If you are a mom you already know the reference to reacting like a momma bear. As a female bear guards her cubs with a murderous ferocity, we too, as moms, can react this way when our children are teased or bullied or hurt by their peers. However, there is no question that this sort of response not only misrepresents our faith and the God we desire to shine for, but it will hinder our children from becoming overcomers in Christ. As they grow and move into adulthood in this world, the lesson of being an overcomer in Christ Jesus is critical to how they will relate to, respond to and manage the challenges of living in a wicked and perishing world that is not their home!
My daughter, Marillyn, was born profoundly hearing impaired. She is deaf in one ear and has a small amount of aided hearing in the other ear. Without going into all the details, she is truly a miracle child. She was able to be mainstreamed into school from kindergarten forward and has always been a top student. However, she was and still is handicapped and must daily overcome the challenges of living in a world that does not adjust itself to her ways.
My husband and I recognized, before Marillyn even began school, that she would face the unkindness of her peers most of her early years. We knew we would have to be prepared ahead of time to properly respond to these situations so we could help her to not take the hurt in and let it misshape her but to look past it and learn to love and forgive people their unkindness . I remember my own childhood and the mean things that were said and done to me. I think all of us have been teased or hurt by our peers at some point. However, the one thing I have come to understand is that “hurt people hurt people!” In other words, usually the people who are doing the teasing and abusing have been teased and abused themselves and have not had anyone to help them overcome so they are just imitating what they have known and seen. With this in mind, we encouraged Marillyn to consider that her tormenters were in fact tormented themselves; therefore she could forgive them, pray for them and even choose to be kind toward them.
As she traveled through the land mines of elementary school and junior high I came to realize that I must be available for her daily so she could debrief from the hurt that she faced. Too often, we think our kids our doing fine because they do not come to us and express their fears and hurts. I learned this the hard way when Marillyn was in 6th grade. My husband and I knew she had been handling some pretty intense teasing at school but we encouraged her to try to overlook it and not get involved. We did not know that it had escalated to physical abuse and because she did not want to let us down or to appear weak, she did not tell us. One day, she came in the door in tears and obviously broken. I followed her into her room and as I comforted her and inquired as to the source of her pain, she showed me shins covered with bruises: the result of the between class abuse of a couple of classmates. When I asked why she did not tell us, she spoke back to me our words; she was trying to overlook it and return kindness for evil. Immediately, I saw our downfall and apologized to her, explaining that never would we ask her to tolerate physical abuse. That day we learned and so did she, that there are lines that must not be crossed without consequence.
Today, Marillyn is a missionary mother of 4 children living in the mountains of Honduras. She is a beautiful woman who loves the Lord and others. She is also a tough cookie, but she maintains a soft heart toward the lost and hurting. Certainly, she still has a few scars from the unkindness of her peers, but she does not let those scars control whom she has become.
When people ask what is the one thing we did when raising our children that helped us to stay close to them and help them through the challenges of life, I would say it was sticking to them during the critical years from around 12 to 19. Too often parents abandon their kids during these years thinking they are now old enough to take care of themselves, but these are the most formative years. These are the years that will form their future and they need and want guidance even if some days they think they do not.
One of our house rules, that I firmly believe made the biggest difference, was that our teens were not allowed to close themselves in their rooms. We were a family and my husband required that we spend our time together. The kids did their homework at the dining room table and they were allowed only limited time on the computer or in front of the TV. With my girls, I often had to pull communication out of them, but once I got them talking, they were grateful for someone to talk to about the hurts, confusion and challenges in their daily lives.
Did we do everything perfectly? Far from it! But I can say that if I had it to do over there is not much I would do differently. As parents, we need to always remember that our children belong to God not to us. We do the best we can and then leave the rest in His loving and faithful hands. He loves them even more than we do!!
Friends, today’s mom is Brooke Goranson is a friend from our days in Iowa. She was a mentor for me while I was in college and her youngest was in middle school. She is a missionary with her husband Wayne. They travel across the world teaching and training men, women and children in God’s Word. They also bring sustainable technologies to 3rd world Countries and take short term teams into the mission field. Their great passion is discipleship and each year they bring 8 students along with them to learn, glean and seek God’s will for their lives.
Their children are all grown and serving the Lord in various places. They always encourage parents that their children are their number one place of ministry and discipleship, but also reminding them to do their best and then entrust them to the Lord .
Visit their web site to read more about their mission and ministries.