Thursday, September 27, 2012

of love and trust, part 2

how good am i at enduring mean-spirited mocking from a child?  at dealing with having my buttons intentionally pushed?  (children are good at discovering these quickly.)  

in their ignorance, at times they'll argue vehemently that things are one thing when i say they're another, or they'll fight tooth and nail to try to get us to go one place while we're trying to take them someplace else that we know they'll like even more.  they'll draw a random line in the sand over something insignificant (since the real point is to put me to the test) and refuse to back down.  they'll test me on, "don't do that again." they'll also try to get me to play favorites, buttering me up when the other has been naughty, or throwing one another under the bus by tattling when one of them has done something naughty out of sight.  and when they're hurting in some way (physically or emotionally), they may or may not cry out, but they're watching to see if i care and, if i do, how i will respond. i could go on...

another element in all of this is that i have boundaries in dealing with my girls that are completely different from those i have with my boys.  my options are limited in how i discipline them because of what their lives have been.  responding to my girls in certain ways that would be completely acceptable in fathering my boys would be quite harmful in fathering my girls (and incidentally have nothing to do with the differences between fathering girls and boys).

For example: my wife or i might have given our boys a little swat on the backside to get their attention after an outburst of misbehavior/naughtiness; we would not use this same type of discipline with our girls because of the physical abuse they've seen or experienced. similarly, while we might have given one of our boys a "time out" as a disciplinary measure, my wife and i don't consider this a viable option for our girls.  Put extremely simply, we're working as hard as we can to build healthy ties between our girls and us that are stronger and longer-lasting than anything they've previously known.  Isolating them as a form of discipline would work completely counter to that aim.  Discipline for our girls has to operate, and is informed by, the context of the very different nature of their lives to date versus the nature of our boys' childhood.

in all this they're finding out: can they trust me?  can they entrust themselves to me?

i wake up every morning knowing this is a tall order.

i also recognize that (to be blunt) i'm inheriting someone else's problems.  i'm willfully taking on the troubles (don't misunderstand: i am NOT calling the girls "problems" or "trouble") that have been created by a messed-up world.  and then i'm struck again with the thought that this is what God did. what He does.  we mess up this world and we mess up ourselves, and yet He as the ultimate Father chooses to be in the midst of it all and offer the way to un-mess things. He does that in my life.

the parallels don't stop there.  for example: how often have i - in my own ignorance - fought or argued with God about wanting something one way (or wanting something the way it used to be), when of course He knows much better and has much better things in store?

i'm grateful that beyond my own grandest desires to see my girls completely healthy and whole, the Heavenly Father desires that even more, and is willing and able to help me be the father they need.

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