To loving parents, it can be unnerving to learn that something has negatively affected our children’s mental, emotional, or spiritual well-being. It can be even more distressing when we feel powerless in trying to remedy it or find a resolution short of children’s counseling.
Our parental instinct is to provide and protect. In one sense, we nurture and care, hoping to insulate our children from the sharp edges of the world. In another, we also seek to balance necessary encouragement and discipline that will foster good character in them and the ability to enjoy godly, fulfilling lives.
The fact that our children may require counseling is not an indictment against them or our parenting. Surely, the adversary will manufacture narratives about us as parents or about our children, distorting the truth to persuade us of lies. He doesn’t fight fair when it comes to our young ones, but we don’t have to shrink back in shame regarding our reasons for seeking counseling support.
In Christ, we don’t have to wrestle with feelings of condemnation (Romans 8:1). When we prioritize the counseling our children need as opposed to avoiding the facts, we take an active stance and bold steps to dismantle the assault launched against our children and families.
There may be a variety of reasons why parents seek counseling for children. Counseling represents a positive measure that supplies children with a safe space to learn social skills and reduce anxiety. Counseling also addresses mental health challenges by training young people with strategies, sometimes through play, talk therapy, or other means.
Children may enter individual counseling to process trauma, regulate emotions, and modify behaviors. When they engage in a process with other family members, counseling has the potential to transform the entire household or family unit, by shifting those who will have prolonged and impactful engagement with those children long after sessions have terminated.
Children’s counseling and the falsehood of failure.
Contrary to what Satan may have whispered, you are not a failure though you may feel that you have faltered somehow in your parental responsibility. You may have observed unusual behaviors, alarming statements, or sensed mood changes in your children, which often signal a greater need.
Whether your children may require in-depth treatment or simply benefit from a few sessions of counseling, you must avoid the tendency to diagnose them. Neither dismiss any concerning behaviors or emotions that have surfaced at home, in school, or in community settings, as these can be indicators of other issues needing attention. Ignoring it denies our children the essential tools to navigate life situations.
There will be some situations in life that we aren’t always able to prevent and don’t know how to “fix.” While the notion of going to therapy may take some adjustment, we can reframe our perception. As a resourceful tool, counseling can support our children with problem-solving and brainstorming solutions.
It activates their creative ability to develop skills to confront challenges. Through the therapeutic process, children harness existing strengths, adapt a framework to address potential issues and enhance resilience.
Children’s counseling and God’s greater purpose.
Instead of internalizing a false sense of failure and fear, we can choose to embrace that God may have a greater purpose for our children than we imagined. Counseling can help them develop the strengths and skills to walk in their purpose.
As parents, we can receive the courage that God called many servant leaders during youth and childhood and He cared for them, just as He will do with our sons and daughters. Our Father has remained the same throughout the generations, works through our children, even as He did through those in the Bible stories we savor. From their earliest influences and experiences, they changed the world with who God made them to be, even from a young age.
Samuel, who was called from youth and grew up in the temple, later went on to anoint Saul, then David as Israel’s king. The prophet Jeremiah felt insecure about his youthful age yet shifted the heart of the nation during the Babylonian exile. King David’s private psalms began as a boy tending his father’s sheep; public victories originated when he defeated Goliath as a teen with a single slingshot stone and the Philistine giant’s sword.
The Apostle Paul’s protege and son in the gospel, Timothy exhibited a unique purpose and promise from youth. Mary was chosen to conceive Jesus in her teens, giving birth to the Messiah who also amazed the religious elite at age twelve; Jesus is the ultimate example of children growing in favor with God and others, even as He did until re-appearing to launch public ministry as the thirty-year-old Messiah.
Children’s counseling and the purpose and (the illusion of) perfection.
Our fears about counseling for our children may agitate the myths we’ve believed about counseling. The need for counseling doesn’t mean that there is something deeply flawed and wrong with us or our children.
Even if our upbringing was peppered with uncertainty or perhaps considered a model by some standards, it is important to remember that perfection is an illusion. Our view of flawlessness is often shaped by expectations that align more with fantasy than the way that God operates. We only encounter perfection in God, our Heavenly Father.
Our tendency to seek a problem-free existence, whether with children and families or life in general, requires a reset to see challenges as a canvas to experience the greatness of God.
The Lord has always worked through imperfect circumstances and people.
Our weakness, vulnerability, and the frailty we’d rather hide or avoid are the places where His glory shines most brilliantly. It can be painful to witness our children going through struggles. Whether they are like or different from what we endured in our youth, it requires empathy and patience to see our children not only as our babies but more so beloved by God.
Raising a family, raising an army.
As He faithfully proves time and again in our own lives, He will move on behalf of our children and bring out the beauty that exceeds our requests, thoughts, and imagination. It may come as no surprise that when we find that our children are facing issues that seem out of their control, but especially ours, anxiety can catapult us into a fight, flight, or freeze mode. However, we don’t have to become disarmed by the present conditions.
Mental and emotional health tools and resources are available to inform and educate, not shame us for our parenting practices or blame us for the challenges that our children may be facing. Life happens to everyone, whether just or unjust, and we cannot expect that we will be exempt from the troubles and trials that Jesus stated that all would encounter.
While this can be momentarily unnerving, it can also serve as a place of comfort to free us from being in control because we know the One who is. We may be raising a family, but God is raising an army.
Surrendering to Jesus our parental perceptions and expectations of ourselves and our children will provide a healthy response to the difficulty that may necessitate children’s counseling. Faith trusts Him to do the impossible, but wisdom orders our steps in partnership. The Holy Spirit is our indwelling expert on accessing Heaven’s limitless resources but also navigates us to the people and places on earth that resource our wellness.
In times of testing or trouble, counseling provides an opportunity for children to realize creativity and resilience. Support equips children with the resources to overcome challenges. It also furnishes sustainable strategies to promote healing, growth, and change that will stretch with them as one season of life evolves into another.
Seek support on this site and schedule with a counselor today. You are your children’s champion to help them arise into who God has commissioned and called them to be.
“Snowy Mountain”, Courtesy of Karthik Sreenivas, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Obelisk”, Courtesy of Marek Piwnicki, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Cloudy Range”, Courtesy of Marek Piwnicki, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Cornfield and Mountain”, Courtesy of Karthikeya GS, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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