Thank you for the time you take to answer so many questions. My story is long and my questions are many being new to the church of Christ, so I will ask for insight into just one specific situation that is leaving my husband and me not really having accurate knowledge in this area.
We are raising my husband's granddaughter, she is 3 years old and we have had full custody of her since shortly after birth. For many reasons his daughter is not in our life, but one of the more serious reasons among many serious reasons is that she and her husband were caught planning to kill my husband and me. We will leave that at that for now.
I raised boys who are grown men now, and though I was not a member of the church of Christ then, I did a good job as far as raising them without ever having them be defiant or violent, or challenging in their behavior. They did receive spankings. It was not a question as to whether they respected authority. They were not perfect, nor was my parenting, but they were kind respectful, and compliant. Never a single problem with behavior all through school or now as adult men.
Please help me understand how this little girl is like a clone of her mother in so many bad behaviors with never being exposed to her and despite having me there using the experience I had in successfully raising children that were and are a joy, plus now adding the most important thing with her ... following God's instructions on child-rearing? As a seven-month-old baby, she started to show rage, ripping into my husband's face, screaming in anger, and making both sides of his face bleed. We were shocked. Never have I seen such a thing in all my years, but he has. He lived it with his daughter, the baby's mother. The 'experts' of this world call it ODD -- Oppositional Defiance Disorder -- which later turns into Conduct Disorder as a teen to the possibility of a full-blown adult sociopath. Non-professionals, the average person, just calls them bad kids. The only thing that I know for sure is that this temperament is without question inherited right down to the most minute detail. My husband said he feels like he is reliving a nightmare in exact detail but handling it so much better this time, but she doesn't change.
At such a young age her stubbornness can be so dominant. She seems to enjoy not listening to authority. This little one, despite discipline by spankings for defiance and her violence, and despite being as consistent as the sun rising in discipline and in reinforcing love and appropriate praise and positive reinforcement, it hasn't worked. Or maybe it has since quite a few people have made the statement: "Can you imagine how bad she'd be without my husband and I being on top of these behaviors trying to nip it in the bud?" I can't even imagine.
She will defiantly hold food in her mouth for up to 45 minutes even after being spanked, put in the corner, food has been authoritatively taken from her mouth, and put straight to bed. She will do it the very next day if you dare tell her to stop playing and eat. She seems to inwardly, even genetically, hate authority. She tries to bang her head on concrete but if picked up and spanked, she tries to hit and kicked, but if spanked, she stops ... until the next time you or anyone tries to have authority over her.
Even though little ones are not held accountable as sinners at such a young age, it seems that some may genetically inherit more selfish, defiant, challenging, violent personalities from their parents than others. Is it just a matter of fact that if we are a sociopath by nature or genetically the chances are high of that being in our offspring and possibly even more so if that sociopath chooses another sociopath to have children with?
What more can we do when she meets the clinical diagnosis or trait of not learning from discipline? When does this behavior become a sin when they are so advanced in the art of deliberately cunningly doing these things? I have never seen anything like this in my life. I keep praying for wisdom and strength and to humble myself to do God's will not my own.
She is completely uninhibited, she will tear into any adult without hesitation if they exercise authority and if it happens to be something she doesn't want to do or stop doing. What is this and what can we do beyond what we are doing? As she is getting older it is getting worse. If she is around timid or more gentle adults, they get it much worse because she overpowers them in the challenge for authority. A challenge I have no intention of surrendering to a child and letting her run the house with terror or have the tail wagging the dog. Even before this, that sickens me to see children be so out of normal position in the family. It is obnoxious, and it is bad. I can't tolerate it.
Nature or nurture? Genetics for the personality good or bad traits definitely did not come as a blank slate. Nurture to try and do our part as parents listening to God making her accountable to us until she will be of age to be accountable to God and do our best trying to direct her ... not always ... ever so gently toward doing right and submitting to the one who has authority over all, our dear God.
Thank you for your time. I am stressed, as I am sure you picked up on that. There are good days and there are bad days, but they all seem like very hard days with this situation. Our age and serious chronic health conditions for me and my husband just add to it. Honestly, sometimes we don't know how we will do this, but our goal is to put God first and do everything possible to give her the chance to serve God and let herself come under His authority.
The child sounds like she was exposed to alcohol or some other drugs when she was in the womb. Because she has a damaged brain, she cannot be treated as you would a normal child. You need to find someone familiar with these types of problems, such as
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)
- Developmental Consequences of Fetal Exposure to Drugs: What We Know and What We Still Must Learn
- Reactive attachment disorder
You need to narrow down what problem she has so that you can find the proper ways to deal with it, find support groups, etc. Stop seeing her as a normal child gone wrong. She is a broken child who needs a lot of help.