Purposed Parent/Connected Child Podcast Episode 024 - Biblical Parenting Through Hard Places
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Purposed Parent/Connected Child Podcast
Episode #024 – Biblical Parenting Through Hard Places
Are you yearning for greater connection with your child? Would you like to parent beyond the moment with eternal perspective? Let’s grow together now with practical tips, scripture, and stories geared to draw your heart to Jesus and guide your child into His arms.
Have you ever felt like you had been thrown into the deep end and you were treading waters that were over your parental capabilities?
The first morning after bringing my youngest home from China at the age of nine, I walked into my office and saw my newest child sitting at my desk with a lit match in one hand. I’m not sure how many scenarios went through my mind, but I think it was the first time the adrenaline of fear shot through me. For a quarter of a second I wondered if I’d brought home a murdering pyromaniac.
Since I had never experienced a child interested in matches, and the others had a sensible knowledge of the dangers of carelessly playing with fire, I had forgotten I kept a small box of matches and a tiny candle in the back of a desk drawer.
After the initial feelings flowed quickly through my body and mind, my sensible side lifted my response, and I said, “Matches aren’t a toy to play with.” As I blew out the match and gently removed the stick from her fingers, her gaze met mine, mixed with curiosity and an unspoken plea for forgiveness. Never mind that she didn’t speak English. Some actions are understood beyond language barriers.
Lack of experience and a beautiful curiosity led my girl to play with something more dangerous than she could understand. If I would have simply reacted to the behavior without empathy to how she had lived through before coming to me, I would have reacted much differently. In fact, left alone to first thoughts, I would have snatched the match out of her hand quickly. I wondered what other areas I needed to be worried about and what other dangerous acts she might attempt. But as soon as those thoughts crossed the threshold of my mind, the Lord wiped them clean and filled my heart with His truth. We had a long journey ahead to build connection and He needed to remainat the helm.
Memories, trauma, or lack of experience can cause various inappropriate behaviors that families may struggle to understand. These memories, traumas, or experiences can be exhibited by the child, but the parent may also have unresolved needs. Everything combined can become a firestorm of confusion and complications that are impossible to overcome without holy reliance. This is the time for parents to set aside self or feelings of inadequacy, rejection, shame, surprise, anger, or whatever multitude of thoughts and feelings reside in the mind and humbly kneel before God for wisdom, direction, and healing.
One truth parenting taught me is that children are in our care to safely learn and grow in godly ways. Whatever baggage a parent carries should be checked at the door and never picked up again once a child enters the home. Ideally, before a child arrives. But because we live in an imperfect world full of fallen sinners, this easy description and expectation is rarely seen. Because God entrusted these precious souls into our care, we must find the way to reach the unique heart God placed within them, and allow Him to tenderly develop and mature it for Him through our care and connection. First, we must be looking to the Lord for what we need and eagerly and faithfully allowing Him to execute the changes we so desperately need.
Our children cannot receive what we do not carry.
Isaiah 65:17 says, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”
Just as the Lord promises safety and peace for His people one day, He desires our families to live in plentiful harmony and joy together now.
Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Jesus desires the beauty of this verse for us now. However, so much heartbreak, confusion, and deception exist in this world and in the lives of our precious children and grandchildren. Our culture has twisted so much of what God commanded and desires for us.
Children are being raised without biblical identity and the resulting apathy, confusion, and self-hatred is destroying a generation.
Raising our children through connected parenting is the first step in moving them toward a lifetime of joy, faith, and purpose. When I speak of connection, I mean parent and God to child and child and God to parent. No matter whether you are raising a child who has come to you through foster, adoption, or other hard places, or you are raising a child who has been with you from birth, this world is taxing. Our children are exposed to things even adults don’t want to discuss. Nevertheless, there is hopeand there is healing available for your child, grandchild, and your family. Through Christ, we are never without the hope and faith that He makes all things new.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
John 16:33 says, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Many suggestions for raising your children to know Jesus and find identity through Him are available in various Purposed Parent/Connected Child episodes. In this one that you’re hearing now, I want to stress the importance of intentionally living a Christ-filled lifestyle that exudes and exemplifies Jesus for your child to emulate. In this episode, however, I also want to examine ways that you may connect with a hurting child or maintain connection throughout your parenting years.
1. Know Christ as Savior and build a lifestyle with Him at the center.
2. Model godly behaviors, attitudes, and reactions.
3. Be intentional in building connection. Don’t wait for difficult behavior.
4. Don’t expect “typical” children or behaviors. God doesn’t desire typical worldly character.
5. Say “I’m sorry” without hesitation when needed.
6. Nurture and build your child up in Christ, rather than tear them down.
7. Encourage godly choices.
8. Allow transition times from activities and as they mature in Christ.
9. Eat well, exercise, hydrate, and get enough sleep.
10. Read your Bible daily.
11. Pray for and with your child. Encourage them to pray for you.
12. Continue growing in the Lord, so your child sees the need and value to do the same.
There are so many areas I could break-down for deeper discussion, but I want to recommend an excellent resource for working with children who have experienced trauma, are adopted, come from troubled backgrounds, have special emotional or behavioral needs, but also for parents who want to be proactive and parent from a place of connection. Combining techniques taught in this book with biblical discernment and wisdom from the Bible, and purposed prayer daily for and with your child and spouse will give your child or children the best foundation to stand on as they grow and develop in this world. The book is “The Connected Child” by Karyn B. Purvis and is available in bookstores and on Amazon.
Remember to be attuned to behaviors exhibited by your child that may easily go unnoticed. While parenting my first generation of children, I thought it was easier to be attuned to what they needed. However, after many years of additional parenting experience, and with the hindsight of parenting through hard places through older child and special needs adoption, I can see times I likely missed responding as I should have. I can think of times when I wish I had understood more quickly or clearly and wish I had changed my parenting style to be more attuned and nurturing in those specific moments. Yet, that’s what life does to us. The person we are today should not be the person we are tomorrow. If we are growing and changing in godly ways, we will always see ways we could have acted differently, but because of the grace of God, we know that He has and will cover all our human mistakes and misunderstandings with His love and use all for His good and glory.
Although parents are human, we’re not perfect, and we cannot know everything our child needs, especially when they can’t or won’t tell us, we should continue to improve our skills to identify ways our child gives unspoken clues or in areas that could trigger certain physical or behavioral reactions.
Both birth and adopted children are subject to experiencing trauma and disconnect. Sometimes families experience physical, financial, spiritual, mental, or emotional trials or setbacks. Whether they are temporary or permanent, I don’t believe children are as resilient as many say they are. However, I do think that with the right care and attention, children and parents can bond and attach much more strongly after overcoming hardship together, especially if they look to God for direction and healing.
Otherwise, if deprivations, trials, or traumas are not addressed, behaviors will eventually show and you may be caught off-guard without the responses or reactions you need to connect in a godly way. Healing can then take much longer for both parent and child.
What are ways to build strong attachment?
1. Hear what your child is communicating, not just what they say.
2. Listen, Love, and Look. Be responsive to what your child says and does. Children often do not have the experience or communication skills to say what they are feeling, experiencing, or needing.
3. Respond with empathy, not judgement.
4. Look beyond misbehavior to the message. What is your child unable to say? What do they really need from you? What could the root cause of the behavior be?
Love, care, and personal attention are needed to move past trauma. Sometimes parents get it wrong. We can easily assume motives when our child is coping or experimenting with new sensations and experiences. God’s insight, understanding, and direction are essential to move forward together.
Your child needs to see that you are safe, families are safe, families stay together, and that each member of the family is loved and appreciated. Your child needs to know and trust that you are committed to learning and growing together. As you teach and reassure them in this important area, and continue to help them mature in their walk with Christ, your child will be growing in beautiful ways that are beyond the scope of this world and stepping into living with eternal perspective and purpose.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the children You have purposed for this world and placed in our homes. Your loving kindness is astounding. That You would trust us to raise Your children is a miracle that comes with great privilege and responsibility. Help our hearts not to be troubled because we trust in You and remain in close contact with You, using Your wisdom, discernment, and commands as the catalyst to our parenting success. May our success be established in Your eyes and heart, not what the world views as success. May our children rise and call us blessed because they recognize and follow You with love, faith, and integrity. May their obedience bless You and cause us to be evermore humble and obedient, as well. God, thank you for Your blessed children in our homes, Please enable us to mature fully in and through You in order to direct them in Your ways and straight to Your heart and feet. In the precious name of Your Son, Jesus we pray. Amen.
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Remember, if we are not purposed in knowing Jesus ourselves and showing Him to the next generation, the world will direct them away from Christ. I pray that what you hear on this podcast draws you nearer to God and helps you cling to Him, despite any circumstances in your life. Until next week, keep looking Up while focusing on new ways to Parent and Connect With Eternal Perspective.