I stopped my scroll the other day.
Yep – I stopped my scroll through Facebook to see this video, which struck me because it was produced by students at a high school local to my area that has dealt with their fair share of tragedy over the last few years, including the accidental deaths of a number of students.
But then this…
And I could not help but wonder what we, as parents, can do to help buffer the experiences of our students. This was an anti-bullying campaign out of which so much more was revealed.
Out of 1300 post cards filled with anonymous admissions by students:
- 466 talked about depression and anxiety
- 206 talked about struggles at home from finances to abuse
- 226 talked about body image issues and self-hatred
- 84 talked about self-harm and suicide
That leaves only 318 with positive responses to the statement “If you really knew me…”
What are we doing? Truly, what are we doing as parents to lead our kids to a place where they have THIS MUCH going on in their suburban high school hearts and lives?
I cannot help but wonder how many of those nearly 1000 students who admitted hard stuff going on also have parents who are anxious and depressed, fight about finances or abuse one another, have moms and dads who hold themselves to a perfectionist standard of body image or have engaged in other forms of self-harm, such as excessive drinking or the use of drugs (including prescription meds), or have even attempted suicide themselves.
I am sure that there are students out there who are struggling who also have healthy homes, and I am grateful for them because they will have the support they need to get through these tough times.
But for the rest of us…
Don’t we want better for our children?
I say WE very intentionally because in watching this video my overwhelming though was…
THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME!
This parenting gig. It is not about me.
My husband and I chose to bring life into this world, but even if we didn’t, our lives are no longer about us.
This is about the future of our kids.
So here is my struggle. I have mountains of empathy for people who grew up in tough situations and have baggage as a result. Truly, I will invite you into my home and gladly give you my shoulder to cry on. I will.
But in the next breath, I am going to ask you what you are going to do about your broken heart…
… about your body image issues?
… about your tendency to get angry too quick?
… about your drinking or drug issues?
… about the depression and anxiety that plagues you day and night?
… about the way you speak to yourself, your spouse or even your children?
And I hope and pray you would have the courage to ask me the same questions.
Do you realize how negative our own self-talk can be? And I was one of the WORST self-talkers just a few years back. Yep – still working on that.
We are so often our own worst enemies, and if we are saying hurtful words to ourselves, our kids can read it all over our faces.
Remember when they were little and all they wanted was you?
Because YOU were perfection to them. Breathe in that reality, my friends. YOU were perfection to your sweet infants and toddlers.
You were their model of what to become. And you still are.
So if you are beating yourself up with your words or substances, slandering your spouse or kids with those same words, or trying to live up to an ideal of perfection that is unreachable and, quite frankly, meaningless in the grand scheme of life…
Can I beg you to consider the consequences to your kids?
In their eyes, perfection itself (i.e., YOU) does not believe she is good enough! If you are not good enough, what are your kids in their own eyes?
This is what I know from studying leadership: The tone the leader sets trickles down to the team.
WE SET THE TONE IN OUR HOMES!
We can no longer be a victim to our past. It is not fair that our kids should believe they are not good enough because we do not believe we are good enough.
So here’s what I believe.
I believe that you and I were created by a great, big God whose heart for us is bigger than our hearts could ever possibly be for our own children.
He created each one of us with a plan and a purpose.
He knit us together in our mother’s wombs PERFECTLY in His image.
Just as our children saw us as perfect, God sees us as created perfectly. It is our human failings and unbelief that makes us believe we are less than what He created us for.
It may take a lifetime to understand our purpose, but the sooner we start believing we have one, the sooner our kids will start believing it too.
My prayer is that as parents, we will BELIEVE our value comes from our Creator, and that truth will be the strength we need to cover our children with prayer.
To live boldly and courageously WITH our kids… alongside them. Living honestly and openly. Making sure our kids KNOW that we are their safe place, and that they are valuable beyond comprehension.
Because we are stable. Our foundation is sure.
Our love for them overflows from that God whose love for us is even bigger.
For the sake of our children, dear friends, please start believing in the truth of your value, and work hard to make sure your kids know theirs too.
Whether you believe your value comes from the same God as mine or not, we all need to come together and live lives that are worth emulating.
Let’s live with humility and confidence.
Make each day better than yesterday.
Apologize to each other and our kids.
Love with authenticity, kindness and openness.
Commit to doing better.
We’ve got this.
And if you are not sure where to start in your own healing process, please send me an email. I will be glad to help you figure it out.