Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 2: Hope for the Frustrated Momma

(You can find Day 1 and other Grace-Parenting posts here. )

 Have you ever found yourself completely frustrated at your children's behaviors?

Ever have one of those moments when the baby wakes early from her nap with a stinky diaper, your toddler refuses to take a nap, you catch your 2nd grader in a lie, your older children are bickering and tattling, and there's a knock at the door right as the phone rings? You close your eyes and take a deep breath because you feel like you could literally scream in frustration?

I have. :)

(and I bet you have, too.)

I used to give my poor husband an earful of gossip about our children when he got home after one of "those" days.

In truth, I wanted to enjoy my children all the time!

The Lord showed me a little lesson about my frustration that I'm going to share with you, my dear friends, today:

If I am frustrated at my children, my children are not the problem.

---I AM.---

You weren't expecting that, were you?

Surely it's the child's fault.

After all, he's "strong-willed", "defiant", "mouthy", "disobedient", "stubborn", "difficult", "challenging", "harder to break", or "in the 'terrible-two's' (or threes or fives or whatever age fits the statement at the time)".

The Lord whispered to my heart years ago the answer to my Momma frustrations:

Change myself.

You see, it is my responsibility to raise children I enjoy being around. 

Left to themselves, children will not choose godliness. They will not automatically choose good.

As a Christian, I'm not supposed to sit around defeated all the time in my parenting because I'm so frustrated with my children.

Yes, we all feel frustrated at our children's behavior at times.

But here are two options for the Frustrated Momma:

Teach, Train, and Disciple

This first option may seem kind of self-explanatory, but many Mommas would rather complain about or avoid their children rather than teaching the child better behaviors.

Sit down with a notebook and your spouse. Write down the things about your child that are causing you to not enjoy parenting them.

Pray, communicate, brainstorm, and make a plan with your spouse for how and what you're going to change in order to teach your child more efficiently.

Stop complaining. Stop dwelling on the negative aspects of your child's personality. (Would you like someone to list all the ways you disobey the Lord? Or all the annoying aspects of your personality? I know I wouldn't!)

And STOP walking around frustrated! :)

Instead, find a way to teach your children those Biblical characteristics that will help you both enjoy each other better.

Lower Your Expectations

The second option for the frustrated Momma is to lower your expectations.

Early on in my parenting journey, I refused to lower any of my expectations for my children.

This cause much frustration for both me and my sweet (and very young!) little ones.

I have since found it to be very helpful to lower my expectation at times. ;)

If you expect less in a given situation, you will NOT be frustrated when things don't go like you had hoped.

Your children do not have to live up to the Jones' family. They do not (and definitely WILL NOT!) be perfect. You will not, no matter how hard you try, find the one "Godly way" of raising all children that will then eliminate your frustrations forever. :)

And it is okay to lower your expectations, even for a short time, in order to relieve your frustrations and find joy in your journey, especially if you're dealing with more than one problem and more than one child.

You can always go back to step one later and work again on the desired character traits.

Practical Illustrations:

I promised you practical application in this series, so here is a "real life" situation for both options above. :)

1. We enjoy eating out occasionally as a family. Our family went from 4 to 7 children almost overnight and we were in survival mode for several months, so when we returned back to regular "life" and regular eating out (even if it IS just the dollar menu, lol), we quickly got frustrated. Trying to manage three 2 year olds, an older daughter with NO public social skills, and three other children, all while trying to order food and eat it in peace.....quickly became overwhelming. :) Chaos might be a better word. LOL

We kept trying. And we kept getting frustrated.

So we made a plan. I would work on the table skills at home: manners, sitting quietly at the table, politely asking to be excused, eating what they're given without complaining, etc. We communicated our expectations clearly over and over again. We set up "table buddies" so Brent and I could order food together. We choose the food ahead of time, before we got out of the car. We trained two of our children to get the drinks responsibly. I put bibs and baby wipes permanently in the car. And we practiced sitting very, very quietly until the food comes. We rewarded the children who behaved and gave consequences to those who did not.

We taught, trained, and disciplined and now we can ENJOY eating out as a family again. :)

2. A couple of months ago, we moved Ethan (now 3) into a "big boy" bed. At first, he did fine with staying in bed, but after a couple of months, he discovered how delightfully fun freedom at bedtime could be. Inevitably, we would get all of the children to bed and just sit down on the couch to enjoy the quiet when we'd hear the pitter-patter of little feet and a sweet, tiny blonde head would peek around the corner. Of course, the cuteness wore off pretty quickly :) and soon we were finding ourselves frustrated at his refusal to stay in bed. He would get up over and over again, crying for Mommy to snuggle him

Once again, we made a plan. Initially, we tried the first option. We taught, we trained, we disciplined. He would STILL get out of bed! (Our other 6 do not.) We talked and decided on a different plan of action. We thought through our goals for bedtime: To have everyone feel loved and get good sleep in as calm a manner as possible. Perhaps Ethan was being willful, but perhaps he was feeling the affects of the major changes our family was going through and just needed some extra snuggles and time.

At any rate, we lowered our expectations. You see, if we no longer expected him to stay in bed the first time, we were no longer frustrated! :) Our practical solution was to take turns sitting in the boys' room at night while they get good and sleepy. It usually only take 5 minutes or so for Ethan  to fall asleep with Daddy or Mommy close by.

He is getting good sleep and we are no longer frustrated. 

Blessings to you, frustrated Momma, on the beautiful journey of Motherhood! Seek the Lord, make a plan, and CHANGE! :)


  1. You took the solutions that I knew were floating around in the back of my head that I couldn't get my brain wrapped around... you tied them together... and you made them practical. Thanks Selina. I'm looking forward to the changes that God promises to make when we walk in faith.

  2. Oh, I am so guilty of giving my husband the run-down of how horrible the kids were when he gets home! I'm pretty good at the teach, train, and discipline part, but maybe I need to work on lowering my expectations and remember that they're STILL kids and STILL learning! I can't expect perfection, but instead need to remember that they're still in the midst of the learning process!

  3. There is nothing like having a child that doesn't seem to respond to what worked with your other children to make you step back and reevaluate:-)! My oldest was stubborn, but she eventually gave in and now is very helpful and obedient and can pretty much run this house as good as I can. My second was easy peasy with everything! Then came the little boy...ooohhhh my. It is like we've never had children before and don't have a clue as to what we should do! LOL! We've taught, trained, and disciplined and he just keeps doing the exact opposite of what he should! lol! He will be two in March and STILL does not sleep much during the day (dirty diaper or just plain stubborn about not staying in his bed) and still wakes up 2-4 times a night between the hours of 2-5 am. He has made us stop, relax, back track, give up more of our expectations, and just go with the flow. It is nice to know that someone else goes through the same things that I do! It's encouraging to know that my son is not the only one who doesn't stay in his the discipline. He always does better for his Daddy, but Daddy can't be home in the middle of the day! I'm going to try your advice on bedtime for naptimes. Thank you so much for being willing to open yourself up and give us all a glimpse into the joy and the not-so-joyful aspects of motherhood. I feel a book coming on!!! ;-)Love you!

  4. The lowering the expectations part- that is what I struggle with. How do I know what is expected for a certain age? And getting the children to understand that, being 2 1/2 years apart, the expectations are different.


I welcome any and all comments as long as they are Christ-honoring. Please let me know what you think!