3 ways to care for your child’s heart with a chronically-ill parent in the house…

caring for your children's hearts

I was thinking about sorrow, chronic illness, and the havoc it wreaks on a family.  Then the breaking news about little Mariah Woods scrolled across my news feed. Three years old. Stolen. Possibly killed by a madman of a boyfriend.

Suddenly a friend posted an anniversary post of her husband’s death, purposefully leaving behind his wife and two daughters. My heart broke all over again. The circumstances of his death at the time were almost unbearable.

 

Loreenna McKennitt’s 1985 album, Elemental, features a song, “The Stolen Child.” That last line… the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand… OH. My. Heart.

“Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.”

I’m a “greenhouse” parent. I believe in sheltering a child’s heart, soul, and life and gradually exposing them to the stormy elements of this life.

 Don’t share my philosophy? This post may annoy you. Please keep reading. Be open-minded enough to at least hear my point of view, okay? You can post your point of view in the comments respectfully.

1.  SHUT off the news! Yep!

Our family news is filtered. Mainly we use the internet for news. We watch a bit of TV.  We almost never watch the news as a family.  It’s just so full of the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21:

  • adultery
  • sexual immorality
  • impurity
  • lewdness
  • idolatry
  • sorcery
  • hatred
  • strife
  • jealousy
  • rage
  • selfishness
  • dissensions
  • heresies
  • envy
  • murders
  • drunkenness
  • carousing

“I warn you, as I previously warned you, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Apostle Paul, Galatians 5:21)

Ever overheard comments like, it’s all bad news?  Kinda matches that list above, huh?

2.) Decide what to share with your child about your loved one’s health issues.

Here’s where it gets sticky. Prayers for wisdom are needed. I’ve seen too much harm done to children when their parents lie to them to keep them happy.

On the other hand, too much information will be too heavy for them to carry in their hopeful little hearts. Just like their growing backs are not meant for heavy loads, so their growing minds, hearts, and emotions can only handle so much.

How much information is too much? That’s a huge wisdom prayer request that not even your best friend forever can fully advise you on.  You can seek input and counsel, but in the end, no one can decide for you. Deciding wisely will impact your child for good or ill.

My daughter just became a teen. For the past year or so, she’s been asking more and more questions. She deserves answers.

I’m not going to pretend everything’s okay. I’m not going to lie and say, it’s all gonna be all right. Since genetic information related to all the autoimmune issues directly affects her health and future, she needs to know more information now.

However, I always assure her that our great God never leaves or forsakes His children. He loves broken people.  He bends down to hear the prayer of the poor and needy. 

Life HURTS madly at times, but God stoops to suffer with us in our afflictions.

A friend of mine lost her husband to a dramatic suicide six years ago today. Her husband burned the house down on himself — literally and deliberately — after suffering with clinical depression for years. My daughter and I had to drive by the haunting burnt shell of that house every month for a few months on our way to work. I couldn’t hold back the tears.

She asked questions. I only gave her the short answer. Why? She knew the girls who lost their father. Her little heart could not handle that crushing load.  Why would someone’s daddy ever do that?

But what of my friend’s children? There was an investigation, of course. She had to handle the information so much differently for them. Thankfully, today they are thriving.

3. Don’t hide in your own hurt and ignore your hurting child.

Busy, busy care-giving momma,  here’s the huge dilemma! Your work load may be almost unbearable. Like a single parent, you carry all the responsibilities at times. Add the care and worry of a chronically-ill spouse to the load, and you feel like you are dead lifting a ton of steel. Maybe someone is there to “spot” you. Maybe not.

Your child cannot thrive without feeling connected. They will start bottling up a world of hurt or acting out their hurts in destructive ways. YOU are responsible for filling their “love tanks”.

Here are a few practical ways to help your child feel loved and cared for even when you’re overwhelmed: 

  • HUG daily.  I make it point, even on the prickly days.  HUGS are huge.
  • Say goodnight. Always say good night. That routine matters even to a teen.
  • Read even just ONE verse of the Bible at night before bed.
  • Encourage a conversation. A flood of hurt might pour out. That’s good. Listening is the biggest deal here.
  • Share a treat together. It’s like opening a package of love and happiness.
  • Try very hard to share at least one meal a day together.
  • Point out good things. Catch them doing good.

No “faery” can take your child or mine by the hand and lead them away from the sorrows of this world.

Instead, Christ’s love and Spirit — that’s what I’m banking on to carry my child through the deep waters and a world full of weeping. God will be a Father to our children when their human father cannot.

Mommas, we are His instruments!

That’s frightening, amazing, and humbling. Mothering in a world full of hurt isn’t for sissies. It’s a harder job than I could have ever imagined.

Will you pray with me and for me?

O, Jesus, God with us, may Your love conquer and lead in our hurting families. Send Your light and truth to guide and protect our ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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