Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Offending the Little Ones, part 2

Hello, my name is Mara and I'm an imperfect parent of four beautiful children.
In the past I have offended each one of them more than once and will most likely continue to do so until the day I die.

So how could I be so harsh, in my last post, against the teaching of Patriarchy when I'm an admitted child offender myself?
Well, let me tell you.

I used to home school. I never got involved with the Patriarchy or Quiverfull bunch because I already knew that getting my husband involved in homeschooling by putting him in charge was a bad idea. He already had problems with patience and thinking of himself as "chairman of the board" who liked to bark orders and complain about everything I did wrong concerning the house and the children. I didn't need any more of that than I already had.

But during those home school years, one lady gave me some really good insight. I already did it to a point, intuitively and due to past influences.
Anyway, she said that in order to teach your child, you need to be a 'student' of your child. I know something like that would make the Patriarchy crowd howl. How could I teach if I made myself the student? Well, here is what she meant. I needed to study my child and see what made him/her tick. I needed to find out what was important to each one. What were ways I could motivate them that was unique to their own person. And I needed to be flexible enough to use "teachable moments" catered to the child and the circumstance that they were going through at that time. The best time to learn something and retain it forever is when you need the information for your personal life.

Anyway, I said all this to set up one of my darkest moments as a parent.
I had mentioned my son before that I had concerns over in this post.

Well, this boy had a knack for pushing my buttons at the wrong time. Even though I am mostly a patience person, he found a way, whether he meant to or not, to push me past the edge.
One of our darkest moments was when he acted up royal on a day when I was still grieving the death of my in-laws and was wearing thin over my husband's unemployment and lack of motivation to get a new job. And I blew up at him and said some not very nice things to him.

The minute those things were out of my mouth I regretted it.
He fled the living room and hid in his bed.
I followed him, laid down next to him an apologized up one side and down the other trying as best I could to assure him that what I said and what I blamed on him was wrong, wrong, wrong. And I asked him, could he please forgive me?

What he said to me broke my heart.

He said, "I can forgive you. I can't forgive myself."

So I told him to please forgive himself and wouldn't leave him alone until he said he would try.
I still felt bad about the situation for days afterward.

But you know what?
My son learned from my imperfection and my owning up to sin. As I mentioned in the off-topic post about him. He has a temper. But he also knows how to walk away when he's angry and how to apologize when the wrong things come out of his mouth. He's twenty years old now, and a fine young man. Even though I have offended him on more than one occasion, I have always tried to stay in tune with him and his feelings and to try to go back and correct my errors and mistakes and to gently guide him on how to correct his errors and mistakes. I never needed to use the word sin. He knew when he did wrong and didn't need someone to rub his nose in it. He needed an example of how to correct it. I never felt compelled to view his outbursts as sinful attention seeking. He had emotional needs. And I, as his mother and primary caregiver, needed to assess the situation and meet those needs just as much as his physical needs like hunger and thirst.

Children don't come into this world knowing how to handle their emotions.
That is what parents are for. A parent who expects their child to respond as a grown-up before they have had the chance to develop emotionally fails to understand their job as a parent. And not understanding their job as a parent, they in turn fail as a parent.

Patriarchy and Quiverfull have forgotten what parenting is all about. In their zeal to produce as many children as possible, they fail the children they produce by not being available to guide the child along the difficult road to adulthood.
What good are all these children if their growth has been stunted due to emotional neglect?
God still loves them. And God wants to step in and Parent them where their own parents have failed. We are hearing of God doing this in many quivering daughters who have come out of the movement.
But what a sad testimony and state of affairs regarding the fruit of Patriarchy. Emotionally neglected and stunted children must escape patriarchy in order to mature to true adulthood.
Patriarchy and Quiverfull offends the little ones and refuses to admit and apologize for its sins against their own children


Gem said...

I have 8 children and homeschooled for about 5 years. One of my reasons for moving away from that is because of their individuality, their unique gifts and talents which I as ONE teacher of many children couldn't nurture. eg. I am fine at Math and Science but know nothing of Art, Creative Writing, Music and Soccer- all of which they have had to their heart's content in school. They are much happier and I am much less stressed by the impossibly superhuman task of being everything to everyone.

shadowspring said...

That's a beautiful story of transparency on your part and the giving of honor and comfort to your teenager. Thank you for sharing it!

Mara Reid said...

He wasn't a teenager, Shadow.
He was younger.
We hadn't even reached the teen years and already we were going through this.
It was a rough go with him for a while.
He required a lot of patience.
In the end it paid off.
But I wasn't always sure it would while I was going through it.

I know what you mean Gem. And I only had four.