Monday, January 6, 2014

You're not a bad parent.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.  “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “Why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”  “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.  John 9:1-3  NLT

Do you kind of feel like the person in the middle of the picture sometimes?  Everyone is judging you.  The looks, the whispers, the ignoring, the pointing fingers, and the unwanted advice are sometimes almost too much to bear.  Everyone is an expert and KNOWS what is best for your child.  You are clueless and doing a disservice to your special needs child.  It just makes you want to crawl into a hole and never come out.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying I’m the perfect parent or that I’ve got all of the answers.  I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in the parenting department.  What I am saying is that every time someone gets cancer, ill, needs glasses, is born with an invisible illness… it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a direct consequence of their or their parent’s sin.  Cause and affect are often hard to figure out in this sinful world we live in. 

This became very clear to me when our adult child was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and an anxiety disorder. A high percentage of those with Borderline Personality Disorder have had abuse or trauma in their life.  Often people look at these families with a fine toothed comb with the assumption that something bad was or is going on in that home.   Our family was no exception.  On top of that, often one of the symptoms is the lack of insight into their illness, so they don’t think they are sick and resist help.  They tell people things to make it seem like others are to blame for their behavior and often they are believed.  Lastly, many symptoms are counter to Christian behavior and the lack of understanding and help from other Christians can make it a very painful and lonely experience.

With all of the sincere but bad advice offered to us I probably had an easier time extending grace to my family and friends since I was just like them before my family was directly touched by these disorders.  I was judging them.  If it wasn’t verbally, it was at least privately.  Sadly, I was doing the very things that I now understood to be counter-productive and sometimes even hurtful.

I had to change my way of thinking and not only extend grace but also know where my understanding and wisdom comes from.  I had to look to the only One that could help me discern how I was doing in the parenting department.  Once I did this, it was easier to deflect the negative comments, the shunning, and ignorant advice.  One of my favorite comments was “It’s all in their head.” (translation: Nothing is really wrong.  You just need to set your son straight.)  My reply was usually “Of course it is.”  What I really wanted to say was, “Of course it is.  Brain disorders are in the head where the brain is.  You are so smart to know this.”  I wanted to say this with an attitude of sarcasm but that would have been me talking instead of Jesus. 

I came to realize that our son’s disorders were not because we were bad parents.  I had to stop believing that lie.  I reflected on how we parented the best we knew how at the time and we made mistakes along the way.  We also did many things right.  I had to sometimes stay away from people or places to protect myself from the hurtful comments when I knew I was too vulnerable to deflect the stinging words.  I had to keep my focus on Jesus and not the circumstances that surrounded me daily. 

This year, I encourage you to purpose to look to God for your wisdom instead of man.  Whether your child is biological or adopted does not matter.  God made you to be the perfect parent for that child and that child to be the perfect child for you to parent.  He has given you the heart only a parent can have for their child and the where with all to know what’s best for your son/s and/or daughter/s.

Did you notice the second half of the verses above?  Jesus answers the question about the why.  Stay tuned tomorrow for “Where'd you get your super power?"

Prayer Lord, Encourage me as I parent my child and shield me from hurtful wounds that sometimes ignorantly come my way.

Photo credit "MY POINT OF VIEW:  Judging People by Their Diagnosis", by Monika, June 12, 2013

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