7.17.2009

Application

Have you ever hurt your child on purpose?
How does it make you feel to even read those words? Offended? Defensive? Self-doubting?
Would you ever hurt your child on purpose?
Of course not. I wonder if any parent really wants to hurt their child. I mean in the realm of normalcy. Whatever that is. My therapist likes to quote that "Normal" is a setting on a washer. When you see a parent demean a child verbally, or let them live in squalor. I know of one mom who put cola in her infant's bottle. Do you assume she was cruel? or ignorant? I saw one mom who was berating her child at a public park as she was reviewing spelling homework with her daughter. It was in a neighborhood where you wouldn't find many 'burb moms and their squeaky-weakies. On the one hand, I had to admire her for working on the homework and caring so much. On the other hand, you could see the spirit in her daughter being stomped. Was she wanting to be cruel? or was she ignorant?

A friend of mine and I were discussing a tough decision they have to make. She said they vowed never to let their work get ahead of their children. I'd never doubt that for a milli-second. She's a new friend to me, but I know in the depth of my being that she and her husband are loving, kind, wise. And yet, when she told me about what they were considering? I was shocked. Because in my book, that's more risk than I'd ever take with my child. I have experience and research to back me up. Of course in my book, I'm right.

I think back on the days when Boo was an infant. Those days were crazy. I was crazy. I was given crazy advice. I was crazy stubborn. Sleep. Boo wouldn't. And. And. I did the wrong thing; used the wrong methodology. Back then, I felt like I had to take that route or I'd be committed. No - commit myself. As in bedroom doors with locks on the outside. I did the best I could, the best advice I could find, with the consent and cooperation of my husband. But looking back? I think I did him emotional harm. Was I - am I - any better than those other moms? That mom only had a $1.oo to buy soda. That other mom wanted to drill those spelling words into her child's head. Me? I wanted that kid to SLEEP! I wanted some sleep.

Didn't I want to do my best? Didn't I do what I thought was best? And my friends, aren't they going to do their very best to make the wisest choice? And yet, might they fail? like we all do? Rich, poor, white, tan, black, Christian, atheist, Jew? I've often heard "Oh, kids are resilient." I have to wonder if that's to ease their guilt? or to give themselves permission to slack off. Yes, kids are resilient, but I'm still not going to take chances I don't have to.

None of us want to hurt our children, but we do. Because when we're in the trenches, in the thick of thing, when the forces and influences are upon us, and a deadline looms, application ain't so easy.
How about you? When have you done your very best, only to find you had done the wrong thing?


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10 comments:

Lora said...

kids aren't as resilient as people talk them up to be. Yes, they can adjust, but they will never bounce back to that proverbial "normal" if stretched too far.

We all screw up, take an easy way out. I have a friend who works 60 hours a week, her husband more. She says she has to work so she can give her children everything. She gives her children nothing but a kiss on the head when she gets home at 10 and nice things to play with in her stead.

I think mothers of all walks of life are ignorant in their own ways. We block out what we don't want to learn or do. We accept things we know are not right because they are easy. We all need easy at some point.

The mom with soda in the bottle? Boy have I seen lots of that. People honestly don't stop to think whether something is good for their child, they stop to think whether something feels good for their child. The lack of education in some communities is appalling. The streets are literally being overrun by people with 6th grade educations. Even those that go to school all the way thru don't have what you or I would consider a 12th grade level of comprehension and learning. It's horrible. People who never learned that "ketchup isn't a vegetable" kind of stuff. It just isn't relevant to their lives. I see it every day.

I feel like my best isn't good enough on so many occasions. It's really a problem for me. I find myself reaching out for help way more often than I ever thought I would.

This is hard stuff

Rebecca said...
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Rebecca said...

Wow, Grace. You hit a nerve. I've been going through a patch where my own critical attitude is being revealed to me. This attitude that my way is the only way and pity these poor soul's that fail to grasp it.

I choose to believe that my daughter doesn't have to be resilient, she just needs God's grace. And I know he will cover her with it, because (and I hope to never use this as an excuse) in the end, He promises to use everything for her good. I pray for God to cover my daughter in grace everyday knowing that plenty of times I'm oblivious or just wimper out and take that easy way.

That just reminded me of the beautiful first verse of the Heidelberg Catechism:

What is your only comfort in life and death?

That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yes, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

I'm also praying that God shows me ways where I am parenting out of habit and instinct, rather than constantly examining and asking for His guidance.

And an interesting side note. God must have known my daughter would need a lot of grace (don't we all). We picked the name Anna Grace because it was a combination of maternal and paternal grandmother's names. Later, I looked up the meaning and it is Anna=Grace, Grace=Grace and she was born on a Tuesday. "Tuesday's child is full of grace."

mamawhelming said...

Normal is relative. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we're even aware of them and make them anyway because we're human and flawed. I think if our children know, in the deepest places of their hearts, that we love and care and want the best for them, and that we're trying to do that most of the time, they can flourish in spite of our shortcomings and mistakes.

a Tonggu Momma said...

I truly believe that young children can't remember much before age four or five because the years between birth and then give parents the opportunity to climb up the learning curve. Because that curve? Is steep.

rosemary said...

What a lovely and honest posting! I haven't had the chance to parent yet but I know this moment will come. I hope it's not too bad.

Margie said...

Lots of nerve-hitting here.

For me the nerve is with my son. When he was young, he was so so selfish, little-boy selfish, you know? He'd hit if he didn't get his way with friends, and it frightened me because I saw it as a trait that wouldn't serve him well in later life. Anytime I'd see it, I'd point it out - sometimes critically, sometimes gently, but the point is that he heard it a lot from me.

Today he's one of the gentlest and most generous young men I know. I wonder what he lost because I didn't trust him to figure it out on his own, which I know he did.

Makes me sad to wonder.

Grace said...

In the days when I was growing up, adults were always right. Never wrong.

When I raised my children, I purposed to admit it when I was wrong. I apologized to my children...partly because they deserved my apology and partly because I wanted to model repentance. I wanted to teach them how to apologize. Yes, we parents make mistakes. We are flawed humans...as our parents were...and as our children will be when they are parents. But we can apologize. We can ask for forgiveness. And we can all learn to forgive. This teaches our children about God...as they will need His forgiveness.

Wanda said...

I'm a mom to 3 teens. I had 3 babies under 4 at one time. There were many days....I was still in my pajama's at 3 in the afternoon.
It was tough!
I didn't grow up in a healthy home environment. God was not a part of my family life.
I vowed to make Him Lord over my family (when God entrusted that privilege to me).
That was key in my mothering relationship. My husband and I focused on God as our leader in our home.
I invested in each of my kids the value that they have in Christ (of course making errors along the way). But my time with them was spent loving them and loving God outloud in front of them.
Teaching them about God and His love for them was the best thing I've ever been a part of.
Today....they are amazing people! They were amazing little people too.
But if you really want to know if it's worth it....I'm here to say, it is.
God first.....in a loving and healthy way. Parenting is hard work....long hours, tedious and plentiful jobs, and it takes total committment.
I was willing to die to me....which is very important to parent successfully.....and hand them over to God.
My job has been to help raise someone's future wife, husband, parent, employee, church member....person of society. I didn't want to face Christ with not doing what He called me to do.

Great post.

Tiffany said...

Thank you for that post. I don't have kids yet (but we've been trying for quite some time), but it always scares me that I'll make the same mistakes that my parents did - some of which had a lasting impact on who I became. I did always know I was loved no matter what and that has helped, but some things cannot be undone.

Even my friends who are wonderful parents sometimes do things that I question. Nobody is perfect.