Loving your kids no matter what is perhaps the highest and hardest challenge of parenting. It’s really easy to love them when they win the scholarship on Monday, spontaneously do the dishes on Tuesday, show love to their siblings on Wednesday, and stick up for an underdog on Friday.
What about when they use all the Desitin to “paint” their siblings white, ask you loudly in the store, “why is that lady so big?”, kick you when you won’t give them what they want, stick their tongue out at you as they slam their door…and all of that before noon?
The “little people” years will try moms’ souls. Showing enough self-restraint to love them instead of screaming our heads off and locking ourselves in our rooms (with a gallon of ice cream and a can of whipping cream) is truly heroic! I’ve always thought it tragic that I don’t live in a cartoon where my superhero theme music plays every time I walk through the door. Personally, I think I would look amazing in a cape with a name like “Ever-Patient Girl” or “Hilarious Happy Mom”. I would be able to calm toddlers with a psychic shush, and convince teenagers to clean in a single bound!!!!
Even harder, what about when our kids are old enough to start making BIG decisions that you don’t agree with; such as choosing the “bad boy” to be their boyfriend, using drugs, being sexually active, dropping out of school, or making poor money decisions? Things get real serious real fast when our kids are old enough to make decisions that will forever impact their lives and ours. What is the right decision in those situations? How are we really supposed to love them then, no matter what?!?
Enter Brenda Garrison
Brenda Garrison, author of the book “Love No Matter What: When Your Kids Make Decisions You Don’t Agree With”, joined us this week to discuss this dilemma. Brenda spoke with us about her own experiences with her daughter who began making decisions that she and her husband disagreed with. She shared with us the lessons she learned, the most common mistakes that parents make, and why love is the most important thing for parents to hold onto during these trying times.
To those of you who feel that it’s too late for you or for your relationship with your kids, our guest begs “PLEASE, DON’T!”. The first thing she reminded us of is that it is NEVER too late. Waiting for “some day”, giving up, losing hope, those are the wrong decisions. Starting now to rebuild relationships is always the right decision.
The two biggest mistakes parents make
So where do you start when your child has begun making decisions you don’t agree with, and there’s contention and hard feelings on both sides? Brenda said that there are 2 big mistakes that parents make.
- Checking out. Whether your child is a three-year-old pushing boundaries, or sixteen and in full on rebellion, it’s crucial that parents don’t check out. Parents may just need to put down their cell phones and look their child in the eye when talking with them so their kids know that their parents love them more than their phones. Even if parents have “tried everything” and don’t feel like anything is ever going to change, it’s mandatory that they not give up and check out. It may be true that what they are doing isn’t helping, but staying in the game and loving that child means more than they realize in the long run. Remember that no one can be your child’s parent but you.
- Being a scared parent. Too often parents are terrified to discipline because they know that they are only going to get a fight. They could be scared their child may run away or rebel even more if they discipline. Usually they are exhausted. They try to focus on being friends or they just check out (see above). Remember that kids want parents. They won’t admit it, but kids need and want boundaries. If parents aren’t willing to discipline before kids leave home, the justice system and life will once they leave. It’s so much better for kids to at least be given a chance to learn when the stakes aren’t so high.
Ideas for building relationships
Brenda lists many ideas for building relationships with your kids in her book. We talked about a few of those in greater detail. Here is a list of the ones we covered. To hear them in detail (it’s SOO worth it!) click on the link at the top of the page to tune in.
- Establish ground rules (know your non-negotiables)
- Build bridges
- Don’t take the bait. (So hard!!)
- Keep comments to yourself, (this will definitely require duct tape).
- Stay involved. (People never look back at their life and say “I’m so happy my parents weren’t involved in my life!”)
- Never say “I told you so”! (In one fell swoop you will kill all your hard work.)
- Be their biggest cheerleader. (It means more than they will admit.)
- Be the real deal. (Don’t try to fix–just love on your child)
- Involve your child in family life.
- Speak love to your child. (Figure out which love language your child speaks and use that. Hint.. it’s usually the way that your child shows love.)
- Maximize your use of technology. (Use texting, social media, Marco Polo, etc. Find ways to connect!)
- Love and accept your child wherever he or she is at. (Start today, right where they are. Leave them a note etc.)
Parenting is NOT for sissies!
Being a parent really is a dodgy business. It’s excruciating to know what to do when we feel like everything we try blows up in our face. We feel incredibly vulnerable as we put ourselves out there and can’t control the outcome. It’s often so hard to know what things to put our foot down about and what things to let go of.
But remember, this IS the most important cause that we can give our time, energy, love and prayers to. It’s worth it. God is there to help us as we wend our way through these situations. If we let Him, He will lead us and enlighten our minds as to how we can parent, how we can connect, and how we can love these kids that He gave us.
Remember that you’re doing better than you think. Never give up hope. We all have some theme music in us somewhere 😉
Your friend in the mess,
Mom Squad Challenge
Put down technology.
Have dinner with your family.
Don’t try to fix them.
To learn more about Brenda Garrison:
Visit her at www.brendagarrison.com
You can connect with her on social media from her website.
Books we discussed (click on the link to purchase):
Love No Matter What: When Your Kids Make Decisions You Don’t Agree With
The 5 Love Languages: The secret to love that lasts by Gary Chapman
If you liked this episode, check out similar episodes we’ve done:
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it on social media, email, or by word of mouth. Thank you for your support!