I have been a sister and a daughter for 41 years. I have been a wife for 18 years. I have been a mom to 6 children ages 15, 13, 13,12,7, and 4, for 12 years.
Yep, my kids are older than how many years I have been a mom.
I have been a mom through adoption for 12 years. My first child came home at 10 months. The second at 16 months, the third at 3.5, the 4th and 5th came home together at 12 and 10, and the 6th was almost 3. This has put me in a unique position. It is imperative that I learn exactly who my children are and what they need. To recognize that while their birth certificates and bodies say they are one age, emotionally they are much much younger. It is vital to remember that their emotional growth was stunted and that their little hearts and minds often think like a much younger child. I must find out where they really are emotionally and meet them there.
This is no easy task. It is hard to remember that this teen in front of you, who is so handsome and manly, on many levels often thinks just like my 7 year old. Many times my 7 year old is more mature because his intervention began when he was younger. The 13 year old who experienced a flood of hormones with the tremendous nutritional shift that occurred when she arrived, looks like a woman and thinks quite a bit like my 4 year old: Beyond egocentric.
But in the daily living, these facts can get lost and tensions build. We forget that we are responsible for their emotional health. We've pushed aside our children's reality with the platitude that "children are resilient."
You know what? Children are resilient, but they shouldn't have to be. If we are their parents, we are supposed to be their protection. We are to take the brunt of what they must live through.
What exactly do I mean by that?
Just because they have a better life now, doesn't mean that we are supposed to leave them to process through their past alone. So often we leave them carrying that baggage themselves instead of coming along side them and holding those very large bags with them.
This will not be easy.
They protect those bags, for within those bags is their heart.
In order to do this they throw up all kinds of defenses:
And in our own desire to believe that everything is going to be alright and "Gee, don't' they look like all the other American kids," we miss it. Because we're right, they do look just like all the other American kids.
We've made it right to where everyone else is. The great divide between parent and child. Who am I kidding, between husband and wife as well.
It boils down to 2 words. Intentional Relationship
So often we aren't intentional with our children (or our spouses.) We don't actively foster our relationships. We are reactive. We don't function in a way that makes sure that we are connected to our people in a healthy way, we merely react to them when what they do affects us negatively. This seems to be the only time we recognize our connections.
This is wrong. We are not being intentional in our relationships with our children. We are leaving them alone to navigate their relationship with us.
We've already established that they are much younger than they appear, with damage, and disappointment, and abandonment, and disease, and poverty all over them and it's up to them to dictate their relationship with us too?
WE ARE THE PARENTS.
It is time for us to get over ourselves and be the people God has called us to be.
Dads, step up and intentionally lead your families. Recognize that YOU are the rudder of the ship called your family. If you aren't doing your job, your ship is running way off course and your family is suffering because of it.
Moms, nurture your relationships with your children and your husband. Recognize that this is the roll we signed up for. We are the soft place for them. We need to meet them where they are and help them through life. We can't be distracted by the hurtful things being said to us. We must see past it and recognize that those are walls protecting the damaged hearts of our loved ones. We can focus on the smaller problem of the disrespect or we can persevere and get to the inner heart of our dear ones. If we can make it to their hearts and connect there, all the other walls will fall, and true relationship will form.
This is up to us, not our children.
Relationally with our spouses, we are equally culpable, but if it has to start somewhere, wives, lets begin.
It is humbling to realize that we have been given the responsibility of someone's heart and so easy to forget.
Look into your hands.
How many hearts do you hold?
How many are slipping through your fingers because you aren't intentional with the relationships you are responsible for?
Have you forgotten the relationship you have with the heavenly Father who so tenderly holds yours?