4 principles for helping kids through the winter blues

December 30, 2020

Right now, many parents are trying to manage life due to the coronavirus. For many young people, cold weather and shorter days can also bring about the winter blues. Sad feelings, lethargic moods, greater anxiety, or mild depression can accompany the winter season.

As parents, you might also be struggling with your own seasonal blues on top of navigating work while educating, organizing, and occupying your kids. You are likely all suffering from the challenges of this season. But do you find yourself trying to maintain order rather than foster relationship? Whether it’s life in quarantine or winter blues, the struggle tends to be similar: We are tempted to look for ways to survive more than looking for ways to engage our children and help them thrive. 

There are signs young people may be struggling from the winter blues, too. Here are a few: 

We can focus on the gray cloud (shorter daylight, more melancholy moments, kids stuck inside, etc.), or we can look for the silver lining (an opportunity to spend time together, draw out our kids’ feelings and struggles, and develop closer ties with them). It is essential that we, as adults, model healthy ways of managing seasonal distress and cabin fever for our kids. Young people need to know they can go through dark days, winter seasons, and sad moments with tangible comfort in the present and hope for what’s to come. 

Here are some principles for how we can foster resilient emotions and attitudes while drawing closer to our kids during the winter months. 

  1. They need God’s personal comfort and presence displayed before them. When a child or teen is feeling down, knowing someone is walking alongside them always makes it more bearable. A hug, pat on the shoulder, a warm smile or simple, “I care, and I am praying for you,” means so much. As an adult, demonstrate God’s very present help in time of trouble (Psa. 46:1).
  1. Commit to developing stronger, loving relationships with your kids. Building safe, godly connections is vital in helping them deal with the seasons of hardship in their lives. Being at home more together gives us an unexpected opportunity to do so. Decide that you will look for new ways to draw them out and engage them in meaningful conversations.
  1. Look for ways to not just draw out your kids but point them to the Lord. Deuteronomy 6 sets up this mentality for us. Good questions and conversations can reveal what our kids believe about life, themselves, and God. It provides insight to where they struggle with depression, disbelief, secret fears, insecurities, sinful tendencies, or sadness. Having meaningful conversations with them will foster a sense of feeling known and understood by you—and the Lord. Pray for ways to woo them to wanting to know Christ personally. Here are a few suggestions: 
  1. Be thoughtful and creative in the way you set up family time and routines in your home. Intentionally turn off electronics during certain time periods and offer something in its place. It is very tempting for young people to retreat into technology in ways that can contribute to their loneliness and isolation. Pursue time with your child, and get them out of their own world. Take a walk, make a coffee run, or play a game to pull them into an activity that reorients their focus.

Young people need to know they can go through dark days, winter seasons, and sad moments with tangible comfort in the present and hope for what’s to come.

Gather the family for an activity. Consider your kids’ ages, interests, and your family dynamics. What will engage them? If something you try is a flop, don’t let that discourage you. One day they reject your efforts, the next day they accept. Success comes by trial and error, so keep trying. Even if an idea doesn’t pan out, your attempt instills the value of personal connection with the whole family.

Remember, when trying to have deeper relationships with a young person, be okay with resistance. Not all kids (especially teens) will appreciate what you’re doing and may do their best to avoid entering in. Children may complain, tell you they don’t want to, give short or dismissive answers, and sit and refuse to engage, but they are still benefiting from seeing an adult who wants to be with them and “do life” with them. Though it appears to be fruitless, do not grow weary in the pursuit. Try using humor in response to resistance rather than frustration. Be positive and patient, even when they make it unpleasant. Even though it may seem like a failure in the short term, the goal is long-term bridge building.

It is unlikely our children will appreciate us disconnecting the Wi-Fi for their own good, but it will be worthwhile. Our hope is that they will see we care and want to support them. Push through any negative opposition you receive, and choose to believe your children are worth it. Do not lose sight that regardless of how your child or teen seems to respond to what you are doing, it is modeling persevering love to them. After all, isn’t this how Christ pursues us? When you do this, you become a conduit of God’s love, of hope past the momentary struggles or sadness, and light in a dark season. 

Julie Lowe

Julie Lowe is a faculty member at CCEF. She holds an M.A. in counseling from Biblical Theological Seminary. She is a licensed professional counselor with over 15 years of counseling experience. She has extensive experience with women’s issues, sexual abuse, body image issues, parenting, and child maltreatment issues, and regularly … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24