By Jaclyn Weidner
We all go through moments or seasons when we don’t really like our kids. I know that sounds awful to say, but it’s true.
And even though our love for them is never in question, we can still experience day-to-day moments or longer seasons where their behavior–or circumstances in life–make it more challenging to feel like we like them.
When I find myself in that place, there are a few things I’ve done to help me like them again and I hope they encourage you as well.
1) Look at old pictures of them. Not merely to reminisce about a sweeter time in the past, but to remember that one year ago they “looked so young there” and a year from now we will be having that same thought about the child that is in front of us right now. Somehow it helps soften my heart to them and remember they really are so little (even if they’re teenagers) and they keep growing.
2) Go on a one on one date, preferably a connecting activity that they would take joy in. Follow it up with a face-to-face conversation over a treat. Ask questions that are meaningful to them, look them in the eye and listen. Is there a particular gripe or difficulty your child is continuing to express and experience? Perhaps they simply need to feel like someone is listening, really listening. You may not be able to solve their problem and they likely do not want you to. But they might just want to be heard by you. This is not the time for doling out advice, but putting on our best listening face. This conversation may be better held while driving or while participating in an activity. For a lot of kids, sitting face-to-face might be too intimidating and cause them to shut down. While they’re engaged in one of their favorite activities, you might be surprised how they begin to open up. Genuine engagement always creates a place of compassion in our hearts that is otherwise difficult to manufacture.
3) Examine my heart. Is there something I may have said or done that has been hurtful to them? Through life’s daily frustrations I have let many unkind things slip from my mouth towards my kids hearts. Often these things are dealt with right away, but sometimes they are forgotten and we have moved on without the necessary steps toward reconciliation. Perhaps my heart is disconnected from my kids because of something we have not dealt with, and maybe that’s causing them to act out in a way that is perpetuating the problem. When I take a moment and ask God to show me if there is anything I have said or done that needs my attention, He is very good at highlighting things I may have overlooked or forgotten. Once I have a moment with that child and apologize, I can see their eyes light up and both of our hearts are softened toward each other.
4) Cut out any negative words about them. I can easily fall into a habit of telling others how difficult my kids are, or when my husband walks in the door, immediately expelling the negative tales of the day. Not only does this hurt their little hearts if they are in earshot, but it also builds a case against them in my own heart. I then have a negative cycle in my heart/brain connection reinforcing how difficult they are and how much I am having trouble with them. While many of these things may be true, it doesn’t help me like them by speaking negatively about them. It can take a lot of discipline and self-control in this area.
5) Try a “caught-ya” board. Anytime someone does something kind, helpful, or positive write it on this public board letting that person shine. The focus then becomes on the good our kids are doing. It’s way too easy for us to simply focus on the negative things we see all around us. It actually takes quite a bit of work to seek out the good. This will change our mindset towards our kids as we will be looking for the good in who they are instead of continuing to build up a case towards the negative.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
As best you can, dwell on the positive attributes of your child. Yes, even when they are driving you bonkers. You may need to get a bit of space from them to really appreciate them. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. But use that time to remember what you like about them and then tell them about it when you see them next. Good luck mama, you’ve got this!
Jaclyn is a part-time high school teacher, and full-time mom to 3 energetic and talkative little girls. She loves to dive deep in conversation to get to the good stuff. In the words of her 4 year old she’s “just a little bit funny”. Her and her husband Brendan live just outside of Vancouver, Canada. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook.