Friday, January 4, 2013

This Girl is on Fire

(Yes you should sing the title.)

Welcome 2013. I am glad you're here.
2012 was the quite the year for us as a tribe. We adopted two children, had a baby, bought a home, renovated, went on a month long family vacation, went to the Bahamas, moved, I got certified in TBRI, we flew to Pennsylvania, we grew our business, and through it all... we stayed married.
That's a good year.

This year is our year of settlement. Our year to settle into who we are now as a family of seven. In our new house, with our new roles, new names, new beginnings. This year we will settle.

I have decided that in 2013 I have a few things to work on.
I want to be more deliberate for what I am believing, speaking over, and teaching my children. And I want it to be individualized.
So I have been praying for God to give me specific qualities or attributes that I want to focus on for each of my children.
Laila was the first one I knew what I needed to be doing in 2013. And so it has begun. I am praying over her and speaking into her these things:
These are the things I want to help develop within her this year. These are the things that I want to see blossom.
She is all of these things.
But I often times find myself speaking the opposite over her. And that is wrong.

Karyn Purvis talks about giving voice to your children for a brief moment here.

But there is something so profound that she says when speaking about children who's needs were not met as infants and the studies that show that if an infants needs are not met within the first 30-60 days of life they will stop crying.
(Anyone else been in a silent orphanage? I have.)
She says this, "The legacy of a lost voice is great." (insert my tears here.)
Unfortunately I have seen this in Laila. And so this year I have purposed to give her voice, to make her feel powerful.
It is January 4th as I write this, and I am already seeing my quiet, victim-like, compliant to a fault, no fuss, no tears little girl disappear.
Here are some of the things we have instituted in the new year. I am sure you will disagree with most of them. But I'm not parenting your child, so don't worry.

Laila is allowed to hit, push, shove, etc.
If Laila needs something she needs to yell it.
She got a supero-hero cape that she can wear at all times if necessary (Thanks Aunt Diana and Uncle David).
She gets to pick her clothing everyday, no matter what.

And for me:
When Laila asks for something that she needs I must stop, look, and listen, and respond appropriately.
I cannot mumble to myself about her "victim-mentality".
I have to let her pick her clothing, no matter what.
I need to help facilitate mirror time every day.

Here are a few of my thoughts behind these crazy "New Years Resolutions"

You need a little background to the dynamics around here. Demetrius and Tre rarely hurt Laila, and if they do 95% of the time it is accidental. But Noah is an entirely different story. He hurts Laila often. On purpose. And she does nothing about it. She will let him chase her around as he tries to hit her with a toy. When she won't call out from the bathroom for help, he will go in and bite her while she is on the potty. He will throw toys at her, etc. We are working on this with him.
(He is very very gentle with Charli and treats her so well. It is how Laila has reacted to him that has created this dynamic, but he does get punished when this occurs. And that is an entirely different post.)

When we made the announcement to the boys that Laila is allowed to push and hit, I thought Demetrius was going to fall off his chair. He couldn't believe it.
But here is what we said, "Boys, Laila is allowed to hit for now. (Insert faces of utter disbelief, envy, and shock.) She cannot hit to be mean. She can hit to defend herself. If Noah is biting her, or one of you hit her, she will hit back. Right Laila?"
She nods her head with a devilish grin spreading across her sweet cheeks.
"Boys, Laila is precious. And she powerful. And she is not going to let people hurt her anymore. Will you please help her learn to defend herself?"
Then we had about ten minutes of questioning and clarification from the boys. So Laila can hit us if we hurt her on purpose, but not just to be mean? Can we hit each other now? Is punching hitting? What about karate? Does tripping count? How long will this last?

We were sitting at Del Taco during this conversation. I'm fairly certain the other patrons were flabbergasted. At one point David looked at me and said, "Maybe this was a mistake?"

But honestly it has gone so well. Yesterday they were all playing in the basement and I heard D and Tre encouraging Laila. "Laila if Noah is hurting you you need to grab his hand and stop him. He can't hit you with a toy. You are precious and powerful!"
"Oooo-kay." came a little meek voice.

When I see Noah hitting her I say, "Laila stop him." Instead of rescuing her.

There is a history here that will not repeat itself.
There is a generational curse and message that she has received that will stop in our home.
She will learn her worth, her value, her preciousness, and her power here.
She has a voice that is commanding and will be heard.

When children do not feel that they have a voice; they feel that they are not important, that they are not worthy of love and care, that their needs and desires will never be met. And so they manipulate and control in order to get their needs met. They feel that if they were to just ask, to use their voice, no one would ever hear them, meet them, love them or care for them.
Not Laila.

It's January 4th. This morning she came upstairs and said, "Why is Noah up here with you?"
I said, "He needed some loves." (We were sitting on the couch cuddling.)
She looked down at her toes, and quietly whispered, "I need some loves too."
"What?" I said, gently prompting her to lift her chin and look at me. I smiled.
"I need some loves." she said quietly.
I picked her up and loved her for as long as she'd let me, which wasn't very long. Because really she just needed to see if I would hear her.
And I will.

So far we have been jammin' to Girl on Fire every morning in front of the mirror. And I find her singing it throughout the day.
I talk to her about how much she needs and how I am here to meet those needs for her. I talk to her about how powerful she is and that she is in control of her body. She decides how much she eats, when she goes potty, what she wears, who can touch her and how. I talk to her about her voice and the power she has when she uses it.

I have been reading her books from the library like "Beautiful Warrior" and "The Princess Knight", "Nzingha" and others that I have mentioned before like, "The Skin You Live In".

This afternoon she told me, "I do not want to take a nap. I did not have enough time to play today!" It was a mini fit. I was so so proud.

And so my girl on fire she will become.
She is powerful and precious. And deserves for her voice to be heard.
So here is to 2013 and the voice of a precious lady being found... and heard.


  1. Pretty sure this is my favorite blog post of all time! Not joking.

  2. your amazing, your babies are beyond blessed. I am so thankful to have you in my life!

  3. Yay for you for empowering this child! One of my most memorable moments as a teacher (and I had been teaching for 10 yrs. at that time!) came when I told a student that he could ask for attention when he needed it, rather than knocking over a desk, screaming or throwing something. He looked at me with a shocked face ... as if no one had ever really said that to him before. Of course, I also explained that if he needed attention and used his words, he would get it no matter what at that time. I know it's kind of the opposite of your little lady, but with the boys I work with I often see that they act out simply because they are afraid to ask for love and attention.

  4. I don't really know how I came across your blog but I have truly enjoyed reading about your adventures in parenting. Then I realized I know this family from somewhere. I've seen these kids. Apparently we have mutual friends, the Robinson's. When they were watching your kiddos I brought over movies and giant coloring books and a few yrs ago my daughter spent the day with Tre. Your kids are adorable and my daughter still mentions how sweet Tre is! So even though I don't know you guys, I feel this connection with you. I read about your challenges and can relate to a certain extent because of certain emotional trials our family has faced. Your posts are inspiring and even though my kids are 12 I find myself tweaking your ideas for empowering your kiddos so I can better empower mine.
    So thank you for sharing your stories. You guys are amazing parents. And the wisdom in your words is like something out of a Love Languages book! :)

  5. Amanda,
    Halfway through this post, I started crying (then composed myself, and started crying again). YOUR words have such power. Your family is amazing. What a healing parent you are.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  6. Oh, wow. This is an amazing post. I'm in tears and mostly speechless. <3 Go Laila!!!