This morning, while on the elliptical machine at the gym, I prayed for my daughter Ruthie. I think she’s a bully.
At first I thought her antics were cute. When she was younger she would take Scout’s ball and hide it in the microwave of her play kitchen and giggle as Scout tried to get it out. But now it’s just getting ridiculous. For Ruthie, taking toys away from other kids has gone way beyond the usual toddler center-of-the-universe behavior – she’s actually rather torturous about it. She’ll grab something from a kid’s hands, toss it behind the sofa (or the piano, or down the stairs), then observe the meltdown as if watching pay-per-view.
In general I don’t let her get away with this behavior, but I feel as if my line of discipline has not been effective. I’ve lectured, I’ve given time outs, I’ve even spanked (please don’t send me hate mail), and she always has to apologize, but none of this seems to faze her. It’s beginning to occur to me that I’m no longer dealing with behavior modification, but rather it’s an issue of her heart: she MEANS to hurt her friends. She does these things intentionally to get a reaction.
This is territory that scares the hell out of me. I have no idea what I’m doing. My friend thinks everyone else has a Manual and she’s the only clueless one, but I am reassuring her right now on the internet that I, too, HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. No clue.
So that’s why I was praying. I’ve made a habit of trying to figure these things out on my own, but it’s pretty apparent to me that relying on my own understanding is not a wise parenting style. You’d think I’d learn, but I’m stubborn and it takes me awhile. NOT relying on my own understanding changed my anger problem and my marriage, so you’d think I’d be smart enough to relinquish control of my children as well.
I still have no answers. I was not struck with the lightening bolt of God’s revelation. But I DID reach out in prayer in an attempt to not rely on my own understanding.