If you’re a mom or dad, there’s little that impacts you more than your kids. When they’re doing well, there’s nothing better. When they’re struggling or suffering, it can tear you up inside.

As one mom put it, having children is like watching your heart walking around outside your body.

Our team at Regeneration talks regularly with hurting parents who have just found out one of their children is immersed in porn, is having sex, has embraced a gay identity, or was sexually abused when he/she was younger. These parents desperately want to help their kids.

We want that for them, too, which is why the first piece of advice we give is often difficult to accept:

Breathe.

When any of our kids are struggling, our reflex is to focus our attention on the problem our kids are facing. If they’re involved in sin, we want to do what it takes to get them to stop sinning. If they’re brokenhearted, we want their hearts to heal. If they’re believing a lie, we want them to believe the truth.

“If I can fix the problem,” we think, “then everything will be fine.”

This is understandable, but it’s usually not so simple. For one reason, your kid’s hurts hurt you. So that reflex to help them also gets mixed up with the reflex to help you. In other words, mixed in with “If I can fix the problem, everything will be fine,” is the motive “If I can fix the problem, then I’ll be fine.”

Don’t get me wrong, parents. I’m not saying your motives are all about you. But that jet fuel in your tank to convict, convince, help, or heal your kids? It’s not all about them.

I know this is true in my life. And the clearer I can be about this, the more I’m ready for God’s help—for me and for my kids.

Saturday, I flew to Austin with my son. Before takeoff, the flight attendants went through their regular “what to do in case of emergency” spiel, including “If there’s a loss in cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from a compartment over your heads. If you’re travelling with a young child, secure your own mask first and then help your child.”

They have to tell this to parents at the start of every single flight because they know what they’re asking will feel utterly counter-intuitive in the moment of crisis. Counter-intuitive, but absolutely necessary. A parent who dives in to help their child first may not, in the end, have enough oxygen to help either their child or themselves.

The same principle applies when helping a son or daughter in the rest of life. You’ll have much more to give them if you can breathe.

Practically speaking, here are some things you can do to make sure your oxygen mask is on as you seek to help your son or daughter:

  • Find at least two or three trusted confidants you can talk to. This could be a pastor, a counselor, a friend, or your spouse. These should be people with whom you can be real, people who will listen without judgment, and people who will help you come what may with your kid.
  • Find a person or two who can help you help your son or daughter. This is a person who is further down the parenting journey than you are, someone who can help build up your parenting.
  • Draw near to your Heavenly Father. If there’s One who understands the pain and challenges of a hurt, hurting, or wayward child, God does. You cannot make your son or daughter choose God, but you can choose to draw near to Him in this season.

And please let us know if we can help.

If you’re a parent or grandparent of kids ages 3 – 18 and you live in the Austin area, join us this Saturday, February 11 for PG: Cultivating Purity in a Sex-Saturated World. We’ll be talking about this and so much more!

Question for you parents and grandparents: When you learn your son or daughter is hurting, sinning, or struggling in some other way, what are practical ways you can make sure you’ll have oxygen? Leave your thoughts here.

Deep breath,
Josh

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2 Comments on "Oxygen for Parents"

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Kathy Ramsdell
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Thank you Josh, great article. It was written with such clarity and I so appreciate comparing our crisis to something we all experience, flying and the need for oxygen.
I suppose the only thing I would add is time. This is not a quick fix. Know this will take sometime.
Kathy Ramsdell

Antonia Mitman
Guest
Thank you for the message and for news of the encouraging event in Austin, “Cultivating Purity in a Sex-Saturated World.” For the past 30 years, this scourge affected our entire family including my now adult children. Everyone is now recovering from the damage but take my word for it: “Be smart; don’t start.” The source of the sex-saturated world comes primarily from two sources: Hollywood and its unfortunate television and film industry and the easy availability of damaging sexualized sites, images and information through technology. Those industries are businesses driven by money. The only way to fight the good fight… Read more »
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