This morning, while on the elliptical machine at the gym, I prayed for my daughter Ruthie. I think sheâ€™s a bully.
At first I thought her antics were cute. When she was younger she would take Scoutâ€™s ball and hide it in the microwave of her play kitchen and giggle as Scout tried to get it out. But now itâ€™s just getting ridiculous. For Ruthie, taking toys away from other kids has gone way beyond the usual toddler center-of-the-universe behavior â€“ sheâ€™s actually rather torturous about it. Sheâ€™ll grab something from a kidâ€™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 donâ€™t let her get away with this behavior, but I feel as if my line of discipline has not been effective. Iâ€™ve lectured, Iâ€™ve given time outs, Iâ€™ve even spanked (please donâ€™t send me hate mail), and she always has to apologize, but none of this seems to faze her. Itâ€™s beginning to occur to me that Iâ€™m no longer dealing with behavior modification, but rather itâ€™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 Iâ€™m doing. My friend thinks everyone else has a Manual and sheâ€™s the only clueless one, but I am reassuring her right now on the internet that I, too, HAVE NO IDEA WHAT Iâ€™M DOING. No clue.
So thatâ€™s why I was praying. Iâ€™ve made a habit of trying to figure these things out on my own, but itâ€™s pretty apparent to me that relying on my own understanding is not a wise parenting style. Youâ€™d think Iâ€™d learn, but Iâ€™m stubborn and it takes me awhile. NOT relying on my own understanding changed my anger problem and my marriage, so youâ€™d think Iâ€™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 Godâ€™s revelation. But I DID reach out in prayer in an attempt to not rely on my own understanding.