Friday, August 8, 2014

Handling Tough Questions

My kids started soccer practice this week.  It has been interesting in so many ways.  I have been reminded to be thankful that I have the opportunity to homeschool.  One mom explained to me that two parents have to work today unless one parent makes an insane amount of money.  I could tell how much she loves her kids and cherishes her time with them.  

I watched another set of parents juggle their kids and split duties as they adjust to changes in their family.  I saw this last year, too, when two parents had separated and had to juggle work and their kids' practices.  

I walk around and meet all the parents.  I ask lots of questions and get to know them.  Last year, I was the new parent to soccer.  My older daughter's team had all played together for several years and then my middle daughter's team was over half returning kids who knew each other.  This year my daughters' team is half returning, half new.  My son's team is almost entirely new.  

Last night one of the few returning kids came for the first time to practice and started messing with my son.  I called my son on his behavior and we talked.  I came home and realized how thankful I am to be homeschooling my son.  I've always been thankful that my girls were homeschooled for their first school years because they didn't get picked on for being small and bullied.  Now they are older and stronger...and able to stand up for themselves without being scarred by the other kids.  Last night I realized that my son has growing to do before he will be strong enough to stand consistently against peer pressure and behave when the kids around him aren't.  

This week what Walt Wangerin Jr. said about kids has been ever present on my mind--that as parents we are to protect our children and prepare them for the future.  Part of preparing them is helping them learn how to act and behave and cope with all the different social situations they will face in life.  Some of those situations will be knowing how to deal with bullies.  Other situations will involve knowing how to tackle the pain of life and the sin they will encounter.

I think that we as adults can struggle with processing the pain as much as our kids do.  How do we think about and understand death?  Natural disasters?  Satan?  Divorce?  Adultery? But beyond that, how do we talk with our children about these things and explain to them why things happen?  I talk with my husband and friends.  I pray and read the Bible.  These topics are tough to tackle.  

I did come across a book recently that was sent to me for review that tackles a few of these questions.  The book is titled Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions: Helping Them Understand Loss, Sin, Tragedies, and Other
Hard Topics
by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson (Elyse's daughter).  This book tackles the questions I mention in the previous chapter.  This book is not a how to filled with scripts of what to say to your children.  It includes short essays or paragraphs on the topics so that parents can have ideas of verses to share from the Word and ideas of how and what to explain.

My children learned what divorce was a few years ago, but I didn't explain to them the "why" at the time.  This past spring I explained to them the "why" when the parents of a friend of theirs got divorced.  They're older now and we felt they needed to know.  I did explain that divorce comes because of sin--either on one person's part or both in the marriage.  

I read what this book said on several topics.  On the topic of homosexuality, the authors break it down between preschool, ages 5-10 and 11 and up.  I appreciated what the authors said for the oldest and youngest groups, but felt a little different about the 5-10 group.  The authors didn't explicitly say it is a sin and honestly, this is the age when kids are in school and they are being told today that it is right and even good by our culture and their school lessons.  My husband pointed out to me that it's important to us the word sin so that our kids understand what's a sin.

I once talked with our kids about selfishness, but didn't directly call it a sin at first.  I softened it.  I wanted to make it easier somehow for them.  But, I realized that I shouldn't.  That's where I think this book can be helpful.  The first topic is "What is Sin?"  I do like how the authors tackle this and discuss it.  It's good food for thought.  That's the thing about this book. I realize that I don't have to say or agree with everything in this book or how the authors would address a topic.  It's a book of ideas.  A place to start.

There has been a difficult topic on my mind this week and I am troubled about how I will explain it to my children when they become aware of a particular situation.  It has deeply troubled my own heart.  I am going to pray about it and ask God to give me wisdom to know what to say when my children bring it up or when I feel Him impress upon my heart that I need to talk with them about it.  As their parent, it is my job to protect them and prepare them for the future.  Parenting babies and toddlers is tough.  Parenting children as they grow up is tough, too--in a very different way...

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishing.

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