Five Things to do When
You are Anxious about Your Child’s Future ….
Every parent has dreams and expectations for their children. However, when our kids have challenges - whether those challenges are mild or severe - fear and worry about their future can paralyze us if we are not careful.
If you are ever tempted to let anxiety about your child’s future overwhelm you - think through these steps:
1. Look Back Instead of Ahead
Many aspects of our kid’s lives have been difficult!! Think back to other milestones that you thought were scary. For most people starting to home school was an overwhelming milestone. You weren’t sure what home schooling was really going to be like. You weren’t sure you could figure it all out. You weren’t sure you could meet your child’s needs. But look - you ARE doing all of those things step by step.
God often instructed the Israelites to LOOK BACK so that they could remember His faithfulness at various points throughout their history. If God has been faithful in the past - why wouldn’t He be faithful in the future?!
2. Look at Just the Next Step
Speaking of step by step, that is how you need to look at your child’s future. We are often scared at the prospect of our children suddenly being adults and “on their own”. But that is all or nothing thinking. Who says that your child has to move out or completely take care of him or herself the moment he/she turns 18? This is an artificial “deadline” that can get built up in our minds as a do or die end point. Not true. 18 or 21 or 26 are just birthdays. You will continue to teach and support your children after these supposedly “milestone” birthdays in whatever ways they need.
Look critically at the one next thing your child needs to develop in order to live as independently as possible. For some, this will be social skills, for some job skills or organizational skills. Taking time to specifically work on appropriate dress and hygiene, learning to figure out how to be on time, learning to organize their schedules and to prioritize their time - these are all things that may be much more important than academics for many of our kids.
3. Think about Alternatives
Which leads us to number 3 - Don’t get caught up in the “one size fits all” thinking that our society promotes. There are multiple ways and ages that your child may “launch” into the adult world. Going to college at 18 seems to some people to be the “normal” thing - but there are countless alternatives to this. Don’t let other people define what is right for your child. Sometimes delaying college or not going to college is a much better fit. Sometimes remaining in “high school” longer works better. Sometimes getting a job or volunteering is a better path. Throw out the black and white thinking that says ONE way is right. Not so!!
4. Think About Non-Academic Strengths
And - because there is no ONE RIGHT path for our kids’ futures - we have to start helping them see strengths that they may have in non-academic areas. Maybe they already have great social skills, but the academics are super hard. Help them see the ways that God can use them in ways that may be different from the traditional route!
5. Choose to Trust God
Finally - it is really important as we guide our kids towards their future that we remember that God already knows what He wants to do in an through our kids. Truly - we do not need to worry about their future because as long as they are in a relationship with God, He will be at work for His good purpose!! In fact, Philippians 2:13 says exactly that!! What a great verse to meditate on and teach our kids too. Other verses that teach us that God is at work in our lives and our kid's lives and that we don't need to stress about what they are "going to do with their lives" include Ephesians 2:10 and Philippians 1:6.
I’ve always told my kids that I didn’t care what they did or where they did it - as long as they were walking with God. What peace that brings when we really choose to look at our lives and our kids’ lives through the lens of God’s sovereign faithfulness!!