When Parenting Hurts
It is the first week of summer break, which in my mind means things should be easier. More relaxed. Less demanding on my brain. But, then comes the personality and strong-willed temperament of my third child. All those hopes of less? Gone. In one moment of deception and lying. And then, then, I have to really be the parent. And you know what? Sometimes it hurts. That moment, it hurt me almost as much as it hurt her - I can guarantee it. I know you must be thinking that something HUGE went down for this moment to be the cause of pain like this. But, it wasn't. Not really. What was this about? Something simple. But really, isn't most of those hurts over something simple? And something that we make decision about? It was for her. And for me. Honestly, it didn't even start that moment. It all began a couple days before.
We had a pretty good discussion about starting to do things that show she is getting older. I don't mind that. She is a 5th grader now, so it makes sense. It is a good chance to teach about modesty and inner beauty and how Jesus sees her. And we did talk. And laugh. But then, then, it happened. The meltdown over something not so important but that seemed huge to her. I will be honest. I lost it. I didn't throw things, but certainly didn't handle it well. Well, in the end anyway. I started out being very calm and rational. Only she wasn't calm and rational. At all. I had to really get stern and put my foot down and just tell her NO. And there were tears (and this momma does not do tears - not from myself and really not from my girls - I don't know what to do with the crying thing!). Lots of tears. In the end I thought we understood each other. That she knew what she was not allowed to do. I trusted that the matter was closed. This strong-willed, servant-hearted child of mind was NOT done with this. She was for that night, but then a couple of days later came the painful parenting moment.
She was caught in the act of deception. And to make it worse, she pulled a sibling into it with her. The sibling was innocent. Completely. This one? Not so much. The denial, the lying, the deception hurt. Because what was truly lost was my trust. Her dad's trust. In her, in her word, in her actions. How do you deal with that? Scream, yell, throw things, grounding, something else? Every so often I head the still, small voice of God in those moments. You know, the moments when you want to completely lose it? This was one of those miracle times when His voice came through. My husband and I sat in her room and she sobbed. She was racked with them. Her regret was palpable. So was her hurt. I just so much wanted to snuggle her close and tell her it was alright. That she just shouldn't do it again and move on. But you know what? God spoke in that moment. Not because I needed to punish. This isn't in any way about a punishment. This is about walking in what He has called us to do as parents. To correct this child. To show the natural consequence. For her, it was understanding that she had broken our trust. That trust is huge and gaining it back will take time and effort on her part. So why did it cause me pain? Because I saw my child completely broken. And yet, I still had to make her understand the consequences of her actions and feel those for real. I don't want her to hurt or feel those things. I want to shelter and protect. BUT. If I hadn't let that happen, she wouldn't understand how everything in life comes with a consequence - sometimes good, sometimes bad. If I don't do it when she is 9, she will have to learn this lesson later, but when it is a much bigger issue with much bigger consequences. As a parent, it can be hard to see your child hurt and have to walk through those consequences, but we MUST do that. They must be allowed to fail a bit in a place where there is restoration and healing. The world won't do that for them, we must.
In those moments, when God does manage to get through and I actually listen, that is when He is able to teach me as I teach my child. I see so very clearly that He is always parenting me. How often have I done as my child and lied, deceived, and then been broken? I can't even begin to count them. Those times are times of learning and growth and, in the end, healing. God does this for us are our Parent. We have to do this for our own children. Even when it hurts.
This child? She is happy today. But the experience has made her think. Yesterday morning she wrapped her arms around me and just sat there. I wrapped my arms around her. She told me she loved me and she was sorry. And I knew she was, deeply. The healing was starting in that moment. So was her growth. And later that same day she said, "Mom, I know I have to regain your trust. I don't know how to do that. Please help me." And that, that right there made it worth while. The hurt and pain for both of us. She has and is learning. While she is in a place of love and protection. A place where failure can still hurt, but healing happens. It is the same for me as a child of God.
It is okay for parenting to be painful. Sometimes it ends in beauty.