Can I just confess to you right now that there are days that I feel like I am not stable or mature enough to be a nurturing, restorative part of my children’s lives? I get frustrated, uptight, and dare I say, a little…grumpy. I am the type of person who sees a problematic or sinful behavior in my children and I just want to nip it in the proverbial bud. Consistent, firm discipline should take care of any issue quickly, right? As soon as the child realizes that a particular behavior will not be tolerated, the mountain has been conquered! But for the child whose brain was developing under stress, things like this don’t always pan out the way a parent would hope.
Each day can be a struggle if you are parenting a child that experienced trauma during the first years of their life. Their sense of logic and reason is broken. What most children would learn with only simple, consistent parenting will take longer and will be slower in seeing results. Your child may, in a big or small way, still be just trying to survive.
One of the issues we have dealt with in our home is the problem of lying, and the problem of “Don’t tell Mom.” When this began I just thought, “We are going to be stern on this and soon enough we’ll be on the other side of this struggle.” Well, three years later it hasn’t mattered how stern or consistent we have been, it is still a struggle.
I’ve read large amounts on at-risk children and know the depth of damage early trauma has on behaviors such as this. And yet, in the moment of reality– when all of that information that should push calmness and compassion to the front of my mind occurs– I can be anything but calm and compassionate. More than a few times I have sent a child to their room to “think things over” when in actuality I was really just protecting them from the raging tornado inside of me.
The Lord helped me stumble upon this article yesterday. It was so good to hear that I am not alone in this and, once again, to give me perspective.
Here is an excerpt that talks about the cycle parents (like me) can get into:
The scared child thinks and feels something like “It is not safe to tell the truth.” The child lies to their parents. This looks scary to the parents who think and feel something like “My child is a pathological liar” or “I cannot stand to feel manipulated or lied to” or even “Does she think I’m STUPID?!”. These scared thoughts and feelings lead to the parent acting scary (yelling, threatening, name-calling). Closely examine your fears that are confronted when you are lied to. Feeling manipulated feels BAD. Feeling like your six-year-old thinks you are stupid feels BAD. Feeling like your nine-year-old has no regard for you or your relationship and therefore is happy to bold-faced lie feels REALLY BAD. I don’t deny any of these things. But this is the step where you examine your own place in the trauma tornado. This “scared mom” step is where you have to jump out if we are ever going to slow down this tornado.
Yep, jump out of the trauma tornado and into the arms of Christ. I am fully aware that I am not the perfect, everything together, nurturing mother my children need. I have to be reminded, refreshed and encouraged in order to keep up this task that is placed in my hands. BUT, I take courage knowing that not only is God wanting to do a work in my child—He’s wanting to do a work in me.
At the end of the day all I can do is look to heaven and say, “Lord, have mercy on me. Take this small offering of motherhood that I have and multiply it in my children’s lives the only way you can. May the fruit that comes from knowing You be abundant during my days and may my children feast and grow by the nutrients they provide.”
My loving God whispers back to me: My grace is sufficient for you and for them. My mercy is new every morning for you and for them.