Our kids need hope more now than ever. Depending on the stats you read, suicide is either the 1st or 2nd leading cause of death in young people. Parents, we cannot accept this. We can cultivate hope in our kids. They can be trained to battle against hopelessness, fight helplessness, and overcome depression and despair.
There are some societal attitudes and religious lies that get in the way of finding help for mental illness. The culture tells our young people they must be happy all the time. Society claims if they succumb to anxiety or depression they are weak. Some religious folks will say anxiety and depression are a lack of trust and belief in God. No wonder our kids feel shame and are reluctant to admit to emotional struggles.
Our kids may hear:
Mental illness is not real.
Mental illness separates you from God.
Mental illness would go away if you had a stronger faith.
We must strike these three lies down.
Consider our biblical heroes: Job, David, and Naomi. They all had a strong faith. Yet they struggled with anxiety, depression, fear, or loneliness. Job said, ” “I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine,” (Job 7:15). David lamented in Psalm 6:6, “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” And Naomi in the book of Ruth says, “Don’t call me Naomi,’ she told them. ‘Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter” (1:20). All three struggled in their circumstances yet they had a strong faith. All three loved the Lord.
Here are three hope busters our kiddos may experience.
Lack of purpose.
Lack of power.
Lack of worth.
We can bust these thoughts with some hope builders:
Repeat, “I am loved by God. Created by God for a purpose. My worth is not based on how other people feel about me.”
Reframe self-limiting talk, “I choose not to.” Instead of “I can’t.”
Replace, “What if . . .” with “Even if . . .”
Teach your kids hopeful truths:
We are created in God’s image.
Jesus has walked in your shoes.
We are worth dying for.
Depression, anxiety, loneliness, and fear are real. Many will say resiliency is the solution to the mental health crisis. I believe resiliency is one component. It builds perseverance and strength. It helps us to push back against the struggle, get back up, and look forward. But resiliency, like elastic, when stretched too much loses its power.
Hope moves us to get up, look up, and pulls us up. It boosts us up and over the difficulty. Hope is supernatural power made up of help from God and others, a heavenly perspective, prayer, preparation, passion, purpose, and forgiveness.
We can equip our kids for a hard world by raising them with hope, hope for a future.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
For more practical ways to grow hope in your kids read, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation .