Saturday, October 24, 2009

Supper With Sophie

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2, NIV)

Dinner is ready. I call everyone to the table for a hot meal together. Husband and kids come running, except for one. Where is Sophie? Lost in the object of her current focus, the first call is never enough for her. She's called again, but either her father or I have to go physically get her. Finally, we're all at the table, ready to say "grace" when Sophie either interrupts, begins eating or takes off to bring one of her toy friends to supper. After we get her redirected to make it through the prayer, it's on to the challenge of the meal. Some banter inevitably ensues as we share the events of the day with one another. With barely a bite consumed, Sophie is already climbing around to get a drink or chase a cat. Once corrected and re-seated, the battle to get her to eat is on in earnest. The rest of the family has finished their dinner and taken their dirty dishes to the sink, but Sophie is still stalling. Consequences are laid out, and to avoid losing our cool with our daughter, either her father or I need to sit with her alone at the table and coach her to focus until she's finished.

Welcome to every evening with our child with ADHD. I get tired just reading what I wrote! Still, countless other parents who have children with a wide variety of "invisible disabilities" go through the very same thing. So how do parents like us follow through with the instructions of 2 Timothy 4:2 in the way the Lord instructs us to? How do we remain long-suffering and mindful of our child rearing when their behavior is, frankly, irritating?

First of all, we need to be convinced in our hearts that God will use our child's character traits for His good purposes. (Romans 8:28) Sophie may have ADHD, but she's extremely clever and smart as a whip. Our job as parents is to shape our kids' character without squashing their spirits. When we realize that we have the mission of bringing out the best in these little people to glorify God, it draws our focus to the bigger picture instead of the frustrating behaviors.

Second, being "prepared in season and out of season" includes taking care of ourselves as parents. When we are depleted or stressed-out, our fuse is naturally shorter. We need to be equipped in order to meet the responsibilities involved with our children. That means we need to be intentional about taking time away, doing something we like, getting enough rest, exercising and eating properly. That may mean that we have to tag-team with a spouse, relative or friend, but that's the only way to make certain our tank is refilled.

Third, we need to persist in correcting, rebuking and encouraging even if it's inconvenient. Consistency is definitely our friend, although the path of least resistance so often looks more attractive. If we want a positive outcome, we have to remain focused on steering our children through thick and through thin.

Fourth, but most important, we must operate with the constant understanding that we cannot make it for even one minute on this journey apart from God. He alone fills us and strengthens us for all that is involved in parenting a child with such a diagnosis. And Jesus' death and resurrection assure that our mistakes are covered when we fall short in our efforts. His unique comfort and hope bring us encouragement when we become concerned about what the future holds for such a child.

Yes, when God calls, He equips. By His power, supper with Sophie can become manageable, if not humorous!

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