Blessed with a Wild Child?
I lovingly refer to our difficult first son as the wild-child. Faced with a group of moms, I can usually gauge who has a wild-child by watching her reaction to this sentence. “Well, you just make them do it,” meaning an authoritative parenting style is used in instructing the child how to behave. Mom’s with a wild-child will raise their eyebrows, look me straight on, and with much sarcasm say, “yeah, right.”
One in twenty children is labeled as having a difficult temperament (Thomas & Chess, 1977). This disposition can display:
1. Extreme emotional reactions (meltdowns)
2. Negative response to new situations (hard time adjusting)
3. Not easy to please
4. Bad moods
5. Hypersensitivity to loud noises, clothing irritants, food textures/tastes.
These children can also exhibit high IQ’s and creativity. Thus, difficult temperaments may also be called the ‘artistic temperament.’ Within this difficult temperament there may be other specific disorders.
During the early years of my oldest son’s life, it seemed all we could do was hold on for the ride. At 9, he said he wanted to die on several occasions. At 11, he was provoked and choked a fellow student. At 13, he jumped from a two-story ledge for fun and broke both bones of both legs six inches above his ankles. He was handcuffed and put in a paddy wagon at age 15. And yet, he won first place for his Drug Awareness speech. He won an award for the most volunteer hours at a local nursing home. He was certified as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) his senior year of high school. He taught himself to play guitar and now in his mid-20’s composes soft jazz to play at local restaurants.
My husband and I gave him knowledge of God’s Word and Jesus’ love through our words at home, Bible class, camps and youth rallies. Homelife had structure. I only worked part-time. His father and I tried to work as a team in parenting. But, we never had control. We lived in a world of extremes. Each morning, I held my breath wondering what the day would hold. Each night, I collapsed in bed weary from mental exhaustion.
The good news is we all survived. Our wild-child evolved into a highly philosophical, kind young man who is beautifully quirky. God has allowed us to use our experiences in raising him to encourage those who are bewildered with their own difficult temperament child. I wish to impart some hope and tools for those who are still in the trenches.
NETWORK – If you notice discrepancies at an early age and behavior that is extreme, find other families who are dealing with similar issues. You will start to get a sense of who is dealing with a difficult child. Through sharing, you may gain awareness of effective therapists and much needed support.
ADVOCATE for yourself – Carefully consider if health care workers play down your concerns with your child’s behavior. If you have any inkling something is wrong, it probably is. Don’t let anyone question your ability as a parent. I loved when the Lord gave me the opportunity to gently clue in the clueless.
ADVOCATE for your child – My son was empowered when he saw that I was on his side when dealing with school problems. That’s not to say I condoned his behavior. When he saw that I was his representative and empathetic, he would take counsel better when we got home.
REMEMBER THE CHILD’S BEHAVIOR DOESN’T REFLECT YOU – Your precious child was born with this temperament. You are separate and apart from the child. They make their own choices. (Please, remember this when they hit teen years.) Their behavior is NO indication that you are a bad parent.
1. Relinquish Control – Relinquish control, gain freedom. I gave my wild-child over to the Lord daily. Inside or outside of my presence, I couldn’t control my child’s behavior. The Lord could protect him, calm his mind and help his decisions. The Lord was faithful with my trust in Him.
2. “How do I get through this, Lord?” – Although I couldn’t control the situations, I prayed God would give me the wisdom in how to proceed. God consistently put resources in our path at just the right moment (books, comments from strangers, good teachers, out of the blue suggestions.)
3. Hope – Daily ask for hope and the ability to see it. I needed daily reassurance of my child’s goodness. I knew that his behavior wasn’t bad, it was just outside of societies accepted norms. Still, I needed to see the tiniest bit of positive. I had to work with the Lord by being observant for the positive action. Even if it was just an instant of sharing kindly with his brothers or petting the dog lovingly. Those moments were my joy.
No Difficult Child in your life?
If you do not have the blessing of a difficult child, please remember this verse.
Ephesians 4:29, “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.”
Nothing hurt my heart worse than a negative comment about my son, even out of ignorance. Parents of difficult children are beaten down enough by society and its behavioral standards. Don’t contribute to their weariness.
Wild-child parents, your life will never suffer from boredom. If you’ve given your child to the Lord, know that your child is going to grow into a productive godly adult. Never doubt it. However, you may have to shift your expectations of what that adult will be like. Frankly, I’ll take beautifully quirky over sedate seriousness anytime!
Pearl: The grittiness of life has helped shape Pearl. Her luster comes from layers of experience and HOPE from the beloved Word of God. Pearl has parented children with learning issues, has navigated the genepool of mental illness, and has dealt with marital conflict and sexual fulfillment issues. Pearl focuses on sexual intimacy and restoring waning female libido. She wishes to share HOPE with her beautiful readers to help them understand their men, marriage and sex. Swim on over to the oysterbed (www.oysterbed7.com) where the water is fine!