Parenting an Out of the Box Child – Part 3

{If you are just joining, click the links over to Part 1 and Part 2 of this series to catch up!}

Can I tell you the MOST challenging part of parenting my Out of the Box Child(ren)?  it isn’t determining the root cause for each diagnosis, whether or not to use medication in our toolbox, or how diet and environment factor into the ever-changing behaviors of my children.

It’s Grace.

It’s knowing how and when to impart consequence and when to lavish on Grace.

Much of the struggle with #1 Girl is Impulsivity.  I have to say that the impulsivity often leads to sinful choices – and balancing my response as a parent with Grace – while NOT avoiding the sinful aspect – is really my biggest parenting challenge.

It is both heart-wrenching and frustrating.

There are the critics who espouse MORE discipline.  There are critics who denounce medication, which really only restrains ADHD to a dull roar, but allows her to function well at school.  I am required to spend extra time reviewing homework and school work and answering phone calls & texts about her work (or lack thereof), AND am supposed to have extra energy for the daily attitude and shifts in energy and focus and effort – AND be gracious and loving and nurturing, while still maintaining a home environment that displays Jesus Christ.  And teach her responsibility and consequences.  And pour out grace and love.

How?  How do I do that?  So many days, I am At. A. Loss.  I just don’t know.  It isn’t about loving my child.  It isn’t about wanting what’s best for her.

It’s resigning myself to whatever it is that GOD has for her.

And sometimes it means I lay down on the altar for sacrifice.  And sometimes, I just don’t want to.  I want to be able to go into our bathroom, play some soft music, run a hot bubble bath, sip a large glass of iced raspberry tea and read an epic novel without interruption or fear of what might happen if I relax for even two seconds.

2015-04-23 06.32.40The same child who sweetly prepared a breakfast of waffles with chocolate chips & strawberries and a cup of coffee to surprise me – is the same child who finished off the rest of the bag of chocolate chips later that same night in secret.  If I had bet money it was going to happen, I would be rich.  As soon as I saw my breakfast plate, I knew what was coming and hated myself for being discouraged about the likely outcome instead of enjoying the sweet moment…

Parenting an Out-of-the-Box Child has broken me in so many ways.  

And that is why I am writing this.  Not because I have figured out HOW to navigate this parenting road.  But because it’s part of who I am and where God has put me, and I need to be real about it as I seek His Grace daily.  Or hourly.  Or minutely.  You know what I mean.

Maybe someone reading can relate to this.  Maybe someone reading can share their lessons learned through this.  Maybe you feel like you can’t take another minute of this and needs someone to walk the path with them.  No one child or parent is like another – but our journeys may take us down the same road and we can encourage one another and lift each other up.

Because as often as I seek to live out grace to my children, I am bathed in Grace by my Father.  Some days, I wish I could just put her out in front of me into His fountain of grace and let it pour over her.  I don’t always cooperate and am not always fit for His use as an instrument of Grace.

What I am learning the most in all of this, is that I am DESPERATE for His Grace more than for anything else.  And if I can let Him use me, it’s what I hope she learns from my life – that SHE needs His Grace every day too!

Parenting An Out of the Box Child – Part 1

My friend, Christie, recently posted a (long) list of books on Facebook that she is reading during the month of April.  She was doing it to request a little bit of accountability.  She got some encouragement.  She got some criticism.  But she listed the book, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson – and I told her I would read along with her. I’ve read it before and even posted a review, but as I began reading it again today and this evening, I couldn’t believe how much differently I could relate to it now from the first time I read it. I had many lines and sentences highlighted already.  But then I came across a section that just rang SO TRUE with me.  The phrase that started it all was “out of the box child.”

I totally related to that phrase.  And it made me think about “the box” and what that represents, which made me think about a Jack-In-The-Box.  The thing about a Jack-in-the-Box is that it is fairly predictable.  You turn the handle on the side, the melody plays, and just at the right moment, up pops Jack with a loud bang, generally to the amusement of most people.

With an Out-of-the-Box child, though, things are very different.  And Life is NOT like a childhood toy.  It is not always so easy, not so predictable.  And some children are born just fresh

Out of the Box.

Me?  I’ve got 2 of them.  Well, 2 so far.

My oldest girl, my sunshine girl – she was born bright & bubbly.  Smiles a mile wide. Happy go lucky.  Sweet natured, yet determined.

My youngest girl, was born just as beautiful, but less bubbly & bright.  She smiled & laughed, but she also screamed for 2 hours at a time.  Sometimes just with ME, and not anybody else.  She is my sensitive soul.  Sensory-soul. The one who feels like she is going to explode if her socks don’t feel right.  If music is too loud.  If anybody in our family is upset about anything.  My husband & I decided early on, that our #2 girl was always outside-the-box.  It’s how she operates.  If you say the sky is blue, she sees it a different color.  Not to be disagreeable, but because she sees a different color.  She would prefer to dance around the dinner table as she eats.  She doesn’t mind getting down in the dirt to love on a pet.

When you live in a “Stay-In-The-Box” world, it can be really hard to be an Out of the Box kind of kid.  or her parents.  Let me be clear, I am not complaining. We have likened her somewhat to the character “Phoebe” on that show we used to watch called FRIENDS.

But a few years ago, our sweet, spirited, outgoing #1 girl – became defiant, loud, chaotic, angry, uncooperative, fearful, withdrawn.

I was not so prepared for this change.

Fairly quickly, her dad recognized some of the behaviors and changes, and eventually she was assessed and diagnosed with ADHD.  This was, of course, after one pediatrician told us he didn’t “believe in ADHD and that it was really a discipline problem.”

huh.  discipline problem = parenting problem, right?

We adapted our parenting skills and strategies, and watched her grades start to slip.  Watched her attitude shift.  And watched her body react to the stress she was feeling.  She was unable to focus.  She was unable to communicate her feelings with words.  She became angrier and we became more frustrated and it was a vicious cycle.

The next pediatrician quickly assessed her and acknowledged her ADHD and we began a journey with medications and varying parenting skills & strategies – that would often work well one day and then not-so-well the next.  My husband, being more educated and practiced in the parenting strategies, has had to coach me (and still coaches me) as much as parent our child because I have been at a complete loss.  I was desperate to help her but didn’t know how and I felt like every day I was losing her more and more.

And I have struggled to put into words this journey – both because I didn’t want to embarrass my child and because I had not yet mastered my ability to parent her…  I didn’t want to air “dirty laundry” and yet I felt alone in so much of this and I didn’t know how to even wrap my head around most days.  Can I tell you that just writing this so far, has really given me courage to keep writing.

So I will.  I will write and share this journey.  Because it is important.  And I am most likely not the only parent who feels this way about parenting an out of the box child

{I will continue this series in my next post.  You can sign up to receive my posts by email in the sidebar!}

Some Good Stuff!

Do you love Fall? Oh – it’s my favorite season! I love the cooling weather, the rain, the colors changing – the anticipation of the first snow! (If it WAS raining coffee, I’d play in the rain without an umbrella!)

Over the summer, I had the blessing of getting to know Alyssa Avant better. She’s posted here a few times and she has a ministry that reaches out to Moms and Moms of Girls, specifically. Have you read her stuff? It is GOOD STUFF! Continue reading “Some Good Stuff!”

More Ways to Teach the Bible

Continuing from last week, I wanted to talk about other ways to incorporate the study of God’s Word into your family time and to instill a love for God’s Word in our kids.

Trivia Games

Because my parents were often Sunday School teachers, my dad had tons of helps and aids in teaching kids. He was very hands on and used object lessons regularly to explain things in Scripture that might otherwise be difficult. I always loved his object lessons – but my favorite thing of all was Bible Trivia. Continue reading “More Ways to Teach the Bible”

7 Things I Admire about My Dad

Dad webHappy Birthday Daddy!

Today is my Dad’s 62nd birthday. I can clearly remember his 40th birthday when my mom threw a birthday party for him and his best friends dressed up in makeup and costumes like “old geezers” and everybody had a good laugh.

It doesn’t seem like it’s been 20+ years since that party, and other than having a few wrinkles, moving a little slower and forgetting things just a little more often – he still seems like MY DADDY – that guy I grew up with who was big and strong and would meet any young man at the front door with a shotgun if necessary… Continue reading “7 Things I Admire about My Dad”