Excerpt from Mom, You Make It All Better
My mother's love for me was so great that I have worked hard to justify it. ~Marc Chagall
Kicking and Screaming
The honeymoon ended in the juice aisle of the grocery store. The social worker warned that once our new foster daughter felt comfortable in the family, she would act out to test our love and commitment to her, but after several weeks of sweet compliance, I decided she was the exception to the rule. I was wrong.
All she wanted was one of those syrupy, sugary, contains-no-fruit-juice drinks in a kid-sized plastic bottle. When I denied her request and moved on down the aisle, she pitched her little body onto the ground kicking and screaming. I'd never mothered a four-year-old before, so I thought I'd better follow the social worker's simple advice for handling tantrums, "Love unconditionally, but don't cave in." That meant I had to disregard my first plan -- give her the drink as quickly as possible -- and my second -- hide out in frozen foods until the tantrum ended. Wishing the social worker had been a bit more specific, I scooped up my screaming daughter and told her I loved her but she couldn't have the drink. She screamed louder.
The grocery store manager came to my aid (or maybe he was trying to keep the other customers from fleeing), put my groceries in the cold room and helped me to the car. Wise father of three that I had never seen before in my life, he reassured me that if I let her know I loved her without caving in, my daughter would eventually stop screaming when she didn't get her way. She screamed louder. Back home, she kept screaming until she fell asleep in the cocoon of my arms, both of us worn out by her tantrum.
Explosions of kicking and screaming occurred frequently for several exhausting weeks, but then, almost as quickly as they started, the tantrums stopped as my daughter realized the security of unconditional, unswerving love.
Love unconditionally, but don't cave in. The results may not be immediate, but they will come. And you won't regret the extra effort.
Dear God, teach me to love my child as you love.