Parenting Children with Anxiety and Depression by Cheandra Donaldson

Have you ever told someone that you knew parenting wasn’t always going to be easy, but you never thought it was going to be this hard?  How are we supposed to parent our children with faith during such difficult times?

Our middle son, Logan, was only 5 when our daughter, River, went to heaven.  Shortly after, he proclaimed his faith in Jesus through baptism. At 8 years old though, Logan started exhibiting signs of anxiety, but we didn’t recognize the warning signs until it was too late.  One day in the Fall of 2018, it blew up, and it blew up fast. Subsequently, Logan’s faith was shaken.

The diagnosis process, therapy, and trial and error period with medications was very long and trying.  One day I felt helpless as I held Logan in my arms as he talked about wanting to die.  My heart ached, and I cried to God to heal his mind.  In that precise moment, God spoke to me loud and clear, “He has to go through this to do what I have planned for him to do.”

Those weren’t easy words to hear, but I quickly realized I needed to encourage Logan to find that purpose.  I learned that all my kids needed to hear truth, that I needed to speak life into them, and that I need to do it often.  I told Logan, “You are loved, you are wanted, and God has big plans for you.”

By February 2020, Logan was starting to improve, but then COVID hit.  The frustration of online schooling and online therapy hit hard, and I was worried he would start going backward.  But God reminded me of my life’s motto, Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Every time I would see Logan get frustrated, I would remind myself that God knows our struggles, and maybe God will use this to help him.  Maybe he needed the time away from school, more time at home with me, to help him learn coping skills and to heal.

In the summer of 2020, my oldest son Cliff started to show signs of depression.  His freshman year of high school did not end as expected, and the lack of socialization took its toll.  I was once again praying for God to heal my son’s pain and to protect him from suicide.

I addressed Cliff’s depression head-on with the reminder that he is loved, he is wanted, and that God has big plans for his life.  Cliff is reluctant to believe in Jesus, and I’m careful not to push faith on him as I know that could have an adverse effect.  However, I used the opportunity to shed light on his dark world.  I simply pose questions to get him to think about God’s promises and what that could mean for him if he believed.

When school resumed full-time in the Spring of 2021, Cliff and Logan both started showing much improvement.  Cliff still wrestles with faith, but I watch for opportunities to bring him hope of a Savior that cares.  I need to trust God that one day, it will all click for him.

I never thought parenting would be so challenging, and I often think Satan knows my biggest weakness is my children.  But through God’s strength, I choose to use these trials to grow my faith instead and to help me to become a better mother by speaking truth and life into my children as often as I can.