Teaching About Difficulty

Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts Sheridan House Family Ministries

In the Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” we get to follow the adult trials and the childhood trainings of George. Each time he faced a difficult situation he asked himself the same question: “What would Dad do?”  Somehow George picked up lessons from his dad that helped him navigate life and become a community hero.

What about our children? What are they learning from us? Times are different right now and different times require a different approach to life. But different, even difficult times, offer parents an incredible training opportunity.

Dealing with Difficulty

Everyone will go through their own difficulties in life. We don’t prepare our children to deal with difficulty.  That’s why so many choose to grow up and don’t know how handle the difficult times in their lives. We’d like to think we can shelter our children from pain but we can’t. The sheltering leaves many children totally unprepared and untrained to deal with difficult circumstances.  


A law enforcement friend uses a phrase that has been helpful when it comes to preparing children for life’s inevitable challenges: “When under stress resort to training.” In other words, lean on training rather than panic.

What training are your children receiving from you as you traverse this difficult economic environment?  During these times of  stress, parents have a silver-lined, training opportunity. We have the opportunity… even the responsibility… to teach our children how to handle difficulty. We either handle the adversity really believing we can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength, or we are handled by the adversity.  What are our children learning?



Our children are not impervious to the ever present discussions about the current events. Every child knows something about the stress of what we are facing. They need the privilege of learning how to handle the scope of the problem from mom and dad.  

This is a time to train through discussion. Let them know the circumstances you are facing. Talk about it but do more than talk about, point to the real answers.

“Kids, we are facing some real challenges right now. It reminds me of the challenges the Israelites faced when they were standing by the Red Sea.  Pharoah’s army was attacking and the Red Sea had them blocked in.  There was nothing left to do but turn to God for help.”



difficultThis is also the time for making a decision. A decision to trust God. No matter what happens … trust God!

When we are facing overwhelming difficulty, and our children know it, this is the one time that our faith is either real or nothing more than a tradition you maintain on the weekend. 

Is your approach toward Christ a religious regimen, or is it real faith that the children see which sustains you?  Do they see you live like you really believe you can do and live through all things because faith in Christ gives you all the strength you need. The children should be able to learn much about life as they observe how your faith is working for you.

Decide to pray with the children and then help the them focus on those that are even more needy. Take yourself out of the spotlight and hand the unconquerable things to God. Then choose to help others.


Difficult times can teach the greatest lessons if the lessons are taught. This is perhaps the best opportunity in our generation to train faith and generosity. It will impact generations to come. Choose wisely!


Visit parentingonpurpose.org for more advice from Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts.

For more articles by Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts, visit goodnewsfl.org/author/dr-bob-barnes-and-torrey-roberts/

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