My son Alex penned this sincere message from his jail cell, as he continues serving time for an addiction problem that eventually erupted in violence. I hope you will take it to heart.
I could write about all the pain and darkness that was my life. I could speak of the horrors that I saw as a child. But you and I already know the kinds of thing your children saw and what they went through. What I will tell you is that I understand completely what life is like for an abused child and neglected child.
I remember everything that happened to me.
And I remember clearly what it was like to be that child each day as I survive in prison.
No, I’m not here to call attention to evil. Instead, I’m here to offer hope. It could be that one of you is at the point where you’re just so tired. It seems like nothing you do is making a difference and you can’t understand why. Your world is chaos; your heart is torn. Maybe you feel deep shame right now because you promised you would never give up on your child.
It seems like nothing you do is making a difference.
But you’ve run out of options.
Hey, take a breather and walk with me a few steps. You’re a human being. It’s okay to be tired. Don’t be ashamed because you want to quit.
When I ran cross country in middle school, I was ready to quit as soon as the gun went off to start the race. But my father believed in me. He encouraged me to persevere. The race was mine to endure, not his.
Likewise, I wish I could tell you that there is a step by step formula that is going to be “the fix” for your child. Unfortunately, it’s doesn’t work that way. Nothing you can do is ever going to erase what happened to your child. Past trauma will affect the rest of his or her life. But I can tell you this.
YOU do make a difference.
Yet you won’t change your child. You can’t. That’s a long journey that your son or daughter must walk alone. But you can show them a better way. You can give them a taste of what they’ve never had before: a home, a family, a place of safety.
A home of peace. A family of unconditional love. A place where they can dream big dreams and learn what it means to have hope.
One day at a time. And remember; too many consequences piled on top of the many layers of trauma will never help your child heal. That approach will do just the opposite and trigger fear.
You won’t change your child. You can’t.
I also have to tell you that your child won’t show much difference, if any, for a long time in many cases. The pain is still too fresh. The world is still too scary. The hate is still too strong.
But, Moms and Dads, I can promise you; the message is getting through. The best gift you can give your child is to bear this cross a little while longer – just a little while longer now.
Never stop believing.
I thank my Lord Jesus Christ for my father and all you parents.
I know what you do from watching my father for a decade and witnessing his pain. I know how you suffer like him.
You are the quiet heroes of this world.
And you’re saving more lives than you know.
God bless you all.
To read past blogs about Alex, here are the links. They might be useful reads for teens and young adults headed in the wrong direction.
Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE
To learn more about Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love, Craig’s soon-to-published memoir about raising six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love
To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold