I Bought My Daughter a Dress Even Though She Disobeyed

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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  • Aleesha Bake says:

    Yes! 1000 times yes! I’ve caught myself judging too many times, and felt the judgement of others countless times as well. What a different world it would be if we just supported and tried to help, even in our heads instead of condemn! I watched my niece grow up pampered and given into at nearly every whim (or so I thought)- I watched as she threw temper tantrums and smugly thought in my head (as a mother of boys only) that she was going to turn out horrible and be a horrible teenager. You know what? She’s an ANGEL as a teenager. Gentle and sweet and kind. And now I have a 7 yr old daughter throwing tantrums Like a crazy person and I’ve realized judgement gets you know where….

  • April says:

    How do you get Doctors to Listen? My son can pass every test with flying colors and they see the videos I bring and laugh saying typical kid! No not typical. I have a neuro psychologist Ive waited to hear back from for 3 months now. Saying he’s fine. Well my baby who is Only 6 was being restrained in class last week and threw himself back. Headbutting a teacher prompting 911 to be called. Everything you said about your sweet girl is what I go through daily with my son
    Pleasonany advice would be amazing as have 2 daughters whom get upset when he gets his way or if they acted that way they wouldn’t get diddly squat.

    This is what my son went through that’s caused the misfire in his brain and the anxiety overload.


  • Brittney Whitlock says:

    This! This article was written for me … TODAY! I needed to hear this in every way. Thank you so much for sharing! I would love know more about the food dye sensitivities. God bless you sweet MaMa!

  • Philippa says:

    I resonate so much with this post. My beautiful, amazing, intelligent 6 year old daughter reacts in ways that leave me shattered and I have so often felt the stares from other people that make me want to cry out, and breaks my heart for her even more. I am so grateful for this post, I can’t tell you enough.

  • Christy says:

    Hi, your story sounds like mine…. However, how did you find out it was an allergy to dye? My son sounds very familiar to your daughter, but I’m not sure that’s what it is.

  • Andrea Collier says:

    God bless you, Becky! One of my children had severe sensory and processing issues. If I had a dollar for every time people mumbled their thoughts on how to handle MY child, well…
    He is still not always able to see the potential outcome during the process. He is 17 now and more polite than my other children and also able to handle outings, as long as I stick to the plan and he brings a book.
    Many Blessings.

  • Tine says:

    Oh, Mama! With tears in my eyes I send hugs to you❣ I can totally relate–our 7 year old has, what I call, sensory issues. Certain things seem to trigger emotional stress and sometimes “meltdowns” or “ginger snaps” (she’s a red-head). They were much worse when she was younger and good news–they have improved with time.
    I know that horrible feeling of being out in public and being aware of the judging. Even worse than that is family who judge or “think” they know exactly what we should do to modify her behavior. We have tried everything ranging from punishment to negotiations. By far the best option we have found, hands down, tested time and time again is……Pray, pray, pray….for patience, love, and (the most key element), an understanding that it is NOT in their control!
    Hug those babies!!! Give them some alone time if they need it…then hug them again❣

    • Becky Thompson says:

      I love this comment, Tine. Thank you for sharing your heart with me. Yes. Prayer is what is getting us through. I know someday we will look back at this with a far different perspective than we have right now in the middle of it. That’s so encouraging. XO

  • L's Mommy says:

    This made me cry happy tears that I’m not alone. My situation is somewhat different, but my daughter has anxiety and separation issues that show themselves many different ways and at different times. I have heard many opinions from others of what I can do better/different/more to help her or help me do a better job at parenting. I have heard remarks in store lines about what others feel or think about her actions and mine and I have cried in stores because I knew they were judging us. Like you, years ago I would have judged myself like they do and I feel terrible for it. Thank you for your honesty. It is good to know I am not the only one traveling this road.

  • Lisa Wundke says:

    Dear Becky,

    From the time I read your first article I felt the heart of God through your words. I was actually pregnant with our second son and really needed those words, your words really were refreshing. I love reading your posts and find them very encouraging. God is so good so loving and so trustworthy and thank you for reminding us girls, wives, mothers, daughters of that constantly.
    Your a good friend! I wish we could hang out but I’m in Australia 😁
    One day maybe, until then keep hearing Gods heart for people and sharing it. We all love you.
    God bless
    Lisa xxx

    • Becky Thompson says:

      Once upon a time I wanted to move to Australia. We priced houses/apartments and considered leaving our jobs and school to move to Sydney and go to Hillsong Leadership Academy. (I think that’s what it was called ten years ago anyway.) Life and all of its plans change quickly, don’t they!? So glad you took a minute to say hello, Lisa. You are so loved as well.

  • SK Bell says:

    Love, love, love it. My son has a lot of food issues too, but I kind of expected that since his daddy does as well. I have found that a lot of people, including some of the people we once felt closest to, “don’t believe in them” and it breaks my heart. We know our kids’ hearts and we know when things outside of their control are hurting their spirits. I hope you’re able to find that perfect balance for your daughter soon. You are a great mama.

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