Recently, a friend returned from chaperoning our high school youth group on a camping trip to the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota. He had an interesting story to tell of a bear. One night, he was asleep, lying up against one of the sides of the tent. He was suddenly pushed hard from the outside of the tent. Thinking this to be one of the teenagers trying to scare him, he pushed back, but the being outside didn’t move away. Then he heard snoring and other human sounds indicating that the rest of the gang was sleeping. Wisely, he stopped pushing and remained in his tent. When morning came, he realized he’d pushed against a bear roaming through the camp site in search of food.
Sometimes, I think I know what is going on and when someone “pushes” me, I am ready and willing to push back. Having parented eight biological children, when one of my adopted kids from a hard place “pushes” me, I arrogantly and instinctively want to “push back” to show them who is in charge. Sometimes this is not unlike pushing a bear, unproductive and scary.
Recently, one of my adopted kids was upset and began” pushing”, i.e. defiant, angry, no eye contact, not listening and obeying . Without thinking and praying, I “pushed back” and then had to figuratively wrestle a bear before the event came to a conclusion that left us both sad, confused, disconnected and the issue unresolved. By grace, God is slowly teaching me to step back rather than push back. In this case, I should have realized this precious child was very upset and unable to work through any issue while so upset. I should have prayerfully helped her to become regulated again then lovingly helped her process her feelings in the situation.
In Dr. Karyn Purvis’ Trust-Based Relational Intervention, we are learning that the desired outcome of a conflict/difficult situation is that the child’s behavior is changed, the child is more connected to me, and we both feel content. (The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis.) When I “push back”, this is rarely the outcome.
God, I know You are at work in both my children and me. I am so grateful for Your patience. By your grace, help me to step back and pray rather than push back.