Make the Most of Uncertain Times – MBFLP 258

Coming out of the bunker - making the most of these uncertain times

“How do I encourage my young men to look forward to the future?”

In part 1, we talked about the reality of uncertainty as a part of every time and every life, though the immediate upheaval is a very real and very disruptive event!  (see episode 257, “Making Sense of Uncertain Times”)

But how can we provide some practical help to young men whose plans for college, work, nnd relationships have been upended and put on indefinite hold? What can we do as parents to help them make the most of these uncertain times?

Remember the pandemic hits everybody differently. People in stable relationships with established careers may be better able to adjust to the disruptions than young men who are just at the starting point.

Young single adults may be feeling real isolation and loneliness. They may appreciate more contact with family, in real life or online. Reach out! And plan to listen – they may be missing people they can talk through their concerns with.

A new socialization problem

Encourage them to be inventive about socializing online. We have young adult friends who have organized online prayer meetings, held conference calls for fellowship, connected through video gaming platforms, and more. Some video conferencing programs offer service for small groups for free, and messaging apps like Skype and Signal can be used for several people in a call.

If your teens don’t have a social media account, now may be the time to train them how to use it wisely. Social media has its pitfalls, for certain, but it is possible to use it for God-honoring purposes. Your teens will be expected to have some social media savvy when they leave your home; it’s widely used in business and academia as well as peer-to-peer. What better time to coach your teens than right now, while they’re still at home and open to guidance?

For kids too young for social media accounts, we may want to use ours to facilitate fellowship for them and their friends.  It’s worth remembering that our online friendships may be part of our own coping mechanisms; our younger kids may not have that connection for themselves. Maybe you can set up a game meeting, a virtual tea party, or some other way for the elementary and middle school kids to interact … with supervision.

Realize that all our social skills may be rusty – your young people may need encouragement and coaching when they can resume meeting people in person.

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What can you do with this time?

Parents and people in a more stable situation may be able to provide perspective. If we aren’t in the throes of the uncertainty faced by our sons, we may be able to think of alternatives and options that they haven’t considered yet. We also may be able to point out that life doesn’t end at 25 or 30 — in fact, the most productive and effective part of their lives and careers is very likely years in the future still. A few months delay at 18 or 23 is not going to stop the world for them!

Some practical ideas to consider: Start a business. Start something online. Begin writing the book you wanted to write. Read up a subject and take a CLEP exam for college credit. None of this has to be permanent or long term, but any of them will encourage you to be active, keep thinking, and avoid just giving up!

Give them hope! Your sons need encouragement and they need the benefit of your experience and your ideas. Remind them this is a just a passing time in their lives and it will soon be past. Rather than despairing, they can make the most of the opportunities they have in these uncertain days!

Resources We Mentioned

Skype messaging app

Signal messaging app

SKRAFTY moderated Minecraft server and more

Our free College Decision Resource Pack – click here to download your copy!

Making Sense of Uncertain Times – MBFLP 257

How can we encourage our young adult sons to look forward to the future?

A listener asked the question, considering the wide-ranging effects of the pandemic response. What can we say or do to give hope to our young adults, when everything seems to have a roadblock? What do we do when college is reduced to online classes, when social opportunities are severely restricted, and many entry-level jobs aren’t hiring?

First, we need to recognize our sons’ struggles may be very different from our own.  Those of us in stable relationships, with family surrounding us and our careers well underway, will weather the storm very differently than the young man who is just starting out.

They need our understanding and sympathy. That’s only Biblical – Romans 12:15 tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who  weep.” Put yourself in his place – how would you feel if suddenly high school graduation wasn’t going to happen, and college would likely be video classes like the last semester of high school, and the great adventure of moving out and meeting new people was postponed indefinitely? It would be disappointing and disorienting, at best. Your son doesn’t have your perspective to give him some balance and patience!

Consider that when Jesus went to the tomb of His friend Lazarus, He wept. Even though He was about to bring Lazarus back from the dead, Jesus could share the immediate grief of the sisters. Surely we can be sympathetic to our sons’ worries before we try to fix them!

We have perspective they (probably) don’t 

This may be the first time your young adult had a total upheaval of long-held plans. It may feel like the end of the world to them. Those of us who have experienced sudden job loss or a health crisis might be able to say, “It’s not just the present trouble – there’s a certain amount of uncertainty in LIFE.” Times of greater or lesser disruption will come, but there are no guarantees about the next day’s plan (James 4:14).  In fact, our response to difficult times reveals our character.

In uncertain times, God intends us to keep going. When the Jews were taken away to Babylon, God acknowledged the disruption but told them to keep on with life – build houses, plant gardens, get married, raise families, and pray for the peace of their place of captivity (Jeremiah 29:4-7). Jesus described the end times (in Matthew 24) as master leaving on a journey and returning unexpectedly – he wants to find his servants watchful but working!

Uncertainty is a part of life, by God’s design – but He wants us to trust Him and keep on doing the best we know how!

Resources We Mentioned

Romans 12:15 – Weep with those who weep

John 11:1-44 – Jesus wept

James 4:13-15 – You do not know what will happen tomorrow; for what is your life? It is even a vapor … 

Jeremiah 29:4-7 – God’s instructions to the Jews in Babylon to live as normally as possible – even as captives and exiles!

Matthew 24:3-47 – Jesus describes the end times and suggests we should keep working until He comes!

Gary Smalley, If Only He Knew (the marriage book Hal mentioned)