Some kids are just harder than others.
As a mama of two girls, a foster mama to kids who come into our home for seasons, and someone who has served in ministry roles with various ages over the years, we’ve experienced some big behaviors. I could share with you techniques on breathing, diffusing/redirecting, trust-based relational intervention, or brain gym exercises, all good and could help if you are going through a rough season.
Chances are, you’ve gotten all sorts of advice about elimination diets, screen time, acupuncturists or chiropractors, all great tools to give help. As difficult as it can be to raise a “hard” kid, it’s got to be even more difficult to be one. Their feelings and opinions are big and intense, and so is their inclination to follow them. Being flagged as “hard” or “problems” or having “disciplinary issues”, they are not unaware, and there are reasons behind the behaviors.
Where do we begin?
There’s no handbook that comes home from the hospital. I’m sure that nurse wanted to laugh at me when it was time to bring my firstborn home, and I looked at her scared and half-jokingly asked, “don’t I have to take a test or something before I can take her home?” I knew nothing.
He did. He had chosen me to be her mother. He knew that I would be the one to hold her hand and walk through the “hard” together as well as become a mother to kids from hard places, with even harder stories.
Parenting is hard! It is a flawed person (me = sinner) who is chosen to give direction and guidance and help to another flawed person (my child = sinner). There is no mystery here why this is hard!
He meets you with grace, love, and help. He never sends you without going with you. Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us that, “God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine.” Parenting IS possible with the Savior! (I feel like this is where I see Lloyd Christmas, from the movie Dumb and Dumber enter my mind, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”)
God has chosen us, to be primary instruments in the lives of our children, to help love and shape their little souls. Let that sink in. This is going to be the hardest thing you might ever do in your life, and you need a bigger worldview than just “day to day” parenting eyes to see it.
You are going to need to see it from a big gospel parenting view to truly see what God’s called you to do. If you do, it will change everything you do, how you approach your kids, and every part of how you parent them.
The Gospel is the message that our kids (we) need to hear. Our kids don’t need to hear that their own goodness will earn their way into heaven and that being a Christian is all about their behaviors, whether good or bad. They need to hear that there is a Savior who has gone before them, extending complete forgiveness (even in the biggest outburst, through lying, stealing, hitting, biting, or any other behavior that gives us wrinkles…you know that squinched up parent face look?) total righteousness and adoption to all who believe.
No parent gives better mercy in this parenting gig than the one that realizes her humble and desperate need as well! Assure them that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that you love them, even when there are “hard” moments.
When parenting gets “hard”, it puts a flashlight on our sin struggles. Use that to show your children, I am “hard” too. I am deeply flawed, in need of forgiveness, in need of Jesus. Ask God to walk you through these “hard” moments together. The Gospel changes everything from our responses, our conversations, and how we view our “hard”. Jesus’ sacrifice carries us through our weakness, temptations, and sins.
Everything changes with the Gospel, so start there first.