Helping Kids With Their Brokenness Starts With Our Own

There is a six-year-old boy down the street who often knocks on our door to play with our kids. A few days ago, we had a stomach bug that had been running through the family and one of our kids wasn’t feeling well. When this little guy came to the door, he asked if he could come in and play. We told him it probably wasn’t a good idea since one of our kids was feeling a little sick.

He replied, “That’s ok – I threw up this morning. I’m sick too!”

Six-year-old logic is the best kind of logic.

When we as people enter into foster care, we enter into brokenness. We enter the stories of kids and into the pain of their pasts. And this brokenness shows itself in so many ways. We all see it in the things our kids are afraid of. We see it in their unexpected reactions to ordinary things. We see it their social interactions and their performance at school. Past brokenness results in present pain.

Sometimes the brokenness (and the resulting behaviors) we see in our kids is so evident, that we lose sight of a really important part of the equation:

We’re sick too.

We can lose sight of just how broken we ourselves are – how our own pasts and our own pain shows up in our parenting. We see it in the things we are afraid of. We see it in our unexpected reactions to ordinary things. We see it in our social interactions and our performance at work.

The stuff we all deal with as we raise kids from hard places isn’t all about the past brokenness of our kids. It’s about the past brokenness of our kids colliding with the past brokenness of ourselves.  Your kids know how to push your buttons.  But, there is a reason your buttons are different from your spouse’s or from your best friend’s buttons.  Our buttons — the things that make us crazy — were created from the muck of our own experiences, our own trauma, our own sin, our own insecurities and our own fears.

Each of our brokenness, our sickness, interacts with the brokenness of others to produce results that none of us really desire.

The late Dr. Karyn Purvis often said, “You cannot lead a child to a place of healing if you do not know the way yourself.”

So the next time you see the evidence of your kiddo’s brokenness, remind yourself of our little friend from down the street:

“That’s ok . . . I’m sick too.”

This post originally appeared in our Foster Roster e-newsletter which is delivered each Friday. We keep it short and sweet and fill it with practical articles, videos, blog posts and other tools for leaders like you working to provide more than enough for kids and families in foster care.  To sign up, go to