Parents of children with attention challenges often want to know why…
“Why is my four-year old son the one who always throws a tantrum when its time to leave the party?”
“Why is my ten-year old son constantly in the principal’s office for being the class-clown?”
“Why has my fourteen year old run away from home?”
“Why is my sixteen year old daughter pregnant?”
“Why is my twenty year old son addicted to speed?”
These are just a few of the tough questions weary and worried parents ask counselors, ministers, and God every day.
After she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a wise counselor told us that my mother-in-law has a new purpose in life: she is now teaching each of us to be better people. Personally, I am still striving to develop patience when she asks the same question fifteen times every hour, but I have to admit that she has taught me to be more patient when my daughter gets distracted fifteen times while she is trying to complete a simple yet boring and monotonous task. More importantly, I have learned that when I keep asking, “Why, God, does this one I love have to struggle so?” I need to start asking, “What?” instead. Specifically, I need to ask, “What is the purpose of this struggle?” and “What can I learn from this one who is struggling?” and “What can I do to help this one who is struggling?”
Neither my counselor nor I can take full credit for this comforting insight: this encouraging word is actually taken directly from God’s Word. What the Apostle Paul wrote so long ago is still true today: if we strive to learn from the strugglers in our lives, we will develop affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity, willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates all things and people (Galatians 5:22, MSG). As a result, each of us becomes a better person: we find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely (Galatians 5:23, MSG).
Here is the bottom line: God does not cause our loved ones to struggle, but He does bless us when we trust our struggling little ones to Him and we start asking “What?” instead of “Why?”
So…What have you learned from a struggling child in your life lately? Share your experience with someone and encourage them today!
Keep reading for strategies aimed at helping you help your struggling child or teen.
(c) 2010, flexiture, monte w. davenport, ph.d.