All moms love their kids. But if we’re being honest, I think many of us would confess that we may not necessarily like them.
And spend most of our time during the day with them? The notion is simply inconceivable to a lot of us. It’s sad, but it’s also a sign of the culture we live in.
I get it, because I’ve been there.
When I would pick my son up from school, it seemed like all the energy he had been using to pay attention to his teachers and behave ran out the minute I closed the minivan door. He would dissolve into a meltdown at the slightest negative response from me.
By the time we arrived home, I was beside myself with frustration and wishing away the next few hours until bedtime.
I dreaded holidays, Christmas vacation, and summer break. I eagerly looked ahead to glorious “me time”, and felt completely overwhelmed by the thought of spending most of my hours with both children.
So how do we reconnect with our kids and start enjoying them again? Here are four reasons that may be contributing to our negative feelings about them.
The times we are most unhappy with our kids’ behavior and most strongly dislike being around them are often the times where we’ve been inconsistent in our discipline. We’ve ignored, excused, or justified poor attitudes and behavior, and haven’t made active parenting the priority it should be.
As a result, we’ve reaped the consequences for our irresponsible parenting.
Your children need to be convinced that you are their rightful authority. Once they are, they will become much happier and more cooperative overall. They will stop virtually all testing and rebelling, and naturally draw closer to you.
Your own personal character
When I am not enjoying my children, it’s a huge flag that I’ve slacked off in my personal walk with the Lord. I find that I tend to be more irritated with my kids when I haven’t been intentional about prayer or Bible study. They get on my nerves when I also haven’t been disciplined with my time, planned ahead, or prioritized my to-do list, so now I view all their little interruptions as infringements on my ability to get things done.
Becoming easily frustrated with their difficult attitudes is a pretty good indication that I need to grow in patience, forbearance, and sacrificial love. When I grow in these fruits of the spirit, I am better able to stick by my kids through their problems and disobedience, even though it may not produce the instant results I want.
Like it or not, we set the spiritual tone in our homes. If our children are displaying anger, impatience, or unkindness, it’s likely because we’ve modeled it before them in some way.
Stressors both inside and outside the home
Our kids do pick up on how we feel about them and then mirror it back to us. If we’ve treated them with contempt, they’ll feel unwanted or disrespected and start acting out.
Despite their usually good disposition and forgiving nature, if I were repeatedly unfair or unkind to my children, they would eventually say, “She can’t be trusted. Maybe I ought to do the leading here.”
Another factor is that our children may be mimicking the behavior and attitudes of others in school, and exhibiting signs of stress from that environment which we misinterpret as disrespect or defiance.
The hours between 3:00pm and 8:00pm on weeknights in our house were wrought with frustration, tears, and misunderstandings. I started realizing that someone else was getting the best of my son all day long, and I was getting the leftovers.
Not spending enough time engaged with them
One of the biggest reservations that people have expressed to me about homeschooling is they don’t have the kind of relationship with their kids they think they need to have. I tell them that they probably don’t have the relationship they want since they’re spending so much time apart from them in the first place.
Could it be that we’ve just gotten so used to not having our kids around, that when they are, we simply don’t know how to relate to them?
We mistakenly think that if we’re having problems handling our kids’ troubling behavior the solution is for them to spend less time with us. We convince ourselves this will restore peace in our homes, and that they would be better off with someone more “qualified”, more patient, and more educated.
But this is only an external factor. The answer is that they actually need more of YOU.
The more time I spent actively engaged with both my children, the more I started genuinely enjoying them! When we began homeschooling and I dedicated myself to the job of motherhood full-time, as opposed to living for those moments when I could drop my son off, things became easier.
You see, I don’t really homeschool because I enjoy being around my children 24-7; I enjoy my children because I homeschool.
When we recognize our frustration and impatience with our kids, it is a perfect opportunity for sanctification. The Bible says we shouldn’t exasperate our children (Colossians 3:21) or provoke them to wrath (Ephesians 6:4).
Pause and ask yourself what God may be trying to teach you during this difficult season. It’s possible you are bypassing the sanctifying work of struggling through those problems with your child by settling for temporary relief.
Let’s not spend our kids’ childhoods wishing them away, and then spend their adulthoods wishing they wanted to be closer!