This blog is about God’s faithfulness and my frailty. It’s a place where I ponder how to go about living out God’s grace in my daily life as a transplant recipient and mother of three children, at least one of whom has special needs. I hope all who read and follow learn along with me how to treat ourselves gently and extend that same grace to others – especially our husbands and children.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
52 Tool Cards: Letting Go
Wow, it has been a long time since my last post! Blogging
hasn't been a top priority as I've been working on building a baby and
preparing for his arrival, and also getting more actively involved in my local
breastfeeding and mothering community through La Leche League and MOPS.
Letting go to me
means I realize that the only power of control I have is self-control.
Yes, I have a profound influence on my daughter, and I have authority
over her. I can and do use my authority to guide and shape her
behavior. At this young age, I still have the ability to
control her environment to set her up for success as much as possible.
But at the end of
the day, she is still her own person with choices to make, and a spiritual and
emotional life of her very own.
This tool card
1. Take small
steps in letting go.
2. Take time for training and then step back.
3. Have faith in your child to learn from his or her mistakes.
4. Get a life so your identity doesn't depend on managing your child's life.
The result, the
card says, will be a child who learns responsibility and feels capable.
For me, letting go
involves not only trusting my child, but trusting the God who created her and
the biological and developmental processes He put in place.
When she was a
tiny baby, it meant trusting that her cries meant something, that her body was
designed to sleep and grow and she didn't need me to put her on a
strict eating and sleeping schedule of my design.
It meant not
stressing over when she met physical developmental milestones like learning to
sit up, crawl, walk, and so on. It meant when she wanted to try something
new, like climbing stairs or playground equipment, that I was there to support
and encourage, guide and protect, but also let her experience falling down and
going boom sometimes.
It means I haven't
actively worked on teaching her letters, numbers and colors, and yet she knows
quite a lot about all those things just from our daily interactions in the
course of every day life.
It means being
patient with the sometimes slower pace of the positive discipline process,
recognizing that punishing or shaming my child won't make her mature any
I thought about
this during a recent successful shopping trip together. By successful I
mean she walked next to me, helped push the cart, and used appropriate touches
to examine items on the shelves. At some point when her self-control
began to falter I put her in the cart and she remained (mostly) on her bottom
and kept herself occupied.
Two years ago, she
wouldn't have been able to stay on her bottom in the cart without being
strapped in, and there might have been times when she couldn't resist throwing
items out of the cart.
One year ago, or
even six months ago, allowing her to walk instead of ride in the cart would
have been a sure recipe for a game of "Chase C all over the
store." She simply didn't have the impulse control to stop herself
from running off.
But just in the
past few months, C's self-control has really begun to develop, and I can trust
her to stay close by for short periods of time.
Learning how to
exhibit proper behavior in a store has been a slow process for C. When
she couldn't manage it, I didn't respond with punishment or shaming words, but
instead responded in ways that kept her and the store's merchandise safe and
allowed me to focus on shopping as much as possible.
In general, I try
to set us both up for success by keeping shopping trips short. I
sometimes remember to bring snacks or toys for her to occupy herself with if
she must ride in the cart, or I play pretend games with her.
When she couldn't
stay on her bottom, she was strapped in.
When she couldn't
stop herself from throwing, items weren't placed near her in the cart.
When she couldn't
stay close to mama, she might be given the chance to wear a monkey backpack and
let me hold the tail. If she pulled at that harness trying to run away,
or refused to walk when it was time to move on, she went back in the cart.
If she asked for
the chance to walk without the backpack, I'd assess my patience level first.
We'd go over the ground rules, most important being that the minute she
started to wander or run away, she went back in the cart. Not as
punishment, but just matter of fact, "It's my job to keep you safe."
Kids learn by
repetition. Each shopping trip is a chance to repeat the lessons of
proper store behavior. Letting go means that I trust she will "get
it" eventually, even if I don't spank her, give her a time out or verbally
shame her to "teach her a lesson."