Parenting while navigating emotional pain presents a unique set of challenges. While struggling personally, it can feel impossible to tend to the well being of another human. If life were left to us to maneuver alone, it would certainly be impossible. Thankfully, that is not the case.
It is possible to maintain a healthy presence of stability for your child(ren) in the midst of personal pain or hardship. Self-care is kind of a buzz phrase these days, and with good reason. Think about airplane oxygen mask rules here. Self care can include resting, eating, and reaching out for healthy support from your friends, family, or community.
One of the most important elements of self care is pressing into your faith, and inviting God into your pain. In the Bible, Psalm 24:17 says, “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” This doesn’t mean our troubles completely disappear. It does mean there is hope for deliverance through the pain or hardship.
Sometimes, pain makes us want to turn from God. Thankfully, He does the opposite. Psalm 34:18 says, “God is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” and that is a sustaining reality.
Here are some things to remember while parenting in the midst of your own grief:
- Remind yourself that God hears and responds when you ask for help.
- Spend time with people who will sit, listen, and encourage you.
- Avoid emotional extremes with your child(ren). Acting as though everything is normal, and never letting them see you cry creates a false concept of emotional health. Becoming emotionally dependent upon your child and making them your outlet puts pressure on them to make things better which causes anxiety and pressure.
- Explain your sadness to your child(ren) in age-appropriate detail and terms. Tell them what adult is helping you. Explanations can help them feel secure and relieve them of the responsibility of making things better for you.
- Share with your children the ways God is providing strength and comfort. Read them the scriptures that are meaningful to you, and pray with them.
Take heart, and know that your pain and sorrow have a shelf life, and as you wait, you are not alone. ■