By: Gabriela Yareliz
How do we help children who have suffered the trauma of a broken home to have a vision for a better future?
This was something I was meditating on. Maybe you have thought about this if you come from a broken home or if you are parenting, co-parenting or step-parenting a child who has seen a broken home.
Can we inspire young people to something beyond what they have witnessed? And sadly, many of these children just keep seeing unhappy unions and unhappy homes all around them (life, media, etc.).
I was reflecting on this. How do we equip children? These were some of my thoughts:
1. First, we do ourselves a disservice when we act like we are responsible for our children’s future choices. That’s not the case, at all. Life happens. Circumstances happen. We can’t control whether the person our child marries turns out to be a rotten apple (or as we say in NYC, “an a**hole”) or whether our child will choose what is in their best interest. That was never our responsibility to begin with. That is never in our control. They aren’t robots, and kids from great, two-parent homes end up making some weird choices. Having a broken home isn’t the determining factor. (Of course, it can be a factor. That is why we are here. Life is full of factors.)
2. What can we do?
a. We can have conversations with them, to let them know when we (or others) haven’t made the best choices or to let them know that life can be different for them, despite anything they have seen. It’s good to establish a standard of what is ideal. Something to strive for.
b. We can be an example and show them the difference. We can start fresh and show them a life that reflects healthy relationships, personal growth, humility, and staying power (commitment).
3. And lastly, it may seem like conversations about theoretical scenarios and hypotheticals are useless in a generation whose attention is fleeting and hard to capture. And maybe, morale is low or we don’t yet have the ability to show a child in our life something different. Or maybe, the person who needs convincing is us, the adult.
How do we really reach a young impressionable mind with hope for the future and an opportunity to do things differently? My thoughts led me back to myself. I come from a single-parent home. My father and I were estranged for pretty much a decade. So, what I saw wasn’t an ideal. Interestingly, I still grew up with this sense of: I can have a good life, and I can get married forever and have a family. “My story doesn’t end here.” I can heal and grow and help others find healing. (It’s so important for us to use our experiences to help others— even if, at times, it can be a bit triggering— we are human). And while life is unpredictable and there are no guarantees, I am talking about hope and vision.
What gave me the hope I have was not so much what I saw around me in my reality in the humans in my life, but what I saw around me in the reality of the God in my life.
The answer is that the only prayer we can have to know something better is possible is through God.
You can’t control how your child will behave in the world or whether they will repeat your mistakes or act out on their worst traits or whatever— they are their own person. What you can do is make sure you are connecting them in a real and profound way to the source of all good things and transformation— GOD.
God was what made the difference in my life. So, while I saw things that weren’t encouraging, if we keep our sights and hearts connected to the source of life, we are filled with hope and the knowledge that we aren’t predestined to do certain things, or be a certain person, but that we can have the life we want. More importantly, we can have the life God wants for us.
4. God is the ultimate healer, Father, guide and lover of our soul. He fights for us. When you give a child the tools to connect with the ultimate source of ALL things, you give a child access to unlimited power and resources.
It’s true that children emulate and gather their vision from what they see around them, and that is why it’s so important to make sure they see God. It will always be that child’s choice to seek God in a grown capacity, but our responsibility is great when they are young. Again, we are talking about what we can control and what can make the difference. What made the difference in my life was that I was taught to seek God, earnestly. He was a source of solace, strength and power. I kept seeking Him, and He redefined my vision of what was possible for me (and continues to do so), no matter what I saw, elsewhere. This stands true, today. The point is I am not perfect, but I know who is. I know He wants good things for me, and I know what traits are marks of holiness and true love because I have been overwhelmed with His love in my heart. God is faithful, and He reaches us where we are.
This is the greatest gift you can give any person, and a game changer for those who have felt the darkness enclose around them. God is the key. He is the difference between a life of emulating and a life of creating. He created us to create, and He showed us first hand what it means to have love drive out all fear.
May He help us to have a godly vision of what life can be in Him, and may He help us raise children with the tools to seek Him and live out their best life possible.
It’s never our responsibility to have others make good choices. It’s our responsibility to simply teach them about the One who can empower them to do so. We are responsible for ourselves, and that is a separate topic, all on its own.
xoxo for now