This blog post was written by Mandy Whittle, a foster and adoptive parent.
Ever feel like a failure at parenting? I have. I’ve parented “well” until I am exhausted from parenting. And still, she reacts In inappropriate ways. She talks back. She is disrespectful. She has times of being uncontrollable. She runs from me instead of to me. She tries to control those around her. She is rough and unknowingly hurts others. She can’t sit still. And she won’t stop talking! I feel like I’ve failed. After years of being in our home, with all the classes, all the training, all the counseling, it feels like we are still in the same place.
I know my child has experienced trauma, has sensory and processing difficulties, and has insecurities and fears neither she nor I understand. But I’ve done everything I can to help her overcome that. I employ “redo’s” and “compromises” and lots of “yeses.” I share control and connect before correcting. And, still, I don’t see the results I expect.
BUT GOD. Those words bring such relief. No, He doesn’t change what’s happening in our home, but He does give me the words in Psalm 139:15-26 that change my perspective. As I read, I realize that God has created her exactly the way He intended her to be: independent, strong, and willful. She has lots of energy, a brain that won’t stop thinking, a voice that can’t be tuned out, and a fervent need to be heard. I know God has plans for her that don’t involve me. He is going to take her places I can’t even imagine. He needs her to be independent, strong, and willful. He is going to put things in that brain that the world needs to hear or see or know. He wants her to have a voice that can be heard.
So, how does that help me parent her better? Conventional thinking is to never give up, to keep on keeping on, to persevere. But I think Jesus would tell me to give up. Give up the need to make her into what I think she should be. Give up the desire to have a child that acts the way other children act. Give up the need to see the results of my labor. She was created to be different. Her story was written so that she is different.
Psalm 139:15 says God “saw” her before she was born. He saw the unplanned pregnancy. He saw the conditions in which she would struggle for survival. He “ordained” all the days she would live. He didn’t end her days before she was born, even though He knew she would face neglect and abuse. He knew she would cry and no one would come to comfort her. God never desires for children to experience trauma, separation, abuse, or neglect. But He uses her trauma, her circumstances, and her experiences to mold her, grow her, and draw her closer to Him. He knew the results of what that neglect would do to her brain and to her body. But God also knew she would eventually be part of our family and would experience healing and love.
But the REALLY exciting part is that His plan doesn’t end with me or even depend on me. You see, God has a purpose for each of our children. An eternal purpose. A BIG purpose. Our part is small, really. My part is so small, I want to get it right. And what part is that? To make her sit still, stop talking and have self-control? In the big picture of Jesus and His plan, is that really so important? Instead, what about the importance of knowing she is loved, no matter what? Treasured, no matter what? That life is full of laughter and song even in the midst of hard stuff because we know Jesus? That what she has to say is important? That her insecurities and fears are valid, but that she can depend on Jesus to help her overcome them? My part is small but so very important. My part in parenting is for my daughter to know that when God sees her, He says “It is good.” This simplifies my role in raising her, helping me to focus on what is important: connection, love, grace, and communicating her worth and value.