07 December, 2010

Encouragement in parenting a difficult child

We went through a very difficult period with our eldest son for about four years, from ages 6-10. I don't want to go into details to protect on his privacy, but it was really tough to be his parent during those years. Many tears, many prayers. Many times we questioned our parenting abilities. Our confidence was eroded when, despite our best efforts, we got negative feedback from teachers. Not the teachers' fault, they were just reporting what they saw. Our confidence was shattered when people in Australia we trusted to pray for our difficulties, instead criticised us. It was hard at times to see an end to it all.

Parenting is difficult, even when your kids are 'good'. It is hard to overstate how difficult it is. One of the difficulties is that it goes on for years and years and you don't know what the final outcome will look like, while at the same time desperately hoping it will be good. It is also hard not to feel like you'll be judged based on the outcome of pouring yourself into this child day after day for years. Also, because you are immersed in the situation, it is hard to see improvements, just like it is hard to see them grow physically.

So what I heard on Sunday was a huge encouragement. We met the teacher my son had for grades three and four. It's been 18 months since we've seen her. She talked with her former student for a while. Later she took me aside and said she's so impressed at how he's matured, how far he's come since she first knew him. She went as far as congratulating us, but I was reluctant to accept the praise. After all, if I don't own his bad behaviour as my fault, why should I own his good behaviour?

So, as we face yet another email detailing the challenges he threw up at a teacher yesterday, and a coach who wants to talk to us about his behaviour on the basketball trip on Saturday, we cling to the hope that we're not doing a bad job. And by God's grace, we'll all come through it okay.


Anonymous said...

Any time you want someone to empathize, give me a call! Obviously God created our children with their propensities to not follow "the books" on parenting and being "good", so we've got to trust He's going to help us get through these stages. We also have to trust that HE is in the business of transformation and we get the front-row seats to SEE grace and mercy. But there are many friends, Christian friends, who don't know how to care, or who are so consumed with "being good" that they miss the "being godly" refiner's fire that we're experiencing...

Maybe strong words...but your post touched home.


Corey and Nicki Shields said...

I want to thank you for posting this. You may not know how much it encourages me. Without any details, we too walk the path of a "difficult" child. I understand the pouring of oneself into the child and the discouragement that it brings from the mouths of well meaning people. It is encouraging to be reminded that they do mature and grow be it that it takes time. Praying for you and your children and invite you to do the same of mine when you think of it.

KarenKTeachCamb said...

Hats off to you Wendy for sharing so openly and honestly. Anyone who can parent 3 growing boys, has my admiration. I praise God that He has given all your boys two loving parents. Your boys may not realise it, but they are truly blessed to have two parents who love both their boys and their Lord, and do the best they can to bring those boys up to be the boys (and eventually men) that God planned for them to be. Parenting is a full-time job and it takes two! Yes, there are some who do it alone, and do a great job of it. I'm not denying that. Still, there's something about having someone to share the load with, the joys and the struggles. Keep up the good work Wendy and David! I'm sure you're not alone in the challenges you face.