August is Worldwide Parenting with PTSD Month
Prayer changes things. Without it I’m stuck. Prayer allows me to move safely and freely because I asked a question, listened for an answer then simply did what He said to do.
Single parenthood was never part of my plan. Now that it’s here I need lots of help.
Asking friends versus asking God for advice
Sadly, I could neither rely on my parents, in-laws nor relatives for good orderly parenting direction. They had a dysfunctional style I had no desire to implement. I used to collaborate with my husband. Since his death I’ve had to make those decisions alone.
I consulted 12-step friends, church friends and got opinions, heard experiences and strategized on tactics. Some worked. Many didn’t work.
Fortunately, I discovered the best solution was to ask God directly. Experience taught me there are three answers to prayer: Yes, no and wait. I knew He always would answer.
I had to be reminded God has a little more experience in parenting than I do. It never occurred to me God was interested in helping me with parenting. Nobody told me God actually had suggestions on how to be a parent. After all, he has a Son and all of us are his children. He could be helpful. Duh?
It was an eye-opening experience when I asked God how to handle my hyper-rebellious daughter who was verbally, physically and spiritually abusive. I was at a loss for how to handle her.
His answers always were clear. The good orderly direction I received made sense. Frequently He would provide a solution I’d never heard or considered before.
Never in a million years did I think I’d ever have to call the police on my daughter. It just never happened when I grew up so I never anticipated something like that with my kids. When she was verbally abusive and physically aggressive with us I asked God for help.
Without God I would have beat her with a belt. If she had continued I’d have beaten her some more. I knew I was heading in that direction but I also knew that wasn’t the direction I wanted to go. I had just enough recovery in me to know abuse was not an option.
I chose to ask God since my way wasn’t working
One morning my daughter had taken a 3 a.m. bike ride something that alarmed me only a few nights before when she told me about them. She couldn’t sleep so she got up and went. What’s worse is she didn’t have a very good sense of direction. After she returned that morning, however, she was particularly belligerent.
Once my son left for school it was just the two of us. She was ugly for no good reason then lunged at me. I was at a loss. I’d never been aggressive toward my parents. Defensive? Yes. Aggressive? No. This was something entirely new for which I had no idea how to respond. Fortunately I had just enough 12-step program in me to stop and think.
My first thought was to ask God what to do. So I asked. He told me what to say and I said it. He told me how to act and I did. When she tried to punch me I grabbed her arm and held her in a corner until she stopped moving. God said to keep her there until she stopped squirming and was a little more calm.
He told me to speak lovingly to her while she was a captive audience. I did but she wasn’t listening. God said although it didn’t seem like she wasn’t listening she, on some level, would hear and remember what I said. It would be an asset later when we got her on medication and other help that she needed.
Once she stopped squirming I let go. She took off and ran to school. She went straight to her counselor and told them I attempted to strangle her. About an hour after she left the police were at my front door. I told them my version of events with some history then begged for help. I told them I didn’t do this to my parents so I had no frame of reference. They gave me some really good advice.
After lunch I went to the school’s special-needs office. I spoke with the special-needs coordinator, spelled out what was going on in explicit detail and what police recommend I do. What I said next was difficult yet absolutely necessary: My daughter cannot come home tonight and there are no relatives who can take her either.
After summoning campus police they informed me it was at the officer’s discretion whether she would be picked up on a 72-hour psych hold. I met with the officer before he met with my daughter. I begged and pleaded on behalf of her and our family that she be taken to the county hospital’s holding center.
I knew what it was like to be there because I had been picked up twice before. After the officer interviewed my daughter he agreed she needed to go. I was very relieved.
Then I heard God say, “You see? I got this. This will begin a very long trail of documentation that has to take place to get her where I want her to go.” I had no idea what He was talking about but I eventually figured it out.
What I needed were legal and education experts. My daughter was about to hit her psychological breaking point. She was in the hospital for three weeks which is statistically and psychologically significant.
Grandparents blamed everything on me while medical, educational and legal professionals understood exactly what I was dealing with and where this would lead. My daughter needed a boarding school. She needed a serious intervention. I was unable o manage her any longer. The only way I managed was through prayer and getting sound direction from experts who knew what was happening and what solutions worked best for her.
… and then there’s the normal child
I’ve had serious parenting challenges with my son because He was a normal child. I was at a loss on how to parent him well except for the one parenting class I took a few years earlier so I prayed often. God answered me just as often as I asked for help. His solutions were amazing. None of His ideas involved violence either through words or physical actions. My son responded well. It was a miracle and a testament to how much God loves His children.
PTSD taught me that what I learned about parenting from my parents was wrong. Therefore, I had virtually no tools in my toolbox. I had one parenting class but I needed so much more.
God is for me and my kids, you and your kids
God filled in all those gaps and gave me the more I needed. More ideas, compassion, understanding, patience, everything. Over time, this process convinced me God is for us.
The truth is my kids did have a Father, our heavenly Father. He took us under His wing and was an amazing Husband for me and a great Father for my kids. Today, my son is amazing thanks to Our Father.
Prayer is a very mighty tool in our parenting tool box. Use it often. Don’t be shy about prayer and meditation. Oftentimes I’d pray and give God a honey-do list then I’m rarely quiet enough to hear His response.
Pray then wait. Write down what you think you’re hearing. More often than not it really is God talking to you. Cultivate an ear for His voice and realize the most amazing parenting skills and strategies for your children. Just believe He is faithful. He was faithful with me and I believe he will be faithful with you.
Need more faith? You can borrow as much of mine as you need.
Posts in 2016 series
Parenting by any means necessary
Foundations: Why truth matters
Let Patience have her perfect work
School: Expectations versus reality
Worldwide Parenting with PTSD Awareness Day
It’s okay to miss the target and hit the tree
Game changer: Prayer and Meditation
Cogtoolz brings much-needed resources to college students
Impact: Bless, release, declare over our kids
Posts in 2015 series
Parenting with posttraumatic stress disorder
Discipline requires training, love spelled t-i-m-e
Beatings/Spankings are abuse: plain and simple
Parenting, like marriage, requires work
Parenting is a lifelong-learning proposition
Stop, look, listen and ask yourself questions
The high art of juggling
Downtime: the golden goose of PTSD
Worldwide parenting with PTSD Awareness Day
Parenting is a high call no matter your lot
The drought before the drought
Being misunderstood is a symptom
You are being forged in fire
Awakenings podcast: Parenting with PTSD