How to guide your family through life’s hard things

Written by Claire Avidon
Published on December 03, 2021

Life is full of hard things, with each person’s experiences covering a vast expanse of difficult encounters. 

When we are young, hard things often fall into the basics of daily living. 

For example, my two-year-old toddler. Putting her pants back on after using the restroom is most definitely a hard thing. She gets one foot in, and then she sticks the second foot in the same pant leg, shimmys the pants all the way up her little hips, and realizes she’s stuck. All of that work and the pants aren’t working as she had hoped. She grunts and fights and won’t accept my help. 

We are learning and growing together—both of us in patience. 

Then there are the emotional struggles as they reach adolescence. Hard things in pertinence to understanding boundaries, independence, heart ache, and responsibility. 

As we become adults, we face the challenge of navigating life in complete independence. We maneuver education, a career, relationships, beginning a family—sometimes with grace, sometimes without. 

Then one day, we are all grown up, we’ve become grandparents, we retire, we slow our pace—a phase with undeniable blessings and challenges of its own. 

Think about the lovely 

Each stage of life presents its own hard things. And these are just the “average” life hurdles. 

Cancer, miscarriage, suicide, infertility, loss of a spouse or child—life’s excruciating difficulties. 

As parents, we are often left on our knees, trying to understand how we can possibly equip our children to face the darkest parts of this world. 

I recently attended a luncheon at which Jonathan Pitts was the key speaker. 

The heartbeat of his message found its footing in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (ESV). 

Jonathan’s message was concise: when we are struck with life’s most challenging hurdles, we are called to think on Paul’s directive in Philippians 4, to tilt our chins up and fill our minds with truth. His message was simultaneously simple and profound. 

Family values to practice

As I’ve pondered and prayed over this verse, I’ve discovered how I’d like to implement Paul’s directives in my family. I pray that these ideas will find value in your families as well. 

Whatever is true 

This earth is not our eternal home. This life is fleeting, fickle, unjust, and temporary. The best is yet to come. We must believe with all of our selves that God’s Word is truth. Encouraging Scripture memorization will allow our children (and ourselves) to think on what is true. 

Whatever is honorable 

How can we inspire others to live for Christ? Love like Christ? Times of hardship provide the opportunity to shine his light brightest. As others observe our journeys, our words, actions, and thoughts must reflect an intimate relationship with God. Spark conversations with your children about how their walk through hardship might embolden their peers to pursue a relationship with our Creator. 

Whatever is just 

To think about what is just, we must ponder what is righteous or what is right in terms of Biblical truth. Speak to your children about righteousness. Ask them what it means to be right with God. Christ’s sacrifice provides our only avenue to righteousness. Praise him for his grace and mercy as a family. 

Whatever is pure 

We are called to keep our minds and hearts trained on what is innocent, clean, and holy. In a world that often advertises everything but these things, it is a daily surrender. Remind your children to constantly pray for discernment. In our struggles and experiences, we often are attacked with many forms of deceit wrapped in alluring packaging. Let us pray for the wisdom to cast off these temptations as a family. 

Whatever is lovely 

God created us to seek out adventure and wonder. Opening our eyes and truly seeing the gift that is his creation is the loveliest thought of all. Take your children on a hike. Visit a botanical garden. Play in your backyard. Or even dine outdoors at a restaurant with plenty of green space. 

Our family finds getting outside, breathing fresh air, and moving our bodies to be incredibly healing. When we face our toughest challenges (or a cranky afternoon), we find refuge in nature. Talk to your children about the healing power of connecting with God through the masterpiece of his creation. 

Whatever is commendable 

Here we are reminded to focus on things of good report. We must remember to turn our attention to the good in our peers and the world at large. Encourage your children to name the best part of each of their siblings or friends. Ask them what they love most about themselves. Ask them how focusing on the good in themselves and their peers makes them feel. 

Anything excellent. Anything worthy of praise. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Practice these things. 

Above all, we must remember that training our minds on Christ requires practice. Map out a prayer routine that supports and encourages your family to practice these thought patterns. Pray that the Spirit will equip your home with the obedience to stick to your plan. 

And experience the God of peace with you every step of the way. 

Practice, pray, and equip 

Philippians 4:8 feels like the perfect parenting handbook. 

It’s a call to get out our journals, turn up our palms, sit down for times of family discussion, and pray for Christ’s guidance on how best we might teach and lead our children to be filled with what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. (If it is helpful, print out this article and tuck it away in your prayer journal as a guide for your family’s discussion.) 

Then, when life’s hard things inevitably surface, our children’s minds will be equipped with the armor of Christ. And somewhere along the way, our parenting might just be impacted as well. 

Maybe we will be reminded to think about these things as our littles push the limits. 

Perhaps we will offer a bit more grace when our teenagers make a poor decision. We might think twice before finding offense in an adult child’s boundaries. 

And we will certainly discover joy at the prospect of approaching our meeting with the Creator. 

These lines from my children’s book, I Can Do Hard Things, say it best: 

“Life’s full of hard things, we agree. But just try and you will see: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Push forward, friends. 

Seek him. 


Consider a few extra resources:

Perfectly imperfect: Guiding your kids to press on

Encourage Your Child to Do Hard Things

Live perfectly imperfect

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Claire Avidon

Claire Avidon is a stay-at-home mom and the cofounder of C | A Avidon Publishing. She holds degrees from Texas A&M and Dallas Baptist University. Her greatest goal is to raise a family that honors and delights in an intimate relationship with their creator. She is a certified yoga instructor who loves to garden and run marathons. She lives on Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas. Within her home live three tiny humans—Asher, the oldest, and Liam and Harper, twins— and her hunky hubby, Michael, with their two dogs, Sadie and Willow. She and her husband strive to raise small disciples who know the Lord and shine his light brightly. Claire is the coauthor of I Can Do Hard Things.

Read more about Claire

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