Tuesday, October 27, 2015

When Your Children Don't Match Your Parenting Dreams

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For several months in my life, I had a severe "pitty-party."  I was angry towards God because He refused to match my self-prophesied life plans.  

Ridiculous.  I know...

But in talking to other parents I find that I am not alone in my bitterness struggle.  Parenting is not what we expected.  The days are long.  Of course there are amazing points that we wouldn't trade for the world, but parenting is exhausting. 

Take a moment to read an adapted excerpt from the book Toddlers on the Move by Tess Worrell and Dr. Scott Turansky.  It was very helpful to me and I think it will be to you as well.
Parents often find that their child is much different than they had expected.  Before the baby comes, there were so many hopes and expectations.  Somewhere, something happened that made life a little more difficult.  

Maybe you envisioned shopping trips with your daughter only to have a tomboy focused on bugs.  Or quiet times of reading and discussion but your child has abounding energy that goes beyond cute to annoying.  Or maybe your child tends to be whiny and negative, or is overly shy.  
From a young age, my dream was to have the "Walton" family.  I dreamed of sitting down to family devotions.  Going camping.  Serving neighbors and those in need.  I envisioned our family of six sitting down to meals while everyone talked about their day and laughed over the memories.  Of course we love spending time together and I love being a stay-at-home mom. Sure, boundaries would be tested but I would hold strong and my children would thank me.

This is not reality.

In real life, we have two children with special needs.  While they are on the opposite ends of the spectrum, the behaviors that they each struggle with crushed my dreams.  I can't talk to my son after school to find out about his day because he doesn't have the language processing skills to make sense of his day.  We can't do many of the fun things we would like because Little Man is a runner and struggles greatly with impulse control.  We can't have peaceful meals because of behavior issues.  It doesn't matter how consistent and firm our boundaries are, the boys do not have control over their actions and senses.  

Anyone else have shattered dreams?

The authors of Toddlers on the Move explain that parents who have interrupted expectations of parenting can learn some important lessons.
Life needs to change.  You'll have to make adjustments, do research, and develop new routines.  It's all part of the job of parenting.  
In those moments when you realize that your child needs skills and abilities from you that seem outside of your current repertoire, then you need to go back to the Lord and trust that He knows exactly what He's doing.  Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  God brings every person into a family for a reason. 
In Psalm 139:13, 16 David praise God by saying, "You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb...All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."  Your child's challenges are no accident.  God knit your child together in the womb.  You were designed for your child and your child was designed for you.  If you truly believe in God's sovereignty, then it follows that God purposely gave you this child.  Out of His perfect wisdom, His perfect goodness, and His perfect love, He designed this child for you.
Perhaps you have this child because he'll draw out strengths you didn't know you possessed.  Perhaps you have this child because he'll cause you to grow in ways God will use to bless others.  Perhaps you have this child because this child demands what you can't give and will drive you to your knees in absolute dependence on what God alone can provide through you.  Perhaps God sent this child, who is so different from what you expected to induce you to see your need and turn to Him.  
That's hard to swallow.

If you struggle to parent a child who differs from your exceptions, your parenting job "will require a lot of prayer, a lot of study, and a lot of work."

Not very encouraging.  I understand!

The authors go on to explain.
1.  Take some time to go before God and pray for your relationship with your child.  Take time to thank God for each aspect of your [child's] personality, both the aspects that thrill you and those that make relationships hard....  Ask Him to allow you to see this child from His eyes.  As you take confidence in believing that God knew what He was doing when He gave you this child, He'll open your heart to a love you may never have expected.
Before I go further, I want to clarify something.  As you do, I love each one of my children greatly.  The above quote isn't implying that you or I don't love our children.  It is saying that God will give us a love that covers all aspects of their personality and abilities.  Even the parts that frustrate, anger, and baffle us. We will begin to see the child for whom God created him or her to be.
2.  Learn everything you need to know in order to parent your child effectively
I can't stress this one enough.  Sit in on your child's therapy sessions.  This has been especially vital to my parenting of Bubs.  I have learned right along with him.  Next, find moms who are in the same boat as you.  Their wisdom is priceless.  Start by following this blog!  I don't have all of the answers but I will share what we have learned.  Finally, ask questions and then ask some more.  Keep probing to find the information that you need to help your child.  You are always welcome to ask me questions in the comment session of this blog or on Facebook
3.  Besides prayer and study, you'll need to reconstruct your expectations and [your life]....  Look for ways to consolidate your tasks and expand your abilities.  Rearranging your priorities and goals is part of what it means to change your expectations.  
This point is so important and one that I have prayed.  Instead of getting mad and fighting reality, we have to accept the life that we have been given as our new normal.  This may mean that we do things very different than other families.  And we do things different because we have to help everyone be successful.  And if that is what our children need, then that is what is right for our family.

And if it is right for my family, that is exactly where God wants me.

This post contains affiliate links. When you click on these links, I may receive an itty-bitty commission at no additional cost to you.

Out of 157 entries, the randomly chosen winner of the Galaxy Buck DVD is:

Monica M (email monicamil...@)

Monica, please contact me within 48 hours using the winning email address and be sure to include your mailing address.  Thank you to everyone who entered and thank you to What's in the Bible? for providing this giveaway.

And if you didn't win, remember that you can view Galaxy Buck on Jelly Telly.  Click on the link below and use code - ABCJT1 -  for an added one month free subscription to Jelly Telly.


  1. It's comforting to know other mums are going through similar issues and I'm not alone in this boat
    One needs to first accept that our expectations don't match reality, we are still struggling and hoping things will change instead of accepting the ' new normal'

    1. Praise God that we don't have to have travel the journey alone! You are so correct on the expectations thought. Thank you for sharing!

  2. You said it so well. I too have been down the path of why GOD? I now view our unique journey with a special needs child as "How awesome that God thought we could do this" and on days that I feel overwhelmed I remind myself of this and it really does make a difference. The new normal is an adjustment but it is what you make of it! Know that you aren't doing this alone and that many of us out there are going through the same joys and struggles. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have a son with ASD and a Severe Speech Delay. His diagnoses are definitely not what I expected and dreamed about....but....when I step back and really look.........God gave me what I needed. I too feel blessed that God cared about me that much and loved me that much to give my little Bubby to my husband and I! What a gift! I've had my times of bitterness and worry too but I have to remember Rom. 8:28 He gave us what is perfect for us!

  4. God bless you. Thank you for sharing.


The Our Out-of-Sync Life blog focuses on encouraging women to deepen their spiritual life, simplify daily tasks, and impress Jesus on the children around them.