During October, Berean Youth engaged in a two-week series about friendship. On the first night, we talked about how godly friendships allow you to be real. As I was preparing for this message, I realized the same is true for families.
For many families being real or authentic means feeling comfortable being yourself: wearing PJs all day, getting into arguments, playing games together, and sometimes being the weirdest version of yourself. If your family is anything like mine, you know exactly what I am talking about. But I think there is more to it than that.
Being real should mean being vulnerable with what you are experiencing, thinking, and feeling, especially when it comes to our faith.
It's easy for adults to pretend things are okay, be strong for our families, or think our children aren’t mature enough to handle information or a situation. I get it. As parents, you want to protect, provide for, and care for your family. I am not suggesting that you don’t do that. The older your children are, the more they will see, experience, and encounter hard situations. The best place for them to process their emotions and these situations is in their homes.
I suggest the best way to help them is to be open with what you are going through and how you are processing it. Here are three ways your transparency can help your children navigate their own stressors.
Show your children that it's okay to not be okay.
Students feel stressed. In fact, more and more students say that they regularly feel extreme levels of stress. If we are honest, that doesn’t generally go away as adults. Whether it is pressure at home, at work, with family, or friendships, there is always something causing stress in our lives. That's normal. It's potentially even healthy to have some level of stress in your life. But people need to process and handle pressures appropriately. Help your children know it's okay to not be okay by inviting them to walk alongside you when you are not okay.
Help your children learn from your mistakes.
We all make mistakes. I bet somewhere in your list of hopes and dreams for your kids is the desire that they don’t repeat the same mistakes you made in your life. There are many situations they are encountering or will encounter that you already went through. Let them know you went through it too and share what went wrong and why. Maybe by trusting them with those not-so-great parts of your life, you can help them avoid those same situations.
Show your children an appropriate way to navigate life.
We all make mistakes and we all have successes. Share those situations and stories with your children. It’s good to celebrate success and learn from it. Don’t just show them what not to do; show them what to do.
The best friendships are the ones where they can be real and vulnerable, and I believe the same is true for families. Be real with your students about your life, and maybe they will be more likely to be real with you.