When We Struggle with Our Kids
During my pregnancy with our first daughter, I would daydream of what life was going to look like as a mom.
Our kids would be perfectly behaved. As siblings, they would never fight. As individuals they would be faithful to God, serving Him wholeheartedly. Oh, and my house would be picture perfect, with all the toys strategically put away to minimize clutter.
Then reality set in.
Actually, I am so glad it did. Because if life as a mother was as perfect as I once dreamed it would be, I would never have learned to trust in God.
We’ve recently been through the wringer with one of our children. This child is sensitive in spirit and has a loving, tender heart. But the idol of perfectionism has overwhelmed our preteen, manifesting itself in a disrespectful and angry attitude, affecting our entire household.
Several weeks ago I found myself in tears. This was not what I had signed up for; how were we going to get through this? Would it ever end?
Thankfully, as I cried out to God, He impressed on my heart what to do. And though we are still going through this struggle on a daily basis, I can tell you things are getting better.
Are you going through a difficult season with your child? You may find the following steps will help, if not the situation, at least your peace of mind.
First and foremost, we must pray. Pray for our child. Pray for ourselves. Too often we make prayer the last resort, but it should always be our first. Prayer is powerful and effective! Something we must always keep in mind as parents is that we have no control over our child’s heart – no matter what we do, we cannot change it. But God can. Pray His word over your child; the situation and your heart will be filled with peace knowing God is in control. And don’t be afraid to enlist other prayer warriors – confiding in a trusted friend or two can make a world of difference, even if it is just knowing that you are not alone in this battle.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7, NIV
While we’re praying, we need to ask for an attitude of forgiveness. Resist the temptation to hold on to your own hurt over the situation. Jesus tells us to forgive the one who has sinned against us seventy times seven. I usually lose count after about five times, but the point is to forgive as often as God has forgiven us. Again and again.
Focus on the positive
I know. It’s hard to focus on the positive when your energy is spent on the negative. I was so exhausted dealing with the disrespect and anger that I couldn’t see anything else. But as God’s peace began to fill my heart, I found it easier to seek out those positive qualities about my child I love so much. And that’s not just good for your heart – it’s good for your child’s as well.
As well, focus on who you are in Christ. You are His beloved. He knows how tired and discouraged you are. He will give you what you need to get through each day. As you trust in Him and keep your eyes fixed on Him, He’ll also fill you with joy, despite your circumstances.
Lastly, walk in victory, not defeat. After a particularly bad evening, the next morning found me slumped over, literally walking in a defeated posture. Suddenly I realized what I was doing and I reminded myself that God is fighting for me and for my preteen. The victory belongs to Him, even if I have yet to see it! Remembering this truth helped me straighten my posture, throw back my shoulders and smile because I know God cannot be defeated.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30, NIV
As moms we don’t need to be told to love our kids. But showing love is often difficult when you’re frustrated with certain behaviors. It is so important to demonstrate our unconditional love regularly, even when we don’t feel like it. Tell your child you love them every single day. Give them hugs. Leave little notes in their lunches or on their pillow. Start a journal to talk with them when words seem to fail the both of you. Love them like God loves us – not dependent on our performance, but just because we are His.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8, NIV
Like I said, things aren’t perfect in our home, but they are getting better. The disrespectful attitude rears its ugly head less, the willingness to listen is growing, and the peace in our home is spreading. Most of all, I can rest easy knowing that God is moving not just in our preteen’s heart, but my own as well. He is in control; He has a plan; and He will complete it.
It probably won’t look anything like those pregnant daydreams, but then again, His ways are so much better.
Written by Andrea Mitchell
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