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Parenting the Unattached…Part 1 Empathy

Over the last few years we have been in a deep struggle, some weeks better than others, some weeks far worse than I could have ever imagined. The struggle can be blinding. Those of us who battle the days with the ever exhausting behaviors that many cannot fathom are easily overcome with feelings of self-righteousness or despair.
 
 We often lose sight of the humanity that encompasses the child with which we are struggling. Maybe this can help to build empathy, help to see the person behind the behavior, and to bring us all back to the reality with which satan is ever trying to get us to forget. All people are worth love and being loved.
 
Tanner was born December 27, 2004. He arrived in a world that would never understand him, to a mother that would discard him. He was placed into an orphanage, an innocent baby in a third world country, with a defect rendering him “worthless.”
 
As a baby, no one came to Tanner to answer his cries of distress, no one sat and cuddled him, offering him the gentle caress of reassurance. He did not know the safety and joy of a mother’s response. He did not know the comfort of a father’s protective arms.
 
Tanner lived among other children, all destitute, all ignored. He didn’t have the same brain connections that other children had. It was hard to understand things, and often he was hit because of his delayed development. Food was sparse, and often Tanner was not fed. He was hungry. He would cry himself to sleep in hunger. No mother to hug him, no one to love him.
 
All alone, sometimes hurt from physical abuse and suffering from illness.
 
No one cared about Tanner. A small boy with mixed understanding, but very knowing that no one loved him. He just wanted someone to talk to him. He just wanted someone to look at him. “Here I am, please look at me. Know me.” And so he began to do things to get noticed, often mean and horrible things.
 
Because being hit is better than never being looked at. Getting smacked is better than being void of touch from another. Any attention is better than being as good as dead to everyone.
 
  And thus, pain became comfort to this small vulnerable boy.
 
I have this broken into parts. This is the beginning of just one child’s story. My child. A child with whom I struggle to parent every single day. God is our healer though, and after years of doing it wrong, I believe we are beginning to see the light. The first step to parenting a child is empathy. Do not get lost in the struggle and forget empathy, for I feel empathy is the key to Christian love. Tanner’s life did change, he did get that mother and father, but everything was far from well. The story continues….

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