By: Julie Beem
When she looked at me, her eyes were filling with tears. She had just heard me say, and expound upon, the idea of reviewing your therapeutic parenting responses at the end of the day to see where you had done well and where things had not gone so well. “Just like professional athletes,” I advised, “we need to review those game tapes every day, learning from what worked and what didn’t.”
I didn’t intend for my words to bring about the pain I saw on her face. “How do I forgive myself at the end of every day?” she started. “I can see so many things I wish I hadn’t reacted to, and so many things I wish I had done differently.” Her words swelled emotions in me and I was quiet for a moment, weighing how what I was about to say would be received.
“I give myself the same kind and amount of grace that I give my child,” I responded. GRACE. I realize that word is loaded with religious meaning. Using it in a public setting is risky. But I know of no other word that captures what we must be able to extend to our children…and ourselves if we’re going to continue daily therapeutically parenting them. The language I use with my daughter is “do-overs”, and we have an infinite supply of “do-overs” at our house. When she recognizes she needs one (that’s a good day), all she has to say is “do-over” and the grace is extended. Mommies and daddies need “do-overs” too.
Parenting my traumatized child is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve made mistakes each and every day. Without extending grace to myself, I’d be hopeless. And at my house, and at ATN, we’re not hopeless…
Consider the meaning of grace when you find yourself at the end of another hard day. The Free Dictionary offers this definition:
a. a disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill
b. mercy or clemency
c. a favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence
d. a temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve