Our kids live in a crazy world. The news offers a constant stream of war, devastation, and disease. Social media paints unrealistic pictures of life and friendships. The demands of academics, sports, and clubs pile up. It’s no surprise that anxiety and depression are rising among children and teenagers.
Feeling overwhelmed is often par for the course for kids.
As parents, how can we help our children find peace? More specifically, how can we teach our kids not only about God’s peace, but also how to experience that peace in their day-to-day lives? In our own journey of parenting (and after spending a couple of years writing a book about peace), my husband and I have found three meaningful ways to help our children live in the peace Jesus offers.
1. Clarify and reinforce your child’s identity in Christ (and in your family).
All the daily pressures our children face can cause them to wonder: Where do I fit in? Who am I? Am I loved? Do I have value and worth apart from what I can produce or prove?
A huge part of helping our kids walk in peace is to start by affirming—and consistently reaffirming—their identity in Christ. We need to tell them they are valuable because they were created and are loved by the Lord of heaven and earth (Psalm 139). We also need to tell them they are always loved by us, too, and our love for them and their place in our family doesn’t change, even when their circumstances do.
When our children were tiny, we started telling them: “God loves you, and I do too. I love you always and forever and no matter what!” It’s a refrain they’ve heard thousands of times. No matter what mistakes they make and no matter how they fail, I want them to remember they are loved by God and by their parents and they will find a safe place in our home.
For our kids to walk in peace, they need to know they are loved and wanted in our family. They need to know their identity is secure. Just as we need to be reminded of our ultimate identity in Christ apart from our work or performance, our kids need the same.
2. Lead by example.
Our kids are swimming in the emotional waters of our homes, and sometimes, the anxiety they’re feeling is coming from … us. If we’re constantly talking about how stressed out, worried, or overwhelmed we are—and if we’re snapping at our kids or responding to them in fear—they’re going to digest that stress.
Additionally, if we talk about looking for peace primarily through making more money, taking vacations, or buying a bigger house, we’re communicating that peace comes through our situations or possessions.
Does that mean we have to be perfect parents if we want our kids to walk in peace? Hardly! But we do need to point them to the One who is perfect. Because true peace—the kind of peace that can’t be taken away—comes from only one source: Jesus Christ.
Vacations aren’t bad, and smoother circumstances are a gift! But if we want our children to live with a peace that isn’t shaken by circumstances or trials, we need to point them to a relationship with the unchanging King (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus alone is the One who can meet the soul-deep need our children have for ultimate security, trust, and steadfastness.
So how do we lead by example and become peaceful parents? We spend time with the Prince of Peace Himself through things like consistently reading the Bible and attending a gospel-centered church. As we grow in our own relationship with the Lord, we can show our kids we seek Him when life is stressful or overwhelming. We point them to the clear path for finding true peace in the only Person who will never let them down.
3. Rely on biblical truth.
The Bible declares this wonderful truth: “Great peace have those who love your law” (Psalm 119:165). When we love God’s Word and spend time in His Word, we will experience more peace.
This is true for our kids, too. You can offer your children a practical way to fight anxiety and fear with biblical truth. Write Scripture verses on their mirrors in dry-erase marker. Jot down a verse or two on index cards they can tuck into their lockers or backpacks. Verses like Philippians 4:6-7, John 14:27, and 1 John 4:9-10 are wonderful verses to keep close.
Consider playing worship music in the car when you’re together or in the background at home. Talk about their day, offer them intentional time, and consistently reaffirm they are loved by the Lord and by you. And don’t dismiss Christian counseling. It can be a huge gift for kids (and parents!) who need more support.
Finding peace in Christ
The culture tells our kids peace comes from easy circumstances and a sense of tranquility based on good grades, good looks, or cool friends. But Jesus is clear that more than a fleeting emotion, peace means being at rest—being content—exactly where you are because of who God is and because of your relationship with Him through Christ. As we point our children to Christ through solidifying their identity in Him, modeling how to trust Christ with our own stress, and relying on the Word of God, we are showing them true peace is possible in a crazy world.
Copyright © 2023 by Ann Swindell. All rights reserved.
Ann Swindell is the author of The Path to Peace: Experiencing God’s Comfort When You’re Overwhelmed (Bethany House). She is the owner of Writing with Grace and lives in West Michigan with her pastor husband and their two kids. You can connect with her online at AnnSwindell.com.