Talking with Your Kids About Disappointment

Lots of kids are disappointed right now. And many parents are wondering how to talk with them. Whether it’s school closures, missed vacations, shuttered restaurants, isolation from grandparents or no more playdates, there is a lot to be disappointed about. No parent likes to deliver bad news, and when you are already struggling yourself, it’s even harder to let down your kids.

We live in a time where it has been possible to shield our children from many of life’s bumps and bruises. But, according to a recent article in Atlantic Magazine, that’s not always a good idea. As Christians, we know it is generally our disappointments which draw us to God in deeper ways and fit us for greater service in His kingdom. Apparently, it is our childhood disappointments which teach us to live in uncertain times with greater peace and hope. Talking with kids about their disappointments is one of the most valuable and formative privileges you have as a parent. Here are three, simple guidelines from Philippians 4 to keep in mind as you do that.

Attitude

Your perspective as a parent will greatly influence your child’s attitude, so deal with yourself first. If present circumstances seem like a bump in the road to you, they are more likely to seem that way to your kids. On the other hand, if you are frightened or overly apologetic or angry, they are more likely to be upset, too. Pray it through, sleep on it, talk with your support group, adjust your own attitude BEFORE talking with your child. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Phil. 4:6

Adaptability

One of the best indicators of emotional maturity is resilience, the ability to adapt to new information and situations. This is an opportunity to help your children develop more resilience. Allowing them to experience appropriate dissatisfaction and disappointment helps them learn how to handle it. Keep in mind they will not be disappointed by the same things you are, so ask good questions. (E.g., “What’s the worst part about missing school?”) And then help them develop a healthy perspective on their issues. (E.g., “I miss my friends, too, but I’m glad we have ways to stay connected. Who would you like to connect with soon?”)  I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Phil. 4:11-13

Action

Talking, praying and connecting are actions we all can take to cope with some of our disappointments. Other important activities for your children might include regular exercise, one-on-one time with parents and a dependable routine. Find ways of working fun and laughter into your schedule, too, because a little joy goes a long way. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Phil. 4:4

If you have specific questions about your own disappointments or parenting your disappointed children, ask them on our Questions page. If you have thoughts, comments or experiences to offer others, please post them as a reply on this page. We love to hear from you.


Related Material:

Helping Anxious Children – DesiringGod.org

What-If’s – Focus on the Family

The Feet of Jesus

Like many of you under a COVID-19 stay-at-home order, I am living a life of boredom ease on my couch as Holy Week approaches. However, I am also recovering from foot surgery. My bones had shifted out of place, but my doctor was able to fasten several small, metal plates inside my foot, reconstructing its original shape. Though well worth it, the pain involved can be electric, and that has me thinking about the feet of Jesus.

Jesus’ death by crucifixion is almost too overwhelming, physically and psychologically, to take in as a whole. (The one time I watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, I lay wailing on the floor, which is not like me at all.) However, it’s important to understand the agony of His death so we might better understand the immensity of our sin. And the sacrifice required to pay for it. In this case, consider the barbarous destruction of Christ’s feet.

Death by Crucifixion

Edwards, William & Gabel, W & Hosmer, F. (1986).

You’ve seen the pictures of Christ on the cross which depict large nails run through His hands and feet. Although there were multiple methods, commonly the feet were crossed one over the other and secured with a single spike. We know that no bones were broken during the crucifixion, so the nail would have been driven between the metatarsals, damaging several major nerves. Due to the slack position of the torso, it would have been necessary for the victim to push upward on those impaled feet and screaming nerves to take a full breath. Jesus did this for about six hours before He succumbed to His injuries.

Considering the accidental pain of changing positions or flexing my toes right now, I can’t fathom the agony Christ endured bearing the weight of His exhausted body on His damaged feet. Unbelievably, this was only a small part of His physical suffering. And that physical suffering was only a small part of His torture. It was a symbolic snapshot of the deeper spiritual anguish of bearing the sins of the world.

The Feet of Christ

The feet of Christ bled for me. Those beautiful feet which arrived with good news. Those miraculous feet where many were healed. Those well-traveled feet where Mary sat rapt. Those human feet whose wounds convinced Thomas of the the resurrection. Those conquering feet which bruised the head of Satan. Those kingly feet which will one day rest upon God’s defeated enemies.

But, this week, as we contemplate the pain that Jesus’ feet endured for us, we might do best to imitate the sinful woman who wept over His feet, washing them with her tears. We will be in good company to bow there, grieving, to offer our gratitude and praise. We will be exactly where God wants us to be: worshiping at the feet of Jesus.


Related:

Humbled at His Feet
Fall at the Feet of Jesus
The Resurrection Gambit

I am Barabbas

All four Gospels in the New Testament record the story of Barabbas, a notorious prisoner who was released as a favor to the Jews at Passover. (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 and John 18.) The Roman governor, Pilate, offered to free Jesus instead, but the politically motivated crowd chose Barabbas. We don’t know what happened to this man after his release, but I see his story as a beautiful metaphor of the substitution which Jesus has offered me.  And so this poem (with its imagined ending) is about me. I am Barabbas.

I am Barabbas, a sinner in chains.
My heart is a prison of stone.
Guilty of murder and sentenced to die,
Unrepentant, desperate, alone.

The scrape of a key in the lock at my door
Sends chills through my fevered brain.
I tremble with fear at the specter of death.
I rage at the imminent pain.

What is this judgment: “Another shall die,”
And I shall go free in his stead?
Who is this sinner more hated than I,
Who bears such a price on his head?

Blinded by sunlight, awash in the crowd,
I hear them shout “Traitor!” and “Lord!”
They say he is chosen, a prophet of God;
They will give him a prophet’s reward.

He died like a king, forgiving them all,
Refusing the gall and the wine.
Could He see that his pain, the terror and shame,
Was mine – was all of it mine?

I ran from the mob which would make me a stooge.
I ran from the guards, as well.
I ran from the one who had taken my place,
I hid in my own private hell.

Three days he stayed in the prison of death,
And my guilt was only increased.
But the grave was undone by the Power of Love –
He rose, and we both were released.

I am Barabbas, freed from my chains.
For my crimes the Innocent died.
Redeemed in His name, forever I’ll serve
The Risen and Glorified.


Originally published here in 2012.


Related Material:

More on Barabbas as our substitute

What the resurrection means for us

What else it means for us