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A Whole Boy

June 15, 1997

As I look at the woman sitting opposite me, the twisting of her hands, the set of her shoulders, and the stress on her face tells me she is willing to do anything I suggest. Another desperate parent—I shudder at the memories. The responsibility of knowing that what I say could make or break her child is more than I care to bear. Yet, here I am searching my mind for an answer, silently begging God to please tell me what to say. Letters are so much easier. There is time to think, to pray, to finally give up and throw the letter away. But now she waits, and I see her pain. Her son is eight years old. The professional diagnosis was Attention Deficit Disorder. He is angry, often explosive, and sleeps very little. His violence is usually directed at his brothers and sisters, but occasionally at his parents as well. His eating habits are not good. On occasion he wildly explodes, using vile curse words. The list goes on and on.
I know she loves him. I can see it in the twisting of her hands. But I can also see she doesn’t like him. It is revealed in the frustration and bitterness of her voice. What one thing can I tell her? She asks about herbs to replace the drug he is taking. But neither drugs nor herbs are the answer.
I think about diet. I see the boy eating cheesy puffs and drinking coke. I know the yellow and red dye in the cheesy puffs has been found to contribute to his “problem.”
My thoughts of diet are interrupted by the mother speaking of her past—and her husband’s past. Yellow dye seems so unimportant now. They have surely given place to the devil. They carry the shadow of guilt. Their sins are past, but a sense of captivity remains.
I consider telling her of strongholds. But before I speak she turns the conversation to homeschooling and I see and hear the tension increase. “He refuses to sit still. He constantly bothers the other children. It is a nightmare trying to get him to do his work.” Again I start to answer, “He doesn’t need to sit still,” but I realize this isn’t the answer either.
Quickly and without even knowing, she turns the conversation again, this time to sickness, “He’s on antibiotics again this month,” she replies offhandedly. My ears perk up and I want to jump on my favorite bandwagon, but still I know there’s more. She begins to wind down when she starts talking about child training, our book, lack of early discipline, babysitters, public school, anger in the home, TV, etc.
She wants me to tell her some singular thing to do that will make it all right. Her child is a complex singular being, but the roots run out in all directions. He has a body that is reacting to antibiotics, red and yellow dyes, sugar, lack of self-discipline, and lack of sleep. He has emotions that are being bottled up in an unnatural school structure. He has a spirit that is being tortured by the devil who lurks about seeking whom he may devour. He has a mind that is being filled with the lust of Hollywood, the anger of his parents, the licentiousness of public school, the bitterness of his babysitter, and more. He is a whole boy whose body is being poisoned, his mind filled with ugliness, his soul is being destroyed, and his emotions are going wild. You can drug his body, numbing the vehicle of the soul, but someday he has to be free from those drugs, and when he is, the sickness of his soul will again be revealed.
Looking into the eyes of this hurting young mother, I wish with all my soul I could give her the quick fix she so urgently desires, but there’s not one answer. The child’s problems are many and complex. It would take a book, and still all the answers would not be found.
Clean. He needs to be made clean. He needs a clean body, free of poisons, sugars, and dyes. He needs a clean home, free of anger, Hollywood, and deceit. He needs a clean day, free to roam the countryside until his body is relaxed and tired. He needs a soul cleansing that can only be found in Jesus and His shed blood. He needs a clean daddy whose heart wants only to bring healing for his son. He needs a clean mother, whose heart is turned to honoring and reverencing her husband. He needs a clean world, both physically and spiritually. This little boy has big problems. He is bearing the penalty of a generation of neglect.
How do I tell his mother? Where does she start? After listening to the whole story I finally know. It must start with her, for she is the one seeking a solution. This mother can’t clean up the world. She can’t dictate to Daddy; that would create further strife. But she can decide to honor and reverence her husband, thus bringing to her son at least one area of peace and security. She can go to the library and study the effects of foods, dyes, and sugar, then take that information and act on it. She can take him to a place where he can run for hours, instead of forcing him to labor over a workbook that will never make a difference now or in eternity. She can pray, asking God for a miracle both in herself and her son. She can laugh and sing the joy of the Lord right into his presence. Everyday, he needs her smile. If she will do these things, it will be a beginning. Like a young tree bent in the wrong direction, she can begin to straighten that which is crooked.
If you identify with this mother’s condition, right now ask God to forgive your rebellion toward your husband. Stop your grumbling and ask God to fill your soul with thanksgiving. Ask God to give you wisdom. He has promised wisdom to all those who ask. So ask and keep on asking, and go out looking for information to help your son. No one loves him like you do. No one has your willingness to do something about it. No one can help your son like you can. He needs your heart first, and then you need his. This whole boy needs a whole solution.

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9 comments on “A Whole Boy”

  1. Amen from a mother who has been there and watched God perform mighty miracles as I allowed Him to change me! Nothing is perfect, but life is good!

  2. Wow, i just read this article, because i have been struggling with my 3-year old not obeying lately. it hit home! i knelt down and sobbed for forgiveness of God, and a load was lifted from me. i have joy! i have hope! Thank you!

  3. What a well thought out article. I was wondering just yesterday why my son was being so rowdy. I think there are many things here I can work on. For one thing, my son needs to find a positive way to get out all his energy... This story made me stop and think.

  4. Debi, as always, your articles are filled with amazing wisdom, and written in such an artful way. Every article I've ever read by you, I think about for days afterward and find myself improving even more. I am so grateful for your transparent, honest and entertaining way of sharing with us!

    This could have been me, if I hadn't been blessed with a sweet new neighbor who passed your book, "Created", over the fence one day as we were casually chatting.

    Being raised a Christian my whole life, I assumed I already was a 'dream' wife. That was 5 years ago, and LUCKILY, my boys were only 2 and 4 at the time. My husband now proudly tells his friends, how I have this book by our bed at all times, just to remind me of my amazing purpose. He calls me his "cheerleader," and tells me that he wishes his mom would have let him play outside and create heavens knows what, just because boys need plenty of space, room to be noisy and time to make an experimental... well, mess!

    My kids are academically succeeding, and surprise me with what they come up with in their Journals. However, 70-80% of their day is playing, talking and running outside. I would never have taken this approach if I hadn't read your book.

    Just a quick comment about the effects of diet on behavior. I would suggest to any mother that you share all your research with your children about the effects of dye, sugar, and artificial sweeteners like aspartame. I did this over a year ago, and my kids independently make wise food choices all the time. My mom recently offered them a piece of gum, and my oldest asked if he could see the package. He passed it back, and said, "No thank you, Gammie; almost all gum has aspartame in it, and it's really bad for your brain development."

    Those are his exact words! After several examples like this in our lives, our newest saying is, "You can only be afraid of what you don't know!" I'm telling you, they are sponges that need direction, with ample time to dig, search and think! Just make sure you're around when those wonderful teachable moments arrive.

    I'm always in earshot of my boys, and I could write a shelf full of stories about the things they've come up with! My weakness at the moment, is using too many words to make my point to them. My husband has caught me a few times, "over-killing" a topic. I'm learning, just like they are. Life is a gift, live for today, and PLAY with your kids. I have more fun now, then what I did in my entire childhood!

  5. Thank you, I needed this today. We are in a major transition in our home with my husbands career and I've been struggling with my eight year old son..I'll remember to play and pray more in our Homeschool. Thanks!

  6. Dear Debi, your article was so beautifully written, capturing so many mothers' situation in today's world. I thank God that He led my daughter and son-in-law over 20 yrs ago - to read your books. It seemed revolutionary at the time (to me) but, as the years have gone by watching my 5 grandchildren develop (oldest 20), it's a miracle to me since my upbringing was so the opposite. Thank you for your ministry all these years.

  7. Such an excellent article!!! I feel like I have a new direction today. Thankful that my children are doing well, thriving, playing and full of life, but there is room for improvement. I can honor my husband more deeply and consistently. I can smile more and play more! I can do ALL things through Christ! I have 5 children and 3 of them are under 3. Life is a little crazy but they are precious and God gave them all to me.

    Love you Pearls!!