This post originally published December 9, 2010.
I’ve never been a big fan of Chicken Little. What a silly little fowl! I think I don’t care for the story because I recognize my own capacity to imitate a panicked bird looking for disaster. Who wants to examine their own ugly character defects?
My own growth in Christ and as a parent has involved recognizing that the sky really doesn’t fall very often. Things that seemed like a huge deal 4 kids and 12 years ago now strike me as mere growing pains. Beware calling a little rain the end of the world!
Let’s be honest, though: once in while during our tenure as parents the sky really may fall. I’m referring to those moments when life suddenly changes: the house burns to the ground, your son’s best friend tragically dies, Dad’s out of work for months and months or your doctor starts using the “C” word…..
What then? How do you parent thinking kids when your world crumbles?
I’ve seen the sky fall in my world, both as a child and as a parent, once or twice. If we’re to raise thinking kids, it’s not enough to just make it through pain. This is an opportunity to come alongside your child and help shape a Biblical worldview. ollowing are my best suggestions for that process.
1) This is Not a Surprise
OK, maybe the event itself was a surprise, but the fact that life can suddenly change isn’t… right, friend? As much as we would all love to live in a happy fairy-tale-world-bubble, the last time I checked, those just don’t exist. I think it’s helpful to wrap our heads around that idea (and teach it to our kids) before the sky falls. All those Bible heroes we read about are great examples; not one lived a perfect, pain-free life. Yet God used their pain for good, not only in their lives, but in the lives of others as well.
2) This Hurts
Even into adolescence, kids need to be able to validate their feelings with a parent. It’s a good thing to acknowledge raw, severe emotional pain. It’s okay to cry together. It’s not okay to have a Chicken Little moment in front of your child. Remember, your whole world may have just shifted on its axis, but God is still sovereign and He’s still in control.
3) This is Not Your Fault
Let’s be really frank: kids have an amazing capacity for imagination and narcissism. Even if you think your child is really well grounded and Scripturally centered, take a moment and reassure them they did not cause this tragedy. Remind them that God is sovereign. Any pain in our lives has been allowed by Him. (See the book of Job.)
4) This is Not Fair
It’s a good bet that even if your child doesn’t vocalize this thought, it’s crossed his or her mind. After all, it’s probably crossed yours, right? Take time to ask your child if this event seems fair. Listen to his feelings. Then take a little world tour. Really, if life was truly fair, we’d all be living in a third world country wondering when the guerrilla army would show up to murder Dad and drag the kids off to war. If life was fair, we’d all be hungry and we’d all live in fear of developing a cough. Life’s not fair. It is decided by a sovereign, good and loving God.
5) This Has Been Allowed For a Purpose
Again, this is a great time to discuss the lives of Biblical heroes. Their pain was real, sometimes unthinkable. Yet God used it for a purpose. Just as He plans to use the pain He allows in our lives (Romans 8:28). Our job is to remain teachable and to guard against bitterness.
6) This is a Cause for Praise
This particular concept is difficult for most adults, especially in our current culture. I suggest really immersing yourself in the idea before discussing it with your child. If your sky hasn’t fallen recently, this is a great time to practice with the little stuff! Scripture commands over and over that we praise God when we encounter hardship and difficulty. Job 1:20-21 and Romans 5:3-5 are a couple of my favorite passages regarding praise in the midst of pain. We can always pour out our pain to the Lord (David certainly did), but we must praise Him also.
7) This Too Shall Pass
I love Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. There is a season and a time for everything under heaven. No matter how painful today is, tomorrow will be different. I never thought I would recover emotionally from the prolonged illness and death of my sister. Yet God, in His mercy, has allowed that season of my life to lose its sting. One day, I will rejoice in meeting her again. Today, I can smile over the tremendous gift her pain and suffering brought my family: salvation in Jesus Christ.
Life is hard. Sometimes the sky really does fall. With a lot of prayer, time in the Word and some soul-searching conversations, you can walk your child through pain and help them find solid footing on the Rock of Ages, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
“The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of His discipline.” – Lamentations 3:25-27
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Image Credit: The Remarkable Story of Chicken Little, 1840, JG Chandler, Public Domain
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~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.