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Loving the Hurting Child

28 Sep

In my last post I am sure my tone was d.o.n.e. with Mr. Man. Let me just emphasize this is NOT the case. And never will be. While he was not born of my womb, that child was born in my heart, and my mother’s love for him will never die, and is just as strong as the love I feel for the children that I birthed.

I just get frustrated. While seemingly every mom can sympathize with the old “it’s hard being a parent” saying, very few understand what it means to parent the hurting child. That is SO much harder. I can’t even begin to tell how much harder it is. But I am going to try.

Let’s start with how easily I forget.

In all areas my memory is not the best. I feel that God designed that specifically for me; it’s hard for me to keep an account of wrongs, because I forget them so easily. But in just the same breath, I forget what I’ve done to others, or more specifically I forget what has been done to my son.

There are things I don’t want to remember. Horrible things that are best left in the deep recesses of my mind. And while I am able to function “normally” (that is quoted, because who really is normal?) my son isn’t.  I take for granted things that I didn’t necessarily teach my other children, or were taught to me, but were actually taught….like trust.

Mr. Man learned at a very young age not to trust. That people hurt him.

Last night at dinner he said something very profound to me.

If he is good at the end of the day at school, then he gets a star, if not…then he doesn’t. And he has had no stars this week. What Mr. Man’s teacher hasn’t figured out, and what I am just now learning is that doing the opposite of what you would normally do with a child in trouble is what works for Mr. Man.

You confront the behavior, correct it, and then nurture him. If you continue to punish him, he will punish you. And it’s an ugly cycle.

At the dinner table he announced that he no longer likes it here, and would like to move somewhere. Somewhere they will give him stars. At first my feelings were hurt, because I just assumed he meant without me. But then I asked…do you want me to go with you, or do you want to go alone?

“Go with me, everyone go with me.” As he motioned around the table. He meant for the whole family to move again to some place new. It struck me as odd that he would think we can just pick up and leave when things aren’t working out, but the more I thought about it…the more I realized that has been his whole little life.

I only know of the 8 families he has lived with. 8…the child is 5 ya’ll. That’s a lot of mamas. And not all of them were very nice. I only know of the 15 professionals who have told them that they love him, but when the job gets transferred, or they switch jobs he doesn’t hear from them again. Oh, that is so many people in a little 5 year olds life. And those are just the people I know about. This child has more history in 5 years, than most of us have in our whole lives.

But I so easily forget it.

All I see is the child who is acting out, and honestly it is the most unnatural thing for me to want to wrap my arms around a child who is being naughty, and hold him. Cuddle him. Rock him.

Things that should have been done in his very first days of life, but weren’t. No one loved my baby. No one came when he cried because his diaper was wet or he was hungry, or he just wanted to know that someone was still there to take care of him. No one.

That messes a kid up ya’ll.

And while I am firm believer that my child will not be a product of his past. He will not make excuses for his behavior, we still have to correct the things that were done to him, and that will take time. I can’t erase it from his memory or mine. I have to face it, tough it out, go through it with him, and pray for redemption and healing.

I love a hurting child.

Cut me some slack. Cut HIM some slack. I am going to look frustrated, worn out, and grey at an unusually early age in life. But I will not trade him for anything. It may take every ounce of what I have to give to show this boy that we are NOT ever going to give up on him. He will always get stars in this family because he is LOVED and wanted, and never leaving. I am going to do it. It’s worth it.

So let me thank you in advance for the grace that you will show my son when he acts a little different from the rest of the kids. And let me thank you for allowing me a safe place to lay it all out there.

I am learning that loving the hurting child is a little more complex than I originally thought. I appreciate so much the support I’ve been given, and any mom who loves a hurting child with me, girl I am PRAYING for you.

 

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  1. Mom of a not so hurting child

    September 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Can I suggest talking with his teacher? I have had a similar experience and that is how I handled it. My child is not a hurting child in the sense that your child is but (according to his daycare center) he has behavioral issues. I kept getting notes about things that happened at daycare, him lashing out at other children, having meltdowns, etc. I couldn’t figure it out. These things did not happen at home. We hired someone to “observe” at his center. I frequently went myself to “observe”. Well what we discovered is that he does NOT have “behavioral issues” he really just tends to respond a little differently to things than other children sometimes do. Is anything WRONG with him? IMO no there isn’t. I say this because when we discovered what was happening I said “oh this is my fault”. He has the same traits as I do. He needs to be prepared for change. He doesn’t ike suprises. He needs his own space. To much “stimulation” makes him feel overloaded and he will shut down. He has been like this since he was a baby. I have learned to cope with the things that make me a little edgy. As an adult I can “roll with it”. But at 4 he hadn’t learned those skills yet. As a mother it is my JOB to advocate for my son. To not be worried what his teacher will think if I say “this is what we do at home. The things you are doing may work well with all the other children but it does not work with my son.” It can be hard. Teaches are busy. They have alot of children to work with and really like it if they can all fit into a nice box. But my child doesn’t fit in that box. And I don’t want him to. He is an individual. Teachesrs do alot of training with various types of reward systems. I hope that our struggles will help his teachers learn. I know taht my child is not the first or last that they will teach that will present a challenge. I try to share what we do to allow them to add to their “toolbox”. My hope is that these conversations will be temporary. That as he grows emotionally he will overcome these things. I talk with him frequently about his feelings and what we can do when we feel a certain way. He started kindergarten this year. I requested a detailed description of classroom dicipline and rewards so that we could talk about them with our son and also so that I have a very clear understanding of how things are handled. For consistency we have implemented SOME of the things they do in his class at home. Is this hard? YEP. But it helps him. He spends 8 hours a day away from home. That means that he is there during more waking hours than he is at home. School can be hard and I want to make sure that he is not feeling conflicted about rules. And that he doesn’t think they do things “wrong” at school.
    If you haven’t already done so I encourage you to talk with his teacher. Let them know your challenges and what your goals are. Get them on your team. Tell them what works so they don’t have to figure it ot themselves. Give them the tools to allow your child to trust them. A trial and error process will quickly errode your childs trust. His teacher will appreciate it.
    Sorry this got so long. I really enjoy reading yout blog. God Bless.

     
    • Avatar of Jenn Grimm

      Jenn Grimm

      September 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you so much for your comments and suggestions!
      I have had a talk with his teacher, and while I do think she is taking a lot of it into consideration, I don’t know that she quite grasps the level of hurts that my child has seen. He is very unpredictable in his behaviors, and I tend to err on the side of grace and mercy when it comes to him.
      I am hoping that open communication with his teacher is very benificial to all of us to make this a great school year for him. She seems very receptive to what I have already shared with her. Thank you again! I am pleased that you enjoy reading my blog! Happy to know I am not just talking to myself! :)

       
      • Mom of a not so hurting child

        September 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm

        I am sorry for not reading your previous post. If I had done that I would have known you had visited with his teacher already. There is a service in Fargo called Children’s Services Coordinating Committee they provide information about various family services that are available. They might have information about where you could access something like it in Dickinson. http://rvcscc.org/ is the website. If you click on the resources link it gives listings of some services. Again these are mainly in Fargo but this is a small state. Most people know colleagues in other parts of the state so they may be able to refer you to someone local if you see something that might be of value to you. The West Dakota Parent and Family Resource Center at 701-456-0007 is in Dickinson. Perhaps you already know about this. The Fargo version of this offers parenting classes etc. This is not to say that your parenting skills are lacking in ANY way. Just that what we learned through our experience is that adding more ways to handle things to your bag of tricks really helps. And maybe you have done all of this. I cannot think of the name of the behavior specialist we worked with but I am going to drive past her office next week so I will get that for you too. She works in conjunction with Cass County Social Services so again I am pretty certain she could help locate a more local resource for you. She was wonderful and was able to offer some excellent insight into what was really happening with his thought processes. Which was incredibly helpful to me. And again I apologize if you have already done all these things. I just read your earlier post about him being asked not to return to activities and it sure brought back alot of what we went through. And while things are so much better now I still have moments where I panic about what I will encounter when I pick him up from events. Did he behave? Was there a melt down? I thought of all the times I picked him up from daycare to hear “We’ve had a challenging day.” It was a very diplomatic way to put it I think. He struck a child with a snow shovel, he cut a teachers hair, he threw a chair, he threw a shoe, the list goes on. Of course the reason we encountered these issues are so very different from the reason you are encountering them. I truly do not believe that any child is naughty just to be naughty. There is always some underlying feeling they are acting on. Something inside that doesn’t feel good to them and they have to do something to make that feeling subside. I can’t imagine the feeling your little boy is experiencing.
        Again I apologize if I am giving you information you already have. Have a wonderful weekend.