Tired of Parenting?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in that “tired of parenting” space.  Homework that even I don’t understand, or an attitude that makes me want to do something that I would most definitely regret, or undone chores, or a bedroom that needs to be condemned can drive any parent to a place of crazy.  Overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, embarrassed, and a host of other emotions can make us want to quit parenting at times as we feel we will break under the pressure.

So what do we do when we get to the point of wanting to quit?  How do we keep up the endurance and pace when we’d rather just leave our kids to their own devices?  After all, they won’t listen to us anyway.

There have been times when my teen has been having a meltdown that I just want to fold them into my arms and let them know that everything will be alright.  But at other times, when the attitude and mouthiness seem to spoil the entire family environment, the only thing we can do is take a deep breath and get perspective.

It’s times like this that have trained me to become aware of how quickly my emotions can be triggered by something my teen says or does or doesn’t do.  When that happens, and I want to walk away from it all and never look back, I know that it’s time for a break–a me and God break.

So here are some questions I begin to ask myself in these moments.  Questions that will turn my heart in the right directions.

  1. Why do I endure what my kids dish out?
  2. What do I want them to say about our family when they grow up and move out?
  3. If their attitude and behaviors are not pleasing, what do I need to be teaching them?
  4. Am I modeling a pleasing attitude and behaviors?
  5. What do I need to do for me to be persistent in building the relationship with my teen?
  6. How should I be handling my interactions with my teen?
  7. What is God asking me to do?

Our why is the thing that will keep us in the game.  Having a goal–not for them to move out–but a goal that says, “I parented well”, is what will motivate us when things get tough.  Knowing what we want our relationship to be at the end of their time under our roof will give us the energy and strength to endure the difficult seasons that are part of parenting.

I want to encourage you as I know some of you are dealing with much bigger issues than attitude or dirty clothes left on the floor.  If your teens are dealing with peer issues, alcohol, sex, or drugs, they still need mom and dad in the game.  It isn’t too late to lay the burdens at the feet of Jesus.  Stay strong.  And reach out for help.  Sometimes the issues are so much bigger than we can handle on our own.

Know that I’m here to talk if you are a parent who is struggling.  I’ve been there.  When things keep piling up and there seems to be no end in sight to the heartache, sometimes reaching out to someone who’s been on the path can give you comfort and help you get back to your why.  

Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

James 1:12

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Praying God’s best when you want to quit.

“Let go…and Let God”,


Asking Your Kid–Why Did You Do That?

I can remember as a child hearing those words of frustration and accusation with a tone that said I had done something wrong or stupid. “Why did you do that?” 

And like most kids, I typically responded with something like, “I don’t know.”

And then I would be told that I was being sent to my room or being grounded for whatever “it” I did.

What my parents didn’t know, which meant I did the same thing with my kids because I didn’t know, was that one of the steps to maturity is understanding why we do what we do.

Think about that.  If we don’t teach our kids to understand their words and actions, if we don’t get them to look internally at what they are feeling, then chances are when a similar instance occurs they will respond the same way.

Read that last sentence again.

Last weekend as I attended a workshop at our church led my Milan and Kay Yerkovich, authors of How We Love, the thing that stood out to me was that to have deep communication and connection we need to be able to know how we feel.  We need to understand those emotions and how to communicate them so that other people can empathize where we are in the moment.  It is through those feelings that we better understand not only the other person but ourselves as well.

So how does that play out with our kids?

Let’s say your son hits his sister so you send him to his room.  Now what?

Once he’s calm, a good place to start might be:  “Give me three words to describe what you were feeling BEFORE you hit your sister.”

And if you grew up like I did and emotions were never talked, it might be difficult to help your son put words to those emotions.  If so, download the list of soul words from the How We Love website or maybe ask questions using the words most of us understand.





Then let him figure out the trigger to his outburst.  Suggest he should sleep on it.  Let him know that you’ll talk about it tomorrow so that he can come to fully understand what happened and why.

Then be sure to circle around tomorrow and talk about those three words.  How did he get to the point of hitting his sister?  And then define the restoration with his sister.

What should we do about it?

Yes, we.

This is the place of determining the consequence for the action. Let your tweens and teens talk through what that might be with you.

  1. How should he restore relationship with his sister? 
  2. And is there a consequence he should endure as a reminder that this is not to happen again? 
  3. And what action will be taken if this occurs again?

My guess is that if you haven’t done this in the past you will be amazed at how creative your kids will be in the restoration with their sibling.  Teaching them to express their feelings in the moment will bring empathy and compassion from the person who was hurt–which means a deeper connection.

2 Corinthians 13:9-11

We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Striving to grow in relationship with our kids.
“Let go…and Let God”,







Does Your Teen or 20-Something Know Their Purpose?

As I spent time with a friend today we started talking about helping our kids become motivated.  The more we talked I was hit with an a-ha.

“Do you think your son knows what his purpose is?” I asked.

There was a long pause.

And for both of us it was as if the dawning of what I had just spoken took root.  In fact, as I look back to when one of my kids was in middle school, I wish I had understood the power of purpose better.

One of the things our kids need to discover and learn is how life fits together for them.

  • Where do they fit within their family?
  • Who among their friends have similar interests?
  • What strengths and gifting do they possess?
  • What do they enjoy doing outside of having fun?

Having our kids explore their dreams and passions allows them to examine what will motivate them and it helps them discover who God created them to be.

Fitting in the family is where we connect and feel included.  We all need to have responsibilities within the family unit.  Knowing the expectations and boundaries within the family gives all of us a sense of security in knowing how we all fit together.

Understanding how we connect to friends along with our interests, strengths, and gifting helps us know where we fit  within the outside world.  Enjoyment for mere pleasure is different than enjoyment in terms of adding value to other’s lives.  All of us need to feel a sense of belonging such that our part helps someone else do what they do better for the greater good.

Our kids are no different.  They need to understand where they fit in to serve not to be served.

There is no purpose in being or taking.

Our purpose is in doing for others.  It is the key to motivation.  It impacts us on the soul level.

So how can we give our kids a sense of purpose?

Give them responsibility that they can get excited about.  Now don’t get me wrong, kids do need to have responsibility for things that they don’t enjoy.  Homework, cleaning their room, emptying the dishwasher, and taking out the trash are certainly not things that most kids enjoy, but they are character building and do teach responsibility.

What I’m talking about are things that move them closer to their dreams of the future.  The things that bring them soul excitement.

When it comes to our unmotivated 20-somethings, I wonder if it is because they haven’t discovered their purpose.  Stuck in sometimes dead-end jobs, are they discouraged because they don’t see hope of a better future?  Yes, they are earning money for survival, but are they wondering if this is all there is to life?  Maybe they are disheartened at where life seems to be taking them rather than pursuing the undiscovered passion that is deep within. 

A while back I had what I will call an unmotivated 20-something.  Doom and gloom would at times surround him like a heavy cloud of darkness.  He just couldn’t see the future in any positive light.  Then several things happened that changed his outlook.

  1. He made a new friend who gave him a glimpse of what his life could look like.
  2. We started talking about his future.  What could life look like in 2-3 years that would seem exciting?
  3. We talked about different steps to get there and the likelihood that all of them might not be fun.
  4. And I asked him to take one step toward his future.

And it was amazing the change I began to see.  He took one step and saw success.  Then he took another and another.  Rather than feeling discouragement and frustration, he began to see the possibilities and embraced them as his own.

He saw his future.

He saw how it fit together.

As he made mistakes or failed, we talked about the learning that was occurring in terms of maturity and I reminded Him of the successes.

And he knew his life had purpose.  He had purpose.

He began to embrace his dream with a new passion.

If we truly believe that God is in charge of our lives and He created each and every one of us for His purpose, then helping our kids discover what their purpose is points them back to their creator and will motivate them toward the deeds He set for them before the beginning of time.

Proverbs 20:5

 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.
“Let Go…and Let God”,



My Kid is Struggling and I Don’t Know What to do

As a parent of four I felt like at any given point in time one of my kids was  struggling.  School work, peers, an emotional breakup, a teacher that didn’t seem to like them, or even just being in a sour mood where nothing was the way they thought it should be wreaked havoc in our home.  Then there was the “I want” when my husband and I didn’t feel the request was in the budget or a good idea; and the “you never” or “you always” spoken in a fit of anger that made me feel like a terrible parent.

Even if we’ve been a really good parent and the lines of communication are typically open, the frustration our kids are experiencing will  spill out onto us.

And what do we want to do?  Fix it, of course.

And a lot of us, especially moms, pick up the stress.  After all, we don’t want our kids to hurt.  We don’t want them to have to experience life’s hardships.  We want them to sail through life with success.

But do we?

Think about it.  If our kids are struggling while they are living under our roof and they are dumping their emotional buckets on us, then we have been chosen (by them) to be a safe place.  They know we love them and will be there for them.  Some kids just need to vent.

The good news is that we are in a position to help them learn to deal with stress.  We can impart our coping skills (if we’ve learned them ourselves) and coach them through ways to reduce the stress and look at their life circumstance from a different perspective.  We can be there to give them a hug, a life story where we learned something similar, and show them that they will survive.

The question is, as a parent, will we survive?  After all, they’ve just spewed all over us.  They’re crying.  Or screaming.  Or saying things that are not on the list of vocabulary words that are allowed in our house.

And we have to make a choice.

How are we going to handle the load they just dumped on us?  How do we handle the emotion that wells up in us?  How do we shut down the fears that rear their ugly head as we look at this situation in light of our kid’s future?

Several years ago I had a friend who was really struggling with her daughter as was I with mine.  We’d usually walk and pound out our frustrations on the pavement as we poured out our disbelief at where our daughters were in the choices they were making.  Tears would stream down both our faces and then one of us would say something to ease the tension that would make us both laugh.  It was healing for both of us.

Thinking back to that friendship and the process we both went through as we carried the struggles of our teens, I discovered that as parents we need some coping mechanisms ourselves and a plan to help our kids move forward.  It is through these times of stress for our kids that we can actually make the relationship with our kids stronger if we think about the situation with a perspective of opportunity rather than something to fix.

So what can you do?

  1. Don’t react in the moment.  This is easier said than done.  When our kids are worked up and dump whatever it is on us, our tendency will be to respond in a similar manner.  Better communication will take place when emotions are calm. 
  2. Just breathe.  The best way to reduce our stress is to do some deep breathing.  Slowly inhale in, hold it, and slowly let it out.  Take note of your surroundings and just be in the moment of breathing.
  3. Take inventory.  Observe what you are feeling and why.  
  4. Normalize the feelings.  “Of course I feel stressed.  My teen’s anger and stress was just dumped on me. It is understandable that I am hurting with them.”
  5. Own what is yours to own.  This is really difficult for some of us.  Recognizing that this is our teen’s struggle without making it our own can be an emotional tightrope.  “This is their struggle.  I am here to help  walk through it with them, not to make it my problem.  My role is not to carry their hurt but to help them work through the situation and their emotion.”
  6. Pray.  This is where we ask God to help us take away our own overwhelming emotion and not give way to our fears.  We should also ask Him what your child needs in this circumstance.
  7. Interact with your child after their emotions have calmed.  Assure them that their emotions are normal, share a story of when you’ve encountered a similar circumstance and how you handled it.  Let them know if it went well or poorly.  Then brainstorm options letting them make suggestions on how they might handle the thing with which they are struggling.  And be sure to ask permission to share any suggestions you might have to offer.
  8. Give them a hug.  All of our kids have a particular way in which they receive love.  This is an opportunity to fill their emotional tank since stress will deplete it.  Do they need affection?  Encouragement?  Acceptance in knowing you were a safe place to dump their emotional bucket?  An appropriate funny story?  Or maybe just time to do something fun together?  Whatever your teen needs in the moment will help solidify your relationship.

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Joshua 1:9

  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

“Let go…and Let God”,




How Do You Stack Up in the Affection Department?

As my kids get older, I’m realizing that I’m not quite as affectionate as I used to be.  After all, they know that I love them–right?

When they were younger, it was easy to give them a kiss on top of their head as I wiped jelly off their face, or hold them in my lap after putting ointment on a skinned knee.  But now that my kids are taller than I am and definitely a little bulkier, holding them as we sit on the floor together is certainly not an option.

As our kids start to become more independent and we’re more worried about getting them to soccer practice or dance lessons on time and making sure they have their homework done, we sometimes forget the simple things in life–and affection can be one of them.  Stress typically keeps us centered on the next task and striking things off the to-do list rather than helping us focus on the relationship.

Did you know that appropriate physical affection can elevate a hormone called oxytocin that causes a calming sensation?  There is also a scientific study that shows that appropriate physical touch helps build trust in a relationship.  After all, we certainly want our kids to trust us.  But there is also evidence that physical connection puts us in a better mood the next day.  And, of course, most of us would prefer that over the sometimes hormone induced negativism.

Our kids need to feel that they are lovable and affection shows we care.

However, affection doesn’t only need to be physical.  Sometimes verbal affection can be just as important as physical touch.  While a soft hand on the shoulder or a ruffling of our teen’s hair denotes endearment, sometimes our kids just want to hear the words.  “I believe in you”, “You can do this”, and “You know that I love you, don’t you?”, if said with sincerity in a moment that brings connection will breed a relationship that withstands the struggles of conflict and disagreement.

Remember that the timing of affection can be everything.

I’m laughing as I’m writing this as I’m reminded of when my son was in grade school and used to have his best friend sleep over on a regular basis. I’d put blankets on the family room floor and say prayers with them as I tucked them in for the night.  And my ritual was the same.  I’d give my son a big hug and a kiss on the cheek and do the same with his buddy.  Every time, the routine was the same and we’d laugh together.

As they moved into the teen years, I remember bringing the blankets downstairs as I usually did; however, this time I didn’t pray with them or tuck them in.  I said something like, “You two are old enough to say your prayers and tuck yourself in.”  To which my son’s friend replied, “But you have to kiss us before we can go to sleep.”

And I did.

I was communicating to both of them that I loved them.  They were used to the affection and wanted to know that even though they were growing up, my love didn’t need to change.

That said, in any other circumstance, giving my teen affection in front of his friends would have embarrassed him beyond belief.  That’s where the timing of affection comes in.  In intimate settings where patterns have been established our teens will appreciate it; otherwise we need to respect them in public settings so that they won’t be the target of ridicule by their friends who don’t have appropriate affection modeled.

So what can you do, if affection hasn’t been a regular staple in your home?  What if it feels awkward and something you aren’t used to?

Start small.

A touch on the hand, a rubbing on the shoulder, or a playful tickle on the neck might be a good place to start.  Find a one-on-one time where you are alone together talking and make a gentle move.  Don’t be surprised if they look at you funny or say something like, “You’ve never done that before.”  

Rather than being embarrassed and backing off, say something like, “I just miss the closeness we used to have when you were little.  You’re growing up on me.  I just know that sometimes I like someone to show me affection.  Know that you can come get a hug from me anytime you like.”  And go on with whatever else you are doing.

I’ve always found that nighttime is a good time for words of affection.  Knocking on the door soon after one of my kids has gone to bed has been a great time to say, “Goodnight, I love you.”  

If you find your kids feeling down or sad, hugs are usually welcomed.  Go slow with a side hug if it hasn’t been something your kid is used to.  My guess is that as the new behavior continues, they’ll seek you out more for their hug.

And if they are those rare kids that don’t like physical touch, try a fist bump or a high-five.  It still says that they are lovable and important to you.

Romans 12:10

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

“Let go…and Let God”,