My son was eight years old. So troubled. So sad. And so angry. He had been abandoned. Being raised with three females. The male in his life was absent. At 11, he had already been suspended several times for behavioral issues. Already skipped school. Threatened with permanent expulsion. I think of the book with the title Kids Who Carry Our Pain by Hemfelt and Warren. I’ve never read the book, but the title itself is so true. In one way or another, all of my kids carried our pain.
My son’s pain came as a direct result of mine and his dad’s. He carried the consequences of our pain and our mistakes in his young life and mind. He was too young to understand, to process the source of the pain, to know how to work through his pain to healing.
This boy was so angry. He acted out nearly every day because of his anger. At one point, he yelled at me, “I am going to keep getting in trouble until I can go live with my dad.” Ah, there was the deep-seated need of a grieving young boy. It took an angry outburst to bring it out of him. I didn’t know how to help him. I couldn’t bring his dad back into his life. He had walked away years before.
I could bring a substitute by way of a Kinship friend, but it wasn’t the same and didn’t heal that deep need for his daddy. It helped some, and his Kinship friend and family were wonderful to him, taking him into their hearts and spending quality time with him. I took him to counselor after counselor trying to help him figure things out. He refused to talk to any of them.
When he was in fifth grade, I was called to the school so often I told the secretary I should just have my office there instead of at work. I was in despair myself trying to help this hurting child. He hit, he yelled, he refused to do his schoolwork, he wouldn’t obey me. I think those years were even tougher than my divorce on both of us.
Someone shared that their son had been a lot like mine and by the time he was 30, he had straightened out. I screamed in my head, “18 more years of this, I can’t do it.” Friends came alongside me and attempted to take some of the pressure off me and attempted to direct my son’s anger to healthier places. I sought counseling myself to help me help him and myself.
We both had so many people who cared about us and stepped in to help. We were blessed in some really rough times. My son carried my pain, and I carried his. Quite frankly we were a mess.
Clinging to Jesus was the only way I got through that time. He literally was my lifeline. I bled frustration and pain during those years. I shed tears aplenty, and my son grieved and acted out. I don’t have a magic answer to give to a parent in similar circumstances. I can’t say, “Do this because it worked for me.” I could have been more consistent with my love and discipline, not letting life get in the way of what had to be done. Other than that, I just don’t know what I could have changed.
My son made some bad choices that landed him in pretty serious trouble. Those choices were what started him on the right road again, so as painful as they were at the time, God did use them for good. I can still say though, that my friend who told me that by the time he hit 30, he would be better was absolutely correct.
My son is now stepdad to four beautiful children and daddy to one. He has learned to sacrifice for these children in ways their biological dad cannot understand or do himself. He completely financially supports these children. But more importantly, he is their life daddy. He is there every day with them, helping their mom to raise them, teaching them how to do man things, teaching the girls how to be daddy’s girls, building a playhouse with them and for them, providing insurance, a home, food and so much more. It is his responsibility, he says. He is glad to do it.
And now he is helping an angry eight-year-old figure out life. I told him that God put him in that little boy’s life for such a time as this. My son understands anger. He understands childhood hurts and grief. He’s the best person in this little boy’s life right now because he gets him. He knows. How many times does God use our suffering to help and comfort someone else with the same problem? God puts us in their lives because He knows we know their pain. That is one of the best ways God brings good out of the bad.
All those years of struggle with him, they were so worth the man he has turned out to be. I couldn’t be prouder of him. If you are struggling with your child, I am telling you the same thing I was told, by the time they are 30, they will likely be better. And I know it’s not easy to hang onto that in the midst of the storm, but hang onto it anyway. As it did for me, hopefully the storm will pass for you. Remember, we all deal with our hurts the best we can. For most, those pains grow us into the person we were meant to be. For others, they choose to head a wrong direction with their pain. We can’t choose for them. Sometimes they have to reach a really bad place before they can look up to their Hope.
In your storm, remember that God will never leave or forsake you. He never left me. He loves you. Hold onto Him. Rest in Him. Lean on Him. Pray daily for your child. Lay your burdens at the feet of the One who can help you. That is all you can do. And it will be enough for you. If your child knows he/she is loved unconditionally with boundaries along with being guided by his parent/s, I think that will meet their deepest needs as well.
God loves and protects you both in the storm. And the storm won’t last forever. Count on it.