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How to Help Your Child Go Through a Difficult Time {Thursday Therapy}

I hate it when my adult kids go through a difficult time. I sometimes hurt more than they do. It’s one of those curses of being a parent. We have our own hurts, and we carry our kid’s wounds. It’s a double whammy.

I have six kids and nine grandchildren. That’s more than a double whammy. *scrunches faces and whispers “unfair!”*

As parents, we love our kids and don’t want to see them go through pain, failure, or suffering—even when those kids are adults. We want to protect our kids and grandkids from the hard things of life.

Admit it!

Admit it—I know you’ve prayed, “Oh Lord, don’t let anything bad happen to my child. Keep him safe and free from hurt.”

Well, just so you know, those prayers don’t always work. My kids are mostly out of the home, and they are all still going through their personal, challenging times.

God is sneaky like that. He loves our kids more than we do, and his plans and purposes for them include allowing them to fail, experience disappointments, and face difficulties.


Because that is how people learn to need God, cry out to him, trust him, grow in intimacy with him, and develop godly character.

It is how life is learned well.

Trials offer the opportunity to see where a person is at in his spiritual development so he can continue to grow in certain areas and complete the assignments God has destined for him. “No pain, no gain” has value here.

There are actually two growth spurts taking place when your son or daughter goes through a difficult time. One growth spurt is taking place in your child and the other is taking place in you. Let’s take a look at both.

How to help your child go through a difficult time

As a parent, you don’t want to hinder the process of growth in your adult kids or grandkids. But you do want to help them understand and persevere through whatever they are going through.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Teach your kids and grandkids to expect difficult times. It is a part of life just like the changing of the seasons or growing old (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

Have you taught your son or daughter the stories of Bible heroes and modern-day heroes? If so, remind your child of what these heroes went through, and how they learned important lessons through their trials.

Every child should know that difficult times will come throughout life, and they are opportunities to stretch spiritual, emotional, and wisdom “muscles.” Life doesn’t necessarily become easier as we grow older.

If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:15 NIV).

2. Offer comfort and share with your son or daughter God’s promise found in Isaiah 41:10:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (NIV).

3. Teach your children how to process with a trusted friend or family member—someone who can help them cast their anxieties on the Lord (see 1 Peter 5:7).

Often kids are not taught how to process their problems with someone. Probably because the parent doesn’t know how to do so, and, unfortunately, I speak from experience.

In processing a difficult situation, ask questions that will draw your son or daughter out, like:

  • How did that make you feel?
  • What are you thinking?
  • Would you like to hear options that others have used in similar situations?
  • What would you like me to specifically pray for you about in this situation?

How you can grow through your child’s struggles

1. Remind yourself of everything I’ve listed above for helping your child go through a difficult time and follow my suggestions for yourself! (Gotch ya!)

2. Trust God that he will make his life purposes and plans for your child come to pass. In prayer remind the Lord of his promise to do so:

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me: your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands (Psalm 138:8 NRSV).

3. Finally, back off. Yes, that’s right. Don’t be the problem solver. You can help, but make sure that helping doesn’t remove obstacles that God wants your child to deal with.

In other words, don’t stand between your child and God. Get out of God’s way and let him work with your son or daughter. After all, it is your child’s difficulty, not yours.

Don’t make your son or daughter’s problems your problems.

Well, there you have it folks. Helping a kid go through a difficult time, even adult children, isn’t easy, but the process actually grows us all up if we use the experience rightly.

Did you find this post helpful. If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Have a great week,


“Jesus likes it when we share.” -Adelaide, age 3: Pass this along to everybody and their brother. OK, maybe not everybody’s brother, but you know . . . all of your friends would be nice.

Related posts to help you and your adult child go through a difficult time:

Learning Confidence in the Classroom of Mistakes

How to Overcome the Stupid Label

Here’s a great Resilience Guide you might find helpful: 10 Tips For Building Resilience in Children and Teens 

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Pamela Martinez

    This was so helpful, Susan. I especially liked the part of finding a friend to process with. I think of my friend of 30+ years who helps me find True North when I’m in a whirlwind. She keeps reminding me of scriptures when I’m wailing at the trials I perceive are never ending! May we all, and our children too, find such a gift-wrapped-in-Jesus to help us on our pilgrimage through this life!

    1. Susan Gaddis

      I have a friend like that too, Pam, and you know her. I don’t know what I would have done without Vickie to keep me focused over the years. Yes, a gift-wrapped-in-Jesus for sure!

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