“We’ve just started sending her to her room for pretty much everything,” my client shared with me. “We just can’t stand to be around her when she’s like that.” These words could come from any number of my parent coaching clients. I often speak with mothers who have come to the end of their patience with their children. They love their kids desperately, but one more disrespectful word, act of defiance, or bad attitude and it feels as though we may just crumple. Or explode. Either way, what’s a loving mother to do?
I have never yet met a mother who didn’t love her kids, but I’ve met plenty who experience seasons of not enjoying them very much. How do we get through the rough patches when our kids rub us the wrong way, get on our nerves, or disappoint us? Here are some simple tips that actually work.
Prayer gets a lot of lip service but is too often overlooked as a benign but useless task. Prayer is great for me to get back in touch with God, but does it really make a difference, we wonder. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Scripture is full of examples of people’s prayers having a direct impact on God’s intervention in their lives. Hannah prayed for a child and received Samuel. Elijah prayed for dry weather and it didn’t rain for three years. James tells us the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective. If you are feeling distant from your children, talk to God about it and ask for His help. You may be surprised how He softens you and brings you back to joy.
Think Big Picture
When you feel bogged down by current stress or circumstances, remember your kids are still growing. They will not be kids forever, nor will they stay stuck in this current phase. Create a vision in your mind of what you look forward to long-term. Your argumentative child hones his skill and becomes a gifted lawyer. Your impetuous child leads you on adventures you never imagined. Keeping your focus on where you’re headed rather than where you are can help you put one foot in front of the other during seasons of slow going. Phone a friend who has faced similar struggles with their child when you have trouble getting some perspective.
Celebrate Small Victories
As the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Every small step is a victory! On rough days, small victories become so important. Treasure that shared laugh, that fleeting moment of agreement, those teeth that got brushed without nagging. When we appreciate what’s working, more things begin to work because we carry ourselves differently into the fray.
When we appreciate what’s working, more things begin to work because we carry ourselves differently into the fray.
Remember Past Joy
When you can’t see your way forward, when you find nothing to celebrate about today, dig into the past for those nuggets of joy. Sometimes we really struggle to think the future will be brighter than the present. When that happens, takes some time to revel in beautiful things that have already happened. Look at old photos and remember the things about your child that delight you. Recall moments of laughter, exploration, or quiet connection and remind your child of those things too. Such memories are a gift that brings hope and just may encourage you to look forward past the current struggle.
What big vision for your child or small victory celebration has given you hope when you and your child’s relationship has struggled?