For those of you who are parents, isn’t raising a tiny human one of the most difficult things you have ever done in your life? You plan and hope for 9 months and then the moment comes for your tiny human to come into the world, and you feel wholly unprepared! All of a sudden, you’re terrified! You are responsible for this tiny person! You make it through the infant and toddler years by some miracle. Cause let’s face it, you don’t get enough sleep and this baby has to eat more hours than you get to sleep. Having to feed and sleep train this small child is no easy task. They grow and you teach them how to use their manners, how to dress and be more self sufficient as days go by. And even though they may drive you absolutely crazy some days, when they run up to you and give you big hugs and say “I love you” your heart melts and feels happy all at the same time.
What if it’s not all unicorns and rainbows?
Sometimes that isn’t reality though, is it? For most people you can resonate with those things. But sometimes…sometimes your child is throwing big hissy fits hourly. You can’t take them grocery shopping for fear of another tantrum. Maybe their shirt isn’t the right texture or color, and the world just stops spinning for them. I know several parents whose children are on the spectrum. Too much sound, the wrong feel against their skin, too many lights or people and the kids just get overwhelmed. What about the kid who can’t stop fidgeting in school? Squirming, making noise and constantly getting in trouble. They aren’t bad kids…you know they aren’t, but they end up sitting by the teacher and you get called in for more parent teacher visits than you can count. There are scarier things too. When your child is hitting, smashing, and throwing things. When you are afraid for him, OF him, for yourself, or other kids. For some that is a reality.
I feel guilty!
Oh man, that mom/dad guilt! Not just the “why can’t I help my child” guilt, but the “I love my child…but I really don’t like him.” To even say that in your mind; cause that’s not how that goes. We aren’t supposed to dislike our kids. We are supposed to love them and them us and when our reality doesn’t happen like we imagined and planned it would there is a great sense of grief and loss of things that may never happen. It’s not the death of your loved one but it is the realization that dreams, and plans will never be and that, is a kind of death.
Your child is not defined by their diagnosis
While your child may be dealing with a mental health diagnosis, they are not their diagnosis. Rather than looking at a diagnosis as evidence of being disordered, accept a diagnosis as a signal that something needs to be addressed to restore balance to your child (or yourself and your family) Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him from them all.” Psalm 139 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” So, God created your child the way that they are. God has a PLAN and a PURPOSE for your child. God loves your child far more than you could ever imagine. Your child CAN be kind. God gives your child (and you) strength and with Him all things are possible. All things. Not some things, not just the easy things, all things. Matthew 19:26 says “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” That is true for all of us. In Jeremiah 32:27 He says, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me?” This means that the good things you believe can happen for your child CAN happen. And also, that God will be there for you as you go through these difficult times with your child.
Because we love our children and believe the best for them it can be difficult to set boundaries. It can be difficult for many reasons. We don’t want to believe our child may hurt themselves or us. But it’s important to set those boundaries for acceptable behavior. If your child isn’t following those boundaries and safety becomes an issue it is important to have a plan. Make a plan together, then follow that plan.
You are not alone. Find your people. Your church people who can support you, support your child. Make sure you surround yourself with friends and family who are supportive of you, who speak the truth you want your child to hear, and who will support your decisions even if they would choose to do things differently. It is difficult to speak the Word to your children when someone is sitting in the corner and pointing out only the difficulties. Find a support group, people who are going through similar things can help you realize that you are not alone. Sometimes that can make the biggest difference in your life and your child’s. Just to know you aren’t alone and someone else understands where you are coming from. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
Together you can get through anything. With your tribe and God by your side all things are possible. Scary moments with your child, making safety plans, dealing with the parental guilt and difficult diagnosis, none of that is impossible to deal with when God is by your side. It is not just good to ask for your tribe to help, but necessary. It can be difficult to admit you need help. I get it, I’m a strong person and I don’t want to have to tell people “I don’t got this, help!” But to allow our family (blood family and not) to help us is to allow them a blessing. 2 Corinthians 9:8 “Besides, God will give you his constantly overflowing kindness. Then, when you always have everything you need, you can do more and more good things.” God gives us good things and He wants us to share those good things with others, let people give you good things, let them love on you. God did not design us to endure life alone. He wants us to be there for each other. I have to stop and think “if my friend was going through this same situation, would I want them to share it with me and let me help if I could? Let me pray for them? Let me listen?” If the answer is yes to any of those then I know I need to open up to my tribe and accept the help. It’s there and we need it.
Allow your tribe to support you. Utilize the support groups in your area. Make that safety plan. Locate the trusted people who can help when you need it; your doctors, mental health professionals and other emergency numbers, make sure they are all in one place and everyone knows where they are. You are not stuck. You are not alone and there is hope. Christian Therapist on Demand is here to help too. We have licensed therapists waiting to listen and aid you through these trying times. Sign up today at christiantherapistod.com, find the app on google play store or itunes.
I’ll leave you with this poem, “Footprints in the Sand” it’s a beautiful reminder of how God carries us through the difficult times.
“One night I dreamed a dream. I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord. When the last scene of my life shot before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. There was only one set of footprints. I realized that this was at the lowest and saddest times of my life. This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma. “Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk and talk with me all the way. But I’m aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don’t understand why, when I need You most, You leave me.” He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”