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Question: I am very frustrated with myself and my parenting. I so admire other homeschool families that have obedient and willing to help children. I am so embarrassed at the behavior of my children. I have read so many books about discipline but I don't stick with it. I think sometimes I'm afraid to try again because I get so angry with them and I know they can outlast me. I'm out numbered. Can you tell me what I should do to get right-away obedience? One of my twins will ALWAYS take all day to do anything, chores, schoolwork, and she will pay siblings to do her chores. How do I discipline for bad attitude and disrespect? I told one homeschool mom that my daughter told me I was impatient and she said, "Oh my kids would not be allowed to say that to me!" She is a mother of 9, a very respected family. The other thing is I feel I lower my kids' self esteem from nagging, yelling, and never praising. Thank you so much for your time and advice.

Dear Mom,

Bless your heart! I have been where you are many times. In fact I was there just this past week. Friday was a particularly troublesome day. The girls were cantankerous and rowdy. They were not willing to help me as I prepared to leave for the weekend (deacon retreat discussing Theology of the Body). They pouted miserably when I informed them that they would have to spend the night at a neighbor's house. (They had in their minds that they would have the entire house to themselves and not have to be babysat.) The argument and the disagreement finally erupted into a full fledged battle. Their camp was stronger (there are more of them) and my spirit was weary and tired. I just wanted to pack, clean up the kitchen, find my husband a clean shirt, and go to the grocery for some frozen dinners for them. I began to cry from my weariness and my lack of creativity. Why couldn't I say the words that would make them stop pouting and wanting to discuss their options (they thought I would bend in my opinion). I went to the bedroom to cool off and regain some composure. I was nearly at the place whereby I thought it better for me to stay home from the retreat and avoid the confrontations with the girls. I began to pray. 'Lord help me to see the Tempter and his desire to steal my peace in all of this.' I knew in my spirit that the Tempter wanted me to stay home and not be with my husband for this grace filled weekend. As I used some slow deep chest breathing (and we thought we would only use that for childbirth), my spirit calmed and I knew that the Lord was surrounding me with His peace. I felt His protection. There was a tap on the door. 'Mom, we're sorry. We understand why you want us to go the neighbor's to spend the night.' I opened the door to see three of the sweetest girls (where had the banshees gone?). We hugged one another and had a communal apology for the cross words spoken. I went to confession while at the retreat.

Sometimes parenting is mentally tiring. There will never be a time when we will not have to discuss, talk to, pray for, or be concerned about our children. Parenting is a life long journey. Those that tell you otherwise are not fully parenting in the truest sense of the words. Jesus gives us our children (His children) to watch over, to teach, to nurture and most especially pray for while we are on earth and on into the time we are in Heaven. Remember that a person is created in the image and likeness of God. Imagine that...we are asked to care for a human that is made in the image of God. That takes parenting to a greater level than ever we could understand. A human, created by God, endowed with the power of His spirit within them, runs about our life and cries out for our tender care.

Children are adults in the making. Nothing is more disturbing to health care providers than a child that behaves like an adult. Children blurt out statements that are hurtful and confusing. However I know many an adult that does this as well. Let's think about this for a moment. Could it be that perhaps every confrontation (parenting moment) that our children work through in their childhood is a child-like irritation that will not show up in adulthood? Taking the time to parent means seeing these teaching moments for what they are. They are instructions from the Lord to address issues that He wants addressed in His children.

There are going to be pleasant days with children and then there are going to be unpleasant days. However everyday with our children is a blessing. All too soon they are out on their own. My girls were irritated because they thought they were going to be able to enjoy the same freedoms that their brothers enjoy away at college. They were testing the waters. It is good to test the waters. Remember that they will be away on their own soon enough and they will need to discern the waters of temptation. My girls are normal and at times they are outspoken. We all had the blessing of a disagreement (this is a teaching moment). They saw that their words hurt my feelings. This is good. (I know many adults that have not caught on to that fact.) I put space between myself and the girls by going to the bedroom. That was good. It taught them that it is better to leave an argument than to say too much. They were moved by their goodness and tenderheartedness to approach me for forgiveness. What a blessing. How many marriages, lives, and relationships have been destroyed because someone is too stubborn to approach another for forgiveness. I readily embraced them and told them that I was sorry for whatever hurtful things I might have said. Don't you see... it is not the teaching/parenting moment that is the issue, it is how we handle it.

We are imperfect. We are created by an All Perfect God. He puts in us imperfections that are of His perfect design. Through the Lord's grace we are to use our imperfections to allow the love of the Lord to perfect us in Him and prepare us for Heaven, where there are no imperfections.

Return to your work of mothering. Do not let the Tempter steal your peace. Go to confession regularly and receive the graces there that will help you deal with that part of your parenting that needs retooling. Jesus desires that you be the mother of these precious children He has sent. Jesus will give you the strength and the tools necessary to begin again, to renew your efforts, and to use your teaching moments wisely.

You are a sweet and dear mommy. I am uplifted by your humbleness and your desire to better yourself. I admire you very much and appreciate your candor in writing your letter. Your openness allows that other moms will take comfort in your witness. We must continue to pray, pray, pray for one another. Let us hold one another close in prayer today and always. Remember to pray often for moms who think that they are alone. Thank you for your letter.

Jesus, we pray today for all those moms who find themselves in situations that require great creativity. Lord, please empower them to walk the path with peace and the empowerment of Your strength. Lord, we ask that those parents who lack parenting skills find persons who will enter their lives and teach them better techniques to handle the difficult challenges that are presented to them. Lord, we ask that all children be loved from the knowledge that they are created by You. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

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