Yesterday I heard the horrible news of a little two year old girl in our town who was beaten unconscious by her parents. The story broke my heart. I wished I could go to that little girl, hug her, and love on her like her mother should have. But there was nothing I could do.
Situations like this are near and dear to my heart because I am raising a child who very easily could have found herself in a situation like this. Our adopted daughter, Temperance, was born addicted to drugs. When we took her in, she suffered from tremors due to withdrawal. The first year, she did so well and was on track cognitively and developmentally. But around eighteen months, we started noticing some differences, so we took her into the doctor. What he told me that day changed everything. It all started to make sense.
Many people don’t realize that when a child is introduced to drugs in the womb, the part of the brain that is affected is the part that controls behavior. Signs start to show up around eighteen months to two years, when parents or caretakers start to notice the little one is much more difficult to control than other kids. The bigger problem, then, is that you now have parents who are addicted to drugs, with little patience and self-control themselves, raising kids who are extremely difficult to parent, and the tragic result is abuse. These innocent souls didn’t choose drugs, but have experienced the consequences of them. These kids find themselves in trouble at home and school, and find it hard to make friends. They can potentially live their lives feeling like the “bad kid” that nobody likes. What an awful consequence from a crime they didn’t commit.
Thankfully, our little Temperance is not one of these. Although parenting her has been one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. She has climbed bookshelves, ran away from home, picked locks, thrown the cat, broken countless objects, and brought me to my wit’s end. But she has taught me more in six years than any college, university, or seminary could teach in ten. I have learned so much about parenting the impulsive child, and I’ve been able to help many other parents do the same. Someday I’m sure it will become a book, but until then, I keep encouraging parents to seek out all the resources that are available to parents of challenging kiddos.
My goal in raising Tempie has always been to be the mother who brings out her best self. In my pursuit, I have spoke with doctors, psychiatrists, and occupational therapists. I have taken parenting classes, read books and attended seminars. I can say without a doubt that I have done everything I know how to learn how to be a mom who brings out the best in all her kids. There is so much out there for us to learn from, if we will take the time to do so. Parenting is one of the most difficult of all life’s challenges, but it is the most worthy cause to give your life to, and one that reaps invaluable benefits.
The other day we took our kids to an indoor pool. I watched as they all splashed around and thoroughly enjoyed a break from the cold outdoors. There was one moment that made my day. Temperance walked up to another little girl, who she had never met, looked her in the eye, and started doing a silly dance. That little girl chuckled at Tempie’s silliness, and they became immediate friends. That is Tempie at her best self. She loves people and connects to hearts so easily. Her impulsiveness, when used for good, is a beautiful thing.
I still don’t know the answer for helping children stuck in abusive homes. I wish I did. Maybe someday we will find a way to rescue these kids and give them loving homes, but until then, I will pray. I will keep encouraging parents, and I will love my kids to the best of my ability.