Parenting In Faith“Everyday Challenges”
By Donna Rayburn
Knowing how to help your child with everyday challenges sounds easy. I read a lot of books on parenting and child behavior. I talk to other parents to learn how they handle sticky situations with their children. I generally feel confident that I’ll know how to handle situations my children encounter…until it actually happens and I freeze. It’s like a speaking engagement where I’m completely prepared and I freeze on stage!Case in point, my daughter planned on spending the night at a friend’s house with other girls. At about 10 p.m., she called home and wanted to come home. When I got to the telephone, I froze. I knew I was equipped with the right things to say to make her calm and comfortable staying at her friend’s house. However, as she talked to me, my mind went blank. My mind raced to think of something wise and encouraging to say. All I could think about was the part of the Freaky Friday movie where the mom psychologist convinces her teenage daughter to do her job by repeating, “So how do you feel about that.” So, I started there until my brain calmed down. I remembered the Bible verse I Corinthians 10:13: “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” I reminded her of this Bible verse, too. Then I started to ask other questions: “What made you call home? Why do you want to come home? How can you find a way to connect with your friends and do something you all like to do?” Then I added, “Compromise is the key to successful friendships. You’ll find yourself in many situations where you’ll have to compromise, and you can’t always do what you want to do all the time.”I think the reassurances helped. “You know I’m here if you need me. You know you are safe. I’ll be right there after you wake up in the morning.”What I really think did the trick was letting her just talk to me. Silence was okay. I let her gather her thoughts and say them aloud, whether they made sense or not. I didn’t judge what she said. Listening and asking questions allowed her to arrive at her own conclusion and take ownership of her situation. When we hung up, I still wasn’t sure if I’d get another call, so I watched the clock throughout the night. She successfully made it through the night at her friend’s house. By 8 a.m. the next morning, I had to call her to tell her how proud I was of her for conquering her fear! I also told her that she should be proud of herself, too! I think it is important for us, as parents, to remember and to remind our children that God doesn’t give us more than we can bear.Donna Rayburn is a local resident and mother of four children and author of I Accidentally…, a story about her son’s kindergarten adventures. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.