My youngest is worried about who will do her hair on the mornings her dad is getting her off to school. My oldest is concerned about her grandparents picking her up from school one day a week. Both are legitimate concerns, but they are just expressions of the much deeper cry of "I don't want my life to change." In that respect, kids are just like adults. How often do we face a change in our lives with anxiety and tears?
We often like to think that kids are extremely adaptable, but change is just as hard for them as it is for us. Sometimes it's harder because they may not understand all the reasons behind the changes in their lives. My girls always experience anxiety the night before a new school year. It's the same type of anxiety I might feel before starting a new job.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Solomon talks about how life is full of change and that God provides a season for everything. He says:
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
God has given us a time for everything. But sometimes those seasons come upon us, and they require that our lives change. I don't know about you, but I'm as bad as my children sometimes. God asks me to make a change in my lifestyle, and I kick and scream and cry and say "But I like my life." Seasons in life come and go, but God is constant. Despite our dislike of change, those changes help us to grow both emotionally and spiritually.
Helping our kids understand the changes in their lives, whether they are big or little, can make big life changes happen more smoothly in your household. Change also allows our kids to see that God uses those changes for a bigger purpose. Prepare your kids for big life changes, whether it's a change in your employment status, a move or just the promotion to a new grade.
- Show your kids pictures of themselves as babies. Have them point out the things that have changed about their bodies since they were small. Then, help them find the things that haven't changed. Ask them if they would want to remain a baby forever. Talk about how God designed us to grow and change. Remind them that if we never changed, then we would never be able to talk or walk. Talk about how sometimes changes in our lives help us to be ready to do new things. A move can make us better at making friends or put us in a place where there are different opportunities available to us.
- If you know that your family will be making a big change, don't spring it on your kids at the last minute. Give them as much time as you can to get used to the idea. Answer their questions and do your best to calm their fears. Remind them of Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." God allows us to go through changes so that He can use those things for good. Help them think of a time when they were afraid or anxious about a change, but it turned out to be a good thing.
- Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 with your kids. Try to identify times in your lives that match the seasons mentioned in the passage (when you get to the time to kill passage, you might look at it in terms of things that you have to get rid of in your life rather than actually killing someone). Helping your kids identify different seasons in their own lives will help them see that this change is just another season.
- Go outside and talk about the current season. Talk about what each person likes and dislikes about that particular season. Remind your kids that the seasons change and each one is different and brings different adventures and challenges. Remind your kids that our lives have seasons, too, and each season of life brings its own adventures and challenges. No matter what season we are in, though, God is always with us.