate situations like divorce, God will sustain your kids. The scary and unknown is exactly the place where God’s glory can be on full display in our lives, so embrace it, and embrace them! It’s going to be okay!