Suffer Little Children

on Monday, March 09, 2009

I spent this weekend attending a workshop on Christian Counseling. It was a mixture of learning about counseling as well as receiving some counseling as part of the process. A great portion of the weekend focused on our responses to events in the early part of our lives which resulted in us adopting inappropriate defence mechanisms which in turn cause us to develop self-destructive behavior. For many of the participants, bad reactions to certain actions of our parents was a very common factor.

The workshop is not blaming parents for what happened because being parents are a tough job and yet a single slip at the wrong time can have a major negative result in the child's life. For example, in one case, the child was anxious after seeing something spooky on television and goes to the father for reassurance but the father teases the child by pretending to be scared himself and said "Scared, scared". A seemingly innocent incident but the child becomes easily spooked by almost anything because she does not feel secure.

Another example is when a harassed mother promises a young child to get her a long desired toy but fails to do so due to the rush and busyness of the day. Again something that can easily happen but the child could develop an unwillingness to trust people as a result.

And so many of the participants had such experiences with their parents which have led to some hangup or another.

Later though, I had the opportunity to take part in an informal conversation with some of the participants and one of them was a full time Christian worker with abused and abandoned children. He shared this story about a eleven year old girl. Her mother brought her one morning outside a Christian Shelter for Children and told her that she would be back to pick her up that evening.

Two and a half years later, this quiet and shy girl finally opened up to a student volunteer and told her that she still hoped each day that her mother would come for her one evening. Then after a short silence, she asked the volunteer, " What do I have to do to survive the reality of my situation?" It was as if she was finally coming to terms that her mother may never return. The volunteer was herself from a broken home and was able to share her own experiences. The little girl thanked her for not avoiding the question.

Needless to say, I was greatly touched by the story and it put all of our gripes about our parents in context. Not that some of the problems arising from actions of our parents were not serious but clearly, we were all reminded that having caring but imperfect parents is so much better than being left behind by your parents or having no parents at all.

I think I will do something for the kids in the shelter.


Gledwood said...

Ooo aye, you can't BE a counsellor unless you've been right through the mill WITH counselling... which can be exceedingly inconvenient...

Joyce's Ramblings said...

Parents can affect how their children become as adults, but not totally. That is why in a family with more than one child you see vast differences in the children. In todays world you may see so many different family styles. There is no one answer and no one way to reach a troubled child. To be a counsellor isn't easy. Remember you bring your baggage along also.

Janice Thomson said...

How awful to think a child could be left like that - the mother must have been in a bad place mentally to do that...

citizen of the world said...

It's sad how many kids are damaged by their parents through neglect or abuse or just ineptness. Every parent makes mistakes, of course (I know I have,) but I see the results of truly bad parenting every day.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Inconvenient? I don't think so. We all need a little help and healing. So rather than considering it inconvenient, I'd rather thi9nk of it as a bonus. Anyway, you can't be a good counselor if you bring along your own baggage into the counseling session.

I agree. In fact, a fundamental point covered in our session was that we were not to blame our parents but that we need to forgive them. Only after we do that can we deal with the main issue which was our choice of inappropriate reaction to what our parent's did. We have no control over what our parents did but we can do something about how we react to it.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I don't know the details in this case but often the mothers are a) poor and already barely cope with other children, b) victims of abuse and c) of late, on the run from creditors. Sometimes, the shelter does remain in contact with the mother and they get to meet their children for a few days each year but not so in this case.

All the more reason that everyone who gets married or want to be parents need to attend some kind of training course first! The standard of parenting seems to be dropping in a world where both the nuclear family and the extended family is on the decline.

robinhood said...

AN absolutely excellent post !

robinhood said...

We are placed on this Earth not for what we can take from it, but for what we can return to it!!

Carolyn said...

Thank you for your post, it is very moving. Working part time with kids in the "system" I realize how just something as simple as listening or a hug can make a difference.
Blessings and smiles

Jo said...

LGS, your post breaks my heart. "For many of the participants, bad reactions to certain actions of our parents was a very common factor." How true! I love my grandchildren dearly, but my daughter denies my love for them and is turning them against me. Who loses? Me certainly -- but most of all the children lose.

I detest selfish people.

I am going to join Volunteer Grandparents, and be a grandparent to a child who does not have any grandparents.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks. It is better to give than to receive.

Thanks for leaving a comment. I agree that there should be a lot more hugging going on.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I am sorry for your troubles. I am glad that you are finding a positive way to deal with it by sharing yourself with Volunteer Grandparents. I hope that works out well.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Being abandoned by ones parents would have to leave some of the worst possible scars on a child's psyche, from which it would probably take an entire lifetime to recover.

Parents are never perfect, but every child deserves to be parented as well as humanly possible. There must be serious karmic repercussions from walking out on that kind of sacred trust.

kat said...

Such moving eyes,
So stirring a gaze
Spirit within her
Be strong and be brave.

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