Envisioning 10 years from now let alone next month can be quite daunting. However, one prediction we can all agree upon is that the future will hold challenges to overcome and problems to solve.
How do we prepare our children for an uncertain future and a life where we may not be present to give them a helping hand? Do they need a college degree? Do they need to learn how to make money? Do they need to master multiple languages?
Well, according to a report released by the Pew Research Center, the number one thing that 94% of parents deem most important to teach their children is responsibility. Hard work is considered just as crucial with 92% of the responses. The commonality between these two qualities can be summed up in 1 word - resilience. For it is absolutely impossible for one to fulfill their commitments or do their due diligence without it. Several definitions have been applied to the word resilience. From its Latin roots "resilire" to its urban vernacular "grit," resilience in essence means the ability to brave adverse odds and bounce back with renewed strength and new insight. As admirable as this term sounds, learning resilience can be a painful experience. Yet, it is critical for growth and maturity.
In order for the next generation to become productive contributors to society who bend and do not break when hardships storm through their lives, adults in their circle will need to adjust the way they love, train, and let go. Instead of hovering and sheltering, we must intentionally use everyday situations and circumstances to develop character and instill noble values. Listed below are the top 5 values that will remind our children to remain resilient when their faith and confidence are being tested.
Honor your worth - Without a strong sense of self-worth, it is very difficult for a person to hang on or stick around to do anything substantial, which is why the home is so important. A child first acquires an understanding of their worth from their parents. Our children must feel and hear that they are not mistakes, consequences, inconveniences, or burdens, but gifts, image-bearers of God, luminaries full of potential and created on purpose for purpose. In a world that attempts to assign value based on looks, social media following, test scores, GPA, and income, our children must know that they are genuinely and deeply loved just because of who they are. Once infinite worth is realized, a person is free to start becoming who God created them to be even when facing opposition and ridicule.
Honor your authority figures - Starting in the home, healthy fear and reverence for authority must be established and reinforced at a young age so that these habits follow into school and society. This will allow them to naturally grow into law-abiding, situationally aware individuals who value their commitments when they are older. To avoid arousing rebellion in their hearts, correct without crushing and discipline without anger. Additionally, be mindful of how authority figures are mentioned in their presence. When we bad-mouth teachers, police officers, and supervisors it gives our children reason to engage in defiant behavior toward the adults in their lives who are there to give them feedback, instruction, and direction.
Honor your work - The old saying, "Your attitude determines your altitude," still proves true today. One cannot embody true resilience without the right spirit. Therefore, we must hold our children accountable to accomplish everything in humility and excellence. Instead of rushing them to finish homework and chores, slow down and check their heart. It is not just about getting something done, but the manner in which the task is completed. The same children we teach to take their schoolwork and responsibilities seriously will become future employees and entrepreneurs who walk in integrity and lead by example.
Value #4 Honor Others - When children are taught that all people are perfectly unique and invaluable, it makes sense to value others. Oftentimes people are resilient because they are keenly aware how their decision to quit or endure will impact others. Through healthy, unheated dialogue, children must be taught how their actions impact the whole, be it their family, class, or team. Knowing how to handle conflict is equally important. Through coaching and role playing, children can learn how to make healthy compromises, choose the right battles, and disagree without being disrespectful.
Honor God - The advantages that faith can have on one's mental health is undeniable. An accumulation of research reports lower levels of depression, anxiety, suicidal behavior, and substance abuse with individuals who possess and practice a religious belief. If we don't want our children to be uprooted during the storms of life, then we must firmly plant them in a God-fearing foundation. Despite the turbulence they see and feel, if our children know that their lives are in the hands of a Heavenly Father who loves them, they will be more apt to hold on to hope and stand for what is right even when we are not there to guide them.
As we fight for change in our communities and world, we must remember that the greatest impact we can ever make on society is not through policy, but by parenting our children to be agents of change through sound character. For additional tips and practical resilience-building activities that can be done at home with children or teenagers, click here.
Until next time, Face It Until You Make It! :)
By: Felicia Matthew, MA, LPC