I spent this weekend attending a workshop on Christian Counseling. It was a mixture of learning about counseling as well as receiving some counseling as part of the process. A great portion of the weekend focused on our responses to events in the early part of our lives which resulted in us adopting inappropriate defence mechanisms which in turn cause us to develop self-destructive behavior. For many of the participants, bad reactions to certain actions of our parents was a very common factor.
The workshop is not blaming parents for what happened because being parents are a tough job and yet a single slip at the wrong time can have a major negative result in the child’s life. For example, in one case, the child was anxious after seeing something spooky on television and goes to the father for reassurance but the father teases the child by pretending to be scared himself and said “Scared, scared”. A seemingly innocent incident but the child becomes easily spooked by almost anything because she does not feel secure.
Another example is when a harassed mother promises a young child to get her a long desired toy but fails to do so due to the rush and busyness of the day. Again something that can easily happen but the child could develop an unwillingness to trust people as a result.
And so many of the participants had such experiences with their parents which have led to some hangup or another.
Later though, I had the opportunity to take part in an informal conversation with some of the participants and one of them was a full time Christian worker with abused and abandoned children. He shared this story about a eleven year old girl. Her mother brought her one morning outside a Christian Shelter for Children and told her that she would be back to pick her up that evening.
Two and a half years later, this quiet and shy girl finally opened up to a student volunteer and told her that she still hoped each day that her mother would come for her one evening. Then after a short silence, she asked the volunteer, ” What do I have to do to survive the reality of my situation?” It was as if she was finally coming to terms that her mother may never return. The volunteer was herself from a broken home and was able to share her own experiences. The little girl thanked her for not avoiding the question.
Needless to say, I was greatly touched by the story and it put all of our gripes about our parents in context. Not that some of the problems arising from actions of our parents were not serious but clearly, we were all reminded that having caring but imperfect parents is so much better than being left behind by your parents or having no parents at all.
I think I will do something for the kids in the shelter.