I have shared our story of working to build back our relationship with Maddie. Our circumstances combined with our parenting had wounded her heart. We moved, had a baby and our life was anything but stable. Mark and I had a choice, we could blame it on our circumstances, attempt to control her or we could dive into the truth of how our parenting had wounded her.
We did not have time to think about it. She was a bomb that had been detonated and our relationship with her was suffering. Her emotional and mental health was thrown off which affected her physical and spiritual health. There is not an avenue in her life that was untouched.
The first place we needed to start was ourselves. We had to acknowledge the hurt we had in our own lives and the truths that kept us locked in shame, guilt, embarrassment, perfectionism and other things we were unconsciously flinging them onto our kids and imbedding it into their hearts. We had to acknowledge the impatient tones, our body language, the unrealistic expectations we had put on her both consciously and unconsciously. We also had to decide we were going to go outside of what we knew and learn how to love, support and encourage Maddie the way she is able to receive it. We could no longer say, I don’t know how to do that, we had to figure it out. Our daughters heart was at stake.
We are often afraid to look deep into ourselves, because whatever emotion is being triggered is usually tied to a situation or circumstance either inflicted on us, we inflicted on ourselves or a combination. It is too painful and we feel it is a waste of our time to stop and address whatever it is we need to face. It could take days, months or years and who has time for it. The truth is, we need to make time. You may think you have successfully shoved it so far down not even God can find it, but I tell you now, everyone around you feels it, sees it and you are dealing with it, but it is toxic and hurting those around you. It is oozing out in ways you do not realize.
You are not only restoring your relationship with your child, you are restoring your relationship with yourself and with God. You are about to become a new creation, the old will leave and the new will come. It may hurt like hell, but, my friend, it is worth every agonizing tear. The heart of our kids and the relationships around us are at stake.
You may need professional help to work through an addiction, you may need counseling to help you get an outside perspective on how you react to life or to help you process a trauma in your life. We need to be prepared to go deep and completely remove any and all gangrenous parts of our wounds. Until every part is scrapped off, dressed and healed moving forward on your own, will just be that, on your own. We our creatures who need one another, even those who tell themselves they do not. The truth is we were designed to need God the father and each other.
Admitting the truth to ourselves is the first place to proving to those around us we are serious about inwardly and outwardly changing our behavior. Unless those we have wounded see positive action towards being different, the relationship will stay wounded.
I have heard “kids bounce back”, NO they do not bounce back. They are fragile and they get hurt. Are they able to heal? Yes, praise the Lord they are, but they do not just “poof” bounce back. Our kids either stuff it so far down no one can find it or they kick and scream through their words and actions. The kids who do not fight back concern me more than the ones who come up kicking and screaming. I at least know where the fighters stand. They look me in the eyes and tell me exactly what they think. Some stuffers are so good at hiding their emotions they convince themselves and their parents they are fine. There is a quote in the movie the Italian Job I love. When someone says they are fine, they say fine stands for Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and emotional. This is totally and completely true. Our kids are not “just” fine. They are Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and emotional and they are looking for a role model, they are looking for love, confidence, security and beauty. If we do not supply it for them, they will look for it else where.
When a parent-child relationship is on the fritz or feels like it has been destroyed beyond repair the first step is building or rebuilding trust. When we are humbly, truthful with ourselves it is the first place to begin.