Raising kids isn’t for the faint of heart. Sometimes we’re blessed with children or grandchildren who are flawless… like never! And some come prepackaged with enough difficulties to drive us crazy. Literally.
A few days ago a young mother asked me this:
I have a parenting question. I feel burned out by my super difficult child, and I find myself cringing whenever he walks into the room. Honestly, I don’t like this child very much right now. How do I rebuild things between us and soften my heart towards them again?
Now I admit, my advice to her wasn’t based on my parenting skills at age 35, but more on what I’ve learned since then. Ask my kids. They’ll verify that I practiced on them, and I didn’t always do it right.
But you don’t have to wait until you’ve learned the hard way, you can grab these tips and move forward wiser and better equipped to handle your difficult child.
Here’s what to do when your difficult child burns you out
- First of all (and I know you’re already doing this) ask the Lord to give you His heart and mind for this specific child.
- You can’t do this without drawing constantly from your Source (the Holy Spirit and His power). Make time daily to get into a place of connecting with Him, even if it’s in the shower or when your husband can take over kid duty for a while.
- Take a deep breath when your child walks into the room. Say a quick mental prayer for grace in your attitude.
- Remind yourself constantly that your child’s difficulties are not your responsibility. They are God’s.
Focus on what is your responsibility, which are only the things you can control about yourself. (You’ve already learned that you have no control over others, right?)
Honestly, if you can focus on this—your responsibility of controlling your own thoughts, emotions, and actions—you will find yourself responding differently to your child and have a much clearer understanding of what God wants you to do.
God’s the boss and the One in charge of your child, not you. You get control of you by doing #1-3 above. You’ll be able to “hear” God tell you what He wants you to do with the child at any given moment. Even if it is to do nothing.
- Repeat this over and over again like a broken record in your mind:
I am only in charge and in control of me. I cannot change my child and it is not my responsibility to do so. My child will only learn to be self-governed if I model it for him by being in control of myself under God’s grace and direction.
God is in charge of my child. He is perfectly capable of telling me what to do in any given moment as long as I stay tuned into Him and listening for His lead.
- You need to be mindful of your own self-care. If you are cringing when your child walks into the room, it tells me you’ve been traumatized more than you realize. You’re being triggered.
Pick up Lucille Zimmerman’s book on self-care, Renewed, Finding Your Inner Happy In an Overwhelmed World. This book has ideas on self-care that you might not have tried before. And continue any counseling you might already be getting.
- Check with your child’s doctor if your child is on medication for anything, or has allergies. See if his meds might need to be adjusted. (And if you’re on any meds, you may need to have them checked too.)
Now, I don’t know enough about your child to give more counsel—if he has special needs, past trauma, going through the terrible twos, or trying to survive his teen years.
But I do know that you’ll make it. Cuz you love Jesus and are stronger than you realize.
Now, what have you learned through raising a difficult child that you can share with us? Pass your wisdom on, please!