I remember the day well. Our third family therapist in three years greeted me and my husband with a smile as she led us into her office. I forced a smile back but my frowns, crinkled above my nose, likely betrayed my true thoughts. Will you be the magic one who can help us make our adopted daughter behave?
Reality sunk in over time: There are no perfect solutions or cookie-cutter strategies. Every day is different, every situation is different, and behaviour issues change.
As parents, we are in this for the long haul. So how can we fight the good fight? Here are some thoughts based on 2 Timothy 2:3-6.
Like a Soldier
Soldiers endure hardships but persevere.
Soldiers take orders and obey.
Soldiers stay focused.
As a soldier of Jesus Christ, I shower my daughter with love no matter what. With every hateful word she spews at me, I aim to respond with patience, self-control, and compassion. When opportune moments arise, I connect with her through play. I remind her that I’m here to help her. I guide her in knowing how to express herself appropriately.
During difficult times—which can last hours, days, weeks, or even months—I strengthen my mind by cutting off self-defeating thoughts such as I can’t take this anymore and replace them with encouraging scriptures. One that resonates with me is from Philippians 4:13 — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Like an Athlete
Athletes endure rigorous training.
Athletes follow the rules.
Athletes focus on their goal.
I feel wounded when my daughter says, “You are the worst mom ever,” “I hate you,” or “I want a new mom.” In these moments, I want to flip my lid. But I can’t.
All therapists say, “Remain calm.” So, I try to suppress my desire to yell. I try to suppress my desire to get in her face and tell her why I’m a good mom. I try to suppress my desire to slam a door. I even try to suppress my instinct to burst into tears. This requires training. I used to fail more than succeed. Now, the reverse is true. Like an athlete, my goal remains on helping my daughter attach and heal.
Like a Farmer
Farmers work hard.
Farmers are patient.
Farmers hope for a good harvest.
Farming is tedious work. Not glamorous. Day in and day out, farmers sow seeds, water crops, pull weeds, and more. Then they wait patiently to reap what they’ve sown.
Like a farmer, I sow seeds too. Mine are seeds of love. I water with patience, compassion, and play. I pull the weeds of insults and dysregulation by modeling desired words and behaviour. The fruits of my labour will take time to produce a good result. That’s okay. I’m in this for the long haul.