3 IDEAS FOR RAISING KIDS WHEN THE WORLD IS IN CHAOS
As I sit here on my computer at my kitchen table, I can see my kids playing in the living room. At ages 2 and 8, they are pretty oblivious to what is going on in this world currently, though my oldest does ask about coronavirus occasionally. I wonder what their future holds. And I wonder how exactly to navigate the parenting waters during all of this chaos.
I know that this isn’t the first time parent’s have had to face so much uncertainty in their kid’s futures. Every generation deals with their own times of uncertainty and chaos. This isn’t even the first time parents have had to deal with a pandemic or civil unrest. But is it the first time we have had to do so simultaneously? I’m honestly not sure. Full transparency, I didn’t do the research on that.
I feel the weight of wanting to get this right. I know that Kristi and I desire to raise kids who are firm in Christ and show love and kindness to their fellow people, both inside and outside of the church. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that there are some things we are striving for as we raise our kids. If you’re a Christian parent, maybe some of these will help you navigate this time. If you’re not a Christian parent, some of these may still resonate with you.
1. Don’t shield them from current events - No, I don’t think that I need to sit down and watch the evening news coverage of riots around this country or virus death statistics with my 2 year old. But with our 8 year old…possibly? I want our kids to understand that there is hurt and pain in this world. I want them to know that there are right and wrong responses to that. I want them to understand that injustice requires good people to respond. At the same time, I want them to know that sometimes the response diminishes the mission.
I want to protect the childhood of my kids. I want them to only know good and enjoy their time as they grow. But maybe that would be doing them a disservice. Kids are resilient. They can handle more than we give them credit for and maybe exposure to these things at a fairly young age would help them as they develop their worldview growing up. Again, maybe not a two year old, but I think you get the point.
2. Foster open dialogue and a respect for differing opinions - My social media feeds are inundated with political statements, both from liberals and conservatives. I would personally consider myself center-right in my leanings, but I really do believe that both sides of the political spectrum have legitimate things to offer. What I don’t get is the hatred and vitriol that bleeds through in every comment and post.
Many things in this world are cut and dry. The truth of Scripture does not leave room for differing opinions on many topics. But on some things, the Bible is silent. Maybe, just maybe, the Bible remains silent on certain topics because there is room for disagreement on these things. Let me be clear… I firmly believe that if the Bible speaks up on a topic, a principle, or an idea, then that is the final word. The only truth we have in this world is that which God has given us in Scripture.
But on some topics, there is room to disagree. And we should do so with civility and respect. This COVID-19 pandemic has been a perfect example. I have watched and read so many “experts” on this that it has made me realize one thing… there are no experts. One organization says wear a mask, the next says don’t. One expert says X amount will contract the virus, the next expert says Y amount will contract the virus, and both seem to get it wrong. Then it leads to division. If you wear a mask you’re paranoid and if you don’t then you don’t care about the health and safety of others.
Maybe this isn’t the best example. But my point is this. Who knows who is right? The data changes every single day it seems. What this should teach us is that we have room to disagree on things, but we have to be civil and show respect. Even on topics that we know we are correct on, being disrespectful in our argument will never change an opinion. I want my kids to understand that respect of other opinions is necessary. That doesn’t mean we have to condone or agree with them. Ultimately, my goal in raising my kids is to raise disciple of Jesus and that means that they must be seeking to make disciples as they grow up as well. This requires the building of relationships with people who may have differing viewpoints and relationships require respect and civility. I want to instill that in my children. I believe that is an essential quality if they are going to be disciples.
3. Give them a foundation - I think the most important thing as we raise our kids is for Kristi and I to give them a firm foundation in Christ. We know that He is the only hope for a world in chaos. We know that He gives life to the spiritually dead. We know that He gives purpose in the midst of confusion.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says this: 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (ESV)
The reality is, if we don’t raise our kids with a firm foundation in Christ then nothing else matters. There will be fears that our kids must face as they grow up. They will have obstacles that seem nearly impossible. There will be world events that bring uncertainty. But if we instill our kid’s foundation in Christ, then they will be equipped to handle this adversity. I don’t know that this requires a “formal” time of family Bible study. Those times are great, but it really needs to permeate everything that we do as parent’s. We need to instill the awe of God in them. We need to point out His greatness in creation. When we see something beautiful in nature, we should point out to our kids how awesome our Creator is.
So talk about God often. Talk about the love of Jesus often. Talk about the work of the Holy Spirit often. And then let your kids see you live it out and not just talk about it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to raise our kids in a time of chaos. But maybe these can be a starting point. What are your ideas and thoughts. Leave them in the comments, I would love to hear from you. And check out episode 2 of our podcast, Maybe You’re Interested… But Probably Not, as we have a roundtable discussion on this very topic. Look for that episode to be available on June 11.
- Pastor Greg