Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When You're Unable to Help Your Suffering Child

Nothing can possibly prepare you for it.  It has to be the worst pain that a parent can endure.  Seeing your child suffer through physical or emotional pain and not being able to comfort them has to be the worst feeling in the world.  However, I wouldn't know...

I don't have children, but I understand the parent/child dynamic from the child's point of view.  As a son, I've seen the anguish on my parents' faces as I've suffered through something.  Although I'll never truly feel the pain that they've felt since I don't have children, I can somewhat relate to what it must feel like when I watch other parents go through things.

When I was around 8 years old, I was riding barefooted on the back of a bicycle with my aunt.  We were riding downhill and my feet were flopping from side-to-side as she pedaled.  Somehow my right foot flopped a bit too hard and came into contact with the bicycle's back wheel.  My foot got entangled in the spokes as the tire locked up and the pain that I felt was tremendous.

It happened right in front of my house.

I remember my brother and father running out to the street as I screamed in pain from the discomfort of having my lower leg twisted in the metal.  My foot was literally wedged into the wheel to the point that neither I nor the wheel could move an inch.  My father had to cut the spokes in order to free me.

I had a severely sprained ankle and slight fracture.  My aunt felt guilt.  My brother felt helpless.  My father had a look of concern as the event occurred, but ultimately he was okay.  He's always been a rock in troubled times.  My mom of course was my mom.  She never wanted to see her baby go through anything.  But, I eventually got through that ankle injury, countless minor boyhood injuries and an appendectomy at age 16.  Each incident was painful, but I had the loving support of Momma and Pop to carry me through.

There are times that as a parent you can't help your child.  You want to take the pain away, but you can't.  You wish that you could take the pain and bear it yourself just to give your child a breather, but life doesn't work like that.  I saw that look on my father's face when I had to bury my wife after her death.  He wanted to stop my hurt, but he couldn't.  There were no spokes to cut to free me from my torment this time around.  So, he did the only thing that he could do: he stood by my side.

And he remained there until I reached out to him for help.  That's what parents can do to help their children get through almost anything!  Be there!  Your presence alone means so much to a child going through emotional and / or physical pain.  It's not always what you say that makes it better, it's being within reach that makes the difference.  As a son, I can say that definitively for all of the pain that I've been through in my life that looking up and seeing one or both of my parents made all of the difference in the world to me!  And I guarantee you if you do it for your children that they will remember it when they have children.

Be your child's rock.

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