Why I Bought My Daughter a Dress Even Though She Disobeyed

I tried to calm her. Sweetheart, just put the dress on the counter so we can pay for it. Okay? Look. See all of these people patiently waiting in line behind us? This nice lady at the register wants to finish with us so she can help the other customers too. I just need you to let me have the dress so we can pay for it.

She held it tighter, and I tried to decide what to do next.

I know what would have worked if my older son had done something similar. I would have asked him again more firmly and he likely would have responded to my request. But my daughter isn’t my son.

My daughter looks like a typical five year old. She looks like an average kindergartener who can listen to instructions and follow them easily. Most of the time, she can. But there are other times…

I crouched down, took a deep breath and asked her again slowly, remembering she was fighting a battle with herself and not with me.

Sister, either we put it on the counter and pay for it, or we hand it to the lady and she keeps it, but we cannot take it from this store without scanning it and taking off the sensor. We have to give it to this lady for just a minute.

I felt the pressure of the customers behind us. I wondered what they were thinking. I knew what I would have thought just a few years ago before anxiety became a part of our story.

“I wouldn’t buy that little girl a dress if she were my kid.”

“I heard how she was talking to her mom earlier. No way would I have even brought the dress to the counter.”

“She’s not doing her daughter any favors by buying her that dress. She should teach her a lesson.”

I tried one more attempt at conversation, but the pressure of everyone watching and everyone waiting was paralyzing her ability to act. What to others might have seemed like a simple task was too much for my daughter in that moment.

This time, conversation didn’t win. Coercing her didn’t win. Demanding didn’t win.

I ended up prying the dress from my daughter’s hands and placing it on the counter. No, I didn’t tell the cashier to keep it. I didn’t refuse to buy it. I paid for the dress, and we took it home with us.

To everyone else, we might have looked like a defiant little girl and a mom who was too quick to give in. We might have looked like a kid who wanted her way and mom who was too afraid to tell her no. It might have looked like a lot of things.

But this is what it really was…

Our story.

It’s the story that we are living every day as we work through the needs of my daughter and learn ways to help her process her emotions.

Our story is one of healing and hope. It is one of overcoming the terror of severe food allergies, of unlearning behaviors taught by extreme dye sensitivities. It is one of triumph over all kinds of fear… fear of food, fear of strangers, fear of things that are new, fear of the unknown, fear of separation, fear of being alone.

It’s the story where hope wins. It’s the story where healing wins. It’s the story where life resurrects peace that seemed all but lost.

I never anticipated this to be a part of our story. I never anticipated all of the circumstances that would come from this season of life. But there are a few things that must be said from right here in the middle of it.

There’s more to my daughter than what you might see, and I’m sure there is more to your child than others might understand as well.

So here’s my parenting promise.

I promise that I will never assume to know your child better than you do. I will never assume that what I think I know about you and your kid is all there is to know. I will not spend my time thinking about how you can parent differently… better… the way that I would do it. Instead, I will champion you on as you love your hardest, try your best, and I will pray alongside you as we both seek wisdom from the Lord so we can raise these babies in His Love. I promise to remember that parenting is more than what takes place in public. I promise to remember that we’re on the same team. And I promise to give you and your child grace every chance that I can.

Sometimes, the hardest parenting moments lead to the most life-changing lessons. This time, I was the one who learned something important. My hope? Is that maybe you will too.


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