For several months in my life, I had a severe “pity party.” I was angry toward God because He refused to match my self-prophesied life plans.
Ridiculous. I know…
But in talking to other parents I find that I am not alone in my bitterness struggle. Parenting is not what we expect. The days are long. The work is brutal. Of course there are amazing points that we wouldn’t trade for the world, but parenting is exhausting.
Take a moment to read an adapted excerpt from the book Toddlers on the Move by Tess Worrell and Dr. Scott Turansky.
Parents often find that their child is much different than they had expected. Before the baby comes, there were so many hopes and expectations. But somewhere, something happens that makes life a little more difficult than expected.
Maybe you envisioned shopping trips with your daughter only to have a tomboy focused on bugs. Or, you dreamed of precious times snuggling and reading with your little one, only to have a child whose abounding energy is simply exhausting.
From a young age, my dream was to have the “Walton” family. I dreamed of family devotions with deep conversations. Going camping and laughing through the memories. Serving neighbors and those in need. I envisioned our family of six sitting down to meals while everyone talked about their day and laughed over the day’s events. Sure, boundaries would be tested, but I had a toolbox of discipline ideas and could implement them without problem.
In real life, we have two children with special needs. The struggles that each battle have crushed my dreams. I can’t talk to my son after school to find out about his day because he doesn’t have the language processing skills to make sense of his day. We can’t do “fun” things because Little Man is an escape artist and struggles greatly with impulse control. We can’t have peaceful meals because of sensory issues. It doesn’t matter how consistent and firm our boundaries are, the boys make simple tasks complicated and time draining.
Anyone else have shattered dreams?
The authors of Toddlers on the Move have some good advice for parents who have interrupted expectations of parenting.
Life needs to change. You’ll have to make adjustments, do research, and develop new routines. It’s all part of the job of parenting.
In those moments when you realize that your child needs skills and abilities from you that seem outside of your current repertoire, then you need to go back to the Lord and trust that He knows exactly what He’s doing. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” God brings every person into a family for a reason.
In Psalm 139:13, 16 David praises God by saying, “You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb…All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Your child’s challenges are no accident. God knit your child together in the womb. You were designed for your child and your child was designed for you. If you truly believe in God’s sovereignty, then it follows that God purposely gave you this child. Out of His perfect wisdom, His perfect goodness, and His perfect love, He designed this child for you.
Perhaps you have this child because he’ll draw out strengths you didn’t know you possessed.
Perhaps you have this child because he’ll cause you to grow in ways God will use to bless others.
Perhaps you have this child because this child demands what you can’t give and will drive you to your knees in absolute dependence on what God alone can provide through you.
Perhaps God sent this child, who is so different from what you expected to induce you to see your need and turn to Him.
That’s hard to swallow.
The authors go on to explain.
Take some time to go before God and pray for your relationship with your child. Take time to thank God for each aspect of your [child’s] personality, both the aspects that thrill you and those that make relationships hard…. Ask Him to allow you to see this child from His eyes. As you take confidence in believing that God knew what He was doing when He gave you this child, He’ll open your heart to a love you may never have expected.
Before I go further, I want to clarify something. As you do, I love each one of my children greatly. The
above quote isn’t implying that you or I don’t love our children. It is saying that God will give us a love that covers all aspects of their personality and abilities…even the parts that frustrate, anger, and baffle us. We will begin to see the child through God’s eyes.
Learn everything you need to know in order to parent your child effectively.
I can’t stress this one enough. Become a student of your child’s struggles. Sit in on your child’s therapy sessions. Talk to experts in the field. This has been especially vital to my parenting of Bubs. I have learned right along with him. Next, find moms who are in the same boat as you. Their wisdom is priceless. Start by following this blog! I don’t have all of the answers but I will share what we have learned. Finally, ask questions and then ask some more. Keep probing to find the information that you need to help your child. You are always welcome to ask me questions in the comment session of this blog or on Facebook.
3. Reconstruct Your Expectations
Besides prayer and study, you’ll need to reconstruct your expectations and [your life]…. Look for ways to consolidate your tasks and expand your abilities. Rearranging your priorities and goals is part of what it means to change your expectations.
This point is so important and one that I have prayed for multiple times. Instead of getting mad and fighting reality, we have to accept the life that we have been given as our new normal. This may mean that we do things very different than other families. But once you understand the “why” you see that doing things differently helps everyone be successful. And if that is what our children need, then that is what is right for our family.
And if it is right for my family, that is exactly where God wants me.
Feel alone in your parenting? I invite you to attend the next Parenting and Teaching with Intention Conference on November 3&4 in Arkansas City, Kansas. Whether you use ABCJLM or not, you will leave the conference with a toolbox of ideas to help place godly boundaries around the children in your care and learn how to teach them. Find out more here.
Early Registration ends on Thursday, October 19th
Originally shared October 2015.