Remind your children how big God is by telling them stories of His incredible power in other challenging stories in the Bible. He always comes through and always knows what He is doing (always). Make it a family date to have a bedtime story each day for a week using the stories of the Bible. You can read them out loud or simply share them in your own words.
Emotional and mental isolation is worse than physical isolation, as it is a breeding ground for the enemy’s lies. A real war is happening for your child, but you are not a prisoner, and there IS a way out. So rise up, Mama Bear! We need you, protective Father! We must help our children process their grief and help them stay connected to the family, others, and even themselves in this hour. JOY releases a chemical in their brains that gives them the will to fight and endure hard things. One of the most profound ways you can help them is to find pockets of joy throughout the day.
What is a pocket of joy? It is finding those little moments to crack a smile, giggle, or roar with laughter. It is dance parties in the middle of math, eating chocolate chip cookie dough, running in the rain, jumping on the bed, and being silly and childlike. Whatever your day looks like, let it include pockets of JOY! It is NOT entitlement and buying them whatever they want. It is joy through connection and face-to-face smiles, not just things.
I have three teen girls – do you know what that means? It means that I often get a headache from their discovery of perfume. We go to a store and walk out, smelling like a symphony of competing smells demanding my senses. The actual perfume bottle was left sitting on a counter miles away from us, but the smell traveled with us. During family devotions, we talked about our authority and how it doesn’t always feel like we are in the light or powerful. In fact, some days, it feels like there is little hope to cling to and like the enemy has scored too many touchdowns to turn the game around. Regardless of what it feels like, that is NOT what the world’s Creator has stated in His word. It says, “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you’” (Luke 10:17-19).
I got this word picture of the perfume and shared it with the kids. The perfume bottle represents the enemy, and the bottle IS under my feet, but the smell rises to my nose, making me feel overpowered by it. We cannot alter God’s Word just because of what we feel, smell, or experience. Over means extending directly upward from and at a higher level or layer than. Under means at a lower level than. Do not mistake who is OVER and who is UNDER.
It is time for many to stop letting their noses be their guide. If God says the enemy is under your feet, then that means he is under your feet TODAY! Now go teach this word picture to your children!
Each morning, set up a date with your child. Five minutes feels like a long time for a child. They can pick whatever they want to do with your time, and they normally pick something they need from you – talk, spend time cuddling, or play a game. It is a great way to get those tanks filled and get you focused on hearing what they have to say! (Don’t tell them it is only five minutes, though). I like to make a big deal about it by saying something like, “Meet me in the living room at 2 pm today,” or “Let’s have a date, just you and me.” Love languages matter!
A mom shared: “My husband was verbally praising one of our daughters. Just moments later, she was in an angry outburst toward one of her siblings. When we asked her what was going on inside her after we had just spent the time telling her how wonderful she was, she responded, ‘Words of affirmation is my lowest love language. You guys saying all that great stuff about me didn’t do anything for me.’ Yikes! But she was right and honest. It was a big wake-up call.”
Lisa’s response: May I add to that? Intentionally filling her up with a different language triggered her because it reminded her that *her* language was not being spoken. It is like you are craving chocolate, and someone gives you a fish. Fish is good for you, but it triggers your longing for chocolate. While words of affirmation is always a good thing, because her tank was low, it actually had a negative effect. I think that is what was behind her anger at that moment. Love that she was able to articulate it so well and that you could hear her heart. Go for her language to get a bulls-eye into her heart.
The other day Ellie came to me and said, “I know I am loved, but I am just not feeling it today.” The following day I felt led to lavish on her through her language of love. She thanked me, and I told her, “I did not do that to love you. I did it to REMIND you that you are already loved.” As a busy parent, it is easy to feel pressure with the love languages as if it means our children are not loved or are lacking something essential if we don’t fill their tanks daily. The truth is they are ALREADY loved, and speaking their language stirs up what is already there. Take the pressure off yourself of ‘having to’ give your child what they need and view the love languages as a privilege to stir up, call forth and remind them of what was theirs all along.
Teach the children the difference between light and dark. Ask them if you can turn darkness on in the light. Ask if you can turn the light on in the darkness. Hand the kids a flashlight and have them go find ‘dark places’ in the house (in the cabinet, under the bed, in the closet, under the pillows) and declare, “Darkness, I see you,” and have them shine their flashlight in the dark to bring light. Share how Jesus is the Light and that He lives inside those who have accepted Him and gives us the joy of releasing His light in dark places. Read together John 8:12, John 12:46, and Matthew 5:16. Make a point to pray and declare, “Whatever is in darkness, come into the light” as a family over your home, community, nation, and world.
Learning to love your children well provides YOU with an opportunity to know and reflect a SIDE of Jesus. Example: If your child has a love language of quality time and values playing together, but you do not value childlike play, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about joy and play. Example: If your child has a love language of words of affirmation and you do not value speaking mushy words, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about using your words, building others up, and bringing praise to your lips. Example: If your child has a love language of touch, but you do not value affection, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about receiving healthy and appropriate touch. Example: If your child has a love language of acts of service, but you do not value having to do things for them, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about joy and play. Pressing in and learning how to speak THEIR language allows US to grow in being more like HIM.
Your child is hungry to learn and hear your personal stories. Your journey will shape them significantly, and your story’s chapters will be valuable to them. Share with them your experiences as it relates to their world. Tell them about a time you dealt with or struggled with the same thing they are walking through. Share with them what you have learned through your own mistakes. Tell them about your God encounters and what Jesus has said to you. You are not their royal emperor dictating from a throne. You are their parent – empowering, equipping, and leading them face-to-face.
My daughter came to me crying, saying that her sister came into her room demanding she takes out the bathroom garbage. When she told her she would do it later, her sister got upset and began to intimidate her. When I inquired, she said she had taken the garbage out last week, and it was her sister’s turn. I asked if she was faithful with her week, then why did she care if her sister was faithful with hers? Why did that agitate and upset her so much? I felt like something deeper was going on. I asked her to sit on her bed and ask Jesus to show her why she cared so much about her sister’s chores to the point she would use force and intimidation to attempt to control her sister, which her mind knew was not okay. I have taught my children behind every big emotion (anger, rage, intimidation) is what we call SSL – the softer emotion of being SCARED, SAD, OR LONELY. I asked her which one she was feeling under the intimation. She identified she felt scared. She was agitated in the process and kept saying, “I just don’t like it (when they don’t do their chores).” Holy Spirit had me ask this, “…. because what will happen if they don’t do their chores?” She said, “You will be mad at me.” I asked, “And if Mom is mad at you what will happen?” And she broke down in tears and said, “We won’t be connected.” This is where we have to have some tough skin and allow our children to process our parenting, even when we feel misunderstood or falsely accused. It doesn’t matter what MY truth is; she is revealing HER truth at this moment which was driving her behavior. One week she was on dish duty and failed to do it. I went to make breakfast in a hurry and didn’t have any clean dishes, and I got upset. I returned to her a few minutes later and asked for forgiveness, telling her that while she was in the wrong for not managing her chores, I didn’t manage my heart well (I was stressed about something else, and she got the brunt of it). While I thought we worked it out, we didn’t have the opportunity to reconnect before she left for school and went the whole day feeling the space between us. It left a message in her heart that if the chores weren’t done, we would lose our connection, which scared her. I asked for forgiveness again for not managing my emotions well that day and reminded her that she was not responsible for my emotions. That’s my job. I also told her that it is not her job to control her siblings so that she and I remain connected. She melted in my arms and wept. And then humbly apologized to her sister for being so mean.
This is where partnering with Holy Spirit in our parenting gets exciting. We get to give Him space to minister to our children above our capabilities. There is a time for character training and discipline, but in this case, she was feeling a threat to our connection, and that is what needed to be restored.