Monday, May 16, 2016

When You Worry About Your Child's Future

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” 1 Samuel 7:12 NIV

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 NIV

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV

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Two weeks ago, when no one was looking, my son with Asperger’s sat on the couch and ate an entire loaf of French bread for an afternoon snack.

It makes for a funny story now, but at the time I was furious and completely confounded by his odd and overindulgent behavior. Especially since I had planned on serving the bread for dinner that evening.

When You Worry About Your Child's Future

We struggle a lot with self-control in our family, even those of us who are neurotypical. But we still manage to take care of  necessary life details such as work, household chores, paying bills, food preparation, etc. that are requirements for living responsibly and well.

I can’t help but shake my head in worry over my 12-year old’s future.

After witnessing such self-indulgent behavior I find myself wondering:
  • Will he ever be able to live on his own? 
  • Will he develop enough self-control to actually stop a desired momentary behavior and go to work or to class? 
  • Will he recognize the importance of basic adult responsibilities? 
  • Will he learn to make friends in the world or is he destined to spend his life alone and lonely?
These are just some of the questions that plague me when I consider my son’s future. 

Our autism journey always seems to be a pattern of one step forward and two steps back. It’s hard not to focus on the deficits and the hardships, even though I can see progress if I look backwards.

Still, the struggle is real and so is the looming cloud of doubt and fear of the future.

What’s a special needs parent to do?

Four Helpful Reminders for Special Needs Parents

1. Trust in what you cannot see instead  of what you can.
Our human tendency is to look at problems, difficulties, challenges, and make assumptions about where they will lead. God says to trust Him instead. Believe in what you cannot see.

All too clearly, I can see my son’s undesirable behaviors and mannerisms. But what I cannot see are the goings-on within his heart. Only God can see that. And only God can soften a heart and mold a person according to His plan.

It’s not my job to “fix” my son or make him into what I want him to be. I must let go and entrust his life to the One who made him and knows what’s best.

2. Take your own anxiety to God and lay it at his feet.

Anxiety’s a huge struggle for most special needs parents. 

Sometimes our own fear and trepidation over our child’s behavior become bigger problems than the behaviors themselves. Only God can heal anxiety and give peace. Learning to take our fears to him and lay them at his feet not only benefits us as parents, but it teaches our children a pattern of casting our cares before God and receiving the gift of His peace.

3. Look backward before moving forward.

In the Old Testament, God frequently told His people to build altars in specific places that they might remember what God had done for them. Whether it was leading them to victory in battle, delivering them from oppression, or performing miracles on their behalf, God wanted the Israelites to remember His deeds and to rejoice over them.

It’s something I forget too often. 

If I look back over the course of my child’s life, I can recognize the blessings. I can chart the progress, the triumphs, the ways my child has grown physically, emotionally, and yes — even spiritually. But instead, I tend to get bogged down in the present and the fear of the future.

Scripture reminds me that I can trust God with the present and the future because He has always been faithful in the past. 

4. Recognize that your child is fearfully and wonderfully made for a purpose.

Your child’s purpose may not be what you have envisioned. And that’s okay. 

God has a purpose, a plan, and good works prepared in advance for each of his children. He knows my child’s heart more intimately than I ever will, and He knows every step of the path my child will take. 

There is no mystery for God. He is the good Shepherd who knows the way and guides every step.

He will walk beside my child. He will gently direct my child toward his purpose. 

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It's normal and natural for us to worry about our children’s futures — especially when our children are disabled. But constant pity and worry have no place in the abundant life we’re called to live. Instead, let us trust God with our child’s life, with our own fears, and let us remember God’s faithfulness.


He is the God of yesterday, today, and all our tomorrows. We can trust our children's futures to Him. 

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Father, today we cast all our anxiety and fear about the future upon You. It is hard not to worry about our children who are different. The stress of not knowing what will happen can threaten to undo us. But it is never too much for you. Teach us to let go and to trust you more. Lord, we believe. . . but help our unbelief. Remind us of your faithfulness and help us to praise you in all circumstances. Guide us and guide our children along paths of righteousness, for your name's sake.

4 comments:

  1. Really needed this today as we head to the doctor to look for more answers, none of which are things we would have wanted to hear that our son will have to deal with for the rest of his life. We must trust in Him.

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  2. Beautiful Sheri. We are still working on this with Jerry's Jeff...and sometimes it is so frustrating. But there is a sweetness and vulnerability in Jeff that God shares with us in His perfect timing. We are so thankful that we have our God to turn to for all issues of Jeff's life.

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  3. Yes! This is so true! I once blogged about this same thing and the song "God of Angel Armies" by Chris Tomlin was my inspiration for it. :)

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  4. no matter if your child has a disability or not this speaks volumes to laying our children at the foot of Jesus. They belong to him anyway. We live in a society where children and youth have become vehicles of proving parents value in way too many ways. Thank you for this timely article. Our 21 year old daughter has had a huge medical crisis and has left college. She is now in a total life reboot and having to figure out now what. I just try to encourage her to take one day at a time as she is healing and take advantage of this reboot, but as a parent it is hard to not be anxious as all her peers are moving further towards total independance.

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