Almost everyone suffers from rejection. Our children deal with specific kinds of rejection. They are upset when “the other kids won’t let me play.” No matter what their bodies are like, adolescents find something to hate. They suffer acutely from rejection because of not fitting in.
What can you—parent, catechist, or teacher—do to prevent children from being devastated by rejection? How might you help them develop a deep inner security?
Establish some truths and repeat them often:
- God loves you more than any person ever could.
- God makes you and loves you into being.
- God loves you in all your goodness.
- God loves you no matter what.
- God never gives up loving you.
From time to time, ask these questions:
- Who loves you more than anyone can love you?
- Who loves you no matter what?
- Who will never give up on you?
- Whom can you count on, no matter what?
Children receive negative messages all the time from all around them. You are one of the few people who can offer them consistently positive messages. Ask God to remind you how much the children need to be reminded of God’s unconditional love. The children may sigh at the repetition, but each time they hear that God loves them, the message will go deeper into their souls, and that will make a difference when life becomes difficult for them.
One young mother told me that, when she prays with her children at bedtime, they name all the people who love them. (Pets get named, too, of course.) At the end of the list they say together, “And God loves me most of all!” Perhaps in your classroom you might, from time to time, lead the children in doing that privately. (If so, please be alert to those who might be in a difficult situation at home.)
If children “from little on up” are aware that they are known thoroughly and that they are loved unconditionally and for always, they can have an inner security that is unassailable. Rejections will still hurt, but they need not devastate. After all, in the Bible we can find the Lord saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NRSV)