We live in very difficult times. Many people worry about what is on the horizon, and what future adversities will come.
No need to worry. Adversity shouldn't be feared. It should be accepted and embraced.
In the book Character, by Samuel Smiles, it says: “In fine, stability of institutions depend upon stability of character...The people may seem to be highly civilized, and yet be ready to fall to pieces at the first touch of adversity. Without integrity of individual character, they can have no real strength, cohesion, or soundness. They may be rich, polite, and artistic and yet hovering on the brink of ruin. If living for themselves only, and with no end but pleasure – each little self his own little God – such a nation is doomed, and its decay is inevitable.”
So, how do we train ourselves to be ready for adversity? How do we develop this kind of character and instill this much character in the hearts of our children?
The answer to this question will vary slightly from family to family. Each of us get different adversities. However, a family can create a character culture at home which is ever learning the virtues necessary for building characters ready to withstand any future hardships.
My husband is a plumber. He owns his own company, so some times we feast and sometimes we have famine. The plumbing company was incredibly successful until January of 2009. At which time it fell upon hard times like many US businesses. Since then we have struggled to keep the business alive and the family afloat. We have been very blessed and have had great opportunity to teach our children much about preparing for and living through adversity. It has been a great moment in our family's history.
The other day my husband and I were talking about some family financial concerns. Unbeknownst to us our daughter was listening in the other room while we decided what would get paid and what things we would have to say no to.
Later that night I went to my room and saw a note on my bed from my thirteen year old daughter. I read:
“Dear Mom and Dad,
Thanks for all the many wonderful things that you do for us. Thank you for music lessons and chorus, extra classes and the very food we eat. All of these call for the one thing that we, the whole family, is short on; money. We appreciate all the time you give us and all the money you spend to help us become better at our God-given talents.
We admire the faith that you have and the unfailing will to do what's right. Though we may not express our gratitude and love very often, please know that we deeply love you and we are very grateful for everything that you do for us.
These words from my sweet thirteen year old touched me so deeply. She really understands adversity because we have had some these past two years. Incidentally, these past two years we have also had our most joyful family moments and have experienced more closeness than we ever knew possible. Oh what blessings!
Adversity is teaching my daughter gratitude and appreciation. She is developing a deeper, higher kind of love than most her age develop because we involve our children in our family finances and our family struggles. We have weekly family meetings and regular one on one meetings which keep our family involved in family struggles and decisions. I talk more about how we format these important meetings in my book Parenting A House United, and in my Teaching Self-Government audio seminar set.
If we embrace adversity while raising our children, and don't shelter them from it, then we will make strong adults who are ready to face the challenges ahead. The last thing we need is for our children to be so pampered that they “fall to pieces at the first touch of adversity.”
Losing Your Home
This nation wide financial crisis has hit some areas of the country really hard. I have a great friend who lives in one of the hardest hit areas. He is a doctor, but is still losing his home. He is taking his family of eight and moving into a fifth wheel trailer because the business made it so he lost his home.
This family inspires me. One day I was talking with the mother. She said, “We are not worried. We look at this as a family adventure! We are not the only ones in this country being hit hard. We still have a great, happy family. That is the important thing. Where we live really doesn't matter so long as we keep focused on God and our family.”
Now I ask you, what is this mother teaching her children? How strong will they become? They are building great character in the hearts of their six children.
A while ago I also heard a story of a family in my town who sent their oldest son on his religious mission from a tent in the mountains. They lost their home, but they kept their focus clear and their children were ready to live with purpose.
What Should We Do
We need to keep the family communication lines open by meeting regularly.
Live humble now.
Talk with them about what is right and wrong more than what is easy. Life is not and will not be easy. Creating lives of ease will weaken the hearts of our children.
Work hard as a family. Plant a garden. Build, create, and improve things around you together.
Show gratitude through prayer to God and through words to those around you. Praise your children more.
Strictly live by principles so that your family has skills and character to support them in the hard times.
The Bright Side
This article is not meant to make anyone worry or be sad. In fact, I hope it does the opposite. I hope it encourages you to be optimistic in the hard times and to enjoy the adversity because it is a blessing. I hope you see yourself as raising a strong adult instead of a content child. I hope you feel the power within you.
We are parents now to prepare our children for even greater future adversities. Our examples and teachings will make all the difference in their lives.
We are pioneers. We are the kind of people who see a need to do things a bit differently to prepare for the success of our children and grandchildren. Make a tradition of work and character building and you make a joyful adult.
We are not making perfect children. There is no such thing. “We are making joyful adults, who know what their mission in life is, and can't wait to fight for it, and have solid relationships with God and family.” (Quote from Parenting A House United )