Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Forgiving Your Child ~ #Dare2Forgive

Photo image courtesy of Iakov Filimonov via
You have always answered my call.
    Don’t hide from me now.
Don’t give up on me in anger at Your servant.
    You have always been there for me.
Don’t throw me to the side and forget me,
    my God and only salvation.
~ Psalm 27:9, VOICE ~

It's the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge.  There are times where we may not like our children very well.

Don't get me wrong.  We still LOVE our children, because they are ours.  We would do anything to help them, rescue them in a crisis, be there for them in a time of need.  Yet, there are days, even seasons where we don't like our offspring.

Let me explain what I mean.  For instance, when I have to tell my child, who spent half the night awake because of executive function issues, to get out of bed for school 5 times in the morning...  repeatedly...  all week long, I get agitated.  When the child with anxiety is just stuck in a persistent, irrational place where they don't want to use the tools they've been given, I get frustrated.  When the teenager doesn't take the daily prescribed pain medication, but then complains of nagging aches, I become angrily flummoxed.

I know I am not alone.  I talk to enough of you to know what you have endured.  It's hard not to want to wring your child's neck when they fill a large diaper right after you have just changed them.  I can relate to the parent who has been irritated because their child with a chronic illness took an unwise risk, knowingly made an unwise choice, putting their health at great danger.  I have comforted so many of you who have battled the ugly, defiant, hateful parts of RAD rooted in your precious kids.

Hear me when I say that we all reach the end of our rope with our kids at times, special needs or not.

That being said, I know I am stuck in a place of unforgiveness if I find myself thinking thoughts like these towards my child:  "Why does he/she always have to be so difficult";  "I have 1 raw nerve left and he/she is dancing on it";  "Being child-free is sounding REALLY attractive these days."  What I am describing in myself is that ruminating on my child's inability to change and my inability to deal with our reality.

A few days ago, I posted that my one word for 2015 is "Forgive".  I established the daily practice of  writing down at least one person I forgive and why.  This brings all the people I need to pardon to the fore of my mind.  In that mix, I can't help but think about my children:  
  • I forgive you, child, for continuously fighting with your siblings because your obsessive tendencies are driving them nuts.
  • I forgive you, my baby, for keeping me up half the night...  again.
  • I forgive you, precious one, no matter how much you hurt me.
  • I forgive you.  It's not your fault you were born with this challenge.
  • I forgive you for continually rearranging my plans.  It's not your fault.
  • I forgive you, crazy teenager, for making a poor choice that will cost us money.  We'll work our way through this together.
  • I forgive you, knowing that you are learning to grow in God's grace, a born sinner, just like every human being.
The bottom line is that the things I need to forgive in my children can usually be directed right back to my own realistic expectations, my own exhaustion, my own selfishness, or even frustration with my own inconvenience.  And when my emotions are completely justified, my child's behavior usually involves their own hurt or brokenness. Instead of wishing my kids to get out of the way, so I can get to my real mission, I need to slow down remembering THEY ARE my real mission.
Naturally, when I come to the end of myself in this process, I can also feel a great deal of guilt and shame.  As a result, I need to gently offer myself mercy once I have absolved my child.
When I model forgiveness, my children will become more forgiving themselves.  It takes time, and with the black-and-white thinking of an autism spectrum disorder, learning clemency can be particularly challenging for some of our kids.  Still, when we parents, who are visible and tangible to our children, generously offer our forgiveness, we give our young charges a peek into what God's mercy looks like.  What a priceless gift to give to our kids as a legacy!
PRAY:  Father, there are times where I want to blame my children for something that is not really their fault.  Soften my heart and open my eyes.  Help me to let go of my own unmet demands, giving my child the forgiveness he or she needs to thrive.  Remind me to forgive because I am forgiven.

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