I pasted this post over from our adoption blog this morning...
Last night while running Sennika's bedtime routine Sennika and I were reading together as usual. We were talking about how repentance is more like a process than a one time event. I commented that she was unusually quiet and asked if there was anything she wanted to talk about. She burst into tears as she described what happened this weekend. We had a friend over to play and this little friend had made the Legos play in sexual ways. She stood up for what she knew wasn't appropriate. There was one other word thrown around that she wasn't familiar with, but knew it didn't feel right. She was worried that she had somehow done something wrong. She spoke of the shock as it has unfolded quickly and couldn't believe this person she knew so well would say things like that.
I reassured her that she had done nothing wrong. I told her I feel icky when I stumble across inappropriate things as well. We talked about this new vocabulary word and answered all her questions. I also reassured her she did the right thing to stand up in the ways she had and to tell me. We discussed how when something happens that we feel yucky about or even if we just aren't sure about, to reach out to us as parents. In those moments, events can translate into shame and a person if left feeling like they are bad. If we bury these moments of uneasiness in secrecy, Satan and his side kicks are eager to jump in and plant lies like she just experienced that SHE had done something wrong. I reminded her that we are here to support her and help her understand. There is nothing she can ask that will embarrass us. There is nothing she could do that would make us stop loving her. As her parents, we are here to guide her along the way. As she leaped into my arms for a hug, I muttered a prayer of gratitude for this moment and the inspiration to vocalize my observation of her unusual quiet manner.
We have always been age-appropraitely open about everything with our children. We have taught them what things are and how they work. We answer questions and if we don't happen to know, find them out together. Naturally, this has at times included the traditionally considered "tough" conversations of sexuality, drugs, vulgarity, etc. We would rather them hear it from us and understand within a framework of truth than from peers or try to piece things together themselves. We also feel this parenting style has opened the door that they can approach us with ANYTHING. As parents, we feel that is the greatest asset they can have growing up: knowing that we are on their side---that we will do everything we can to create and nurture an open relationship where it is safe to talk about anything. Another key we have learned is to have set-aside time alone with each child so they have opportunities to talk about what is on their mind, no matter the subject.
I discussed what had been shared with Mark. Mark followed up with Senn and we spoke with the boys together about it. As much as I didn't innately want to, I felt to reach out to the other mom. I know I would want to know. She thanked me because she otherwise said she wouldn't have known this was something the child was exposed to. This child will still be welcome in our home at this point. We will continue to work with our kids and monitor play dates closely. Our kids can't grow up in a bubble and will be exposed to the dark and the filthy. As parents, our advantage is in keeping this open relationship thriving and also teaching them to follow that little voice/Light of Christ/the Spirit...whatever you want to call it, but that feeling that something isn't right or may not be right and then to come to us and discuss it together.
I'm not saying any of this to somehow come off as "having it all figured out." It was just one moment in millions for Sennika. Who knows if this was even a pivotal one or not, but the beach is made up of tiny grains of sand as is the ocean of tiny drops of water. This situation reflects in that one moment the pattern that we are striving for as parents. There are times we have blown it and have to come back for a redo and attempt to repair. I guess I felt to share this today because it reflects well what we are striving for...not as much a destination in parenting as a growing process that we can fall back on in moments of great importance.
I can't promise that we will be perfect or do it all right, but Mark and I will do all we can to raise your child in these same ways. I know for some, the directness and boldness with which we approach parenthood may feel uncomfortable. For us, we will fight fiercely for these children---to do all we can to help them understand truth...To create safety where they can feel and express any emotion or thought...To parent consciously and say no to the meaningless ways to spend our time and efforts... that we can come from a place of joy and love more easily. Daily life like this with 4 busy children and 2 parents can get messy at times, but oh, what a glorious mess as we all are learning and growing together!
These precious children are truly my most valuable "possessions." They are the greatest thing I can call mine! I am filled with gratitude that God has entrusted us with so many bright, enthusiastic, and eager children! At times the weight of what needs to be done to see them well into adulthood can seem a daunting task. But I do not walk alone. God is with me as I but turn to Him. These are His children too! I can testify of the strength to bear the burdens associated with motherhood, of the inspiration to know just the right question to ask or thing to say, of the daily direction from moment to moment in pointing these children to Christ and ultimately back to God's presence.
I am grateful for a spouse who is equally concerned with the daily details. Mark also seeks for and creates opportunities to be involved in their lives. Mark is fabulous at leading these kinds of discussions as he asks to determine understanding level and needs of the individual child. It has been incredible to watch us grow to be a better team together. Our children need both of us and the unique dynamic that one cannot compensate for the other.
Last night as I prayed, I expressed my gratitude! This situation could have gone so differently. I am grateful for my brave and fearless Sennika and that she is learning to follow the Spirit...that this voice is becoming more and more familiar in guiding her. I am grateful for an opportunity to reinforce that we are here for her and for the opportunity to prove myself worthy of her trust to continue to share things like this