I get so frustrated sometimes at the very different standard of expectations and reactions for the behavior of adults and children. Read More
Most of us would never tell our children, “Do as I SAY, not as I DO.”
I mean, we wouldn’t take a swig of whiskey while telling our teens, “You should never, ever drink.”
And it would be insanely laughable to teach our children to have good manners at the table while picking our own nose and wiping it on the wall. (Ewww)
Right? Are you with me so far?
Good. Stay with me for just a minute, because I’m going somewhere with this.
Even with the very best intentions, I sometimes find myself being a hypocrite with my children. Oh, I wouldn’t drink while telling them not to, and I’m pretty sure I’m not wiping my boogers on the wall–but if I’m really honest, there are other ways I see hypocrisy in my parenting. I continually have to guard myself against teaching my children one thing while SHOWING them another.
Now, maybe it’s just me,and you have this parenting thing all mastered. 🙂 Or maybe you will see your reflection in some of these areas, and join me in asking God to change us to be more like Him.
Here’s three ways parents can be hypocrites with their children:
We expect perfection while living imperfect lives.
Have you ever gotten angry at your child because they were being, um, an imperfect child? Come on, now, be honest. 🙂 You fussed at your husband on the way to church and then got embarrassed at your 3 year old for sticking out his tongue at his brother during the service. Or you put off your quiet time because the morning was crazy, but got angry at your 6 year old because he didn’t want to do his homework. The issue is, of course, that we adults are a tad bit “wiser” when it comes to our imperfections. And we have enough pride to hide most of them from others. Children (young children especially!), on the other hand, don’t act to impress. They are openly imperfect. 🙂 Now I’m not suggesting that we throw up our hands and expect nothing from our children, but I am pointing out that it is completely hypocritical for adults to put HIGHER standards of behavior on tiny little children than they’re even putting on themselves. We must guard against setting an unattainable standard of perfection in our home. An atmosphere of growth and grace, with open mistakes and just as open apologies and forgiveness is the key here.
We expect respect from our children while not giving them respect.
For some reason, more respect is given to our spouses, our best friends, our church community, and even TOTAL STRANGERS than is often given to children. There’s like this unwritten code among adults that it’s acceptable to speak unkindly of or to our children or teens.”Wow. You have alot of children. You don’t want MORE, do you?” or “Ugh. He’s so naughty.” or “Wait until they’re teenagers!” or “You’re such a brat!” or “Is she a GOOD baby?” (as if only silent babies who sleep on command are GOOD?) or “Sit down and shut up!” or “How many times do I have to tell you to OBEY?”
Parents get on social media and embarrass, shame, ridicule, and humiliate their OWN children. An act of violence occurs and someone is sure to point out, “A good beating when he was a kid would have fixed that!” It’s become commonplace to talk openly about how hard/difficult/stubborn/challenging/annoying/insert-your-child’s behavior-here children are, and to AGREE with other moms who need “some wine before they go crazy” or some “time away from my kids”.
.Now, some of you will disagree with me here, and say that it’s different when we’re complaining about our children than when we’re complaining about other people. And I would ask you this–would it be acceptable to talk to or about my husband this way? Would it be okay for me to point out his flaws when I’m drinking coffee with my friends? Should I get on social media and talk about how excited I am for a BREAK from this man because he’s pushing my buttons? Is gossip EVER acceptable, respectful, or relationship-building? No.
We cannot teach and require respect from our children if we’re not modeling that same respect. Our children need to know we adore them, and that even on their very worst days, we’v got their back.
If we can’t say something kind or uplifting about our children, it’s best to say nothing at all.
We teach gentleness but model harshness.
One of the very first behaviors we must teach toddlers is “gentle hands” or “gentle touch”, as they’re prone to hitting, pushing, or grabbing from other people. Older children need reminders to be kind and gentle with both animals and people.
This is another area where we must guard against hypocrisy, because we must be gentle with our children or all the “be gentle with others” teaching means nothing. If we are harsh in our tone of voice when speaking with our children, or rough with them when they misbehave, how can we expect them to respond gently to others?
These are three areas that I am continually working on. I want gentleness to be my natural response to my children. I want my words to sweetly guide and nurture them. I want to BE what I’m telling THEM to be!
Our children are amazing mirrors for us as parents. As my children have become teenagers, I’ve walked into a room many times and thought to myself, “I don’t like the way so-and-so is speaking……Ouch. They sound exactly like me.” I’ve changed many things about my parenting as my older children have started mimicking me. 🙂
I’m sure there are more than just these three areas that we parents can be hypocritical with our children, but as I strive to share my heart for my children and my own personal struggles with you, these three areas came to my mind.
Blessings to you, dear friends, as you seek to parent like Jesus!
Our family travels full-time, fund-raising for our move to South Africa next year, so we spend an unusual amount of time in our van sometimes. (Read about our crazy Travel and Throw Up adventures of last week here. We are all healthy now and feeling “normal” never felt so incredible!)
Frequently I get asked, “How do you keep all eight children happy in the van for long periods of time?”
One of the ways we pass long hours in our van is through AUDIO ENTERTAINMENT! I have an entire CD case filled with audio dramas (and even more on our Amazon account or instant download!). These educational, exciting, and Biblically based dramas make fabulous car entertainment and they’re great for individual quiet time activities at home, too! For little ones who have outgrown naptime, try playing one of these dramas for an hour of rest time in the afternoon (both for little ones AND mama!).
Christmas is just around the corner so it’s a perfect time to add to (or begin!) a family audio library collection!
Without further ado, here are the Bergey Bunch’s Top 5 Audio Drama Recommendations:
Lamplighter’s motto is “Building Character…One Story at a Time” and we absolutely agree that their stories are character building! We own every single story they’ve produced and I can tell you that they are worth every penny. These are not fluffy, silly, Veggie-tale-like stories—they are deep, emotionally engaging, faith building stories the whole family will enjoy! I know they’re on the pricey end of stories, so if you are new to Lamplighter and trying to choose a story for the first time, I would suggest starting with Teddy’s Button. For character building adventures with Biblical lessons woven throughout, choose Lamplighter Theatre!
Especially good for boys (although my girls love them, too!), these creation based adventures are full of family fun, science and history facts, and Biblical truths to help your child learn to defend their faith! Join the Brennan and Park families as they explore God’s world and go on family adventures! While it’s best to start with Volume 1, these adventures can stand alone as well, so you could build your collection with whatever volume goes along with what you’re studying in school! They’re available on instant download, too, which can be handy and a little cheaper as well. For family adventure with a creation worldview, choose Jonathan Park!
The Brinkman Adventures are newer to the audio drama scene, but they’ve made quite an impact on my children already! Take a humorous, wacky, large homeschooling family (you’ll fall in love with little Charlie!) and combine them with TRUE missionary stories and you have The Brinkman Adventures! I think you’ll be captivated in the first few minutes by the Brinkmans. Most of the episodes are easily understood by all ages. For large family adventure with a focus on missionary stories, choose The Brinkman Adventures!
These are dramatized audio books that are just.plain.fabulous. We have Anne of Green Gables, Ben Hur, and The Hiding Place, with hopes of getting a few more titles for Christmas! The Hiding Place inspired and challenged the faith of all of our children, even the six year olds. Ben Hur provided action and adventure that captivated our children for HOURS. These CD’s would be perfect for Christmas stockings. 🙂 Don’t overlook the treasure that is Focus on the Family Radio Theatre!
These Biblical stories contain character-building music that entertain and educate the younger children quite well! (My older children prefer the longer audio dramas mentioned above.) I grew up listening to Patch the Pirate and my children are fascinated by the fact that I still have all of the songs (even Camp Food!) memorized. These stories will get God’s Word and godly music into your children’s hearts (and they’ll keep it forever!). If you’re new to Patch the Pirate, try one of our favorites: The Misterslippi River Race, Coldheartica, or The Lone Stranger. 🙂 Especially for the under 10 crowd, consider ordering a Patch the Pirate CD!
There’s the Bergey Family’s 5 Awesome Audio Drama Recommendations for FAMILIES! I hope they’re as much of a blessing to your family as they have been to ours.
We used to have it all. (Whatever that means.)
A happy marriage and children. My husband had a great career and was moving up the corporate ladder, and we were saving and giving and dumping a little extra every month into his 401K for that elusive retirement dream.
Then there was the lovely home on 2 wooded acres, two vehicles, and (even though we’ve always been frugal and enjoyed a good bargain) everything we needed and then some.
When God called us to South Africa to be missionaries, my husband and I willingly (and even somewhat gladly) sold everything and moved into our travel trailer to begin the fund-raising aspect of this ministry.
I can honestly say that I don’t miss the “stuff” and I still feel like I have it all. 🙂
But, children being children and all (with less ability to understand or appreciate the vision behind giving up their stuff), the process of giving up things was a great deal harder on them than it was on us.
God had a glorious work to do in our children’s lives, and He taught a valuable lesson of FAITH through THE LEGO LAND MIRACLE.
The first six months of deputation and life on the road were very hard on us financially. We lived off church love offerings and had no way to predict what our income would be each week. Most churches don’t have missionaries in to speak near Christmas, so late December found us parked at a children’s home in Florida with no meetings (and therefore no income).
We sat our children down and told them that there would be no Christmas this year.
I had a difficult time with that.
I knew they had given up so much already and my mother’s heart just wanted to spoil them at least a little for Christmas.
Instead, I was trying to figure out how to feed them.
We were in sunny Florida, though, and trying our best to count our blessings. As it turned out, everywhere you turn in certain parts of Florida, there are children’s attractions. From putt-putt golf to museums to giant theme parks, there are “fun” places everywhere!
“Daddy, can we go THERE?!?” we would inevitably hear every time we went somewhere.
Then there was the day we drove by Lego Land for the first time.
I mean, little boys, legos, and rides, ya’ll. The reaction was inevitable.
They all got excited as they watched the roller coasters swirl and spin and as they arched their backs to look out the window at the gigantic signs detailing the incredible-ness of the theme park.
“Oh, Daddy! Can we pppllleaaasse go to Lego Land??!??”
I choked back the tears as we gently explained that Lego Land would cost our family about six hundred dollars and there was absolutely NO WAY we would be able to go to Lego Land this
They quieted down, except for six year old Noah. He continued to talk (and talk and talk) about Lego Land for days.
I was washing dishes the day I overheard the following conversation. Noah had asked (again) why we couldn’t go to Lego Land.
Brent answered, “Buddy, sometimes we get to do really fun things, and we are thankful! And sometimes we can’t do fun things and need to be thankful then, too. Now, God could give you tickets to Lego Land if He wanted to…..so why don’t you pray and see what He says?”
I have to keep it real here, friends. I thought my husband was big-time crazy for suggesting to our children that they PRAY about Lego Land tickets. Like I said, we were barely scraping by and I just KNEW that Brent was setting the children up for failure…cause no way was God going to give them tickets to a theme park.
“Honey, you KNOW they aren’t going to get tickets! Why would you tell them to pray about this? You should have told them NO and left it at that.”
Yeah. Not the best supportive wife moment. 🙂
Christmas came and went and no tickets. In fact, six weeks went by and I had all but forgotten about Lego Land, until late one night when Noah came into our room in tears.
“I’ve been praying and praying and God hasn’t given me tickets to Lego Land yet!”
I opened my mouth to begin explaining how God doesn’t always answer our prayers with a “yes”, but Brent answered Noah first.
“Buddy, just keep praying. God is listening even when you don’t hear Him.”
I waited until Noah went back to bed before
nagging reminding my husband that God was NOT going to give our children tickets to Lego Land just because they prayed for them. Because tickets are a want, not a need. And wasn’t he setting them up to be disappointed with GOD?
The very next day, the pastor of the church where we were sharing our ministry approached our family and said, “Do you think your children would enjoy Lego Land? Because we have a couple in our church that both work there. They have offered free tickets for your entire family for Tuesday. And if you get there right at 10 am, they will meet you at the front gate and get you into the park without even having to pay the parking fee.”
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”
Did we think our children would enjoy Lego Land? 🙂
I choked back tears for the second time, only this time I wasn’t struggling with disappointment. I was ashamed at my lack of faith.
You see, God took away my ability to bless my children for Christmas and then lavished them with more than I had in my ability to give them anyway!
It is absolutely true that our heavenly Father doesn’t exist to give us everything we want and sometimes He says NO to our desires because He has a greater plan.
But on that sunny Tuesday in January, when we walked into Lego Land completely paid for (even down to the tiniest details like PARKING), God answered a little boy’s prayer and blessed the entire family exceeding abundantly above all that I could have ever hoped for. Just because He CAN. Because He’s awesome like that.
I could tell you story after story of how God has grown our family’s FAITH these past two years, but today I wanted to remind us of the importance of having faith like a little child. The Christian walk is never a straight path from salvation to heaven. Instead, there are glorious mountaintop experiences, and painfully deep valleys, trials (where we can’t seem to find God) that teach us to trust HIM, and unexpected blessings to encourage us that He is right there in the midst of us.
And every once in awhile, just when you feel your FAITH is weak, God throws out a miracle.
Our miracle came in the form of a little boy’s answered prayer.
And tickets to Lego Land.
Noah, the little boy who prayed.
Every parent has felt it.
That feeling of frustration or irritation that comes when your child delays, disobeys, drags their feet, repeatedly forgets instructions, embarrasses you in public, acts silly when you’re needing cooperation, insert-your-child’s-annoyance-here.
What do you do when you’re FRUSTRATED with your child’s behavior?
Yell and say things you don’t really mean? Sigh, then rant about how frustrated you are? Lecture them repeatedly? Ignore it and hope it will go away? Threaten to take away Santa Claus for this year? (Yes, I have truly heard parents threaten this one!)
None of these are the best choice, although every parent is tempted to react in one of these ways when they’re frustrated.
Especially in the heat of the moment, (like when you’re trying to get 8 children out the door for church, or you’re parenting in front of a crowd of people), it can be difficult to know what to do when you feel those feelings of frustration rising. 🙂
My husband and I have determined that there are Two Choices for us when we’re frustrated. These are actually very simple, but remembering them during stressful times can be the biggest challenge! Because I need to be reminded often, I wanted to share this with you today, in hopes that it will encourage you as well.
Two Choices for the Frustrated Parent:
1. Lower your expectations.
I bet you didn’t think I was going to say that one, did you? 🙂 I know. I know. Usually I’m advocating for more training. (Don’t worry, we’ll cover that in point two!)
NOBODY thrives in an atmosphere of frustration or disapproval. You don’t like it, and neither does your spouse, but as adults, you have the freedom to speak clearly your needs to each other.
Your children, on the other hand, will absolutely wilt under a constant atmosphere of frustration.
Children crave and need parental approval for their growth. If you have a child who repetitively disobeys and seems to show no remorse for their disobedience, consider whether they have met with so much frustration that they have given up trying to please you.
If you’re going through your day continually frustrated or irritated with your children, the FIRST thing you might need to do is lower your expectations so your children can meet with your approval more easily.
What does this look like in real life? I’ll give a situation from our family to help illustrate this point:
- I will openly admit that I like to keep a neat home, with minimal clutter and everything in its place. Unfortunately, we have ten people living in a 359 sq. ft. travel trailer. 🙂 After moving into the trailer, I began getting really frustrated over the SHOES. Oh.my.goodness. I downsized continually, I organized the shoes into totes, I repeatedly taught my little ones to put their shoes away before entering the trailer…..BUT. Ten people, ya’ll. Even with only 2 or 3 pairs of shoes per person—it’s still TOO MANY SHOES. 🙂 No matter how hard we tried, someone would forget and take their shoes off in the house, or it would be late and too dark to put the shoes away, OR it would be raining and everyone would have to bring their shoes inside. Every single day, I was tripping over shoes, stepping over shoes, kicking shoes out the front door, nagging children about shoes, mumbling to myself about shoes, threatening to ban all shoes from the Bergey family forever. You get my point. The shoes were ruining my life, and I in turn was taking out my frustration on the people I love the most! 🙂 The truth was, I needed to lower my expectations for this one. We have alot of people in a small space (and sadly, we all need shoes!). I started expecting to see shoes all day long and stopped feeling so frustrated.
2. Increase your training.
If you see a dog who pees indoors, barks all day, runs away every time he gets out the door, jumps on everyone he meets, doesn’t come when called, scratches up the furniture, and chews on all the socks, do you blame the DOG or the OWNER?
The owner. He needs to train his dog in obedience!
In the same way, if you’re frustrated with your child, it is not the child’s fault.
It is YOUR fault for not training better.
Take the time to write down the things your children do that frustrate you the most, share them with your spouse, evaluate what you should lower your expectations on, then get busy training for the rest!
Here’s another personal illustration:
- We travel full-time, so some days, we’re out-and-about in public more than most families. That can equate to getting everyone unbuckled and out of the van frequently. I have to unbuckle the baby and gather the diaper bag, so my children are often exiting the vehicle alone. The youngest 5 inevitably begin to wander, usually exploring the nearby landscaping. My boys would touch the trees or climb on the rocks, or even start a game of tag! Now, this mama knows that they may have been sitting for a long time and have extra wiggles :), but not only is it frustrating to gather them all back together, it is also very dangerous in some parking lots to have little ones wandering. After multiple lectures over the dangers of parking lots AND the needed respect for company’s landscaping, we were still having issues. (It was additionally challenging for us, because we did understand why they were so quick to want to play.:) ) I began dreading getting everyone out of the van, and could feel my stress meter rising every time we had to get out! This is when we decided to increase the training and established the “white line rule”. Whenever my husband calls “white line!”, all the children must plant their feet on the white parking line right outside the van. They may move on the line but may not get off of it. We got in and out of the van OVER and OVER again, practicing and encouraging and teaching. This now works beautifully to keep our little ones safe and respectfully off the landscaping. 🙂
In this situation, increasing the training reduced my frustration.
Remember, if you’re feeling FRUSTRATED at your child, try one of these options: Lower your expectations until they can freely meet your approval, OR increase your training until they succeed with the appropriate behavior.
Now, what about you? What frustrates you and what are you doing about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts, either in the comments below OR on the Perspectives in Parenting Facebook Page! Blessings to you on YOUR parenting journey!
I received a facebook message with a question recently that got me thinking about thankfulness in our children. I’ll paste the question here:
So, I had a long day and stopped and got a milkshake for myself on the way home. My son cried because I didn’t get him anything. He’s talked about it all afternoon, and just brought it up again saying “I want icecream. Why can’t I have your milkshake- it’s just sitting in the freezer.” I told him it’s mine and I’m allowed to treat myself sometimes and he says, “You always treat yourself, you always get coffee, and I want ice cream!” I don’t think he will be getting a cone the next time we go. He’s so spoiled it’s made him selfish. He does not handle me getting something without getting him something. How do you teach your kids to be thankful?
It’s one of those characteristics that must be developed in each one of us…cause we all kinda want what makes US happy more than we want to be THANKFUL. 🙂
The Bible puts it this way:
1 Thessalonians 5:18: “ In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Give thanks in EVERY THING?
Children struggle with thankfulness. (But let’s be honest–Mommies and Daddies do, too!)
Those perfectly formed, delightfully precious, and sweet little babies quickly grow into toddlers and preschoolers who naturally focus on self-gratification. Turning the hearts of our children towards thankfulness takes purposeful, decisive work! We should not be frustrated that our children choose selfishness, but rather seek opportunities to teach thankfulness.
The wise parent will embrace the opportunity to cultivate an attitude of THANKFULNESS in their children.
I’m not saying anything you don’t already know, right? I mean, if you’ve been a parent for very long, you’ve witnessed the squabble over toys, the fussing over the favorite sippy cup, or the whining over not getting their
absolutely have to have it RIGHT NOW or I’m going to make you wish you’d never brought me along favorite cereal at the grocery store. RIGHT? 🙂
Do we have to just sit back and HOPE our children someday wake up thankful in all things?
Or can we cultivate this attitude of thankfulness in our children?
Here are five key ways we work on cultivating an attitude of thankfulness with our large family.
- Start young with verbalizing thankfulness. Toddlers aren’t likely to feel thankful just yet, and that’s okay. 🙂 But they can learn to say “thank you” whenever they are given something or someone serves them. Teach them to say “thank you” the same way you teach them any other skill! Repitition and patience are the keys here. Once you know your little one CAN say thank you (Our Titus is 14 months and can say his own little version of it already.) OUTLAST them if necessary until they say it every time you ask them to say it. Be consistent in the baby and toddler stage with saying “Thank you” as you’re setting the stage for a thankful attitude later.
- Don’t give your little ones everything they want. I realize this should go without saying, but just last week, we were eating in a restaurant and I was shocked by what I observed. A family with 2 young children (a girl around 2, and a boy around 5) came into the restaurant. As they ordered their food at the register, the children both picked up a drink from the display in front of them. The mom told the children, “We are going to get ONE drink and share, okay?” She took both drinks away and chose a white-colored drink. She handed it to the little boy, and he smiled excitedly. Meanwhile, the 2 year old girl had begun to climb up the display, trying to reach the red-colored drink. The mom put her down and repeated, “We are going to get ONE drink, this white one, and share, okay?” The little girl threw herself down on her bottom and began to kick her feet. The mom repeated herself one more time, as the girl began to scream for the red drink. Then she reached down and TOOK THE WHITE DRINK FROM THE LITTLE BOY’S HAND and put it back. He started to get upset, and she got right in his face and said, “Don’t you dare fight me on this. YOU just got new shoes. Let her have the red drink.” She reached for the red drink and handed it to the tantruming little girl. The little girl stood up smugly, with her red drink in her hands, and smiled. The little boy walked away with tears streaming down his face. Parents, you will never cultivate an attitude of thankfulness in your children if you give them everything they want. It is okay to allow your children to be occasionally disappointed, to wait for their special turn, or to do without for awhile:)
- Verbalize thankfulness frequently. Don’t expect children to be thankful automatically, especially when they are young. Teach them by your example, and start in your home. When we get finished with a good meal, my husband will loudly say, “Thank you, Mommy, for working so hard on this meal!” The children naturally repeat him. When my husband pays money for us to have a special treat (like a trip to the zoo or ice cream), I loudly verbalize, “Thank you, Daddy, for this awesome treat! Children, isn’t it awesome that your Daddy chose to give us this blessing?” They begin to copy my words and attitude, and the entire van is full of “THANK YOU, DADDY!!!” When I work hard to make a special dessert and the children naturally want to dive into it when I haven’t even sat down yet, my husband will cheerfully say, “WOW! Mommy worked hard to make an awesome dessert! Look at Mommy’s face. She looks tired. Let’s wait for her to take the first bite before we eat this yummy dessert.” When grandparents bless us with gifts, we verbalize thankfulness for them (and with them), like this, “Ethan, Grandpa sacrificed his hard-earned money to give you this special thing! We need to thank him for doing this!” Then we walk with the child and offer thanks. Teach your child to be thankful by being thankful yourself and openly verbalizing it.
- Serve your children with JOY. Maybe you weren’t expecting this point, but as my children have grown older, I have found this point to be one of the most important ones for cultivating thankfulness! We love to serve our children. We put them first often. I offer them the last piece of cake, and buy them new clothing before buying for myself. I will see them struggling with a job I’ve asked them to do and willingly take the job from them and finish it. (I know, I know. Some of you authoritative parents just took a giant GASP and are now in complete shock. lol. Please hear me out before tuning me out.) I have found that the more I joyfully serve and openly verbalize with my children about my service (that looks like this…”Oh, there’s only one piece of treat left. Mommy wants YOU to have it, because I love to serve you.” or “I know I asked you to fold this laundry, but why don’t you go enjoy the movie with the other children and I will finish it FOR you.”), the more they become thankful and serve others with joy! It’s true! If we’re serving our children with a grudging spirit, complaining about the work load, or sighing and acting irritated all the time, what do we expect THEM to do but copy us? Likewise, if we serve with joy (all the while teaching them to serve others as well), we will begin to see a joyful, thankful attitude in return. Before long, your children will be noticing when YOU are tired and offering to serve YOU.
- Continually acknowledge that all of our blessings AND trials come directly from the Lord. A truly thankful attitude comes from the contentment in knowing that all of our lives are in God’s hands. We can trust Him (and give thanks in EVERY thing!) when we fully believe that He is in control. What is your response when blessings rain down on your family? Do you acknowledge GOD’S handiwork and thank Him in front of your children? What about when the trials rain down and you can’t see your hand in front of your face through the darkness? Do you still thank Him then? Our children will never see Jesus in all things and learn to trust Him if WE do not continually SHOW Him to them! Openly thank God for the blessings AND trials of life in front of your children. I remember my dad being very hesitant to ever share financial details with his children (I think his goal was to keep us feeling secure). I have found that when we carefully share the ups and downs in life WITH OUR CHILDREN, they are strengthened in their own faith and encouraged to be always thankful.
Just one more personal illustration on this topic, as it hits close to home. Johanna (adopted at 14 from an orphanage in China) came home with a most unthankful attitude. 🙂 She was like a willful 2 year old, expecting to be served and to get her way, fighting against any and all kinds of unselfishness. We worked and worked (and worked!) on cultivating an attitude of thankfulness in her. First we role-played, then we expected verbal thanks, then we outlasted the refusal to say “thank you” about a million times. We served and loved and gave over and over again, all the while teaching and verbalizing thankfulness. I’m not going to lie, some days I thought we’d never get there. 🙂 But, those baby steps led to baby progress and eventually we have what happened this weekend: Saturday was my birthday, and it fell right in the middle of an amazing missions conference in which I was royally spoiled. One of the ladies in the church owns a boutique and gave me 2 bags full of lovely new clothes. Several people gave me gift cards for shopping, and the pastors’ wife and a sweet staff member blessed me with a new purse and wallet! By the time my family birthday party rolled around on Saturday, I had a whole PILE of new treasures. 🙂 After I opened my presents, I was sorting through everything on my bed, when Johanna walked in. She stood there for a moment, silently looking at everything. I know special days can be a trigger for Johanna’s PTSD, so I gently put my arm around her and said, “Johanna, are you struggling with jealousy because Mommy got new things? It’s okay to feel a little sad when someone else gets presents.” She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, NO, Mommy. I’m not jealous at all. I’m just so overwhelmed.” The tears began to fall as she said, “I’m just SO thankful that you got so many blessings!”
Don’t give up, weary parent. Keep cultivating that attitude of thankfulness in your children.
With you on the journey,
Early on in my parenting journey, I read several parenting books by well-respected Christian authors. They explained clearly how babies were born with a sin nature and we needed to go after their will early and often in order to win the battle for their hearts. Before my first precious child was even BORN, I felt like a soldier, armed and ready for war! Unfortunately, this set me up to be an adversary to my children, instead of their greatest ally. I went “head-to-head” needlessly on many issues because I was parenting out of this FEAR of losing the elusive WAR with my children.
I am no longer seeking to WIN EVERY BATTLE for obedience with my children because I have ENDED the war against them.
Now, one of my biggest goals as a parent is to HELP my children obey.
Notice I didn’t say MAKE my children obey.
Isn’t it just a bit of semantics, since the end result is still the same?
Not for me. 🙂
If I approach my child with an adversarial mindset, with a me vs. them attitude, I am automatically setting myself up for a “battle”. Like you, I’ve fought those battles and won, but I usually walk away wishing I had handled it much better.
Sometimes our mindset going into each encounter with our children is as important as the ENCOUNTER itself.
Hence my thought process behind help versus make.
My goal is not to MAKE my children obey, because that does not require any heart change. My goal is always to HELP my children obey.
I can and do require obedience, but because I view myself as the HELPER instead of the MAKER, I am not offended by mistakes, childishness, or even rebellion. Instead, I embrace another opportunity to HELP my child. I am not looking for chances to conquer their will, nor break their spirit—I am waiting for chances to HELP their character by helping them CHOOSE obedience.
It’s a refreshing mindset, truly. You see, God entrusted me with eight amazingly unique children. Each one is intricately designed, with their own strengths and weaknesses–and their own endearing personality. My greatest responsibility as a mother is to teach my children how to use their gifts for the Lord.
So instead of getting in their face, with a confrontational attitude, and a “win at all costs” mindset, I’m getting next to my children when they’re disobeying. I’m looking at life from their viewpoint.
Cause we’re not at war. We are on the same TEAM.
And while I am daily teaching, and training, and encouraging, and discipling them…..
I’m also helping them obey. 🙂
What about you? Have you ever struggled with the “win the war” mindset? Do you need a change in attitude towards your little ones? Is there a technique that has helped you parent and you’d love to share it with us? Please comment below!
“I don’t want to do this anymore. I just don’t want to be Mama to this child anymore.”
Quietly, hesitantly, I whispered these words to the safe bearer-of-my-secrets, my husband.
Once I started talking, though, it was if the tsunami of my emotions exploded over the embankment of my WILL to keep it all in, and I just couldn’t stop it all anymore.
“I just don’t want to parent this child anymore. I’m tired of loving and giving and serving and sacrificing and having it all thrown back in my face in disgust. I’m tired of the influence on my other children. I’m tired of feeling traumatized in my own home. I know I’m supposed to ‘fake it until I make it’, but I’m just too tired to fake it anymore. I’m tired of the strain on the entire family. I’m tired of caring more about this than the child even cares. And I don’t want to wake up another morning with the weight of the enormousness of this child’s needs on my chest. I don’t want to fall into bed another night after midnight, exhausted from the labor of counseling, and nurturing, and the work of just getting this child into bed. I’m tired of it all. I’m just SO tired.”
I fell into my husband’s arms in complete exhaustion and wept to sleep.
Thankfully, JOY always comes in the morning (when the mercies are new and the grace is available for the day!) and I didn’t actually quit that day.
But I sure wanted to.
God brought me through that day because my foundation was built on something stronger than myself and my feelings.
I don’t know what brought you to be reading this today, right now.
Maybe you’re struggling with a special needs kiddo and you’re feeling stretched beyond what your body feels it can stretch.
Maybe you’ve adopted a trauma/RAD child, and you are just TIRED of cleaning up poop. (Figuratively and literally.)
Maybe you’re a mama who thought you could trust God with the children (both number and needs) He felt you could handle—but you’re pregnant again and the little ones aren’t listening and the laundry has turned into Mt. Everest and your friends and family keep asking you “Don’t you think you have ENOUGH children?”…and you’re wondering if HE really can be trusted?
You know what it feels like to wake up, breathless, heavy, overwhelmed, and wishing it was still night.
Even now, your time is limited, and the needs are calling your name, and you’re tempted to just skim this post, hoping for a quick pick-me-up bit of encouragement….so I’ll keep it simple.
Here’s three thoughts that brought me through some of my own dark days. I pray they are encouragement to your heart.
- JESUS. Oh, how I need Him every day.( I’m not talking about religion here, I’m talking about a living, breathing, daily relationship with the one true GOD. If this is missing in your life, will you email me? I’d love to show you how you can KNOW God today.)
You see, the world will whisper in your ear, “You can’t do this. You aren’t good enough, strong enough, smart enough; you are just not enough.You need more ‘me’ time, and these kids are holding you back. They’re not worth it, so you should just quit NOW.”
But Jesus? He reaches out and says, “Count it all JOY. Let patience have her perfect work. My grace IS (it truly IS!) sufficient for THEE. Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. My strength is made perfect in weakness .”
I have found that life’s very darkest, unthinkable, horrific days are just as much a part of God’s plan for my life as the good, perfect, “happy” days. He is using those times of “I can’t do this!” to show me that HE CAN.
Allow HIM to love your children THROUGH you, one day at a time.
- SUPPORT. There is this myth in the parenting world that you’re either that perfect super-mom who has it “all” together and feeds her kids organic superfoods and (fill in the blank with your super-mom pet peeve), or you’re the mom who never showers and lives in a pigsty and whose kids live on frozen pizza and mac-and-cheese and who is utterly falling apart all.the.time.
The truth is, most of us fall somewhere in-between these two extremes. 🙂
But our fear of being labeled a failure holds us back from true, kindred-spirit, tell-you-like-it-is SUPPORT. Cause saying “I need help” is hard.
You need a safe place to share your heart and your struggles, without fear of rejection or judgement. But you need to confide in those who will point you to the TRUTH, and not just “tell you what you want to hear”.
There IS someone out there who has been where you are, and who made it out ALIVE–Find them! Share with them. Lay it all out and find the gold amidst the dross.
You need a friend who has already learned to find JOY in the poop, and who will walk the path alongside of you, encouraging and inspiring you to give it your all, poop and all. 🙂
- RESOURCES. Don’t give up or give in until you’ve exhausted ALL the resources available. There may be a doctor, a book, a therapist, an article, or a parenting technique offers exactly what you need to THRIVE!
Please consider reaching out for help if you’re struggling. Jesus (and alot of answered prayer), an awesome support system, and new parenting therapies and techniques made all the difference for our family. Perhaps they will help YOURS as well.
Just one last thing.
You will make it.
And maybe, someday soon, you’ll be the one offering encouragement to the one wanting to quit.
Thoughts? Questions? Advice? Share your heart below!
Do you have a child with sensory processing disorder?
Have you adopted a child of any age who struggles to keep themselves regulated? (Typically, the more trauma a child experiences in their early years, the more disregulation.)
Even if your child doesn’t have an official label of SPD, they can still experience disregulation, and need parental intervention to regulate their bodies again. Perhaps the words “out-of-sync”, “hyper”, “spacey”, or even “wired” apply to your child at times. If so, try some of these techniques and hopefully you’ll get the results we’ve experienced in our own home.
- Keep them well-hydrated at all times. Sensory kiddos often cannot sense their need for hydration and will remain in a state of semi-dehydration. Keep track of the child’s water intake FOR THEM, and at the slightest sign of disregulation, encourage a long drink of water.
- Offer a high-protein snack or meal every 2 to 3 hours. Not sugar, but PROTEIN. 🙂 Side note: If your child struggles with behaviors at bedtime or first thing in the morning, try a little snack in bed. While I don’t routinely offer food to my children in their beds, I do have one child that needs a snack sometimes in order to settle down. One of my other children used to need a snack BEFORE she was able to get out of bed pleasantly. It is AMAZING the difference a snack is for a child who needs that protein to self-regulate.
- Monitor the bathroom needs of your child. A child with sensory needs can and will often go L-O-N-G periods of time without using the restroom. I have one child who used to go 24 HOURS between potty breaks unless reminded! Naturally, “wild” behaviors would begin as the child could not sit still at this point. I learned to monitor the bathroom needs and began teaching the child to “go” on a schedule.
- Give good sensory input. Each child is different in their need for TOUCH, but a disregulated child often responds well to some sensory input. A firm, long, bear hug, or a back massage (with oils or lotion) can begin to calm a disregulated child.
- Give opportunites for sensory output. Sensory kiddos need to be encouraged to experience SENSORY PLAY! Jumping, running, climbing, and sand play are great outdoor activities, but if you’re stuck inside, try one of the following: chewing gum, Thinking Putty (like silly putty or playdoh), squeeze balls, water play, rice or beans in a bowl with little toys to dig with, crawling, jumping jacks, sit-ups, and hand games.
I will never forget the day we got the special needs diagnosis.
It felt like a knife had been thrust into my heart, twisted around, and pulled back out.
I was bleeding, silently, painfully, yet invisibly.
Each breath was slow and heavy.
My sweet husband and I waited until we got home from the specialist’s office. We waited until we got all of the children fed and to bed.
Then we held each other close and wept.
Even thought that night was many years ago, I’ll never forget the raw pain and shock as we processed what felt like the death of a thousand dreams.
I don’t know where you are on your special needs parenting journey.
Maybe you’re an old pro at various needs. Maybe you can rattle off the list of letters after your child’s name without missing a beat.
I can do that now, too. 🙂
But maybe, just maybe, you’re in the days (and DAZE) of searching for answers, or maybe you’ve just walked out of that office with a new diagnosis and you’re feeling a weight on your chest that feels like the weight of the entire world, and you’re terrifyingly ALONE in your fear.
I wanted to share a few thoughts for YOU, today. Because I’ve been there. I get it.
First off, you WILL get through this. You will go to bed tonight, in tears, and get up tomorrow with bags under your eyes, but you WILL get through it.
It’s perfectly okay that you don’t have all the answers right now. Because even though it feels like you need to do it today, you have T-I-M-E to find those answers, to get your precious child every resource and help they need. So let yourself take the time to work through your feelings, without panicking over the FUTURE. 🙂
Once you’ve given yourself a little time to grieve the loss of what isn’t, remember that GOD has not forgotten you, nor has He forgotten your child. He is there, whispering in the seemingly empty silence, and He will equip and empower you to be all your child needs in the days ahead.
Now, take a deep breath, and get busy.
Research. Read. Get second opinions. Find a support group. Look for answers, solutions, techniques, and never be afraid to reach out for help.
I remember just a few days after our diagnosis, when I hesitantly shared details of behind-the-scenes struggles and the overwhelming feelings of my heart with a family friend. Their response? “I knew a family who had a child with Down Syndrome once and they just treated that child like it was a completely ‘normal’ child, disciplined it like a ‘normal’ child, and everything has been perfectly fine.”
This is not the kind of “help” I’m referring to. 🙂
But you do need to have a true friend, a confidante, a kindred sister, someone who will listen as you work through the next weeks and months.
Once you’ve worked through the initial shock, you’ve confided in your spouse, the LORD, and others who love and support you, and you’ve begun seeking resources and solutions that will make life sweeter, there’s one last thing that I truly believe will make such a difference in how the diagnosis defines your family from here on out:
Scoop up your darling child. Look deep into those little trusting eyes. And know this. God choose this child for YOU, only YOU, because He is the very essence of L-O-V-E and He wanted YOU to live out His love for this child.
And even if the path is long, and the road windy and bumpy, and the mountains seem remote and insurmountable, HE CHOOSE YOU for this journey.
Not because He sits in heaven playing games with us as His pawns, but because He sees the end from the beginning and He is working miracles through the pain and the tears and sleepless nights.
Because He loves you.
And He loves your child, the precious, amazing child—stripped of the diagnosis and the needs and the overwhelmingness of it all.
He loves even more than you do.
And you WILL get through this.