Sunday, September 6, 2015

Children and Trauma

It seems this topic has followed me of late and beckons my placing thoughts to the page.  I find more and more how little most adults comprehend how to handle children who suffer difficult trials in their lives, and I feel impressed to offer my own experience to those who may be looking for answers within the walls of their own homes.  This is generally not a topic I would choose to cover on the Sabbath, but when the Lord commands, I always strive to obey.

My own children have grown to eight and nine years old quite familiar with the effects of post traumatic stress and have seen their mother fall under pseudo seizures due to trauma and panic, but until recently they gratefully have not had much experience with traumatic situations in their own lives.  But our situation has proven chaotic and painful of late and I have become the one to stand fast and keep my little ones from suffering the same fate that I have known for nearly a decade.  As a brief explanation, some role models they had and in whom they trusted proved themselves most painfully untrustworthy and used their authority to emotionally injure them.  Both children were devastated but my son more particularly.  His little world fell apart and the pain was quite evident.  My brain quickly scrolled and I braced myself for what I knew would transpire but he himself did not.  Sure enough, his behavior turned irrational, angry and disrespectful.  One evening while we had a visitor his behavior turned beyond anything recognizable for no apparent reason and he stormed off to his room.  Our well meaning visitor tried to force him to behave and lay down the law, certainly believing that a boy needed a firm hand in such a situation.  Josh's behavior worsened and I was left in the living room with a huffing visitor and a stony faced eight year old hiding in his closet. 

"That boy needs more discipline." My guest determined.

I stifled an eye roll and calmly entered his room with a prayer in my heart. 

"Josh?" 

No answer.  I could tell by his features that he felt ready to snap again and for a moment I could see the potential for teenage hoodlum written on my precious little one's face.  I knelt down.  He clearly knew he had been wrong and expected a tongue lashing.  

"I just wanted to say that I'm sorry." I told him.

He softened and looked up at me in surprise.  

"I know you have been hurting.  I am sorry this happened to you.  I know this isn't your fault.  I know that it isn't fair and what you have had to go through isn't right.  You should never have had to go through this.  You are a good boy and..." here I pulled his limp, soft little frame into my lap and gave utterance to what I knew must have been repeatedly playing in his heart, "It's not fair.  It's not fair.  It's not fair."  

He wasn't fighting anymore.  He was just laying in my embrace, letting mommy's tears for his pain wash away the hurt in his spirit.  I rocked him and repeated "It's not fair."  

At long last he said, "Why doesn't anyone else understand?"  

"It doesn't matter, Josh.  I understand."  

I asked him to tell me how he was feeling.  He knew I would accept anything he said without question and opened up.  I watched him through the next few days cry, break down on the floor in random fits of emotional anguish, and have a few more severely disrespectful break downs, which I handled in the same way and which ended to the same effect.  Now he has learned to find greater strength in himself, more confidence and trust in his God, and is happily burying himself in schoolwork, scouting, and asked me to sign him up to be on a special karate team in his dojo.  What might have ended in juvenile delinquency is hopefully resulting in a heightened determination to follow the Lord and to be a good boy.  

I think we as adults often have a terrible misconception that we are the only ones who understand stress.  I see far too often parents who believe that their children are only creatures of the parents' creation and forget that they are eternal beings who have feelings just as keen as our own.  And in particularly stressful moments we need to remember that because we are older it is our responsibility to throw off our own conceit and pride, come down to the dust to let them scream and storm at us and take with patience and the understanding that love truly conquers all and that charity never faileth. 

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