You couldn’t pay me to step back into junior high again. I still cringe when I come across a 7th grade picture–pimples, crooked teeth and a pathetic rendition of a Farrah Fawcett hairdo. They are tough years for any growing adolescent.
I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who comes out on the other side of their teen years without a few bumps and bruises. Which makes today exceptionally difficult for me as a mom. Grace and Samuel are experiencing their first day of school at a new school. Not just any school…junior high.
And, to make things just a little more difficult, we’ve moved to a new state where the culture is a little different and the language is a little different. Which means our kids will look and sound a little different.
So, how do I encourage my children when they’re worried about making friends? How do I instill hope in a child who is having trouble sleeping because she’s worried about fitting in? I’ve included a few ways our family has worked on breathing courage into our little ones this week.
- God’s Word—The first place to start, always. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 When we began our trek across country this summer, our morning devotion was reading the book of Joshua, chapter by chapter. Instill courage in your child by sharing the words of Joshua, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
- Read a Story—Barbra Rainey, co-founder of Family Life has written some wonderful read-aloud story books for your children. This week we’re reading Growing Together in Courage. Our story last night was about a young girl named Sophie Scholl. She grew up during World War II and stood up against Hitler’s movement. And, would you believe the highlighted verse last night was Joshua 1:9? The same verse that began our cross-country journey.
- Pray Together—It’s amazing to me that those who don’t believe in God will still reach out for prayer. Prayer is powerful. Can you imagine what peace it brings our children to hear us pray for them and with them? Most parents tuck their children in at night, so take an extra minute and pray out loud so they hear your petitions before a good and gracious God. When I pray with my sons I thank God for making them mighty men of valor like Gideon in the Bible. The more common our prayer time with them becomes, the more open the children will be to joining in. There’s nothing sweeter than hearing your child pray.
- Speak truth into your child. The box office smash ‘The Help’ brought millions to tears when Abiliene tenderly spoke truth into the precious child she cared for, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” We cry because we understand the need to feel valued and loved. Remind your child on their first day of school just how much they mean to you. Highlight the positive traits in them before they scamper off to class. Tell them everyday how proud you are of them.
When the alarm went off this morning my stomach was in knots and I felt a bit queasy. Each first day of school feels like my first day of school all over again. My husband reminded me, “They’re going to be just fine. It builds character. Beginnings are new opportunities for our children.” I knew my two youngest would be fine but I still didn’t like what they were going to be going through today. There’s nothing that touches the lives of my little ones that doesn’t touch me, too.
God feels the same way about each one of us. Take a moment and encourage your little ones today. You’re breathing courage into their life and teaching them to lean on God in the process.