When Parenting Gets Frustrating

I saw a quote on social media a while ago that made me smile: “I be trying with gentle parenting but these children don’t be gentle childrening.” As parents we have all been there (or is it just me?) We have every intention of Mary Poppins-style parenting, but if we look at a mirror after some epic parenting battles, the likeness we see is less of a whistling, cheerful Mary Poppins, and more of a fire-breathing dragon-like creature.

I will start by saying it is not abnormal to find some aspects of parenting frustrating. It is annoying to keep repeating yourself over and over, and have it fall on ears with selective auditory attention. Particularly when the consequence you had given as a warning materialises. It can also be frustrating to do so much for your kids, and hear them moan and complain about your efforts. It can be heart breaking to see them being mean to/fighting their siblings or even you. Whether it is dealing with sleepless nights as a parent of a baby, or a different kind of sleepless nights as the parent of a teen, and everything else in between and after, simply put, parenting can be tough.

However, it is also important to emphasise that there are joys and beautiful moments to treasure, that parenting can really be rewarding sometimes, and that eventually kids do grow up, and “put away childish things”. As parents, we can play a significant role in making sure that they grow up to be blessings to their family and society. As Andy Stanley said, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”

What can we do though to deal with the frustrating aspects of parenting, to minimise those moments of anger, so that we don’t react in ways we regret? While I am no parenting expert, I can share a few tips that help me as I navigate this parenting business.

• Remember that ultimately, they are kids. Sometimes our frustrations with our kids are because we expect them to act like adults, and then get annoyed when they act like kids. Remember 1st Corinthians 13:11? I remember once telling my son off for doing something and saying “that’s so childish”, then catching myself and realising that he was indeed a child! While we can have good expectations for them, we should also be realistic and have a sense of perspective. If we are honest, even as adults we behave in ways that we tell them not to. A meme I saw once noted:
Parent: Why can’t these children just do what I ask them to?
God: LOL

Now I don’t think God will ‘LOL’ at our struggles, but it was a good reality check. Our kids are human too. Also, if we are honest, sometimes it is the traits our children have that we see in ourselves that can annoy us.

Have a plan of action for when they misbehave, for both yourself and the child. For the child, it should be a consequence they know in advance and can understand, that is proportional to the offence, and that you can actually implement. Avoid empty threats so that you don’t lose your credibility. Try to be consistent, but bear in mind that consequences can change as kids grow older and have different tastes/preferences. It took several goes until I finally nailed the consequence that worked for some repeated misbehaviour, but it was a relief to see how well it worked most times! For you as a parent, after administering the consequence, it may be worth stepping away if you can sense you are getting really angry (or even before, if you are really angry). Take a deep breath (or several as the case may be), stop and pray (even if it’s for a few seconds) and ask the Holy Spirit for help. If you need to, go to your room and scream into your pillow, but as much as possible, try to issue consequences calmly. Remember that it is the misbehaviour you hate, not your child, and this should reflect in the language used when talking to them and the way you treat them. The Bible specifically asks us not to provoke our children to anger (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21). Sometimes we might also need to take a step back, reflect on our actions and reactions, and even our upbringing and present circumstances, to understand why certain things our children do are triggers for us and what we can do about such.

• When you fail, and in anger react in ways that you know you shouldn’t, don’t spend ages beating yourself up. You are human. Acknowledge where you have gone wrong, apologise to your child, learn your triggers, and revise your action plan to factor these in. Most importantly, reassure your child(ren) that you love them, for in such moments, they will probably feel very unloved. Reminding your child that you love them should not be conditional on when they behave well, as it is important that we don’t raise children who think they are only worthy of love when they behave a certain way or do certain things.
If you are really struggling, please reach out to wise people you can trust… “It takes a village to raise a child”. Preventing long term emotional damage (or worse) is better than trying to cure it.

 

To conclude, God is the ultimate parent, and He is willing to teach us if we are willing to learn, May we learn to lean more on Him and His wisdom as we navigate this sacred call of parenting, and may our children bring us great joy!

 


I’m Liv, a Christian, not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but perfectly loved by God. In my walk with God, sometimes I stumble, sometimes I skip happily, sometimes I feel like I’m just about dragging myself along. Writing is my way of sharing the little pieces of learning I pick up along the walk. My hope is that it encourages you, makes you ponder, reminds you that you are not alone, and that you are loved (oh so loved!) by God.

info@citychurchlagos.com, +2349076700860