Two months ago, I got custody of my niece and two nephews. In 24 hours, I went from a 23-year-old whose biggest concerns were her own manic-depression and finding (another) new job, to a 23-year-old single mom of three kids.
It seems like every week we uncover a new layer of horrible abuse that these children have suffered. I’m so overwhelmed, and I feel so inadequate. For the first time in a long time, thoughts of self harm are creeping into my mind. I need help. I don’t know how to cope with this. I don’t know how to be what they need and deserve.
Disciplining our kids
Most parents want things to be better for their kids than they had it, but the fear is that bad choices or lack of experience can end up doing more harm than good. Our Biblical counselor John Murphy from Rock House Center, gave Melony some insight that can also help you if you find more struggle than success in raising your kids:
“Children who are at peace don’t act out. You need to parent to the divine needs of your kids.” There is a temptation to just bring kids into compliance, but if that is where it stops, we miss the opportunity to help their hearts.
John’s discipline strategy for kids is two-fold. The first part is a laser strike that addresses the immediate behavior and why an action is unacceptable or even harmful.
The second part addresses what he calls the “air cover.” Air cover is the overarching strategy for discipline done at a later time when the situation is not so emotionally charged. This is where you reinforce in your child that, “No matter what you do, you can’t make me love you any less. No matter what you do, I am going to care for you.”
Dealing with our own mess
Perhaps the most tragic revelation during this conversation was as John dug deeper into the story of the kids and their sexual abuse, it came to light that sadly, this is something Melony has in common with them.
Melony is trying to help these kids while doing her best to deal with her own issues. “It’s hard not to be angry…..and I know I am not supposed to be angry, but I am.”
Forgiving any kind of betrayal is tough, but forgiving the unthinkable seems impossible. Something John stressed for moving past pain to forgiveness in our lives, is the need to recognize that “None of us ever deserve forgiveness, and sometimes, we just do it because that is what God wants us to do. And in the process, He’ll give you freedom from how that (lack of forgiveness) disrupts your peace.”
If you’d like to talk to John about something that makes you feel like a hot mess, tell us about it below. While we won’t be able to talk with everyone, our goal is to reach out to as many people as possible. If you’d like to see what Rock House Center is all about or even schedule an assessment, click here.