How Parents Can Stay Strong When Advocacy Efforts Seem to Fall Short
How parents can stay strong when advocacy efforts seem to fall short at every turn is something Catherine Boyle knows about. She struggled with that question repeatedly while raising her children and advocating for their best good. Today she shares 3 things for parents to remember when all their efforts feel fruitless.
“It won’t work. My specialty is ADHD, and the supplement won’t help.”
The familiar rush of fear, anxiety, and humiliation swept through my insides. “I didn’t know you were an ADHD specialist,” I stammered, after a few awkward seconds.
The psychologist’s tone softened slightly; the phone call ended shortly thereafter. In the midst of the shame I felt, merely asking about emerging treatment options for my child who was still struggling, in spite of taking prescribed medication for years, I knew I couldn’t trust this doctor.
Eight years later I unexpectedly learned that not all doctors agree on treatment options. As I sat across the desk from the newest doctor for the as yet-to-be correctly diagnosed condition with my now young adult child, she handed me an information sheet about an important supplement for individuals with the same struggles as my child.
It was the very same supplement I asked about all those years earlier. This time it came with the hearty recommendation of a similarly board-certified physician.
My focus words for 2022 are transformational, truth, and two (as in “Part 2.”) These words most definitely apply to the situation I described above, when you know you didn’t do anything wrong advocating for your child or other loved one.
Whether you are enduring judgmental relatives, physicians who do not listen to your child’s needs, or a church environment that communicates disdain for your parenting skills, hear me loud and clear: if you didn’t do anything wrong in God’s eyes, you didn’t do anything wrong. Period. End of story.
It’s much easier to read this than live it out when you find yourself unsupported by those who don’t see your sleepless nights or hear your fervent prayers or read your endless research. If that’s your situation, remember these three things when you wonder how parents can stay strong when advocacy efforts seem to fall short.
God sees, and He rewards things done with integrity (Psalm 101:2).
No one else fully knows your heart. No one else knows the effort you’ve put into being the best parent or caregiver. No matter what struggles your family encounters, God sees and is present, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Our family went through several years of difficult struggles. In the middle of that time, God gave me a peek behind the curtain of what He had been doing for decades, things so improbable that I will spend the rest of my life pondering how vast is His work in the lives of ordinary people.
I’m nobody special. I promise, He is doing similar things in your life, with your family, right now. I pray He gives you eyes to see a little of what He is doing to refresh and encourage you.
Beauty comes from ashes, but the ashes come first. It’s okay to lament the ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
If you’re getting no support from friends, family, church, and doctors, you may be in a period of ashes. Job lived in ashes for a long season, but he didn’t stay there. In the ashes he lamented, which is a healthy way to hash out things that cause you pain. Find a trusted pastor, counselor, or friend who will listen and encourage you as you lament.
When we were ‘living in ashes’, I reached out to the wise Christian therapist I had seen off and on for several years. I trusted her to listen and challenge me when my reactions to our struggles did not align with who God is. Several years pre-pandemic, she allowed me to meet over the phone instead of traveling to meet with her in-person. More than once I interrupted errands to pour out my heart to her and sob in the car in a parking lot.
God makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
We recently experienced the “part two” of a seven-year season. Part one was all difficulty: misunderstood behaviors, school struggles, dreams laid down. We had been very fearful about suicidal leanings in things our child did and said.
The other bookend was the exact opposite: success, understanding based on proper diagnosis, dreams come true. It wasn’t what we envisioned, but the challenges made this “Part 2” so much sweeter.
Going through challenges dispels the illusion that life will go according to your plans. But challenges give you the opportunity to see that your life hasn’t deviated from His plans. I pray this year allows you to get a vision of your “Part 2,” and that truths learned within your challenges will transform your relationship with Christ.
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