Written by guest author Shannon Thornton, Counselor, Speaker and Specialist working with families and kids challenged by ADD and ADHD with Chrysalis Behavioral Therapy and Counseling.
I was a great mom before I had kids. Think about it. Weren’t you? I witnessed things in stores I would “never” let my child do. I observed relationship struggles between teens and parents I knew I’d “never” have because I had more self-control. And for goodness sake, my baby would always wear stain-free clothes and have both shoes on all the time!
And then God blessed me with two beautiful children. “I couldn’t keep plants alive,” I’d think to myself. “Can He really trust me to care for His children?!” I am proof that He may not call upon the equipped, but He sure equips those He calls. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Well, that’s a pretty tall order with vague instruction but with clear direction. The Bible is full of God’s expectations of His children (and how we should raise those He gives us), but I did not get the “how” right away. Through study, experience, mentors, classes, and formal education, I learned that all children were not created equally, but they were all created intentionally. Some kids have challenges in learning and socializing that others do not. But God knew what He was doing, and He still shed light on some great parenting tidbits I picked up along my journey.
- God creates boundaries as an example of setting boundaries for our own children. He allows us to experience the painful consequences of our behavior so that we will change. He is not willing for any of us to perish and takes no pleasure in our destruction. (2 Peter 3:9) Thus, it is wise to create clear and consistent boundaries for our children.
- God increases our responsibilities when we prove we can make good choices with the small jobs. “To whom much is given, from him much is expected,” Luke 12:48. Thus, is it prudent not to give a child too much before he or she is ready.
- God expects us to control our tongue and to teach our children to do so. Matthew 15:11 says, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Thus, it is right to be an example to our children, and hold them to the same standard.
- God calls us to raise them, and then let them go into adulthood. Matthew 19:5 tells us “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” God does not intend our 30 year old children to be living with us and not getting out on their own. Thus, God expects to us to teach them fully so they can meet the natural goal of independence.
- God calls us to relationship; relationship first with Him, and relationship in love with one another. Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Therefore, I think that if we want to see change in the world, we need to start by first going home and loving the families God gave us.
So, if you’re looking for the right book or the right program on how to raise your child, go to the Good Book. It’s a great instruction manual, and it explains God’ s expectations for parents regardless of our children’s ages and regardless of our children’s temperaments. I look at my God in the New Testament, and I kind of relate to the way He judged people. However, when Jesus came, God’s heart softened, much like my heart softened when I had my own children. I have learned that no matter what child He gives us, I can trust Him to guide us; to lead us to people who have gone before us with similar experiences so we can learn and not make their mistakes. I believe “He works all things together for the good for those who love Him, and who are called according to His purpose for Him,” Romans 8:28.
Many years ago, I prayed at night and asked God why He gave me such a difficult child who was so different from me. I thought I’d never survive. But He knew I would. He opened doors for me for learning, and He softened my heart so I could truly understand her differences. Then, He blessed me with the opportunity to use this knowledge and experience, although not easily gained, to help others. It is through this child and these difficult years that God allowed me to see my purpose. That purpose, I believe, is to guide, encourage, and provide hope to others as it is written in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
Shannon will be a guest speaker at Stonebriar Community Church on Sunday, May 20th, 2018 talking about practical approaches to raising a child with ADD. If you are not able to attend in person, you can watch a rebroadcast on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/parentingpathway/
Shannon Thornton, M.A. LPC, Founder and Therapist of Chrysalis Behavioral Therapy and Counseling – received her undergraduate degree in Business from Florida State University, and a Master of Arts degree in Professional Counseling from Amberton University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor with the state of Texas and have been a certified Practical Parent Educator since 2007. She currently works with Dr. Shannon E. Taylor performing neuropsychological assessments and in private practice doing Individual and Family Systems Therapy for children 12 and older, adolescents, and adults. Her specialties lie in treating people experiencing parenting issues, symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, anger, and other adjustment disorders utilizing Psychoeducational and Cognitive Behavioral therapy. Her calling is to actively listen to people with empathy in a comfortable, non-judgmental environment. In doing so, she is equipped to help them identify ways to live their best lives through catharsis and behavioral change to bring balance to their whole selves, mind, body, and spirit.