Parenting Lessons from a Suffering Child: Part 1

Parenting Lessons from a Suffering Child: Part 1.

The news isn’t good… not good at all.  My precious, innocent, two-year-old daughter’s kidneys are failing.  My baby lies in the hospital bed next to me; she is terrified and in so much pain that I have to lay in the hopistal bed with her or her heart rate sets off the alarms.  She is so frail and tiny lying there next to me.  I listen as another doctor gives his diagnosis and prognosis.  I don’t understand what he is saying for the most part but I know it’s bad. 

Lots of doctors are involved because her condition is so rare.  They come into our room in an endless stream of unemotional curiosity.  For them, our situation provides a break from the monotony; something new and intriguing to learn about.  They see our daughter through medical eyes; detached and clinical.  Their professional training cannot let them see her as the innocent little girl that she is.  The do not see suffering, only a “condition” to be studied.

They do not see the effect that their every prediction has on me.  So many different opinions and every one is crushing in a new way.  It is early morning and a third doctor has just finished telling me about transplant options when I didn’t even realize that transplants were in the equation?  Kidney transplant?  I thought she was just really sick!  I feel my heart bursting to pieces.  I cannot take it anymore!

My daughter lies next to me in a restless sleep, her body tense from pain.  She is on her side because of all the tubes so we lie facing each other.  She isn’t old enough to understand what is going on which contributes to her fear.  She is constantly looking at me with her big brown eyes trying to figure out what is happening to her.  If I smile, she feels more secure.  If I am sad or anxious, her concern becomes apparent.  I am her anchor to hope.  I try to smile a lot though it is only skin deep.

But this last doctor has destroyed me with words.  I feel all hope leaking from my body.  I meet despair face to face and he seeks to claim my soul.  She is asleep so I finally give in and allow my forced smile to melt away.  I need to cry… to just let a little bit out before she wakes.  But once my happy facade is breached, I cannot hold back the deluge waiting to burst forth.  My tears transform into wracking sobs.  Despair grips me and pulls me down

down

 down…

All of a sudden there is a soft touch on my cheek, a tender caress.  I can’t see anything through the tears but the room is silent.  I don’t want to move for fear of disturbing her moment of respite.  The soft hand gently strokes my cheek.  I realize that it is my little babies hand.  My eyes are clouded with the liquid of anguish but still I see her and she is glowing brightly, just a trick of the light I assume.  Then she says, “Don’t worry Daddy.  Everything will be okay!”.  And I am lifted, up… up… up… out of the darkness and into light.  I blink away the tears and it is her smile I see, her sweet little face.  It is my little angel stroking my cheek with such tenderness and compassion.  My heart soars and hope fills me to bursting.  I know now that doctor’s hopeless words are meaningless, that this little gift from God is speaking the truth.  She smiles and so do I.  But this time my smile is not forced at all.

I often refer to my daughter as “my little angel” but before now I never realized how true a statement it was.  She is my gift from God and through her I am been blessed.  He lifts me up out darkness into light.  And He uses this pure, innocent child to speak the simple words I so need to hear; His words.  They penetrate my soul and fill me with joy.  I am ready to face the rough road ahead; but now I do so with the peaceful reassurance that my destination is a happy place… and that my baby girl will go there with me!

Parents, please never take lightly the words of the “little ones” in your life!  They are closer to God than we will likely ever be.  They speak simple words of truth and power if we will but listen.  Children have the ability to teach their parents.  We must get down to their level, speak their language and most of all, LISTEN to them! 
Kids know so much more than they are able to articulate. 

Parenting Lesson: Communicating with children.

  1. Get down to their level.  Kids respond so much more if you sit down next to them or even crouch down so you are speaking at eye level.
  2. Don’t ask loaded questions.  If you want your child to tell you how they feel then ask them.  But do not ask, “You feel happy right?”.  The answer will most likely be yes because a child wants to please his parents more than he wants to share his feelings.
  3. Use props if the subject matter is intense or highly emotional.  This may not work with all children but I have had great success using this method with my very young daughter.  We basically play dolls (suck it up Dads!).  But while playing dolls, I have my doll ask my daughter’s doll important questions about how my daughter is feeling.  She then can safely communicate with me through the doll and it is all done in a play atmosphere.  Remember, children use play as a testing ground for the real world.  My daughter has told me some very personal things through her dolls that she would never say in normal conversation!
  4. Talk to children while doing an activity they love to do.  Coloring for example works great.  Start a safe conversation while coloring together and then just let them talk.  You will be amazed at how much they will share with you while engaged in a mind diverting activity.  Just stay away from video games or TV on this one…

To read Part 2 of this series, click here.


If this story inspired you, why not take a moment and pay it forward? Just below this post you will see a Share/Save button that will allow you to share this story with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, through email and many other methods. With just a couple clicks of a button, you can make a difference in someone’s life! If we all were to share this story with just 3 people, imagine the power for good this message could have!


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9 comments to Parenting Lessons from a Suffering Child: Part 1

  • serendipity hopeful

    My prayers goes out to your daughter and you. May He guide the doctors to the coreect diagnosis and give the coreect prescription.

  • nevilleslosttoad

    Nobody can possibly know the grief and heartache you went through as you wondered if your sweet daughter would survive. I am so glad she did. You have truly been blessed with a wonderful daughter. As I listened to Amy talk about her, I felt such a wave of sadness as I realized how very little I know my niece. I’d like to do better.

    I have something to post too. It will take a while to get enough time to post it but I’ll do it as soon as I can.

  • nevilleslosttoad

    OH and I forgot to mention that NevillesLostToad is Aprilyn.

  • emilygrubbs3

    Jeff. You write so beautifully. You experience is truly captured in this eloquent writing. I’m sure there are others who have gone through experiences as such and your desire to share them will be comforting I’m sure. I love you guys so much and wish I could have been there Saturday for one of Mikayla’s milestones. Bummer to not live closer! But I hope to see you guys again soon…maybe this summer!
    Much Love to you all!

  • Parent in Training

    I am sorry for not responding to you sooner! I really appreciate your kind words! Have a great week!

  • Parent in Training

    Thanks for the kind words! I appreciate your constant support!

  • Parent in Training

    Thanks so much for the kind words. It means a lot to hear you say that. Thanks for reading the story and please share it with others. I would love the message to get out as much as possible so people can benefit from what she went through!

  • Parent in Training

    I knew it was you:) Thanks again and please forward this to anyone you can think of. I would really love to see this impact as many people as possible. I also would love to have you submit something to add to the blog. Someday I see this being a great source of comfort and inspiration to parents everywhere!

  • […] Click hear to read Part 1 of this series. April 21st, 2009 | Tags: Advice for Parents, Child, Children, Crisis, Daughters, Families, Family, Family Crisis, Fatherhood, Health Crisis, Inspirational Parenting, Kids, Life Trials, Parenting, Parenting Advice, Parenting Lessons | Category: Children, Communication, Family, Family Crisis, Fatherhood, Inspirational Parenting, Life Lessons, Motherhood, Parenting, Parenting Advice, Parenting Tips, Spiritual Parenting, Uncategorized | […]

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