One thing that I do not often talk about here on the site is my level of frustration that builds up often with our kids. I am far from being a patient mom, and it is very much a struggle for me to reign in my emotions at times. Add to that mix a similar-tempered husband and two kiddos that seem to be able to push every button known to man, and there are days that I want to hide under the covers or in the bathroom and count to 10. Or 1,000.
A reason I don’t share about this – I am FAR from an eloquent writer and often have trouble adequately putting into words how I feel. And I don’t want my words to be misinterpreted or misunderstood, especially when it’s about a subject that I know so many also have issues with – and I am not an expert. I’m right in the trenches with you all.
Raising kids is not near as easy as it seemed it would be. You know, long before we had children and we had this idyllic world going on in our heads. Back when we observed other parents and thought, “We will NEVER do that with our children.”
But back to that frustration and anger, eh?
When you add to the mix a family of loud and boisterous children, including a mother who isn’t exactly a quiet herself – well, many situations can be culled into the ‘perfect storm’ for disaster, especially when I’m tired and not on guard to control myself and my reactions to situations. It’s hard to know when to step in, when to leave something alone and keep my mouth shut, when to back down, etc…etc…
Believe me, I’m the first to beat myself up for my attitude and lack of self-control or over-reaction. I get frustrated with myself, feel I am forever a failure as a parent, and then worry how our children will turn out in the future.
You all – to just interject here – we do have great kids. No, they aren’t perfect. We struggle with similar issues other families do including pushing limits, bad attitudes, and whining, but they really are great kids.
A book I’ve been reading lately (and HIGHLY recommend) is Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. I’m a girl that needs short chapters to mull and meditate, but there are so many nuggets in the book that get right to the heart of the matter for me – and are ENCOURAGING.
I don’t know about you, but with my propensity to feel like an absolute failure in the parenting department, encouragement for my heart and direction for the next step is always welcome. Triggers has 31 chapters – umm, perfect to read a chapter a day, no? And lots of great stuff to underline, dog-ear, and refer to on tough days. Or every day.
Here are a few snippets that caught my attention recently. And by ‘caught my attention,’ that means taking a picture of it to send to my hubby, underlining it, dog-earing the page, and copying it down into my journal to review constantly.
Parents of strong-willed children must choose words that build up their God-design, not tear it down with blame and shame. God didn’t make a mistake when he made them tenacious. You honor God when you honor your child’s hardwiring, even if their personality rubs you wrong. (p. 43)
Ouch. Something I struggle most with is the personality of a child in our home – one that is suspiciously similar to mine (shocking, eh?). There are days I honestly cry an ugly cry about this issue. It’s not that I do not love this child, but it is a sincere struggle for me.
Reading that snippet brought renewed tears to my eyes, but in a different way. I KNOW that God created each of our children uniquely to be who they are, and sometimes it is (and will be hard), but it was the honor part that really struck me. How often do I make that internal decision to mentally stop and remember to honor, rather than run through a mental list of everything that irritates about the personality, focusing on the negatives. Yes, there is conviction in there for me, but also encouragement in how to refocus myself toward honoring both that child and God.
It’s not my job to strangle them into submission. I am responsible to navigate my own free choices, not control theirs. I can only hold captive my own tongue, leading by example, training them to do likewise. (p. 30)
Oh – I could run with this one. So very, very far. The power struggle can be so very difficult. The home I was raised in left little room for arguing, and while submission to authority is important to understand, there was also very little room for grace. This area is another that I have such a hard time with – finding that balance and understanding the need to lead by example, when so often the need to ‘prove’ who is in charge doesn’t feel like it should be done with humility (especially when the precedent set for me left no room for argument).
So often my ‘leading by example’ hasn’t been prefaced by humility or holding captive words. Again – convicting.
Here’s the thing. I know I’m not alone. And admitting we struggle in this area is tough. I know for me, the ‘perfect homeschool mom’ model is one who never raises her voice and is always the example of humility to her family. THAT IS SO FAR FROM WHERE I AM. It’s a daily struggle. Some days and weeks are better than others, but it is a real struggle and an area I am quick to judge myself and feel that I don’t measure up.
Are you struggling with this area as well? For our family I want to change the dynamic (with the help of Jesus) – and would love to pray for your family as well. If you aren’t comfortable leaving a comment on this post, please feel free to email me directly.
Hang in there and know you are not alone. Grace to you today and a hug from me to you.