As I was heading home from a trip in Taipei, my seat mate happened to be a beautiful Chinese Filipina woman. As we started to share stories, I discovered she was a middle school teacher in Taipei. Having been married for over 15 years with several painful miscarriages, she has accepted her fate of not having her own children. But God has given her the special assignment to love these middle school kids like her own. She then shares with me how every year, she would have at least 5 suicide cases in their school (and take note, that’s a fairly low number for them). As she was sharing this, I was alarmed and she got my full attention. She has personally witnessed 1 student that she was trying to convince not to jump off their school building but despite all the plea – the student said her last goodbyes and jumped off the building facing her. That sight she will never forget for the rest of her life. I asked her the question “Why would they do such a thing?” Then she shared that in China, parents are way too busy for their kids. They don’t communicate with their children and their way to show that they appreciate their kids is if they excel in school. So if they don’t do well, kids have a sense of hopelessness of not getting the love and approval of their parents. Believe it or not this school requires parents to come in every Friday to teach “how to parent their kids” so that they can develop a healthy family life.
Its still is a shock to me. What is happening to our kids today? I can’t help but think that these issues are creeping in our schools. My friend’s daughter shared her burden about how several of her friends in school are battling suicidal thoughts. But here is something even more alarming, several of these kids battling suicidal thoughts actually took the thought into action. Wave of concern flood social media and even mommy chat rooms, discussions on how to raise emotionally healthy kids and teach kids how cope with problems and adversity are hot discussions today. Many parents are still in the dark when it comes to directing children into a bright future ahead.
How do we help our kids become victorious and overcomers?
One of the many important things I want to teach my kids is the word “RESILIENCE”. Resilience is the process of adapting well and dealing with change, hardships, stress, trauma and even tragedy. It’s the ability of a person to bounce back from various trials and come out stronger. I believe that if they learn how to be resilient they can weather any kind of storm that comes their way.
So what are the ways we can help them become resilient?
- POSITIVE OUT LOOK
I discovered that resilience is built in a home that has a positive outlook in life. Teach them to count their blessings. Teach them to always see the good things even in bad situations. On our very first out of the country family trip to Singapore, my kids (Sabrina and Matt) were so excited to travel. They packed their clothes. They hardly could sleep the night before. They woke up so early for our morning flight. This was going to be the adventure we have all been waiting for. As we got to the counter to check in our baggage, the ground attendant called my husband’s attention. We were told that his passport is 6 months before expiration and therefore he won’t be able fly based on Singapore law. The reality sank in. If John can’t fly, we don’t want to fly without him. We made a family decision that we would stay. We ate in a café instead and though we were apologizing, our kids never made a fuss or had any form of resentment for not going. In fact, we ended up counting our blessings. Our kids were assuring us the fun was with who they were with and not the place – now that’s perspective!
- DO FUN THINGS
Children need time with their parents to do fun things. We parents most of the time are way too serious. We are like policemen, watching every mistake they make. We need to loosen up and give space for our kids to collect happy memories. Happy memories can help kids cope when bad things come their way. They can always remember a happy time and it makes them see that their joy is actually not stolen from them. As part of our family value, we aim to do fun things together as a family.
There is such a big difference with children growing up with a supportive family and role models that encourages them to rise up every time they encounter a fall. I am the chief cheerleader in our home and I am generous with praises. The trick is to pay attention. Encourage when they strive to do something. Chores are easy at home because it’s the encouraging words that gets them going. You should try it!
- TRY AGAIN
When my daughter Sabrina was younger, she had the tendency to lean towards perfection. If the work is not done right, she would cry and crumple her work. She is also highly competitive too. In games where she would lose, she would refuse to play again. She feared failing. We knew that we needed to address it immediately so we kept reminding her that she can always TRY AGAIN. So John would play with her till she understood that if she once failed she can try again and do even better. Today she is doing better and “trying” is not a bad word after all.
Rest is so important for someone who went through a tough situation. Sometimes the study is hard. Sometimes they are stressed out on the load of the work. Sometimes they have emotions like bad days and some frustrations. When things like these happen, give your child some time to rest and recharge. When problems come along, we don’t have to battle it all day. Sometimes rest and proper nutrition is what we need to fight another day.
- ANCHOR TO HOPE
If there is one thing that’s most important in building resilience is leading your kids to know God and have a relationship with Him. Anchoring them to the Creator grounds them to know that there is loving God who is Sovereign, who knows each one of us by name. When we understand that God wants the best for us and that He truly has the best purpose and plan for our lives – amidst trials and hardship we can have the Hope that all these thing shall come to pass.
If you want to learn more on how to parent against hopelessness and against wrong thinking. Join me at Counterflow Conference this October 24, 2015 at CCF Center at Frontera Verde. This event is mounted by CCF Family Ministry.