I’ve come down from the hilltop I recently visited. Instead of lush green pasture, Ryan and I find ourselves in the throes of combat. With our own child. To illustrate what I mean, here is what Child #2 created on Monday morning:
My mom thinks an art therapist would have a field day with this tableau. I’m sure she’s correct about that. I’m also too afraid to ask if this bloody gummy bear scene is related to our study of the Revolutionary War or if S is acting out some latent emotions related to her big sister’s recent hideous behavior.
Lately I’ve been longing for the days where we could put the girls into their cribs at night and sleep somewhat soundly knowing that they 1) weren’t capable of escaping and 2) their limited vocabularies prevented them from insulting our parenting. Looking to the past isn’t very productive, so instead we’re surging forward into very uncharted territory for us. We admit freely that we need help parenting our tween daughter, and we’re seeking wise counsel.
We’ve started reading a few books on the topic, too. In case anyone is interested in reading with us, I can already recommend Michael Bradley’s Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy! (Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind).
I’ve finished Part 1 and still have two more sections to absorb before I can give a detailed synopsis, but it’s reassuring to learn that my once-sweet, somewhat-docile child is not deranged in a way unique to her. Dr. Bradley explains that all teenage brains are insane and gives the scientific data to support his claim. Phew!
Next on the reading list is Cynthia Tobias’s You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded) , which the author wrote to empower parents to discipline and build up their strong-willed children. Did I mention that we’re battling adolescence with a strong-willed child?! It’s at this point that the childish part of me would like to blame my mother for wishing this crazy, stubborn child upon me. Raise your hand if your mother said, “I hope you have a child just like you, too.”
Unfortunately I can blame no one. My wise, patient mother also says that you can’t take complete responsibility for your child’s personality. To do so would be to remove God from the equation. Furthermore, the flip side of being stubborn, strong-willed, pig-headed, or whatever you want to call it isn’t a bad thing. It’s called tenacity. And tenacity–combined with faith–is what has brought me personally through a number of crises and challenges.
So this stubborn, tenacious mama is plowing ahead. In prayer and with armor and not by myself. Ryan is standing beside me, friends who’ve been there and done that have offered guidance, more friends are praying, and I’m standing firm in the hope that God is not finished with this young lady yet. And though I recently found a grey eyebrow hair, I know we will survive this phase of parenting, too.