What if I’ve Done it All Wrong?

 

I would venture to guess that nearly every parent of a child from a “hard place” believes they have done it all wrong.  As the recent Empowered to Connect Conference came to a close, a dear friend shared that she and her husband were both hopeful and disheartened by what they had learned.   They held back tears of sorrow and regret as they wished they could go back and parent their children differently.  Russ and I have also wrestled with these thoughts and are saddened by the knowledge that some of our efforts likely increased our children’s trauma rather than bringing healing.

Perhaps life in your home became a war zone and you found help by searching for information on parenting children with RAD.  You read books on how to take control away from your child in order to change his behavior.  Or perhaps you allowed raging to go unchecked hoping that if he could just “get it out” he would finally act like a normal kid.  Maybe you tried all kinds of consequences but still, she wouldn’t stop hoarding food or he wouldn’t stop peeing on the walls of his bedroom.

Then you, like us, were introduced to ways of parenting these children from a place of knowledge and compassion.  And you may have been hit squarely in the face with the reality that your child came to you wounded and the reminder that Jesus wants you to look at her with tenderness and love.  He has led you to consider a new way of parenting based on trust and an understanding of how your child was harmed by her early beginnings.

But you are paralyzed because the hands that God gave you to love your child have not always been loving.  The voice that should have spoken tender words has often been harsh.  The eyes that were meant to look lovingly upon your child have turned away in frustration. Over time your heart has grown hard and perhaps you have even begun to see your child as the enemy—somebody you must tolerate, but may never love.

I want you to know something that I have found to be true.

There is mercy—mercy that comes from a loving Father, a Father whose mercies are new every morning.  There is forgiveness—an unlimited well of forgiveness. We need only ask.  With God we get the ultimate “Do-over.” Who could ask for more?  He is not surprised by our children’s behavior, or by ours. He knows we are all broken by the sin and suffering of this world.  Let yourself be forgiven.  Seek it on your knees, write it down and burn it, confess your failure to somebody who loves you—do whatever you must in order to begin anew.

Then move forward in the knowledge that you now understand your child better than ever before, and you have insights and tools to help him.  Keep learning these principles and keep practicing these strategies.  Russ and I have watched Karyn Purvis’ videos on the Empowered to Connect website over and over again because we need this information drilled into our brains.  We are in a desperate fight for our children’s healing and the restoration of our family.  I am so happy to tell you that there is progress and we are filled with hope.

There is more to it though, isn’t there?  What about our child and the pain we have caused him, or at the very least, the healing we have not provided?  Depending upon your family situation, you may need to go to your child and seek his forgiveness too.  You may need to hold her close and say, “Sweetheart, Mommy and I have tried hard to be good parents to you, but we have made lots of mistakes.  We haven’t loved you the way we should have, but now we’re learning a new way of being a Daddy and Mommy to you.  We’re learning how to help the hurts in your heart heal.  You are precious and a sweet gift from God.  Please forgive us.  We are working hard on learning a better way to be a family.”

She may or may not understand.  She may turn her back to you, or even pull away, but she will have heard your voice and a new foundation will be laid.

Today can be the beginning of a new journey for you and your family – a journey toward parenting based on trust and connection.  This new journey will bring about healing for your and for you, and your family will never be the same.

[This article was originally published on the Empowered to Connect website following last year’s ETC Conference in Denver. If you are visiting my blog for the first time after hearing me speak, thank you so much for stopping by.  I hope you will find help and hope on my site.  If you are a long time friend, I always appreciate you stopping by.]

Have a great Sunday, friends.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

15 Comments

  1. Kim
    February 19, 2012

    One of the things I've enjoyed most about the DVD lecture series of Karyn Purvis is the idea that there is always, always hope. For every child and for every parent. Thanks for reminding me of that today. Rest well!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 19, 2012

      Kim, I love that, too. Karyn truly believes that every child can find healing and that hope points us toward our faith – our ultimate hope. I have to believe in the power of God to heal my children!

      Reply
  2. karen
    February 19, 2012

    Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for posting this article. Our family has just welcomed a sweet, tendered hearted boy into our home from the foster care system. We know there are many challenges ahead, and having this information is so vital and important.
    A very Thankful Mom in NJ:)

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 19, 2012

      Karen, so glad to have you being Thankful with me! Blessings as you care for this little boy – I think foster parents are amazing.

      Reply
  3. Julie
    February 19, 2012

    Thank you for being with us in Dallas. Thank you for your honesty and transparency. We are just beginning the adoption journey, but have a 13 year old son who isn't yet "on board" with adopting. You helped us realize the need to give him a voice, and listen to him even now, especially now! I'm so glad to find your blog. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 19, 2012

      Julie, that is so good to hear. I added that bit to may talk after it was already written – maybe God prompted me to do it just for you. It is so important to give our other children voice – it makes all the difference.

      Reply
  4. Karen Yingling
    February 19, 2012

    Lisa – I am crying as I read this. We have thought those thoughts a hundred times since we began to try and change our parenting perspectives. The "what if's" have racked this momma's heart with guilt. My nightly prayer is that God would heal the hurts of my child and erase from her memory, mind, heart and soul all the damage I may have done in an attempt to help her. I have no idea if developmentally she will be able to receive and understand my apologies – but I sure am going to try.

    By the grace of God and His mercies, we will perservere through this and our children will be better for it.

    Reply
  5. Stephanie
    February 19, 2012

    Thank you!! I sooo needed this. The past few weeks I have noticed we are on a negative cycle. Our child hurts us and in complete frustration and just plain not knowing what to do we have allowed the distance to grow between us. I have felt we have only excaserbated the problem and have felt such guilt thinking there is now way out. But your words ring loud and true…We can change and we still have hope. We can have faith that if we continue to push forward God can help heal all of us. So I do pray. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. Carol
    February 19, 2012

    Lisa
    I have followed your blog for a few years now and had no idea you were going to speak at the Dallas ETC conference. I was so surprised when you walked up and I realized it was 'you'. I laughed and cried during your talk, and could really relate to your sensory wonder. I have learned so much from your blog and really appreciate your transparency and honesty, and also the many helpful things you have posted. You are such an encouragement.

    Carol

    Reply
  7. Joy
    February 21, 2012

    Thank you so much for your post. I am an adoptive parent and am working daily to get these empowered to connect principles from my head to my heart. I so often know the right thing to do but sin gets in the way. I have made so many mistakes. I pray for love to cover my mistakes (Prov 10:12, 17:9 and 1 Peter 4:8). I enjoyed hearing you speak and feel so empowered to press on!

    Reply
    1. Dawn
      February 21, 2012

      Joy, I can relate to the battle. I pray each morning for the ability to love. As soon as I walk out of my room, that love is tested. It IS hard! I have been meditating on the verse in 1 John 4:11-12 that says, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God; IF WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER, GOD ABIDES IN US AND HIS LOVE IS PERFECTED IN US."
      As we choose to deny our flesh and love others, God dwells with us and His love is perfected in us. Amazing! I pray that we (moms who are in the trenches) will choose to respond in love when it is hard to do so and that in so doing, we will find God's love to be more real and tangable. Blessing to you!

      Reply
  8. Dawn
    February 21, 2012

    Thank you for this post. Much needed words of grace and mercy. My husband and I were at the conference in Dallas. Thanks for sharing your testimony. Your transparency was such a blessing to us and many others, I'm sure. May God bless you!
    Dawn

    Reply
  9. Sarah
    February 22, 2012

    Thank you so much for your transparency. My husband and I were at the Dallas conference and could appreciate and relate to a lot of your experiences.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 22, 2012

      Sarah, I'm so glad you were able to be at ETC in Dallas. Thank you for your kind words.

      Reply
  10. Courtney
    February 23, 2012

    THANK YOU. His mercy seems so far away from me sometimes. I don't know why…it just does. thank you for pointing me back to it…and Him.

    Reply

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