Saturday, January 30, 2010

When Life Hurts - Part 5

How could you kick your child out?

You may be asking me that through your computer screen. If you had asked me when my children were small whether I would ever kick one out and lock the door, I would have told you very sincerely, "NO." Theoretically, I could imagine parents having to do that. But those were other parents. Other children. Not mine. We were doing it right. There would never be a need to do that. 

I thought.

Ironically, around age 16, my daughter began to ask me out of the blue what she would have to do to get kicked out. At the time, I thought it was curiosity. Maybe she'd heard of acquaintances being "kicked out," maybe thought it sounded cool. "I bet if I got pregnant, you'd kick me out so fast..." she declared.

I assured her there was no single action she could take that would make us throw her out when she needed us. If her heart was willing to listen and take the help we offered, then there was no way we'd throw our daughter out. The only way I could ever imagine such a thing was if a child was so out of control that they were harming the rest of us with behavior they would not control. If they refused help, refused to return to sanity. But I couldn't imagine such a day in our lives and shuddered at the very idea.

She merely rolled her eyes and walked off.

Those conversations haunted me a few years later, but nothing changed about what I told her. There can be no single action more painful to a loving parent than telling your child they can no longer call your house home. They do not have the option of showing up uninvited, and if they do, you will call the police.

It was a cold, rainy October night. The neon dazzle from the city lights were colorful blurs through the windshield as we drove into the parking lot of our daughter's new place of business. We'd driven thirty miles to repossess her car and put an end to the family structure we'd known for nineteen years.

I waited in the car while my husband went inside to find her. I watched through the window as they took a seat at a booth. Tears blended with the rain streaming down the windows as my heart was squeezed by a giant hand. The precious face I'd loved since they first laid her in my arms was set and hard, as her father told her she was no longer welcome at home. She was on her own, in the world she'd created for herself. She looked so small, so vulnerable. Everything inside me wanted to cancel this nightmare, but it was out of my hands. We had not created it. We could not stop it. We could not save her from herself. Admitting that to yourself is nearly impossible.

I drove home alone, through the dark rain, while my husband followed in the car we had bought for her to use. I alternated between crying, praying aloud, and listening to praise music. What had we done? Oh God, what had we done? Would my heart ever recover? Would hers? Would I ever have my daughter back?

There is a ripping of your flesh when you come to this crossroads. It's the most unnatural act in the world---a mother rejecting her child. I equate it with undergoing open-heart surgery without benefit of anesthesia. And it's a slow surgery, agonizing and unrelenting. I cannot overstate the enormous emotional agony.

Christmases without her. Birthdays spent wondering where she was. But backing down was not an option. Evil would have won and she would be only further entrenched in her darkness--with her family's support.

So why on earth would anyone do it? Isn't there any other way?

I stand by what I told my curious daughter years before we did it. When they push you to the place where you have no peace, you're no longer in control of your home and that's wrong. God holds you responsible for what you allow in your home.
  • If your young adult child refuses to abide by the rules of the house that everyone else lives by, openly disrespects and disobeys clear instruction, flaunts his aberrant behavior in your face and dares you to do anything about it, you have no choice.
  • If repeated attempts to reason, plead, punish, counsel this child fail to alter the hardening heart...
  • If you have younger children in the household who will be negatively influenced by this child...
  • If the peace and harmony you used to have is gone because of this one child...
  • If trust is completely gone because of repeated thefts, lies, manipulations and you begin to fear for your home, your property, your belongings, even your identity through stolen personal information...
Then you have done enough. They no longer have the right to call your house home.

A home is a privilege and loving parents are a gift. If they are determined to destroy all you've worked to build, then they have given up their rights as your child and you owe them nothing more. They have earned the right to exist in the world they've created for themselves.

It is the hardest thing you will ever do, but it is also the first step to regaining some of what they have stolen from you. It is a crucial step in protecting any other children--or your spouse--from further abuse and influence.

They will hate you for it, of course. But they already hate you no matter what you do. No matter how loving, how forgiving, how patient you try to be, a defiant young adult sees what they want to see and you cannot change it by anything you do.

You must face the fact that you cannot save this child. And that fact flies in the face of every mothering instinct you have. Mothers will leap over tall buildings and slay dragons without batting an eye to save their children. And to willingly toss your child to the world unprepared makes you feel as though you are throwing your baby into the lion's den.

But as my husband wisely stated, "She's in God's hands and He can protect her wherever she is. I couldn't protect her when she was right here in my house. She was no safer here than she is out there."

We prayed with every breath for her healing and her brokenness, but we left her safety with God. We were ready for whatever He had to do to bring her to repentance.

There were days we prayed she would be arrested. At least in jail she would be off the street and relatively safe. Maybe that would shake her to her senses.

Kicking out your offspring is the last resort, but there are times when you are left with no alternatives. When the prodigal son demanded his independence, the father let him go. Sometimes that's what it takes to let them come to the end of themselves. You have to be willing to do it before they destroy the rest of you. You have to let them fall if that's what they're determined to do.

Sometimes love hurts really bad.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for being honest, transparent , and above all bold and God fearingly secure enough to post this. I am considering a group home behavior therapy type arrangement. He is too young to be on his own, but too old to continue to put up with all out rebellion from everything from loading the dishwasher to taking a bath. I have been told to understand that this "is still me not giving up on him but getting him the help he needs". I guess I just never thought that I would have to remove a sane, healthy child from my home in order to help him.