2 Aug 2018

You are the best parents for your child(ren): when your kid marches to a different beat and you feel beat

I have been asked to write another parenting book. What shall I call it?

Wholesome Parenting? Or -


Which of these would you prefer as both a description of present and future reality?

Strange we somehow hold on to the idea that a child will grow steadily through the years... while we accept the cough, cold and even HFMD, we balk at so many other things, which cause us to get ditzy, complain, compare and more:

The child who -

isn't the grandparent's bright spark
incurs the ire of caregivers
ruins a teacher's patience
is often friendless
struggles at school
has learning challenges
suffers chronic health concerns

The conditions are varied. Some have labels, others seem to even defy labels.

What kind of parenting are we left with then?

Hopeful . Persistent . Struggling

In every family, the challenges are configured uniquely. When your child marches to a different beat (or can barely march), it is entangled with other issues like finances, marital unity, balancing the care of other children, personal plans and so on. These other dimensions compound the challenges.

I wanted to homeschool my children. My husband did not think it was a good idea.
The mighty teen thinks the kid brother should just snap out of it with sheer willpower.
Well-meaning relatives and friends think that prayer and healing is the key.
And I secretly hope it's just something he will grow out of...soon!

In the meantime, you are reading, sizing up, trying out stuff... and stepping on landmines!

My now-taller-than-me son still struggles with stuff he should be adept at, like knowing what homework to do and getting it done. I cannot keep him at age eight, so he is being assigned chores at home too. He needs guidance and supervision, but as a teen, he wants privacy and space. He needs discipline and direction, but he prefers distraction and de-stressing with music.

The teen years are always tough as they need to grow deeper and larger, but everything within them wants to skip the hard stuff, as if everything gets magically accomplished while they sleep till noon.

And, he gets ballistic.

This is the hardest part. He turns into a different creature. The tender, responsive child flees as the raging monster rears its head, breathing arguments, retorts and negativity. The once languid space can turn into a war zone.

And it gets really tiring.

(The cat just jumped onto the table, as if to suggest that I trade him in for another feline. I am ashamed to confess that the thought has crossed my mind, Chats).

It takes years to get to know your own child's mind and heart.

A life is not a computer program or an excel formula. My son feels like a moving target. He grows, he lapses, he churns out new challenges.

Gracious . Patient . Trying

What do you do when you child-turn-teen loses his zest for life?
You don't lose yours.
What do you do when you don't know what to do?
You do what you know to do.
What do you do when you need everyone to back you up?
You go to them and ask them for help.
What do you do when you feel like you have lost your way?
You talk to The Way, The Truth and The Life, aka Jesus.

I have learnt so much because of this uncommon child of mine.

ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia.
How other parents must struggle and need compassion.
What the school system can and cannot do.
The power of prayer
The power of words
The power of a soft reply
The power of humour
My need for others
The glory and fun of parenting done right

This morning, I was meditating on the prophet's account of how God told him to go and visit a potter.

 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” ~ Jeremiah 18v2

As he observed the potter at work on his clay project, he understood that the clay that conformed to the Potter's skilful work of moulding it as well as clay that turned out to be useless - that is decided by the Potter. The prophet had some sobering words for Israel: their response determined their destiny.

The Potter had the power to pick and choose the clay and work at it. He certainly began with an end in mind and is shaping the ill-defined lump into an object of usefulness and beauty. The transformation of that lump of clay can only happen when the Potter is able to work it and shape it.

This parenting thing, with all its endless spinning of daily routines and familiar battles... I feel as if I am the lump spinning on the wheel. It's a state I must embrace if His good design is to take shape.

It is also where I am a co-potter working on a smaller lump entrusted to my care. As the co-potter, I don't have the full picture of the final design, but at stages, I see what needs to be done, faithfully and constantly. My role is to do just that.

And as I listened to the Scripture account, I saw a dusty old space with a lightly bearded, muscled-man sitting by a Potter's wheel. A light is streaming in and the dust particles are dancing. The Potter's eyes are on the object, his hands pulled away for the moment, as if to consider his next move. I feel an invitation to sit and watch, to converse and understand.

God in his manifold wisdom is shaping me as I learn my role in shaping my children.

I really don't have full and complete certainty that I know what I am doing. I don't know the final outcome anyway. But I do know a few right things to keep doing -
Pray . Love unconditionally . Model . Listen . Set boundaries

It seems to be working... most days.

When things are blue, it is easy to blame yourself. In my case, I sometimes wonder if the financial sacrifice of staying at home was worth it. After all, if we had more money, we could have more options. But again and again, I know that any progress I make is possible largely because of the foundation of deep bond and connection we share. I can appeal to so much memories, goodness, shared love with a nod, a gesture, a knowing look. My tears deeply bother him and my prayers stir him. He may roam, but he knows where is home.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and heart here, and helping to to build a real, faith-full community together!