A week ago, my 16-year-old left his breakfast dishes on the table for someone else to clean. Chris was still in Mississippi, and the full-time working/single-parenting/new home/new community gig was getting to me. I was ready to explode with frustration; ready to scream at Sam to come DO HIS DISHES. Ready to rip into him for NOT CONTRIBUTING, for BEING LAZY, for choosing to BE SELFISH instead of HELPFUL.

Instead, I texted my husband first. This was the dialogue that followed:

ME: I just walked in to find his breakfast remnants still out on the counter and dried cereal in the sink. WTF?? Why do I have to have this conversation EVERY SINGLE DAY???

CHRIS: Because he is still a kid. We are still teaching him. He is still learning. He likes to learn the hard way. That has always been his issue. Go give him a hug. 🙂

I remember back when my Mom was a single parent. She — 99% of the time — was kind and patient and forgiving. More so, probably, than I would have been under so much pressure. Every once and a while, however, she blew. And when she did, my sister and I would rush around maniacally, trying to right our wrongs, trying to silence the storm. But our actions were more about appeasing our Mom’s anger, about easing her pain, than learning a lesson. It was when my Mom sat down, looked me in the eye, and said calmly and with love, “I’m disappointed in the choice you just made,” that my heart and mind were most impacted. When she took the time to talk with me, calmly, rationally, I knew what she needed to convey was important, that I was important.

Mary Claire said to me just the other day, “Mom, we don’t really listen when you yell. We just tune you out.” And it’s true. When I begin ranting, my kids disconnect. They disperse to their respective corners of the earth. They roll their eyes behind closed doors. They lose themselves in the comfort and familiarity of their technology. They complete whatever task is required of them, not out of respect or a sense of duty, but because they want me to Shut. Up.

Those crazy, maniacal bursts of frenzied yelling don’t do anything to connect us as a family. They simply serve to separate us both physically and mentally — some of us sitting alone with our tears, others with our regrets.

At 43, I still ask for grace and forgiveness on a daily basis. I disappoint people I love. I don’t do enough for those who need me. I take others for granted. I fail to live up to my own potential. I say unkind words out of frustration and fatigue. I make bad decisions. Every single day, I do these things. Every single day, I vow to do better the next. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. But the point is this: If I need to be understood and loved despite my shortcomings and poor choices, my kids deserve at least that much… and a million times more.

I am helping to build character in four young human beings, not chasing perceived perfection. Crumbs left on the counter will not contribute to nor dismantle the pursuit of world peace. Yes, they need to learn responsibility. Yes, I will require it of them. Yes, I will approach those expectations with kindness and strength instead of desperation and anger.

Yes, I will hug them.

Each one of them.

Right now.

Yes, they will roll their eyes at me. But they’ll do it with smiles instead. And the lesson we’ll all learn? That life on this little blue planet is too precious and fragile to be spent lamenting crusted Raisin Bran in the sink. That what really matters is grace, forgiveness, and understanding.

And love.

Always, unequivocally and without fail, love.

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176 Responses

    1. I agree whole heartedly. I read about one woman whose children and husband had a propensity for lazyness when it came to those sort of things ( dishes, laundry and such)…
      What she ended up doing was going on strike, doing only her dishes, her laundry, preparing meals only for herself, within a short time mthey got the message…..a great way of getting a message across, parents are so under appreciated

  1. Thank you for this, Katrina! I too, blow up at my two boys after repeatedly asking them to do things. I usually feel horrible after my “freak out” episodes and they go about being their usual forgetful selves. I have come to realize that my yelling actually does nothing but make me feel bad and I’m trying to work on that – it is a slow, hard lesson for me!
    I love,love love your blog as you put into words a lot of the things I feel, but cannot express as eloquently as you do.
    We miss you and your family here in Starkville!
    Love to you and yours,
    Lisa Bond

  2. I would not have given you the same advice Chris did. Just last week, I told my precious ones that lazy and stupid is no way to go through life. Not a false statement but not my best parenting.

  3. Well put. I can’t always help myself from frustration and yelling, but rationally I know that nothing useful will come of those moments. All we can do is try harder.

  4. Ah yes. Hardest words to ever hear…“I’m disappointed in the choice you just made,” from my Mom. Nearly everything else sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher sounds. Also, how come only a random few of your blog posts show up on my FB timeline? I like reading them when they come up in my feed but rarely do. Then one comes up, I read it & see a bunch of others that I’ve never seen before. Is that just how WordPress does it or FB does it or just the random nature of my FB scrolling? In addition to being an awesome writer, could you solve me social media issues?

  5. You described my childhood in a nutshell…also my parenting (well, occasionally). All we can do it try to remain present and authentic…yelling happens…I have said so many times, “I don’t want to be this screaming shrew!” But you’re doing the hard work…the good work…so even when the yelling sometimes happens, you’re counterbalancing it with mindful words. Thank you for sharing your foibles and graces equally.

  6. Wow…you have done it once again–to pinpoint exactly what is going on with me and my family. Had a very similar conversation with my husband the other day and got a very similar answer as Chris gave to you–minus the football analogy:0) Thanks I needed to know I’m not the only one that feels like she is spinning her wheels.

  7. Opposing viewpoint alert!

    Yes, but someday your inconsiderate teenager might be an equally inconsiderate husband. When I’ve complained about the self-centered-ness I see in my husband to his sister, she tells me about her or their mother having to clean up after him the whole time he was growing up. My kids are still little but more than anything I’m trying to teach them how to see that their words and actions affect others. I agree that blowing up or belittling your kids is not ok and that we love unconditionally no matter what. Lovely message but it makes me cringe a little to think about my MIL doing the same thing years ago.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Kristin! But I don’t think we really have opposing viewpoints after all. My post was not about excusing my son from his expected behavior — it was about ME choosing a different approach. It was about choosing kindness and compassion instead of screaming and frustration. That’s why I included these lines: “Yes, they need to learn responsibility. Yes, I will require it of them. Yes, I will approach those expectations with kindness and strength instead of desperation and anger.” And I truly believe that a self-centered adult needs to take responsibility for his or her own actions. After awhile, the statute of limitations runs out on parent blame. We do our darndest to grow them into thoughtful, considerate, contributing humans… and then they get to take the reins of their own lives. My theory, at least. 🙂

    2. I agree with you that kids need to be accountable for their words and actions. But I think Katrina’s point was that nagging or yelling is tuned out the same we as adults tune someone out who is ranting. Blame and shame is an easy way to respond, but it doesn’t help them or us. Issues definitely need to be addressed, but with calm firmness and loving boundaries. I think loving unconditionally means our love is not withheld for any behavior, although we may need to revoke privileges, enforce consequences, etc. It’s a balancing act for sure, one I’m still learning.

    3. I have to agree. I’ve been patient and considerate of their feelings, I think I rarely raised my voice and I would let them know I needed help, please just pick up after yourself, it hurts me when I come home from working all day and you and your friends have been here all day and I still have to move your cemented cereal bowls off the table before I can even start dinner. Please guys, just pick up after yourselves. Just help me out here. Don’t leave this for me, it’s inconsiderate. And now, they’re 26 and 21, both have had to return home due to circumstances, and I’m still picking up cemented cereal bowls and putting away the oatmeal in the evening. Maybe I should scream and lose it and get their attention. Being patient hasn’t worked.

  8. My twins boys are 1 and I’m glad I am reading this post 🙂 Thanks for sharing and perhaps this is what it really means when they say, “you are in this world to make a difference”.

  9. I remember something like little contracts hung up in all of their rooms…things they had to do…expectations. This is about respect. To leave a mess is to disrespect others. This isn’t about THE MESS. It is about earned respect. You made the mess. It is disrespectful to have others work around it. It would be a mistake as the oldest in the family to demonstrate a disrespectful role model of behavior for the younger sibs. And it sure is not the type of behavior that makes the bread earning, hump busting parents respect that child for additional privilege and access. He is a smart kid. Let him understand. UG

    1. VERY nicely said! I had a blow-up with my teen the other day and realized (as I was blowing) that my rant not only wasn’t helping; if anything, it was making him respect me a little less… When what I really wanted was to teach HIM to be more respectful!! If you don’t mind; I’ll be borrowing a few of your phrases. Thanks!! :o)

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is so eloquent and beautiful, and exactly what I needed to read at this very moment. Blesssings ♡

  11. Let me tell you the opposite of this. My 16 year old daughter, my only child, my whole world, died last year on April 30, 2012 in a car accident. I would give everything to be able to clean up her cereal just one more time. Remember that next time when you are looking into their eyes. You are so lucky to have them so be kind and patient.

    1. My daughter and only child was also killed in a car accident. October 17, 2011. I’d give anything to clean up one of her messes just one more time. Hug your kids and tell them you love them….you never know when it might be the last time you get the chance.

  12. I agree…. “I’m disappointed with the choice you made.” hits home better than yelling. I’m disappointed with the choice you made to use “WT#?” in your text. Nuf said.

  13. we all forget what it’s like to be a kid and where I mind was at during those years. I don’t think our children necessarily mean to be selfish, or inconsiderate, they are thinking more of the next fun thing they are going to do, what adventure they are going to have next, or their minds are off in some far distant land where they are kings and knights. I find myself getting frustrated with the very issue listed in this post sometimes getting indignent with them. I’m glad I read this, it’s a refresher on what I already know. Years ago, I saw a billboard while I was driving and it was a young kid, covered in chocolate, with chocolate all over the floors, and little chocolate handprints all over the walls and it simply read, “Children are messy, parent with Patience.” and I try to live that..but parenting is not easy and we all get tasked out at times, because we are, after all, human. Nice read, thank you.

  14. You nailed it! Watching my teen zone out when I blow is usually even more frustrating than whatever is making me blow! Time to slow down and focus on how they can hear me rather than what I (deep down) know till be a completely ineffectual “vent.” from me. … I just wish God would just grant me the patience rather than teaching me… ;o)

  15. What a beautiful, real article. Thank you so much for the reminder of our NEED to continue to SHOW unconditional love through the adolescent times , especially when we are still “reminding” them of how they have been raised all along 🙂 I too need God’s grace and mercy everyday doing the most improtant job of my life. God bless you and your family!

  16. Thank you for the article! As a recently new step-mom to a 10 yr old and us now having a 2yr old, I am stuggling to reel in my comments and to reset my expectations of my daughter to realistic levels while having the 2-yr old tantruming next to me. And yes…..I found food in the sink again this morning…..but at least the bowl made it to the sink this time! Small victories!

  17. Katrina,
    I just noticed this blog post via a friend and love it. We just moved to a new area this year. It has been very trying and I am a single parent most of the time due to my husband’s job demanding so much of him right now. Constantly learning to be patient and calm but needing to teach them to be responsible and respectful. Toughest job I have every had – being a parent.

  18. Sometimes dramatic actions works best. I too was a single mother, working most times two jobs to put food on the table. One day I was so fed up with the lack of help from the preteens, I opened the kitchen window and threw all the dirty dishes out the window and told the kids, the less dishes we have, the less dishes there are to wash. It sort of got the message across, they just went to their rooms and got all the dirty dishes out from under the beds and we mostly had a full set again. For a while it helped. Now, they all have their own kids now and their kids are much better than they were, so maybe it worked.

  19. You mean I am not the only crazy mother who yells at her children? Thanks for helping me to feel a little less crazy. This sounds like a post that I would write. Teenagers are definitely from another planet then we were. My kids call me “The Lecturer”and tune me out as soon as I begin to get on my soap box. The frustrations of raising teenagers are endless. I will try to take your advice. Thanks for the great post:)

  20. Good Morning,
    I realize this is an older post but it fell into my life at exactly the right moment (waiting for 17 year old teen to wake up so I could rant up a storm…considering waking him up) Reading your post, I took a deep breath realized he really didn’t mean to be thoughtless, he was simple clueless and lost in his own in the moment experience. I don’t want this moment to change the course of the day so (if he ever wakes up 🙂 I will use some humor, rebuke gentle, and move on. Thanks.

  21. This brings a teat to my eye. When they are raised and out of the house and your daily life, you will wish that you could clear their dishes. Treat your loved ones as you would a guest in your home…..love always wins.

    1. Not always so, when you raise a child without responsibility, then they become an irresponsible and lazy adult. I know for a fact because I am one. I love my mom and I had a great childhood, but my mom always did everything for me and my sister. Just as a hard childhood can have consequences in life, so can an easy and fun filled childhood affect your adult life. I know I was loved, but her parenting style was to raise a child by example.

  22. Lovely patient reply from your HUSBAND. If you are a newly single parent and you and your former husband are co parenting this well, that would be a great topic to write about.

    If you actually have a husband, or the person who posted that they are a “single parent most of the time when their husband travels”–it’s really not single parenting. It just being alone sometimes in parenting.
    Single means you are divorced, not married, or widowed and do not have someone to help you, even from a distance, emotionally and financially; OR most single parents would agreeably include you as a single parent if your spouse is deployed and you get little to no emotional, financial, or other support.
    When my husband traveled, he was at least a phone call away and I could share the emotional ups and downs of working and rearing children while he was away. However, there was a second income–because yes I still had to work, and despite the extra errands or duties you might have to pick up in the meantime. But someone was coming back to hug me and help me and be my partner in parenthood and marriage.
    To be extra considerate and not alienate a population of your readers: no one is a single parent just part of the time. It’s not the same and is a pretty big slap in the face to those who are REALLY going at it alone. Maybe they have 3 kids (2 disabled), work full time (and therefore not eligible for assistance–even as a teacher); maybe their spouse bailed on not just the house and bills but also a $70 loan using your house and cars as collateral and you work hard so you’re not eligible for debt relief and the ex can’t be found; maybe your house hasn’t sold in 2 years of trying; maybe you haven’t been to even the grocery store alone and don’t know when you’ll shop for Christmas gifts or how you’ll pay for them; maybe you don’t have anyone to turn to for a hug or who will say they’ll watch the kids so you can have a 10 minute bath without interruption. THEN you are a single parent.
    Maybe you think “well my spouse is emotionally distant or travels far or is little help” –well that’s sad, but not single. Think about it when you deposit his paycheck.

    1. Well, if financial security is what makes you a single/not single parent, how about the widow getting her dead husband’s social security checks? Or the divorced mom getting alimony and child support? Are they not “going at it alone” then?

  23. Thank you for this post. I have a 15 soon to 16 year old named Sam and like you I have these same situations and responses. My Husband responds to me with almost the same words adding a persons brain is not fully formed until 25. So you are right they still need to be taught but with grace and mercy:) Blessings, Kim

  24. I appreciate this very much as I struggle with exploding when I should teach with more love/patience.

    I do take issue with the “single parent” designation as it appears you are married but maybe not living in the home together due to a move/job issue. Truly being a single parent is not the same as not having them temporarily in the home.

  25. Love this post. I don’t have kids yet but what a wonderful reminder for life in general. Reactions to my husband, family, & friends should be so much more tender & loving than they can oftentimes be. Just quoted you on facebook. 😉

  26. Oh how I needed this today: frustrations abounded. My teens left important school work at home, expecting me to load three babies (we have 16-month-old twins, and a two year old) along with my 7 months pregnant self into the car to come bring their things to them. The DVD my 14 year old son scratched by not being careful is now blitzing out and stuck in the DVD. One of the twins has a rash because my oldest daughter didn’t fully clean his little bottom when I left her in charge so I could go to a concert for one of our children last night. We have six kids – seven in February. Normally I try to take things in stride, take deep breaths… but today I was frustrated and asking myself, “Why can’t they just do a good job when I ask them to do something?” But my teenagers are kids too. I need to remember that. Yes, young adults – but still kids. They learn more through my grace and mercy than through my wrath. Just like I learn my lessons through grace and mercy instead of wrath. Thank you for helping me to see a little more clearly today.

  27. Wonderfully written and delivered, Katrina (as an aside, “Katrina” is a wonderful name for me because, if not for that storm, I would not be the father of a 7 year old boy whose mother I met just before it and the storm created a situation where we spent time together we would not otherwise have and it lead to our marriage and our child). As an older first time parent, I believe patience has been a blessing and our son may get firmness from me, but not out of control! Your article is likely to help so many parents and their children!! Thank you for writing it. May I invite Chris and you to LIKE the National Association of Parents and to JOIN it as members? Of course, I would be most pleased if you would get in touch with me and consider blogging about parenting in the USA and how parents are the all-too-often taken for granted segment of our population for which the National Association of Parents will be their voice, mothers and fathers, married and unmarried. Thanks.

  28. good reminder for me and the position i’m in. while my dad has been in the hospital fighting for his life, i have been the stand in mom and dad for my siblings. i probably fail more often than not, but we are still family and God is still good.

  29. Were you hiding in a closet listening to me last night or something???? This is exactly the scenario that played out between my 14 year old daughter and myself last night. And identical to the one that played out last month when my expectations weren’t met. And two months before that……you get the picture. It’s so easy to look at all we do “for them” and not how much we are expecting from them. We expect them to do the job of a 43 year old when they are only 14. I must remind myself to be less critical and when I do lose my temper, be a big enough person to say “I’m sorry”. It’s a fine line between setting expectations for your child (which you SHOULD do!) and expecting too much. Thank you for the reminder.

  30. As a mother of four sons, I can so relate to this. 18 years ends up to be a very short time to have our kids at home when compared to our lifetime. Now, at 50, my youngest has left home. I know a new adventure awaits me but the years I spent raising my kids to be adults is a time I will always cherish. Thank goodness for holidays to have them all home at once.

  31. With all due respect, if you have a spouse SOMEWHERE helping you to make a living, and discussing issues like that, even via text, you are NOT a single parent. Not even a temporary one. Kudos to your mom for being patient 99% of the time.

    1. Despite your dissenting vote on the definition of single-parenting (which was completely ancillary to the thrust of the post), I hope you were able to appreciate the valuable parenting lessons that we need to be reminded of from time to time (i.e., every day).

      1. Yes, we got it, but the “single parent” thing is hard to overlook – especially if you are a single parent. If you’re not you have NO idea. None.

  32. So been right in this moment…the dishes…the hard lessons…the spouse who is gone… Time after time. It does my heart good to know that someone else out there is walking the same path and that is “re-teaching” the same lessons over and over. I pray for wisdom and patience and ask forgiveness when I don’t have those… Glad I found your blog!

  33. I am not sure what you mean by WTF in your article but if it means what this old man thinks it does, then my question is, why would you use that in an email that so many people will read, or for that matter why use it at all? It says something about your character!

    1. Sadly, I, too may occasionally say things [mostly in my head] that are “not fit to print.” I try — goodness knows I try — to keep it to “things I would be proud to say aloud” …but sometimes my mood and my temper converge to create a mental potty-mouth that would make a sailor proud. I’m not suggesting foul language is appropriate, “But, your Honor, it speaks to the state of frustration” …and, I certainly am not about to throw stones!! If you are always proud of your language (verbal and mental); please share your tricks and tips — I could use them! :o)

      1. Thank you for being genuine! I’d rather see something like that once in awhile, than have you be fake about it. Real life is not always pretty or even appropriate. It’s not as if you were condoning such language. I understand reaching that breaking point where you do and say things out of character. I too would be interested in some tips to having a flawless language and demeanor. (Of course this is a trap b/c no human in flesh can be perfect.) 😉 Thanks for letting your flaws show! It makes you more credible than an apparent perfectionist. So yes, using WTF shows something about your character indeed: you are human, genuine, real, imperfect (like everyone else), and most of all, teachable. Anyone who thinks they’ve got it all figured out are the ones to steer clear from for sure! lol!

    2. And your reply shows something about your character. Glad you are reading articles about learning how to show grace. 🙂

  34. You moms are pathetic. It’s all this touchy/feely crap that’s ruining society!

    If you were someone’s boss at work; responsible for training them to do their jobs, how many times would you tell them before they were fired?

    Well, in my childhood, we had a version of crossing the line, which finally resulted in a swift slap in the face. Guess what? It worked. Dishes got done, and conversation never needed take place again.

    To all you overly-PC marms out there: GROW A PAIR!

    1. You sound bitter. It’s possible the way you were treated has caused you to be an angry adult. I’m sure our parents did what they thought was right, but I wouldn’t want to pass that hostility down to my children. There are better ways to make them responsible.

  35. I grew up with a mother that beat me every single day. I always felt I deserved it and that I was never good enough for her. My dad started up after he hit his mid-life crisis. I was a teenager then. I had two younger sisters, neither of whom got it as badly as me, but I still got it. We were yelled at every single day. Every single day. Every single day I was meant to feel like I wasn’t good enough. Every single day all I felt like was a failure, that I let her down. Once, she said she wanted to send me to an orphanage and adopt another child, one that I knew whose parents were ignoring her.

    I used to write letters to the mother I wished I had, asking her for guidance, for strength, and for love. I asked the mother I wished I had to read to me, watch movies with me, drink hot cocoa during the winters we didn’t have heat because we were also poor. I used to tell her that the mother I had didn’t love me or care about me.

    My sisters and I used to hide from my mother. Once we got to our teen years she stopped hitting us for the most part. It was only verbal by itself after that. But we still hid. We still do. We don’t tell her our personal triumphs or share those Sunday morning coffee sessions with her. We don’t share our grief or our hardship. We don’t cook together or laugh together. She spends all of her time alone. We do those things together.

    I became my sister’s mother. I became their protector, teacher, and confidant.

    I left home at nineteen. I didn’t finish college. I moved in with my boyfriend, who I’m married to now (happily). My mom was an alcoholic for many years and is now recovering. I’ve discovered she can’t be happy, she’s just one of those people. I don’t fear her anymore. I’m an adult. I please myself and by many other people’s standards, I’m not a failure.

    I’m 27 and I considered myself to have no mother. Now I have a woman in my life for whom I’m responsible, who I show more love to than she ever gave me. Whether she deserves it or not is a moot point. She’s a human being and human beings deserve understanding and love. They deserve to be handled with care, because underneath all the muscle and bone, we have a mind that records everything and feelings that are precious.

    I wish I’d had a mother like you, who has a husband like yours. I wish I’d had parents who could be patient and loving and not so wrapped up in their own minds and selfish desires that they could see that we were people–just young people.

    Thanks for posting this. I have pledged myself to becoming the best mother I can be and you serve as a role model for young women like me.

    1. Rachel I am so very sorry you had to go through that and I think it’s amazing that you show her the love she can’t show you. I had a similar experience though not as bad. My parents were/are just angry and abusive in general. No alcohol needed. They have gotten better over time and the physical part was mostly just when I was really little. It mostly stopped when I started school. I always thought it was b/c they were afraid I would tell someone. But the verbal and emotional abuse has never stopped.

      A few years ago when I had my first baby and realized that I never ever ever wanted to treat my children that way I started distancing myself from them. Before that, when my husband and I got married, I knew I didn’t want the same marriage they have. So here I sat, a wife and mom, with no idea of how to be either one in a loving positive way. I certainly knew how to run someone down and criticize even the best of intentions. I knew how to make even the best efforts others made not good enough and I knew how to yell, hit, fight, scream terrible things, and generally freak out altogether. But I didn’t know how to love unconditionally and I didn’t know such a thing even existed. So when I married my husband, I knew I had to make a drastic change in my life if I was to ever have even the semblance of a happy life. Some people just decide to be miserable in all things, but I decided I am going to be happy, whatever that took.

      I sought after the only great Father I ever met and instead of him being a means to an end, I decided to seek him everyday. And when my first little baby was born and I looked upon all the innocence and wonder of him, I followed God and have never turned away. This tiny, beautiful creature He entrusted me with showed me a love I wasn’t sure even existed. Never before had I felt a love that deep and pure as when I looked upon my newborn baby. He had done nothing to earn my love and I didn’t even know him, but I loved this baby with everything I had from the moment I saw him. Then I got it, I understood. As great as the love I had for this tiny, precious boy, it was nothing compared to the love Jesus has for me. He could never mistreat a child either and He used the pain of my own childhood to teach me how to be the Mom He had intended mine to be. That’s the blessing and the curse of free-will. We are free to choose, but that also means we have the freedom to mess up. Which I do. All. the. time. But anything I screw up, Jesus can make it right if I give it all to Him, seek Him, and trust Him.

      I will never be perfect like my creator and I’ll never be able to love others as greatly as He loves me, but following Him and His word has been the most precious decision I have every made in my life and I have peace in my heart about things that once used to keep me up in the middle of the night and torture my thoughts. He is the perfect father, he’s the loving Daddy I wished I had. But I could have if I’d only truly understood. I’m just thankful I have Him now. He knows what I have been through, He saw it. He loved (loves) my mom while he waited (waits) for her to seek him and stop her madness. He loved (loves) my dad while he waited (waits) for him to seek Him and stop his madness. He loved (loves) me while I was reaping my parents’ sins, knowing one day this abuse would cause me to seek a better life in Him.

      Yes, it would be easy for me to blame God and wonder why he didn’t stop it, but God is not the only force in the world. There is also satan, human free-will, and the events of the world that affect everything too. He did not want me harmed. He wept with me and for me even when I didn’t know it. He was with me even when I wasn’t with Him. I will never be a perfect mom, and my husband will never be a perfect father, but my kids will be taught who their perfect Daddy is and they will get their own chance to decide to follow Him or go a different way. All I can say, I have been down the other road and it is empty.

      I said a prayer for you, Rachel. I hope you understand how much you are loved. <3

      1. Wow, Jen I read your post with tears in my eyes as I can clearly tell Jesus has spoke to Rachel (& others) directly through you. Love those moments when God reminds us just how amazing His love for us is.

      2. Jen, it’s like we are Kindered spirits. You pretty much summed up my childhood and now my Mommyhood. I agree & am race your response to Rachel 100% b/c it’s EXACTLY what’s worked(ing) for me moment by moment day to day. God is Good…All The Time. He is sovereign & he is Alwats at work in us & they us.

      3. If my experiences have taught me anything, it was that God doesn’t intervene. I don’t believe in prayer. When I was young, I used to pray, hoping God heard me and I never heard anything back. I never saw or experienced anything that led me to believe God was listening, not even the feeling inside that most people say they feel. My entire life has been a rough struggle and while things have now evened out, I still can’t ignore what goes on in the world. And people pray to God and it’s rare that something comes of it.

        I think God is far too big and his plan is far too large and all-encompassing for him to change even a single part of it to benefit me. I’m a tiny, small fraction of a thread in his great tapestry. Why would he reorder the entire universe or cause a hiccup in the pattern of life just so I can have a better day or even a better life? There are billions of people on this Earth, many of them experiencing or having had worse experiences than I have or ever will. Certainly if God were going to change something, he would change *their* fortunes over mine. I have a respect for the Creator, I acknowledge his authority, but I don’t believe in God the way the Bible portrays him. The Bible is written and heavily edited by people, unreliable, fallible people. It’s an anthology of many writings, ones that are closely knit, but so changed that I can’t base the entire way I live my life on it.

        That being said, I have a moral code based on loving and respecting your fellow man, whether they’re children or adults. I don’t blame God for conviction when I’ve broken my own moral code. I don’t look up to him like a father figure. I don’t believe he heals, gives or takes away. There are miraculous things that happen in this world, but I am a full believer in pre-destination. Whatever happens, happens because God designed it that way at the beginning of time–every death, every life, every joy and every sorrow. And I don’t believe praying spontaneously changes that plan.

        I’m grateful for my life, but I’ve learned that my needs are less important than his will. I have only ever asked for one thing from God, back when I thought he listened. I tried to barter with God for this thing, which he gives so freely to other people. It was something I didn’t even want for purely selfish reasons, something that–if Christianity is to be believed– could have glorified him. But like every other time in my life when I cried out earnestly with my whole heart, I heard nothing back and saw no change. Now I’m trying to do it on my own, realizing that if I cannot get the thing I want, it’s not God’s fault or my fault, it just isn’t meant to be. And I’ve made peace with that.

        True strength comes from inside and it comes after a lot of hardship and toil. The strength to love a woman who beat me every day for the majority of my life, who I have never pleased or impressed or made proud, is incredibly hard to come by. I love my mother because I only have one and because she needs me, but loving doesn’t always mean liking or having a warm regard for the other person. Sometimes it means showing charity and giving of yourself, even when it’s not asked of you. I give part of my life for my mother, the part of me. I don’t do it because God told me to, or he spoke to me. It is because the death of my childhood gave birth to a youth and adulthood dedicated to my family over myself. I find value in giving of myself. Telling my mom I love her is a way to forgive her every day, without saying it. I need that for myself and she needs it too.

        My sisters have become amazing women and I can honestly say it’s because of my sheltering and guidance. I swell with pride when I think of them. I wouldn’t trade my sacrifice for anything. In the end, it was completely worth it.

        If my life has taught me anything, it’s that God loves every single creature the same amount. I’m not special and I don’t believe fewer or more good works, more or less prayer, or more religious sacrifice would ever change that. I believe God’s love is equal and that while living in a universe governed by his rule may be difficult, it just is what it is. We should be grateful for both the suffering and the happiness, it is the only way to live fully without believing we did everything wrong or walking on eggshells around everything man says is bad. Regret and paranoia are true killers of joy. Caution is good and remorse is good, but the time for both comes and goes. Regret stays. Paranoia stays. Those are destructive.

        I appreciate your saying a prayer for me, but I guarantee that it won’t change things for me either way or make me feel either way and it is probably a waste of your time, unless you do it because it makes yourself feel better. I’m not accusing you of having selfish motives and if I’m wrong, it would be nice to have a change of fortune. But I can promise you, I’ve had several prayer groups going for me and intercessory prayer done and it has all come to nothing.

        In the end, I respect religious people and I respect people who believe God listens to them. They have a strong conviction and I never put someone down for believing what they believe, but I wanted to point out that my feelings and my motivations have nothing to do with God or my religious upbringing and everything to do with my own personal truth, which is the sum of my experiences. Thanks for your message.

  36. I just found this through a shared post on FB I’m a mother of four grown kids (in their 20’s) But it brought back one memory from first grade. Our teacher ( a really nice teacher) would yell often and I just watched to see how red her face would get. That was how I knew she was mad. Basically, the yelling had no effect – I just looked at how red her face became.

  37. Hmmm… while I think practicing patience is valuable in all things, I thought this article was going to be about a younger child, not a 16 yr old teenager. I’m sorry but a 16 yr should SHOULD rinse out his/her dishes and put them in the dish washer. I had plenty of chores and responsibilities at that age (including jobs), there’s being patient, and then there’s coddling. I DON’T mean scream and rant at your kids, but they need to be responsible and participate in the household duties.

    1. Totally agree, but I took the article to be about NOT that they should be exempted from chores; but how to most effectively communicate when these chores were forgotten/ignored/disregarded… (…and it baffles me how often an otherwise intelligent 16-year-old can “forget” a chore that they have been expected to do for years!) {:o)

  38. I recall my mom grabbing our upper arms or behind the neck if we were acting up in a store, and she’d be discreet but it would hurt. She’d be talking thru her teeth, “GET over here RIGHT NOW” or something similar, and the tension was big. Scary for us. I will never forget one day I was doing something I shouldn’t, and she reached out swiftly to grab me like that, and I cringed expecting that angry touch and pressure on my shoulder, instead she put her arm around me and pulled me in closer, gently, rubbed my shoulder, and I settled down. I think she planned on doing the usual grab, pull and growl, instead she checked herself, and gave me some love. I always recall that specific incident, in the grocery store, much more than other times. Maybe because it was only her and me in this moment, no one else would know what was happening. To me, that shows great love. She had to resist the pull of the anger, to not let the stress of her days as mom of three kids, wife to an alcoholic husband and her serious health issues, get the best of her. She had lots on her plate that I can only understand as a mom of three myself. My mom has passed and I can;t ask her about this. For me its reassurance that my mom really did love us, and tried to control her temper….and she loved me and wanted to parent me well, even in stressful hard times. It means a lot to me that she was trying. We are all imperfect parents, your kids will remember you tried.

    1. Kristina, I really liked this. Those moments when we get a glimpse of the humanness of our parents always stand out in our minds. Thanks for sharing your experience; altough I didn’t have the same exact experience, of course, I related to it.

  39. I also have a very hard time with this. My almost 14 YO step-daughter doesn’t know how to do even the simplest household chores. I seriously have my 3 YO teach her how to do some things just to show her how easy it is, but nothing seems to stick. My husband says that her mom does not teach her these things b/c she never learned either and her mom doesn’t know how to keep a home either. I can’t imagine having such a long line of people who don’t know how to do clean up after themselves and never dawning on them to change that and pass on the knowledge. So, I try very hard to have grace on her and have to realize that I’m probably teaching her all this stuff for the first time. I do feel bad for her b/c her younger siblings are going to be teaching her a lot since they will be with me everyday to learn and I know that is hard on her. I try to be as respectful as I can to her and not make her feel dumb, but I still have my moments. I wonder if God tires of my many prayers for this situation…lol! But, we do get along and she’s never said any of the cliché hateful things I’ve heard step-daughters say to step-moms. She seems to take it all in stride. Anyway, thanks for the article and letting me vent out some things. Maybe it will help another mom in the same boat. 🙂

    1. Wow, I could have written this myself! I have an 9-year-old stepson that cannot do the simplest tasks, open anything (doors, wrappers, water bottels, etc.), dress himself, use utensils, find things he has lost, the list goes on and on. I have my 2-year-old show him how to do things, hoping he will be embarrased enough to try. I get so frusterated with him but I try to never show it. I have to remind myself that it isn’t really his fault that he is so dependant on other people because his mom and dad have always done everything for him, rather than teach him how to do things. I just wanted to let you know that I know exactly what you are going through! I just take it day by day and hope that I am doing a good job on teaching him to become a more independant young man! Time will tell!

      1. Humiliation doesn’t generally make one strive to do better. Perhaps instead of humiliating/embarrassing the child, especially on purpose, you can try to uplift the child and see how much more quickly the child learns. When you are embarrassed are you paying attention or focused on being embarrassed? What if your husband dressed you down loudly and verbally in public? Would you be listening to his words or wishing you could die and disappear through the floor boards?

      2. Tried that, doesn’t work!! The only thing that works is showing him that his 2-year-old brother can do it so he tries harder because, of course, he wants to be better than his little brother! It is the only things that his father and I have noticed gets him motivated enough to try things that he thinks he can’t do. I don’t embarrass him out in public so your example on that is kind of moot. I wasn’t really asking for your opinios or advice, I was letting Jen know that she is not alone and I know what she is going through! Thanks though!

    2. The temptation to see the imperfections of your spouse’s ex in the child she is raising is more then likely quite common. My husband and I are raising the children we bore within our marriage together. I just tried to think how one of my children might respond to the need to blend into a new family with new half-siblings and I think it would be quite hard for them to do. I think they would feel out of place in the home of another mother. Why don’t you turn chore time for that child into conversation time for the two of you. You could start with, “I’d love to hear about what you did while you were at your mother’s home this week. Please share that with me while we clean up in the kitchen together.” or “What are you reading these days for school? Do you like it? Why or why not? Let’s chat about that while you clean the windows on the right and I’ll do the ones on the left.” Maybe a conversation is a good way to start to bring her closer to you. The closer she gets, the more she’ll take from you what is good and true. Be careful in thinking that your toddler is in a position to help in the “raising” of this young woman. That thought right there may lead to an undercurrent of disrespect of you and your child towards your step daughter. Good luck. I’m sure it will be a long road with stumbles along the way. Just always think, “How would I want a step mother to my three-year old to treat her?” That might help you navigate this more easily. And, but the way, sometimes 14 year old children are just that. Fourteen and a teen.

      1. No Brandi, you embarrass him in front of his little brother and then brag about it in public forums. Your intent is to embarrass him into compliance. You think that’s going to make him respect you as a person and an authority figure in his life and someone he should listen to and do what you say? Cause I always want to listen to someone that strives to embarrass me *eyeroll*… I can’t wait to listen to them and do what they say *eyeroll again*. No, I want to avoid that person with everything within me and wish they would go suck a bag of potatoes. I don’t want to love that person, care about them or what they want. I’m going to do everything I can to avoid them and tune them out at every single opportunity. I don’t want to be around them or make them happy with me. I want them to disappear from my life as soon as possible. It matters not to me that you didn’t ask my opinion. You posted that you are emotionally abusing a nine year old and as a decent human being I am calling you out on it. You don’t like it? Don’t brag about abusing a child emotionally, physically or mentally on a public forum. Look within yourself and then go get some family counseling so you can find a way to build this kid up instead of making him feel like he’s so stupid even a two year old is smarter than him. He hasn’t had the same advantages your two year old has had. Humiliation doesn’t give him any advantages. YOU are building this kid in the way that he will be for the rest of his life. Do you want him to expect authority figures to treat him badly and embarrass him on purpose? Do you want to be someone he cares about or do you want to be the b*tch his dad is married to? Cause you are making that decision for him every single time you purposefully embarrass him using your two year old as a tool. By the way, using your two year old? Crappy as well. You are setting him up to hate that kid with everything within him because the kid is used to embarrass him. Sibling rivalry to the tenth power right there. God help you all if the two year old figures out what you are doing and starts lording it over the nine year old. Look for aggression against the two year old, injuries to the two year old that are not explainable and you are at high risk for no sibling connection or relationship because of your behavior. So not only are you being emotionally/mentally abusive by using humiliation as a parenting tool but you are potentially robbing these children of a sibling bond and relationship. I hope the mother figures out that you are purposefully humiliating her son and stops your time with him immediately. And I hope dad wises up REAL quick and protects his son’s emotional state from your “parenting”.

      2. Ok, here is an example of my “abuse” as you call it! 9-year-old & 2-year-old ask for a snack, I hand them a granola bar (still in the wrapper) and walk away. 9-year-old won’t try to open it because he automatically thinks he can’t until he sees his 2-year-old brother opening his, then must think to himself “oh, if he can do it, then I can!” All of a sudden the 9-year-old is trying his hardest! I don’t stand there watching and laughing saying “your little brother can do it and you can’t, ha ha ha!” Yes, that would be abuse! Instead, I hand them both the same task that I know they both can do and walk away. If you call that abuse then I think you are the one that needs counseling. Like I said, it can be very frustrating but I don’t let him know that. You don’t know every situation like you seem to think you do! His mom is not in the picture for the most part and his dad says that ever since I came into his son’s life, he is so much happier and he tells his dad how much he loves me! We are very close!! As far as him and his little brother’s relationship, they are the best of friends! I’ve taught him how to read, do crafts with him, get him involved with things like karate (to help build his confidence). I could go on and on but frankly, your not worth my time. You are way too judgemetal and in case no one has ever told you this, you actually don’t know everything!

  40. There is a bit left out of this story that is VERY important….yes we fret too much about Raisin Bran in the sink & YES, we should go & hug that kid…THEN we tell them that we love them very much AND that they will clean up the sink and the dirty dishes, yes ALL of them, not just theirs, before they go to practice…Otherwise you raise an arrogant & overly dependent child who thinks everyone should wait on them…

  41. WONDERFUL article! As a grandparent I STILL needed to read this. It’s a universal need (what this article speaks to) for any/all of us who interact with our adult kids, our grand kids, husbands, wives, friends, etc…. the need to give grace RATHER than anger & judgement. WOW!… Thank you Katrina for sharing your life-lessons and wisdom with us (me). It’s very appreciated! :o)

  42. Yes. This.

    I get it. I do. Only my kids aren’t teenagers yet. Thank you for sharing your heart, and for the encouragement.

  43. While love is always in order.. loving parents insists that a 16 year old act in a appropriate way. Don’t yell – just ask for the phone, car keys, remote, ext. You do your child no favors y picking up the bowl or allowing them to “tune out” your instructive voice.
    Your message is good. Hug them – but then require that they act appropriately.

  44. Two years ago I lost my 22 year old son in an accident. His little brother is twelve and still learning. As all parents know, it isn’t always easy, but now when I find my patience being tried, I think what I would do to be going through whatever we’re going through with his older brother and it all seems so trivial.

    1. Way to put things in perspective. May Gods Love surround your heart & your family’s every day…and know that your son is smiling down at you saying… Dad Your Aweasome!

  45. I will never win the mother of the year award, but at least I never called any of my kids a lazy little shit. That I know of. I think that’s progress. Just trying to do a little better each generation.

  46. Without love we are a clanging cymbal, a loud gong. The crumbs can stay for him when he comes back too. He can clean it up when he comes home no need for frustration.

  47. Yes but what do you do when that 16 year old child cares nothing about disappointing you either…. When those calm talks don’t work… the yelling and screaming doesn’t work… when they see their single mother in tears begging for them to help and they keep repeating that same behavior because they JUST DON’T CARE…..
    Feeling helpless……..

    1. Dear Stacey, I HEAR YOU. I SEE YOU. I can feel your frustration and fatigue through the keyboard. I most certainly don’t have all the answers, but what I’ve learned by raising four kids is this: we can’t make them be something they’re not. Maybe your 16-year-old really doesn’t care right now. And for the record, I think that’s a very common 16-year-old trait. At sixteen, most kids are all about themselves. It’s developmental — their brains aren’t fully formed until they’re well into their 20s. (Scary realization, huh?) But here’s what we can do: figure out what means the most to him/her and remove that privilege. For my sixteen-year-old, it’s his freedom. If I take away his car keys, he’s much more apt to respond to me. If I turn off his electronics, that pain is much worse than the pain of having to pick up after himself. All I know for sure is that yelling hasn’t worked for me. I love him unconditionally, and I do my best to approach our volatile situations with a calm collectedness, but ultimately, he doesn’t get a free ride. His actions have consequences. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. Sometimes we have to let them fall so they can learn how to get back up on their own. (We’re experiencing that with our almost 15-year-old right now.) It’s tough, and it’s scary, and it keeps me up at night. Here’s the one thing I think you might need to hear more than anything right now, though… you’re not alone. Parenting is wonderful and glorious and often times, soul-crushingly hard. I feel your pain, Mama. I do. So do many, many others. Sending you hugs and peace and support. XO

      1. Strong Willed! Got one. (age 6 now, lord help me!) I love Katrina’s response… And, yes, with strong willed it can get MUCH worse before it gets better. I really like Cynthia Tobias’ book on strong willed kids — as a VERY strong willed kid (then adult); her recommendations made sense as the ways I prefer people to communicate with me; techniques that get me to want to cooperate and phrases that make me “put-up-my-dukes” and say NO!… I was lucky not to have had the “defiant” thing going on. My son, however is both. All this to say: Good luck. Stay strong and kind. And you are not alone! :o)

    2. I agree with Katrina. I’m right there with you. PRAY. ASK. (For wisdom). SEEK. KNOCK( He’ll answer you, really. ). Stay Faithful. I’m here. We’re All for ya.

  48. I have an 11 year old, an 18 year old, and a 20 year old at home. I really needed to hear this today! My 18 year old seems to be testing our patience every day and sometimes it gets hard to take a deep breath and give the best response back. So thank you!!!

  49. The screen from the phone text is what caught my eye & drew me in to reading this blog, (I thought it was going to be one of those funny auto correct examples) I am so glad I took the time to read this. It brought back many memories. I have five children, all grown now. The youngest is away at college & the other 4 are married & have blessed me with a total of 12 grandkids. As a grandma, my responses are so different, so much more patient, willing to listen & connect with their heart. Sometimes my kids will say, “you were never like this when we were little!” I try to explain to them that I’ve learned a lot since they were little & I was in the role of ‘the mom’ with all the pressures & stresses of trying to get it right. When I see my adult children over-reacting & being too strict & demanding with their kids I’m often reminded that they are simply repeating the examples that were set for them. Sadly, they were the examples that I set. But here’s a little bit of good news… It’s never too late! It’s never too late to go back to my adult children & admit that I was WRONG and that I totally missed the opportunity to build them up instead of tear them down and I’m so so sorry for that. I’ve also learned to go one step further after saying I’m sorry… I go on to say, “WILL YOU FORGIVE ME?” There is a powerful force in forgiveness. Oftentimes it’s the very force that’s needed to end that cycle in the next generation. Be encouraged! It’s never too late to turn things around & make them right. It’s called Redemption…

    1. Petra. I love your response. I think it’s filled with so much wisdom. I’m a Christian single mom who has her mom living with her helping take care of my twin 7.5yr d boys. It’s hard but helpful & inspiring to hear your thoughts on two families. Great insight!

  50. We are a two family household, which I never thought would happen at this stage of my life, but life does happen and I am grateful everyday that my daughter and her family lives with us! ((Oh the blog I could write!) I guess the hardest part of being a Grammie is watching the day to day struggles that my daughter was being a full time wife, mother and elementary school teacher and how she handles her son as opposed to how she handles her students. She is a yeller, and her favorite phrase is “Really? Didn’t I tell you to……………” but I also have to remember that I have so much more patience than I use to and what once irritated me to no end, is now just a small bump in the road of life. Take time to enjoy those crazy days, they will never happen again, and learn to enjoy them because tomorrow you could be begging for a “do-over”.

  51. I used to get mad and yell at my daughter for being so lazy, having such a messy room and then I would rant to my hubby about it. He would always say “Debbie she won’t be around here forever so you need to enjoy her while she is here” Don’t sweat the small stuff etc. He always made me see it from a different perspective and I appreciated him for that. He was right, in a flash she was grown and moved out on her own. What I wouldn’t give to go back to those years. I guess I was trying to teach her responsibilities. I felt I had failed since she was oblivious to my teachings that she learn to be neat and tidy. Now a grown woman she does know how to keep her house neat and all the things I hoped she would learn and I know now she learned them by seeing me, not hearing me! I am blessed my husband seen the bigger picture and would teach me what was important. I loved your post!

  52. First and foremost. I enjoyed reading your blog Saint Katrina. I just want the kids to not make the same mistakes I made growing up. I’ve little patience when I see my previous dumb actions in what they’re doing but never seem to get anywhere by “explaining it calmly” to them. At the same time, I’ve also tried the approach of telling the kids about some (not all) of the dumb things I did when I was their ages….trying to be open and even vulnerable to their comments/questions such as “And you get mad when WE do this, that, or the other????” So, that “open handed approach” has miserably failed and even come back to bite me on a few instances.

    I’ve discovered that it does very little good to expose the stupid things I did as a kid or adolescent in the hopes that it will make them less willing to engage in the same behaviors. Quite the contrary, it gives them more justification to question my anger when they do the same thing. Damn kids….They just don’t THINK LIKE ADULTS!

    And therein lies the problem.

    Just as I at age 54 don’t think in the same framework of wisdom as my father (83) which must drive him nuts because I know he is repeating many of the same things to me over and over from years ago which I STILL avoid doing (for very logical and justifiable reasons of course!) So, in many respects I am just as stubborn against things he says for me to do as my kids are against what I tell them to do or not to do.

    Conclusion: One’s wisdom comes only with the passage of time and to be sure, at the right time for those of us lucky enough to recognize it when received. But unfortunately, I am likely the ONLY ONE who will truly and completely benefit from its delivery since it came to me by way of accumulated knowledge throughout MY LIFE of having committed MY OWN MISTAKES…not someone else’s. For these reasons It is nearly an impossible proposition or expectation to successfully transfer one’s own accumulated and congealed wisdom into the persona of another individual either by their desire or my design; ESPECIALLY if they are my own progeny.

    It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try mind you and isn’t that what 24/7 parenting is all about? So I accept that annoying fact. It just means the light ain’t going off in their heads until such time as I have either gotten tired of my own voice telling them the same things for enough consecutive years or they are simply physically not within proximity of my aggravating commentaries anymore because they live, work, or play far away. That’s why Superhighways were built I’m told!

    Only then, is it that the other shoe always drops! I just want to be alive to witness at least one of them coming back with the revelation that “You told us so…..!”…..Just ONE out of 4 and I will go into the ground happy and fullfilled looking forward to being reincarnated as one their children or grandchildren so I can exact my revenge upon them and grow up on their watch all over again! HAHA!

  53. And when he is 27 and living in the basement Mom and Dad will have fond nostalgic memories while he plays Xbox next to stacks of Domino’s Pizza boxes and cans of Mountain dew. while the cereal dries on the side of the bowl. George Washington, in his early teens mastered growing tobacco, raising livestock, surveying land and raising his younger brother. Stop accepting bad behaviors in teens. Raise Kids that will be good adults. Not good Kids.

    1. As a friend once explained to me… A good shepherd uses his rod to guide his sheep, not to beat them. “Spare the rod; spoil the child” does not suggest we beat (or yell at) or kids or they will be spoiled; rather we need to guide them successfully into adulthood.

  54. THANK YOU! I’m a yeller, my mother was a yeller and I’m sure there’s a long line of tellers on both sides of the family. I SWORE before I had kids I would not do that 🙁 I didn’t want my kids to feel like they were constantly walking on egg shells around me. I work on changing this behavior daily, most days I fail miserably but occasionally I do ok. The part where you said that you are building character not chasing perceived perfection calmed my spirit. I can do this! Thank you!!

  55. During my 7th grade year, I overly challenged my teacher on a question she marked wrong on a test. I had set her up and she fell for it and I was vicious in my response. When I rounded the corner to my house that afternoon, her car was in my driveway. She finally left and I slinked home.

    My Mother looked at me and said, “Don’t ever do anything that makes that woman come to my house again.” She never asked what happened or yelled at me. I changed my attitude in history class and learned a valuable lesson about how to raise my own children.

  56. I know that when I really need to get something across to my girls (3) 16.11.9 that I need to wait until I have after I have raised my voice, come back to them soft spoken and in love explaining myself and what’s expected. That’s when they “get it”. Not that it changes permanently how they act, but they do get it and will carry that throughout their lives. I hope and pray that is what they remember.

  57. As a Christian/full-time/single mom trying to raise twin 7.5yr old boys I completely identified with this blog. Thank you for reminding me of what’s really at stake & important. Love. Discipline out of Love NOT Anger. I know that…but it’s Always good to be reminded. No one is perfect this side of heaven, certainly not me. Keep’m coming.

  58. I love the general sentiment of what you’ve written, but I am bristling at another part — the comments about single parenting. It sounds like you were solo-parenting during a season. But if you have a husband you can call or text for support, or you know he is contributing financially, emotionally, spiritually or any other way to your family, you are not a single parent. If you know at some point you will be reunited, you are not a single parent. When you single parent, it all comes down to you. It’s hard for actual single parents when we read married peoples’ comments that they are single parenting because their spouse is working extra hours, travelling on business, or even separated for a time because of life circumstances such as a job or move out of state. It may be much harder than when you are both there, but in a single parent’s case, no one is EVER coming home. It isn’t the same. I know we’d like for others to understand that — to understand what we are facing and dealing with. This doesn’t mean we don’t get that it’s harder when something causes your husband to be away from home for an evening or a month or more — it’s still just not the same as him never coming home and having no help at all.

  59. Parenting is one if the hardest things in life. Trying to teach another human being about the things we muddle through.

    About 9 years into parenting, my youngest was 2, a friend’s 2 yr old died in a freak choking accident. It really hit home about how short life is. Made me look at the battles with my boys a little differently. Some are not worth it. Many times it is not our kids but us who need to change our attitude and approach.

    If, God forbid, something should happen that our child leaves this world before us…its these little quirks that we would remember the most and long for. The clumsiness, the socks on the floor or cereal bowl left out…that we would give anything to have again.

    I definitely was not a perfect parent, but now my youngest is 18 and we have all made it through so far.

  60. Loved this post! I am a single mom of a 10-month old baby and I hope to be that calm and understanding when she starts testing those nerves.. I think I’ll have to read it again then ;).

  61. Thanks so much for reminding me of this! My college age daughter has just returned to school and I didn’t ask much — just clean your room. Of course she thought it was clean. All I could see was empty Christmas boxes, feathers and dog hair and a ton of leftover eating in bed crumbs. The bed WAS made up though not to my specifications. Oh well. We have different things that are important….Thanks for giving me a little dose of tolerance.

  62. This is a beautiful post! Thank you so much. I fight these problems everyday raising 2 boys diagnosed with ADHD and no medication. Kids need to be kids! Hugs and I love you are big for them both! This was a beautiful reminder!

  63. Wow you are me and I am you! 43, new house, new community, new married single parent, 3 kids not 4, but otherwise…. we are one. Great advice, I will try to remember it next time I come home from work to crud in the bottom of the sink and none of the chores I delegated complete. Thanks 🙂

  64. But what in the world do we do if it’s our adult husband who won’t clean up after himself or take responsibility for anything, even his own behavior??

  65. Aftet a VERY long Christmas break – and losing my temper several times – I needed to read this! Also reminds me to be the kind of partner that reminds him of this abd asks him to do the same for me! We love our kids – there’s no doubting that. But, especially in blended families – there’s a tendency to try and overcompensate for all the transition the kids endure on a

    regular basis

  66. I am a certified advance personality trainer. I easily recognize both kids and adults who grew up with one parent who screamed at them. Their personalities are shut down. Often they do not know who they really are for walking on eggshells all the time. They have adopted a persona to survive all the screaming verbal and emotional abuse. It can take a lot of work in adulthood to overcome the damage done by a screaming parent. Accepting personal responsibility needs to start with the adult. That includes not allowing the spouse to scream at one’s children. If a person can’t stop it and give the hug mentioned in so many of these responses, then they need to get family counseling. The first step is for the adult to realize they have a much more serious problem than the children who are inconveniencing them by being kids.

    1. Honey – do you even have kids? My parents certainly weren’t screamers, but I’ve learned a thing or two about ‘patience’ in the raising of my children. Every child is different and some are enough to try the patience of a saint. I highly doubt that there are many family’s were someone didn’t blow their top at some point or another. This is how people can become screamers in a way – and what the author has just done is to remind us that there are better tools. Yes, some screamers come from families of screamers – but some don’t. I’m not saying what you said isn’t valid – just narrow, especially when we are finaly getting parents to Talk about the difficulties instead of just smiling and saying everything is just lovely.

      1. Hi Melanie. My daughter is 40 and my son died at 21. My daughter was in the gifted-child programs all the way through school. To solve problems, we took her out of high school and enrolled her in college. She was the youngest one to graduate in her college class. My son, on the other hand, was very bright with ADD and learning disabilities. I spent lots of time at school talking to counselors for both children. I consulted church friends who had professional training about solutions. I learned that gifted children can cause as many problems for parents as those with poor impulse control.

        My son and I were very close. I am so thankful that I do not have to deal with memories of screaming at him. We were partners in trying to find solutions for getting his homework done without tears because he couldn’t sit still for long. At the time we learned he had ADD over 20 years ago, the only literature about it was that it was a horrible problem. We did not sedate him with drugs.

        Only after his death did I find Dr. Edward Hallowell’s book A Walk in the Rain with a Brain written for young children with ADD and their parents. These kids are often brilliant fast-thinkers and very creative in their learning style. Their constant movement is often an annoyance to parents who don’t understand their child. Many successful entrepreneurs are ADD or ADHD who have learned how to harness the wonderful ingenuity that God gave them. After my son died, I wrote an article for our local newspaper titled “Thank God for ADD.” Many adults wrote me and said, “Now I understand what’s wrong with me and why my foot always dances or I chew the collar of my shirt.”

        I, too, am glad this conversation is going on. But I am dismayed by all the excuse making or assuming that it is not as bad as it could be. I have been working with abused women since the early 80s. Most of them grew up in a home with a screaming parent. It doesn’t matter if it was the mother or the father. And they are in survival mode in that marriage just like they were with their family of origin. They and their kids are shut down emotionally and their true personalities are buried–just to survive.

        This emotional shutdown is often very visible in their eyes and posture. I advise wives in abusive marriages to step out of their pain and into their children’s pain. They are adults with some skills for dealing with problems. A child’s brain does not start developing real problem-solving skills until around age 25, long after all the damage is done. Children are dependent upon their parents to protect them from harm…and sometimes that harm comes from one parent who is so out of control that they can only scream at legitimate family problems.

        Often a parent will lament to me that their adult children have very little to do with them. I always ask, “Was either you or your spouse a screamer?” 95% of the time the answer is, “Yes, and my child blames me for what my husband or wife did because I didn’t protect them.” That, Melanie, is a fact of life that I see over and over. Children will take only so much of this kind of verbal and emotional abuse. As soon as they can get away from it, they will. One writer spoke of asking her adult children to forgive her. Praise God for her example. Children need the opportunity to forgive their screaming parents.

  67. Interestingly enough I stumbled across this today…the shoe is on the other foot with our family. My 81 year old Mom is living with us and she is in stage 2 Alzheimer’s, and honestly sometimes I just want to scream!!! The most heart wrenching thing a child can go thru is to watch a parent die without physically leaving if that makes any sense to y’all. I appreciate the article because I have often reminded myself how caring and loving my mom was growing up and what a little shit I must have been! LOL So when she acts out I simply hug her until it subsides and am grateful for the years with her and the fleeting moments we get now. Thank you for the article and sharing such a personal thing…we all need to be reminded that love and patience with firm guidance makes the world a better place for all of us.

  68. As far as yelling, they’ll do the job, but it’ll be for you, not them. Once they own a job, and take pride in it, you’ll see a change. I have a 16 year old son who works part time, so he isn’t always home to help out. My boys do kitchen clean up after I cook dinner every night. About two months ago, my oldest was home, and they were getting ready to start kitchen clean up. The kitchen always looks better when he’s there, so I just said, “Man, I’m so glad your home to help. The kitchen always looks so much better when you are home to help.” As he took charge of his brother’s, I could hear the determination to do good work in his voice. Since then, he’s cut his hours back at work, so he’s been helping out more. I just make a point to compliment how it looks every night. I now don’t think it looks any better when my wife or I do it ourselves. He cleans it for the pride of a job well done now, not just because I said so.

  69. Thanks for being a parent! But most of all thank you for understanding we are all imperfect and the need for forgiveness! My family is experiencing life changes currently! I am the same person you speak of except I’m still married with 3 boys. I began to recognize some time back the path my family was on was not living up to what calls us to do. Times have been tough and will be until we as a family learn to think of others first. The first step in our changes has been to remove the distractions in our lives or limit them! TV, Internet surfing / games, phone text- tweet- fbook- games anything that distracts us from focusing on responsibilities and family. Working on recognizing what takes our time and thought away will free us from the chains of life distractions we are bonded too. Getting Out The Rut! I would have said Good Luck but no such thing, It’s God Bless!

  70. Love this! I, too, feel bad after blowing up at my twins — I then take a step back and ask in a calm voice for them to do what I need them to do! But, yes, I think all us moms and been here! Thank you!

  71. Just discovering your blog for the first time. What wonderful words. I, too, struggle with a 17-year-old whose room looks like an episode of Hoarders, who piles dishes in the sink, always finds excuses not to walk the dog she swore she’d take care of, because it was her “world dream” … never scoops the litter box or feeds her two cats …

    But I look at the other choices my child makes, and she is a kind, empathetic, bright, fun, funny, spontaneous, talented artist and musician. I’m tired of all the lecturing. In fact, I was working on a humor blog on just that when I read this. Thanks for reminding me that we can’t allow all of these little, pretty typical teenage behaviors to overshadow the goodness in our children!

  72. Though the not yelling advice is wonderful (thank you), I don’t think a 16 year old should be hugged for acting like a 4 year old kid who doesn’t put his cereal bowl away (though there may be lots of other reasons to hug him).
    It is not a mom’s job to run the home, with more or less help from the rest of the family.
    And we should generally not feel comfortable watching someone else clean up while we sit and relax – not as members of a family, not as guests or friends, and not as members of a global world.
    A 4 year old and a 16 year old should be not be ‘helping’. They should be taking part – in their own ways – in doing what the family needs: cleaning up toys, cleaning up from meals, preparing meals, caring for pets, etc.
    Giving kids the message that this is their home and their family – with the benefits and responsibilities this implies – is an empowering and exciting message, even if we all hate taking out the garbage.

  73. What do you do with a 21 year old who does this. We have tried the calm approach. We have tried the rationlization. Even kicked him out of the house a couple of years ago because he thought he was an adult and did not have to abide by our rules. Which are pick up after yourself and maybe every once in a while do a little for someone else. He chooses to play video games all day and leave dirty dishes not only in the sink, but in his room, on the back of the toilet, in the living room and whever else he decides he wants to eat. I am desperate here!!!

  74. FYI.MyMom would have woken me up,beat my ass and made me clean the kitchen. I am 48, an my biggest pet peeve is a dirty kitchen(or any part of my home) before going to bed..A hug?And you still are cleaning up after your family.you just don’t get frustrated because you are the one that needed a hug. Your kids and your husband don’t respect you or they would help you.

  75. Here I am @ 65 with all three children married and have 6 grands and awesome husband of 45 years…just last week I FINALLY heard myself w/my negative routine comments to hubby such as ,”Did you set the alarm and lock the door?” to which he rolled HIS eyes! I didn’t even like ME…so, the next time this situation (and others like it) came up, I cheerfully SAID, instead of ASKING, ” I just LOVE it when you set the alarm and lock the door!” We both busted out laughing and do so every time I get creative w/my suggestions/inquiries! Who knows but what this approach might work w/kids as well!

  76. Good grief! I seriously have tears. Your hubbies comment was spot on and I needed that more then you will ever know. Thanks for sharing.

  77. Wow, couldn’t have read this at a better time! After caring for my daughter around the clock for 5 days post surgery, staring at literally 7 loads of laundry piled up, dirty dishes in sink, snack wrappers and shoes laying everywhere.. I blew up- broke 2 wine glasses, 5 dishes, a cupboard, a chair, etc in my ranting explosion,, along with streaming laundry all over the house, to make a point.. My 3 teenage boys just retreated to their rooms and their phones. I’m pretty sure that was NOT the way to handle things.. But have tried the discussion approach with no success. Sometimes when a mom is done- she’s DONE!!! And now I feel awful for yelling. On too of a husband who provides NO support. Uggh!! Parenting is hard- but you’re right in leaving a lasting impression of love… Time for damage control- but hope they at least got the message..

  78. Love your heart and this post! Felt like it was written for me. Grace for us as parents, Grace for them as children!

  79. Such a beautiful message about practising patience and trying not to sweat the small stuff – yet acknowledging our imperfections and admitting sometimes, we mess up.

    Thanks for providing some insight I relate to, much appreciated.

    Miss Lou

  80. It’s pretty simple; you have anger management issues. Apparently, you haven’t had anything tragic happen in your life or the life of your child. When you learn that it doesn’t really matter and the only thing that is important is his health and well being you might not be so angry.

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