Fourteen days in a row of solid negativity.
Fourteen long days when there were a lot of things said from my child to me, but none of them could be twisted into anything nice.
I heard that I was “not a real mom”, I was “annoying”, that I was “a murderer” (don’t ask, suffice it to say that nothing died or was in danger of dying). I was informed that my child hated me, wished they’d never been adopted, it was my fault they couldn’t live with their birth mom, and they wanted to run away to get away from my ugly face. I was also so dumb they didn’t know why Daddy married me—clearly, he should have chosen someone nicer.
These are just the things that I can remember off the top of my head, but I know there were a lot more. I don’t actually keep track because a lot of things can come out of a child’s mouth when their heart is hurting—and most of them the child doesn’t even remember, so I try not to as well.
But in truth? I also know that I actually have it easy when it comes to traumatized children verbally attacking their caregivers. The stories some moms have told me make me ache. Most of them centered on whatever area the mom is already a little sensitive about—their appearance or abilities or relationships. Wherever a hint of weakness appears, a traumatized child will aim their harshness right there.
There are a lot of reasons that people hurt others.
And because of those reasons, there is so much compassion and kindness and forgiveness needed when interacting with those who are injured.
To love our hurting children well, we can’t hold their words against them. We can’t keep a record of their wrongs. We can’t complain about them to others.
But dear mamas, I want to take a minute to recognize that the constant bombarding of negative words can wear down our hearts.
It’s exhausting. And painful.
It hurts to be accused constantly. It hurts to be attacked constantly.
It’s so, so hard to be told that you’re a failure, a fraud, unloving, mean, stupid, hateful, unkind, [fill in the blank]. And that’s just the mild moments—because once swear words and other adjectives are learned, the harshness can get more vile and broken by the second.
Eventually, you won’t be able to just shrug off the words. You won’t be able to excuse them or ignore them. You’re going to have to face all the negative head on.
When you’re constantly being attacked with lies about yourself, it’s important to make sure you’re replacing the lies with truth.
Scripture tells us a lot of things about ourselves. In John 1:12 we’re told that if we’ve received Jesus and believed on His name, we’re “children of God”. In Genesis 1:27 we’re reminded that we are made “in the image of God”. In 1 Peter 2:9 we’re told that we (as the church) are chosen, royal, God’s special possession. In John 15:14-15 we’re reminded that when we do as God commands, Jesus calls us more than servants—He calls us His friend. In Ephesians 2:10 we’re told that we’re God’s handiwork. We’re also reminded that we’re citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).
And there is so much more. So much depth and promise and hope that God breathed into the pages of Scripture.
If you’re feeling out of breath—if you’re gasping under the strain of constant negativity—Scripture is the place to go to find truth and life. Speak the words over yourself if no one else will.
And while you’re there, soaking in the true things, look honestly at yourself and the words spoken against you. Is there anything mixed with the lies that is true?
Have you been unkind? Unloving? Spiteful? It’s so easy to fall into the sin of harsh unloving words or actions when you’re on the defense every second against them. It’s so common, in fact, that God takes the time to repeatedly remind us through Scripture to bless those who are fighting against us.
I Peter 3:9 says, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless…”
To revile is to “criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner”.
Are you attacking your children back even if it’s just in your own head? Are your corrections and the conversation with your child getting sharper or derogatory? If so, it’s time to repent. It’s time to bow before the Father and name that action as wrong. It’s time to bless instead of revile.
It’s time to change our tone, time to allow God to transform what comes off our tongue or settles in our minds–to move away from the way of brokenness and to embrace the glory of blessing. Your words, as the mother–the gate keeper of your home–have weight. They influence and direct. When you allow your words to be filled with the truth and life of Christ—that truth and life will change the dynamics in your home. You’re not a victim of your children’s choices, your children’s lies, or your children’s struggles.
And if you’re anything like me, you might need this reminder after days and weeks and months and years of negativity pouring over you.
You might need the reminder to step back and breathe and remember that God has this– you’re not alone and you’re not horrible and this is really, really hard.
Dearest mama who is hearing constant negativity:
Let me speak life over you and your home today.
Blessed are you, mama, as you fear the Lord and walk in His ways.
You will taste the fruit of your labor—
the work and time and energy you’ve poured in your children.
You will be blessed and it will be well with you.
You, dear mama, will be a fruitful vine—
bearing armloads of the fruit of the Spirit—
so much that your house is filled to overflowing.
Your children will surround your table and they will grow, mama.
They will grow strong and tall and filled.
This–yes! all of these blessings!– will be true of the mother who fears the Lord.
The Lord will bless you!
May you see prosperity in your home!
May you see your children’s children!
May you live in peace and hope and life.
(rephrased from Psalm 128)
praying your home will be filled with hope,
For further encouragement:
These letters are not exhaustive. They should not be used to diagnosis, and they only show the viewpoint of one person. While I share some of our personal story—some details may be purposefully vague or altered slightly for privacy. Thank you in advance for being respectful and trustworthy with the stories shared here.
This letter is part of a series titled “Dear Adoptive Mom”.