Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Been Abused

In my last blog, The Truth About Parenting (and What Kids Want More Than Their MTV), I talked about the need for discipline from a very young age.  I talked about how kids who are without discipline and training will begin acting out as a way to find the attention and love they crave so much.  

I also touched on the fact that sometimes, despite our very best efforts, our children can begin acting out as a result of getting in with the wrong crowd, or if there's been some type of abuse. Sometimes parents will chalk up the changes in attitude and behavior to adolescence.  But if those changes are sudden, there may be something else going on.   

I wanted to share with you this excellent discussion with Psychologist Dr. Dan Allender on Focus On The Family's website that speaks to this very thing.  Dr. Allender discusses what to do if you notice a sudden and negative change in your child and you suspect he or she may have been abused.  

The only thing worse than having to go through a situation like that as a child is having to go through it alone. But there is help and there is hope. 

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3 

God bless, 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Truth About Parenting (and What Kids Want More Than Their MTV)

I was 19 and had already lived on my own for two years. I had worked as a cocktail waitress the year before.  My routine was set: come home late (or early as the case may be), and wind down on the couch watching a brand new cable channel: MTV. In those days MTV was all about the music and the videos were just plain fun. 

Circumstances forced me to move back home temporarily.  Yet my routine stayed the same.  Late at night I’d curl up on the couch with my onscreen friends, VJs (video jockeys) Nina Blackwood and Martha Quinn. 

They’d tell me about the music and the four-minute movies took me away from my problems for a little while.  I’d listen to The Pretenders lament about being back on the chain gang.  Rod Stewart inspired young hearts to be free.  I’d have taken Rod Stewart’s version of life over Chrissie Hynde’s if I could.  

Shortly after moving back, my mother came and sat next to me on the couch for a chat.  And then she just came out with it.

What she said was, “I don’t care what you watch, but I don’t want your younger sister watching MTV.”

What I heard was…she didn’t love me. 

What I heard was…my worthless ways were a threat to my sister.

What I heard was…she loved my sister enough to believe she was still worth saving. 

On the outside I was 19 and a legal adult.  But on the inside I was still a child waiting for her mother to give her the discipline she never had…the love she never had. 

I moved out shortly after.  And for the next six years I behaved as someone who believed she was hopeless. 

The truth is kids want to be disciplined.

God created us in His image with an inward need for order, for discipline.  We desire structure and boundaries.  A well-lived life depends on it. Our flesh may rail against it, but our soul feeds on it.

No matter how much our kids complain about it, they want boundaries. 

They crave boundaries.

With them they find security and peace.

When we discipline our kids, we send the message that they are loved, cared for and nurtured.  That they are worthy of our time and attention.  Without discipline, they are left feeling unloved, inadequate, unprotected. 


Without those boundaries they can begin to act out with erratic or violent behaviors, drugs or alcohol and/or sex. 

Acting out is a flashing neon sign saying:


I see a lot of kids who are craving boundaries making headlines.  Children are brazenly and brutally bullying other children and even adults.  Victims, some as young as 6, are taking their own lives.

Cyberbaiting is the coined term for a new and brazen spin on old-school type of bullying.  It’s become a form of entertainment for bullies equipped with a smartphone. Students will continually harass and provoke a teacher until he or she breaks down.  Students then easily and ruthlessly take pictures and videos of the teacher and post them online.

Sometimes even the justice system backs up the child who has bullied. That was the case in Florida when a student started a Facebook group for people who hated a particular teacher.  She encouraged other students to post comments about how much they hated the teacher, too.  The group was eventually deleted and the child was suspended.  But the student sued, saying her right to free speech had been violated.  She won $15,000. 

These are students.  Children.  How do they go from being innocent babies to such ruthless and destructive young people in such a short amount of time? 

As parents we think we have 18 years to shape them. 

But here’s the kicker: we don’t. 

The truth is we have a good 7 to 10 years to instill discipline.

Maybe less.

God tells us we need to begin early. 

Train up a child in the way he should go, 
and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

The word child in this verse refers to the time between infancy and adolescence.  A child’s character is largely molded by the time they’re 7 or 8. 

So what is discipline? 


Jesus gave us the perfect example. He discipled twelve men for three years.  Through eleven of them and Paul, God radically changed the world.

(Let me just say this as an aside, not because it's less important but because it's off the main topic: the fact that Jesus was the perfect mentor and still one of his disciples, Judas, went astray, is a perfect example that we can be the very best parent possible and yet one of our kids can choose the wrong path.  Sometimes they get in with the wrong crowd.  Sometimes there's been abuse from outside the family.  

If you see a sudden behavioral change in your child, I urge you to not simply chalk it up to adolescence or a phase.  Pray God will show you the truth.  Then sit down with your child and and talk.  They may be reluctant to talk at first, or even for a while.  Keep trying. Hopefully you've had the lines of communication open all along and they'll come around, knowing how much you love them.  Keep reminding them they can trust you with anything they have to say.  If you need to, reach out for counseling.)

Parents, Grandparents, Foster Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Guardians:

We need your children.  A lost and dying world needs your children.  We need them to grow up to be loving, responsible, respectful, hard-working men and women of integrity.

We need children who will grow into adults who care more about contributing to the well-being of the world and those in it than their own comfort and entertainment. 

The truth is we have get back to parenting.

Real parenting.  The kind where we take a real interest in our kids and what they’re doing.  Even if they’re watching MTV.  Parents and kids have gone their separate ways in America for too long.  We can’t be too busy, too lazy or too afraid to discipline our kids…to disciple our kids.

They won’t tell you, but what kids really want, more than their MTV or anything else, is a parent who cares about them...who cares for them.  A parent who loves them enough to be involved in their life.  A parent they can look up to.  A parent they can go to for advice when they don’t know what to do.  A parent they know will have their back.  A parent who’s on their side, for better or worse. 

So what if your child is older?  Say, 19 and beginning a life of rebellion by watching MTV?

Remember: on the outside kids can appear hardened, but it's all a ruse, a protective mechanism.  They don't want you to see they’re vulnerable...and hurt. And a lot of parents don't get that. They don't look past the anger and rebellion to the hurting child they are on the inside. But we have to.  That's what love does.

So what can you do?

Read God’s Word. Daily.  
Pray some more.
Keep praying.
Love through the attitude.
Don’t give up.  Ever.

There is hope.  I am living proof of God’s grace and mercy and redemptive power.  

You can do it.
Let me know how it's going!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lessons Learned ~ An Open Letter to My Dad

Dear Dad,

When I saw you last you laid in a comfortable room all of your own in a beautiful home. The first time I walked through it I knew Jesus had hand-picked that home and that room just for you. 

Dad, you would have loved it.  Your room kept watch over a gorgeous collection of plants and flowers in the big backyard. Oh, how I wanted to be able to walk through the gardens with you, enjoying the sunshine and the beauty of every rose and daisy. 

No doubt our conversation would have meandered with the gardens.  We’d eventually ponder much weightier issues like the world’s problems and how to solve them.  We always had the answers, didn’t we? 

And our conversation would have invariably settled on the mysteries of the universe, and of God.  This conversation would have gone very differently than all the others, though.

For thirteen years I prayed for you.

And when we were finally able to enjoy those weekly gabfests on the phone I did my best to steer as many conversations as possible toward the Lord.  I tried to explain to you historically, intellectually, logically and emotionally why Jesus is the only way to salvation, the only way to heaven.  And you’d always say you were trying. 

The end of every conversation would come, and I’d let my words offering you Christ hang in the air as a gift, desperately hoping you’d take them, but you never did.  I always hung up thinking if only I’d said it differently... 

If I could have I would have forced them on you as a parent forces a child to eat his broccoli and drink his milk. 

Soon after you had gone, I realized the mistake I’d made all those years.  And all I wanted to do was grasp one day to do it over. If I could I would have done it all over.  I’d trade in some of those conversations, some of those awkward attempts at apologetics, and take a meal to you. 

I’d take a jar full of jelly beans to your apartment and set it on the table next to your chair. While I was there I would have cleaned your apartment and done some laundry, if you’d let me.  I’d frame some pictures of your grandsons and hang them on the wall. 

I’d buy you a proper journal so you didn’t have to write your soulful words on the scraps of paper and backs of old envelopes we found scattered around your apartment.  I’d have you over for dinner more often so Eric and Sean could get to know you better.  We still grin and tell each other your favorite joke: So a horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Why the long face?” I can still hear that high-pitched almost giggle you reserved for jokes you thought were especially hilarious.

I would have shown you the love of Jesus I tried so desperately to tell you about.  I thought I’d have enough time, but I didn’t. 

Time is always short.

You might not have let me do those things, but I wish I had tried.  I wish I had used the short time we had together to show you how much I loved you and how much I appreciated you.  I would have shown you that you were worth loving and you were worth dying for.

I loved our conversations, but I wish I had used the time putting feet to my words, enriching both our lives even more.  And maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t have taken until just five days before you went to be with Jesus to give Him your heart.  Maybe those acts of love would have opened your eyes to the truth sooner.  But they were opened, and I am so grateful.

You taught me that lesson, Dad.  I don’t always remember it, but you taught me that life is short, and sometimes it’s over much sooner than we ever thought it would be.  And sometimes our words are just words until we bring them to life. 
I can picture you now, tending the garden of your dreams and having long conversations with everyone who stops by to smell the roses.  I'll be there soon.  And when I am, I’m coming to your house, Dad, the one prepared just for you.  I’ll clean it, top to bottom.  I'll set a crystal vase overflowing with fresh flowers on your table.  I’ll bring you some jelly beans and we’ll talk. 

Your loving daughter,      @
Dorci                               ~\~

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Life's a Crazy, Peculiar, Beautiful Puzzle

Some of us are straight-edged, some are curved on all sides.  Some stick out more than others.  Seems just about all of us have holes.  Some see part of a clear picture, others' are a bit fuzzy-some glitzy and some not.  Some are bright and cheery, others are muted and mysterious. 

But one thing's clear.

We are each an important piece of a grand puzzle, interlocked with countless other lives.  None of knows quite how we fit in or exactly how we'll look when this is all over.  As time goes on, we may catch a glimpse of the picture.  Only God knows for sure.

We are His masterpiece...His magnum opus.

Sometimes we try pushing our way into someplace we're not meant to be. Sometimes we feel like we've been off to the sidelines for a very, very long time. But we're each an integral part of His grand plan.

And if we'll trust Him, and go where He tells us...or trust Him, and wait...

He'll make something beautiful.

Right now things may look like just a jumbled up mess of shapes and colors. Circumstances don't make sense; the people we have in our lives don't always make sense.  But we fit into their picture, and they in ours.

And the final scene will be more beautiful than we can ever imagine.  

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Lord, help us to go where You tell us and do what You've designed us to do. Help us to wait when You want us to wait.  Help us to trust You through all our trials. Help us to love the people You've put in our lives. 

Help us to put our faith in You more and more each day, knowing that You are not a God Who doesn't care.  You love us and You're actively involved in our lives with good and godly purposes in mind.  

You are our Master.  Do with us what You will. 
In Jesus' Name,

Friday, June 1, 2012

Max Lucado on Forgiveness

I found this excellent teaching by Max Lucado on forgiveness, focusing on the life of Joseph.  In true Max Lucado fashion, he pulls together nuggets of truth from God's Word that help us see even more clearly Joseph's journey to forgiving his brothers, and how we can forgive, too. 

He expounds beautifully my last blog on forgiveness, so if you struggle in this area, and I think most of us do, I hope you'll be blessed by it.