Monday, October 22, 2012

Help! I don't like my child!

(I am counting this post as pat of my series- 31 days of joy on the mommy job- because it is precisely in struggles like these that I find renewed joy in Jesus who forgives and sustains and helps me in all things.)


Emily....
I need prayers. A lot.
Please, don't judge me, just pray for me.

Here it goes...... I struggle with liking my son, daily. God help me and forgive me. I love him dearly and there are so many great and wonderful things about him. He posses qualities that any, normal, mother would adore.
 I struggle with him though. It is because I do not handle his [specific personality, moods, quirks] well.
 It wears on me and I start getting mad. I have very little patience.

God, please let me get a handle on this. Let my son grow to be the wonderful person he is in spite of me. God, You created this magnificent child for a purpose. Please, help me in not screwing this up!
-- Weary Mom

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Dear Weary Mom,
I relate very much to this struggle.

First, let me relieve you with this- you have not been commanded to LIKE your son. Seriously. You have to love him, yes, but love is not a feeling of approval.  Love does not mean that you enjoy his presence all the time.  To love him means you do what is best for him—to pour yourself out for him and seek his good.

Yes, I know, that is impossible too, in light of our selfishness and sin. 


But what is impossible for us is possible in Christ.  God does not just forgive our sins but he gives us his righteousness.  That means, we get to use His love, His patience, His wisdom as we serve those around us.  
This is why we are invited and ordered to abide in Him!  He knows that without him we just have selfish sin, but with him we learn (slowly sometimes!) to see as He sees, and borrow everything we need from His hand.  It is by His grace alone that we are able to seek the good of others despite our feelings.

You also have the difficult job of sorting out the behavior of your son. What is just a personality quirk? What is sin? What should I address for the sake of those who will interact with him for the rest of his life?  Are there things that he simply cannot control? Is he just being stubborn? Is he just different, and that is what is annoying me?

I wish there was an easy way to sort these things out.
I encourage you to prayerfully observe your son as you wrestle through these things.
And take refuge in the grace of God that covers you and him even in the middle of these growing pains.
--- Emily

God, please help me love my son as you love me.
Help me know what parts of his behaviors are simply HIM and things that I need to put up with—change me where I need changing—and help me know what behaviors are things that need correcting.
Teach me to discipline him not just for my sake, but for his, as it is my job to help him grow into a person who can handle his emotions and love and serve others with compassion and self-control.
Help me, when I need to 'be the wall' –to give firm and consistent consequences for misbehavior—because this is exhausting, and it is hard to sort out my selfishness from what is right.

Forgive me when I get all this wrong.
Cover both of us in grace. More importantly than all of this, teach me to point him (and myself!) to You each day- that we may both take refuge in your constant love for us.
In Jesus,
Amen.

Do you ever have trouble liking your child?
What other advice do you have for this weary mom?



17 comments:

  1. I think it's wonderful you addressed this comment and didn't just pretend this doesn't happen to mothers. I have a child that I love very much but we are very different. I talked to my grandmother about it recently. She raised 5 children and she said there is one that she had the most difficult time relating to as he was growing up. Now they share a very tender heart to heart relationship that she wouldn't trade for anything! That was really encouraging to me.

    I would maybe add to find a list of things she really LIKES about her son to give her a positive focus. What things does he do that are a reflection of her OWN nature or sin? (often I see my children treating each other in a way I do not like only to realize it's how I have treated them. :() What qualities does she see that are her husband, mother, brother, etc. that she can begin to view as attributes as he grows older instead of annoying now?

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    1. Great suggestions! I commend you for addressing this issue, probably more common than we admit. Thanks for linking up this week!

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  2. I can so relate to this. I struggled w/ my oldest son. He and I were very different, personality wise, and he was just difficult at times. He was not wired like me, and I had to learn how to best teach him and love him. I failed at times, for sure. He's now 35 and says he's doesn't remember any rough spots, so maybe I didn't do the damage I thought I did. Parenting is so hard. I think it's very common to, at times, not like your child. We love them anyway!

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  3. Just had to comment again...I noticed Dobson's Dare to Discipline on your sidebar. I read this when my kids were small...it was great. Also a book called The Difficult Child. I also noticed that Boundaries in on your book list. That's my favorite book! It's so insightful and smart. Everyone should read it!!

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    1. Those books are some of my favorites!

      Thanks for the comments... and thanks for your story too! So glad to hear that it does get better! (usually!)

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  4. This was a great post to read! It is so wonderful to read posts that make you think "Yes! I'm not the only one!" You addressed it beautifully! Thank you for sharing and linking up this week at Simply Helping Him! Blessings!

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    1. Oh no, you are NOT the only one :) thanks for commenting Misty!

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  5. What an inspiring prayer at the end, I think all mothers can benefit from that! Thanks for linking up for Mommy Moments!
    TheNotQuiteMilitaryWife.blogspot.com

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  6. Excellent. I've often found that the things that drive me MOST NUTS about a particular child - generally as in sin in their lives - is usually a reflection of my OWN sins! OUCH!! But the thing that is so great is that we have the opportunity to help CHANGE our children's flaws and failings (and sin). Things that we really don't like about our children are things we can take to the Lord for guidance on how to view them and if (and how) to change them. The joys and responsibilities of child training!

    Thanks, as always Emily, for sharing this!

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    1. Oh yes. Prayer about these things is SO important. Sometimes their sin matches mine, or a sin in me is making it harder for me to deal with whatever it is in them!

      So glad our Father hears when we call to Him!

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  7. What a helpful and real-life post!!! I am blessed so much because I was there and sticking it out is what bonded us together in these young adult years! Thank you! I would like to feature this tomorrow on the 'EOA' link-up. Excellent!

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  8. Beautiful and encouraging words! Thank you for sharing this! This would also apply to a child who is like ourselves and our same "strong willed" characters could buck heads to cause tension too...

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    1. oh absolutely! sometimes the ones the most like me are the hardest to live with :) weird.

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  9. Once again, I love the honesty here. What I would add is, it never hurts to ASK GOD to give you that "LIKE" for your child. My son is only five and a half, so I have a feeling I will be praying that prayer a few more times in the years ahead. But already, I can count at least two specific seasons where my heart echoed this Mother's. And I was especially burdened over it because, for crying out loud, I had longed for this boy for EIGHT PLUS YEARS!? How could I now not be liking him? How ungrateful WAS I? I took this to my group of praying friends and asked them to ask God to give me an AFFECTION and appreciation, a "like" if you will, for my boy. And I can tell you, in no time at all, God was quite pleased to answer those prayers with a hearty YES. So much so that I have not been living in a long SEASON of liking my son. That's not to say we don't have our difficult moments (HA!) but the overriding tone between us is one of deep affection and enjoyment of one another.

    "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" ~Matthew 7:7-11

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    1. Elizabeth, this is GREAT. In fact, I may quote it in a follow up post- is that OK with you?

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