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Standing pages4/17/075:35 PMPage v

Standing pages4/17/075:35 PMPage viStanding Up for Your Child Without Stepping on ToesCopyright 2007 by Vicki CaruanaAll rights reserved. International copyright secured.A Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers, CarolStream, Illinois 60188TYNDALE and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of TyndaleHouse Publishers, Inc.All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NewAmerican Standard Bible . Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960,1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)Scripture quotations marked (AMP) are taken from The Amplified Bible.Copyright 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)Scripture quotations marked (HCSB) have been taken from the HolmanChristian Standard Bible. Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by HolmanBible Publishers. Used by permission.No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without prior permission of Focus on theFamily.Cover design by Erik M. PetersenCover photograph by Image Source/JupiterImages. All rights reserved.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataCaruana, Vicki.Standing up for your child without stepping on toes / Vicki Caruana.p. cm.ISBN-13: 978-1-58997-365-7ISBN-10: 1-58997-365-81. Parenting—Religious aspects—Christianity. 2. Helping behavior—Religious aspects—Christianity. I. Title.BV4529.C428 2007248.8'45—dc222006101648Printed in the United States of America1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 / 12 11 10 09 08 07

Standing pages4/17/075:35 PMPage ixCONTENTSIntroduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1Chapter 1In the Beginning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5Chapter 2The Perfect Advocate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15Chapter 3The Buddy, the Bully, and the Hero . . . . . . . . 23Chapter 4Once Upon a Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43Chapter 5Knowing When to Step In . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63Chapter 6A Match Made in Heaven . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81Chapter 7Asking for Directions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97Chapter 8Putting Your Best Face Forward . . . . . . . . . 111Chapter 9Learning to Stand Aside . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133Chapter 10 When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough . . . . . . 151Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167

Standing pages4/17/075:35 PMPage 1INTRODUCTIONWhat do you want for your children?You want the best for them. You want qualityexperiences with quality people. You want them tobe happy and healthy. You want them to be successful and leadproductive, satisfying lives. At the same time, you want to protectthem, prepare them, and prevent them from making mistakes.All this is natural and normal. But just wanting somethingmay not get you what you’re looking for.Sometimes you have to take action. Sometimes you findyourself in a battle zone for the sake of your child. Sometimespeople get hurt in the process.It’s been suggested to me that it’s not possible to stand up foryour child without stepping on toes. I disagree. If we’re carefulabout how we communicate and conduct ourselves, we canhelp our children get what we think they need in a way thatdoesn’t burn bridges, alienate, or betray our claims to be followers of Christ.There will be obstacles in your way. There will be people andcircumstances you can control and those you can’t. There will bedisappointments and discouragements. Yet this is a road that faithfilled parents should be prepared to walk with their children.There are internal obstacles, too. Our personalities, experiences, and abilities can get in the way of our desire to provideour children with what they want or need.My mother used to say I was my own worst enemy—that Igot in my own way. She was right. Now, as a parent, I want to

Standing pages24/17/075:35 PMPage 2Standing Up for Your Child Without Stepping on Toesdo better than I did for myself. I don’t want to discover that I’mthe one who got in my children’s way.That happens to many of us, and more often than you mightthink. We spend so much time doing damage control, negotiating, going to bat for, and otherwise standing up for our kids thatwe don’t focus on what’s really important.Eventually our children need to learn to stand up for themselves, and the sooner the better. Throughout this book you’ll discover not only what it takes to stand up for your kids withoutstepping on toes, but to train them in being their own champions.There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of scenarios that require parental intervention; there’s no way I could cover everysituation. Instead, I offer you guiding principles, along with examples from the lives of those who contributed to this book, ina way that helps you apply what you learn to your life with yourchildren.Speaking of anecdotes, the ones you’re about to read are amix of real-life, based-on-real-life, and composite stories. Nameshave been changed to protect the identities of parents and theirchildren. Gleaned from an online parent survey, from fellowmembers of various groups and organizations, and from my circle of friends, these stories offer examples of what it takes tostand up for your child in today’s world.How to Use This BookFirst, take a deep breath. You’re about to be submerged in a worldyou thought you knew.Standing up for your child is not a mystery. It’s something youdo instinctively. But the mother- or father-bear behavior that sur-

Standing pages4/17/075:35 PMPage 3Introduction3faces when your child is threatened must be tamed if you’re goingto accomplish anything. This book is a guide to doing that.It’s not a bible, though. It’s full of proverbial wisdom, not ato-do checklist. I suggest reading it all the way through, deferring judgment until you reach the end. There is an actual methodbehind the madness amidst these pages.After your first read-through, focus on one principle that youbelieve speaks to your current situaThe mtion. Ask God to show you any hardothefather r- orheartedness you harbor, and to soften-bbehavi earyou toward His will for you and youror thatsurfacchild. Consider your accountabilityes whenyour cto Him and the reputation youhild isthreatpresent to a watching world.ened mustbeFinally, give yourself and yourtamedifyou’rechild a break. Guess what? Yourgoing toaccomson or daughter isn’t perfect, andplishanythineither are you. You’ll make misng.takes when you stand up; yourchild will make mistakes when standing up for himself or herself. You’re both in the process of becoming.The fields of communication, psychology, business, and evenevangelism all have something to teach us about advocacy. Thetopic easily can become controversial, too; emotions run highwhen we talk about our children’s rights, needs, and desires.That’s why I’ve created a place where you can meet withother parents just like you who need support as they stand upfor their children. Please visit us at www.standingupforyourchild.blogspot.com.

Standing pages4/17/075:35 PMPage 51IN THE BEGINNINGSometimes standing up for your child starts when he orshe is still in the womb.For us, it began after losing our first child, Emily, toan unusual genetic disorder.During the sixteenth week of both of my subsequent pregnancies, in 1989 and 1991 respectively, I had to decide whetherto undergo amniocentesis to find out whether these babies, likethe first, had Turner’s syndrome. The procedure included penetrating my abdomen with a terrifyingly long needle, in search ofamniotic fluid that would be analyzed. Since I was classified as“high risk,” the doctor insisted the test was necessary.Not that it mattered. My husband, Chip, and I agreed longbefore the procedure that even if the results revealed that thischild too had Turner’s Syndrome, we would see the pregnancythrough to term, God willing.After the first time I underwent this probing—almost alien—procedure, we were referred to a genetic counselor.

Standing pages64/17/075:35 PMPage 6Standing Up for Your Child Without Stepping on ToesIt was just six months since our daughter had died beforeher first breath. We hadn’t possessed the experience, wisdom, orthe opportunity to stand up for Emily’s chance at life. Thatchance had been statistically nonexistent; we knew she wasdying in utero and couldn’t do anything to stop it.Now the counselor, Pam, sat facing us. She extended herright hand to me and her left to mynihusband. “I’m your bridge,” she said.andould st rwoh“We have a lot to talk about, butWfor outhe gap would.first things first.”Webaby?Sitting on the edge of the hard plasticchair, I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, I thought, we’dfound someone who could understand the agony Chip and Ihad been through. We wouldn’t have to explain and explainagain the depth of our pain and confusion at the loss of Emily.In Pam, we had someone who’d stand up for our choice—even against doctors who proposed something else. We’d neverhad that before. We’d been alone, feeling pressure from wellmeaning experts. Pam had seen it all and worked with countlessother parents who struggled with genetic uncertainties. Shecould speak the language of the medical community and translate when necessary.Squeezing my hand, Chip smiled at me with his own senseof relief. We were going to be okay.Or so we thought.“Before I can advocate for you as parents, I need to make sureI understand your wishes,” Pam began. “This time, if the fetuspresents with the same chromosomal defect, would you prefer toterminate instead of waiting for the inevitable death in utero?There’s no reason to put yourself through that pain again.”

Standing pages4/17/075:35 PMPage 7In the Beginning7Any relief I’d felt dissipated like cheap air freshener. Pamwas really one of them.She’d said she was there to advocate for our wishes, butshe’d made assumptions about what those wishes were. Termination was not a choice in our minds. It seemed that, onceagain, we were alone in standing up for our child.Once again I was bargaining with someone who didn’t sharemy beliefs or convictions. Pam was kind, professional, andknowledgeable, but she didn’t get it. Even as she tried to sootheour raw emotions, I realized she couldn’t possibly be the advocate we needed.Chip released Pam’s hand and squeezed mine tighter.“We’re ready this time, no matter what the test shows,” hesaid.Who would stand in the gap for our baby? We would. It waswhat we’d been called to do from the moment of his conception.This was the day we started to learn what it meant to advocate for our children. This was the beginning of the goofy, gratifying, challenge-riddled time of our lives called parenthood.We would learn that, for better and for worse, in sicknessand in health, in school and on the playground, at grandma’shouse and on the soccer field, in the dentist’s chair and beyond,parents question and quarrel and sometimes quiver or quit whenfaced with something that threatens their children’s quality oflife.Sometimes they’re blessed with someone to stand besidethem when they stand up for their children. More often theystand alone—or so it seems.As for our firstborn son, Christopher—he did not haveTurner’s Syndrome. Nor did his brother, Charles.

Standing pages84/17/075:35 PMPage 8Standing Up for Your Child Without Stepping on ToesSo with two boys to raise, it was time for the long-term workof advocacy to begin.Standing Up and Standing DownThink back to when you were growing up. Most likely youexperienced at least one situation in which you had to stand upfor someone else.Maybe you stood up for your brother against a bully. Maybeyou stood up for your best friend against a hurtful rumor.Maybe you stood up for yourself against your parents’ demandfor an unreasonable curfew. Whatever the reason, you felt compelled to open your mouth in response to some injustice, misunderstanding, or mistreatment.Chances are that you were and continue to be one of thegood guys. As a parent you probably stand up, stand firm, andat times stand against injustice—whether it’s directed at yourchild or someone else’s.Some of us, though, do more than stand up for the rights ofthe weak. We may be guilty of shoving our way down thethroats of others, even if our cause has merit. We’re the parentswho make the news, caught on the school security camera as weclimb over the front counter in the office and throttle the assistant principal. We’re the parents who scream at coaches throughthe metal fences near the bleachers in order to “encourage”them to give our children more game time.As severe as this sounds, it happens too often. Parents behaving badly give nightmares to teachers, coaches, doctors,nurses, and other service providers. Those of us who pose forthis not-so-pretty picture are bully parents.

Standing pages4/17/075:35 PMPage 9In the Beginning9On the other hand, perhaps you’ve been faced with injusticeand did nothing. You may have stood by while a bully picked ona less-than-popular kid at school. You may have let a friendrepeat a lie about a classmate when you knew it wasn’t true. Youmay have sat quietly in the bleachers when a coach screamedyour child into the ground about an error he made.Has inaction defined you? Do you struggle to stand tallagainst the giants who tower over you and your child’s life?Those of us who whimper and wilt atthe thought of confrontation are vicWe’rethe patim parents.rentswho screaI’ve described the extremes here.m atcoachesthroughBut we all have a tendency towardthe metalfencone or the other.near the blea esWhich way do you naturallyin orde chersr tobend? Trees grow toward the sun,“encourage” thetwisting and turning aroundto givemour childrenobstacles as they do. You can tellmore game tithe tr