Before You Judge the Parent with the Unruly Child

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You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Romans 2:1

Some mornings at our house don’t go well. The grands fight against our routine almost every morning.  It’s the same routine. Every. Single. Morning. So, why is it so hard for them to follow it?

 

This morning, the grands got up and  dressed quickly (miracle of miracles), except for the shoes. With Amari, that’s wear we hit a snag.

“Put your shoes and socks on, Amari.”

“Ok.”

A few minutes later, he’s still sitting in the same place, staring off into space, barefoot.

“Amari, put your shoes on.”

“I need to put on my socks, first.”

“I know. Do it, please.”

After repeating myself three or four times my volume goes up. I try to stay calm, but it’s frustrating especially when I’m busy doing Victoria’s hair at the moment. Her hair takes ten to fifteen minutes every morning. Today, she cooperated, but some mornings, if she’s dragging her feet, she jerks away and yells that it hurts. We take good care of her hair, so it rarely has tangles, but she still acts like it does.

Add that to her brother not putting on his socks and shoes, and it can get crazy quickly.

Then, there’s breakfast.  In my head, I’m hearing the music they play in mysteries when something shocking or revealing occurs…dundun DUN!

Amari would rather talk to Victoria or make some repetitive noise to annoy her. Victoria doesn’t want to talk to him, she’d rather criticize how he’s eating. We tell them to ignore each other, stop tattling, and eat.

Today, I took Amari’s food away before he finished. That’s not unusual.

If there’s anything worse than breakfast, it’s brushing their teeth. How hard can that be? Believe it or not, Amari stands in front of the bathroom mirror forever making faces and messing with his hair. If we forget to check, he may be in there ten minutes without brushing.

If Victoria brushes her teeth at the same time, Amari complains. All it takes is a speck of food in what Victoria spits into the sink, and he’ll probably throw up. He’s an expert on psyching himself out about how gross something is. Then he vomits. We try to keep them from brushing at the same time. Not so easy when you’re running out of time. Today, I made Victoria brush at the kitchen sink. She pushed back but finally did it. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to get Amari brushing his teeth.

So, this morning, we left late. As we started down the road, Victoria exclaimed, “I don’t have my red notebook.”

I turned onto a side street to turn around, asking her where it was in the house. Then, I said, “This is why you’re supposed to put everything for school in your book bag  the night before.”

Her answer, “It’s not a school notebook. I use it to draw in during free time.”

Obviously, I didn’t go back to the house. The neighbor whose car was behind me and now was in front of me probably wondered what my problem was.

Before you jump on and give me advice, that’s not the point of today’s post.

We’re raising two children who didn’t have a morning routine before they came to live with us. They never were on time to anything. I know this because when they visited us, they always arrived late, and I’m not saying a few minutes. We’re talking an hour or more

Whether you’re a grandparent raising children or a foster parent, the rhythm of your household will be different from the one the children knew before. Ours is structured and organized. Theirs was not.

This means we struggle every day with little things. Other families do experience some of these things, but this is how 90% of our days start. It’s not fun.

More importantly, this is just an example of the issues we face. For example, there are stores I will not go into if the children are with me. Why? Because I’m still trying to teach them the proper behavior in a store. They don’t get it, and I don’t appreciate the judgmental looks, and comments, I get from the store clerks. Yes, the store clerks. There are two stores near me that I no longer frequent due to this.

When you see a parent with a difficult child, don’t always assume it’s their fault. They may not be the one who created the habits in the children with them. They may be the ones trying to change those habits.

Cut them a little slack.

Oh, and since some of you are itching to tell me what to do differently in the morning, we already do the following:

  • Pack book bags before bedtime
  • Pick school clothes before bedtime
  • Get up with plenty of time for them to dress, eat, and brush their teeth and have time to spare if they do everything on time. Believe me, they have tons of time.
  • Divide responsibilities between my husband and me when he’s home (he was on a business trip this morning)

Other techniques I’ve used:

  • Timers
  • Reward systems
  • Consequences

So, if you have something different to share, go for it. Otherwise, please don’t.

And please be kind to the person with the unruly child. It’s already hard enough.

 

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How Does It Feel To Be Raised By Someone Else?

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

One of the hardest things for me to understand is how my grandchildren feel about their situation. I know they are better off with us, that we are a vast improvement over the circumstances they lived under.

But they don’t.

I know we are a better solution than foster care.

But they don’t.

I know their number one wish, to be with Mommy, is unrealistic.

But they don’t.

How do they  grasp the enormity of the changes in their lives? They are my grandchildren, but just like foster children they carry baggage. They deal with anger, frustration, and despair. The human brain is not fully-developed until the age of twenty-five. How can a ten-year-old and six-year-old cope with this?

We see outbursts of irrational behavior, defiance, and increased illness.

Lately, the illness has been a constant problem. The doctor tells me that children raised in smoking homes will always have respiratory issues even if they no longer live in that environment. My grandson spent his first four years with two parents who smoked alot. I guess it’s no surprise he struggles with illness so much.

These thoughts led me to look up data on the prevalence of illness amount foster kids. My grandchildren aren’t in the foster system, but their circumstances are similar. This search led me to  this video. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t doubt this is part of what they think and feel.

When Called To A Difficult Purpose

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And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Over the last few weeks (aka since school started), I’ve been ill. We didn’t make it through the first week of school without one of the kids catching something and sharing it with the rest of us.

Four weeks later, I’m still sick but with something else. When your immunity is down, it’s easy to get sick. I’ve had one or two decent days and one really good day in four weeks. This past Wednesday, I felt normal. Yet, as I went to bed that night, I knew my good day was over. After a night of very  little sleep, I went back to the doctor.

Why am I telling you this? Because people don’t get what grandparenting (being a grandparent raising grandchildren) does to us. I wrote about this  last week and heard from several grandparents in the same boat. They thanked me for saying what I did.

I’m guessing some readers, found my bluntness a bit uncomfortable. That’s ok. I’m not attacking or blaming people. I’m trying to create an understanding for the 2.5 million grandparents in my shoes. We are a growing population.

We do what we do for love. We trust in God to help us, but it’s terrifying to look at our retirement and realize we planned to support two adults, not to raise more children.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:17-18

That is what He’s asked us to do, to proclaim Him to another generation of children. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why He chose us to do it in this way, but He did. But herein lies the problem: my sickness.

As my illness continues, I’ve become weak and exhausted. At a time when income becomes most important, the circumstances make it hard to maintain that income. I would love to retire and focus completely on my writing and the grandchildren (not just the two who live with us), but I’m not retirement age, and I’ll probably have to work longer than I originally planned in order to make sure we survive.

And we’re the lucky ones. Most grandparents who are raising grandchildren, live below the poverty line.

We do have the Bible verses like those in this post to encourage us, and for those of us whose faith already sustained us through many trials, our faith brings  comfort. But we’re human and struggling. In the moment it’s hard to remember to turn to God. That’s probably why my last post came across strong to some people. I’m not apologizing for that. It’s important to help people understand the struggles other people experience. You can’t do that by sugar-coating the truth.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

This is the main purpose of this blog: helping people understand the struggles of others as well as revealing how my struggles built my faith in God.

Will you take a moment today to stop and pray for the grandparents and grandchildren in this situation? It’s not easy, and we need your support.

Are you a grandparent raising grandchildren? What’s your biggest struggle? I want to hear from you! If you’re a grandchild who was raised by a grandparent, I’d love to hear from you, too.