Dear Mom With the Difficult Kid

Then little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” When He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there. —Matthew 19:13–15 NIV

I am a mom of two and an aunt of ten awesome kids, so that means there are twelve children in my life that I love as though they were my own.

One of them struggles.

All kids come with a set of challenges with varying degrees of difficulty, but one was dealt a tougher hand than the others. The diagnoses have changed throughout the years—always tentative and never definitive—but have included sensory processing issues, obsessive compulsive tendencies, and severe depression.

Are we having fun yet?

I have watched this precious child struggle since the age of six months old. One incident in particular stands out. The child was in Pre-K at a private Christian school, where the Christian parents are supposed to act like Christians.

I was standing outside the classroom with the other moms, waiting for the teachers to dismiss the kids. It was the end of the year, and I was at the end of my rope. There seems to be a seasonal component to my child’s issues, and spring is always the most challenging time.

I had promised my child that, if they could have a “two thumbs up” day, they could invite a friend over for a playdate.

As the kids filed out, I looked at the teacher, barely daring to hope. To my relief and delight, I saw two thumbs up paired with a smile. I scooped my child into a bear hug, covering them with kisses and praise.

“Do I get a playdate, mommy?”

“Absolutely, sweetie!”

My child looked at a little boy named Joshua, standing nearby.

“Can Joshua come over today?”

Joshua looked at my child, looked at his mom, looked at me, and looked back at my child.

“My mommy says I’m not allowed to play with you because you’re so bad,” he replied.

My heart plummeted into my stomach as my child’s eyes welled with tears.

“Joshua!” exclaimed the horrified mother, “I have never said that!”

“Yes, you did,” cried Joshua, “you said it yesterday out on the playground!”

I gave the mom neither time to explain nor a piece of my very hurt mind. She didn’t know my child, and she didn’t know our struggles, so I did my best to let it go. Unfortunately, that was just a small preview of what was to come in the following years.

So parents, if this story could be your story, I want to encourage you, because you are not alone, and I know how you feel.

I know the helpless frustration that accompanies your child’s struggles. There is no pain sharper than the sting of someone rejecting your kid. You want to scream because others see a problem where you see a precious person.

I know that you cringe every time the phone rings during school hours; that your heart hammers in your chest when you see the school on your caller ID. I know that you can’t relax when your kid is at someone else’s house, and how often you cry yourself to sleep.

I know the images that haunt your mind when you let your thoughts go unchecked. You wear holes in your jeans and calluses on your knees from your time spent in seemingly unanswered prayer. More than anything, you want just once for someone to tell you something good about your kid.

I know the thing that breaks your heart the most is that no one else gets to see the beautiful facets of your child because they only show up around you.

I know.

Here is something else I know, and I want you to know it too.

Your God, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, is fully committed to your child.

You can rest in the knowledge that there is no measure your Heavenly Father has not taken to bring about your child’s complete and ultimate eternal healing.

You can find comfort in God’s sovereignty. He knit your child together in your womb, and not one of your child’s struggles escapes Him. He embodies all that is good, all that is lovely, and all that is true. I believe with my whole heart that our Heavenly Father permits only that which can be purposed for our good and His glory, even and especially when we can’t possibly understand how.

When God looks at your child, He sees past the problems to the person. Do you remember the story of the prodigal son? A father with two sons is one day confronted by the younger of the two. The young man demands that his father divides his estate, sell his portion, and give him the money so that he can go off on his own. To the shock of Jesus’ audience, the father complies.

Scripture tells us that when the son’s money ran out, and he had come to the end of himself, he also came to his senses. The pit has a way of doing that. Determined to beg his father’s forgiveness and live as a slave, the young man begins the long journey home.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. —Luke 15:20 NIV

Please don’t miss the fact that the text says the father saw his son—not his struggles, not his sin, but his son. He saw a newborn wrapped in blanket; a toddler tripping around in his daddy’s sandals. He saw a young boy trying desperately to keep up with his big brother.

He saw potential, promise, and the hope of generations to come.

Just like you when you look at your precious boy or girl.

Our Heavenly Father loves our children with a love that sent His only Son to the cross, and because Jesus triumphed over the grave, so also will your child ultimately triumph over their trials. I believe that the anguished prayers of parents do not go unheard, but rather rise like fragrant incense to the very throne room of God, where they are granted an immediate audience with the King.

You were hand-picked to parent your child, and God has not left you without His unlimited strength and grace.

I have watched a miracle unfold this past year. A team of moms with kids the age of the special kid in my life have rallied around the child, loving the kid and the kid’s mom. They have been gracious and understanding when the child struggles. They have encouraged and nurtured relationships between the kids, operating as the Body of Christ was meant to.

Trust that God is also going before your child, networking and moving on his or her behalf, putting key people in place and establishing the wisdom you’ll need as you need it.

You can do this, mom. We can do this because we know the Source of our hope and strength.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. —Psalm 121:1–4 NIV