Stone Soup for Five: 4 lies you are telling yourself about your hard kid

4 lies you are telling yourself about your hard kid

This is for those of us struggling through parenting the hard kids. 

The kids who take up so much of your brain that you can't even concentrate on the simplest of tasks.  
The kids who overwhelm you, drive you daily to utter exhaustion, and don't ever seem to change.

These are lies that I've told myself, and I'm willing to bet you've entertained them more than once or twice also.

1.  I screwed something up somewhere.

Yes, we've all made mistakes. We've all done stupid things, been too hard or inconsistent, spanked or not spanked, yelled or ignored, slapped or walked away.  We've all done it.
Parenting is hard.
Kids are hard.
Our culture is hard.
And there is no perfect.
Stop thinking that how your child is behaving now is a direct result of what you've done or not done. 
How your child is behaving right now, is how they are choosing to behave. 
You've done things right, you've done things wrong.
God's grace is bigger than all of that.
God's grace is enough to cover all mistakes and omissions.
Run to Him. Cling to Him. Drop the guilt at His feet.

2.   I want to give up!

Oh, how I love to think these words.  It seems so easy to give up.  But when I think through what giving up would look like (here on earth, and later in Heaven), I know it's not an option.  This is a lie, and not even a very good one, but I keep rolling it around in my head when things get tough.  When you find yourself entertaining this lie, take just a second and think through, REALLY think through, what giving up would look like.  Allowing them to get their way.  Allowing them to destroy things and others.  No, that just isn't real.  It's a lie.

I'm not going to give up on this kid.  I hate the behavior, but I love the child.

3.  They will NEVER change!

I remember a great sentence in C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters where the older demon is coaching the younger demon and says: "I do not expect old heads on young shoulders."

We are these kids' parents for a reason. We are the best person ON THIS PLANET to raise these hard children.  You will NOT wake up one day to have all your prayers anwered and them behaving as they should.  Don't expect mature adult behavior from an immature adolescent walking hormone.

God doesn't work that way.  He uses these trials to grow us.  You are learning lessons while your hard kid is learning them too.  You are changing.  Don't wish this away.  It sucks, it really sucks, but life isn't about ease and comfort and relaxing, unfortunately.  This life is all about learing to love Him through the storms these kids kick up.  I think God gives us these Titanium hard kids because that is the hardness of the tool WE need for Him to use to carve into our hearts. 

Embrace the suck.  It is EXACTLY what you need for Christ to work in YOUR heart.  It will change both you and them.

4.  I don't know what to do with them!

If I asked you what is ONE thing you could do today, to improve the situation with your hard kid, you would have an answer.  It may take a bit to think through, but do it.  Think through it.  I'm asking you right now:  What is one thing you could do to improve this situation?

You do know what to do.  

It's just hard.

Another thing you could do is seek the wisdom of others.  Talk to your pastors and church leaders.  Shoot them an email (This week, I sent out three emails regarding a tough and really ugly morning with my hard kid.)
You may not have known what to do in the heat of the moment, but think through the situation with a calm and quiet mind later and figure out what the tipping point was...when did it go from hard to awful?  Get counsel.  Pray.

5.  I can't do it anymore.

Okay, this one might not be a lie, so much as an answer.
You can't do it anymore.  I can't do it anymore.
I love to quote the verse that the Lord will never give us more than we can bear (1 Cor 10:13) ...and He hasn't yet.  You've held up.  You're at your computer, reading this, still breathing.  Your hard kid hasn't drained you completely dry yet, right?
So what do we do with this?  
We RUN to God.  
YOU can't do this alone. 
We can't read enough parenting books.  
We can't listen to enough sermons or podcasts.  

We. need. Him. 

Run, don't walk. Throw yourself at His feet.  Wait on the Lord.

Remember, we are not called to wait on the answer.  

Or the change.  

Or them moving out of the house.  

We are to wait on the LORD.  The Mighty God.  The Prince of Peace.

What does waiting on the Lord in the midst of struggle look like to you?
Think it through. Really. Write it out.
Not waiting on the thing.  Waiting on the Lord.

I had a really sucky day with my hard kid.  I went through ALL these lies in under 30 seconds.  Bring these lies back to Him who created you as the parent of this child.  Pray through what you wrote down.  Recenter.  Grab a coffee... go for a walk... read a book... sing a song.

And get back in that fight WITH the Lord.  You are not to fight your child, but to fight FOR your child.  This is a battle, moms. 

It is a hard battle, but it is a good battle.  

It is a battle WORTH the tears, the tight chests, the headaches and frustration. Because some day, some time, you will see the results and hear the outcome of your hard work straight from the mouth of our Savior.

I'm counting on it.  Because if I know that it is worth it in the end, I can fight another day.

And so can you.

Cry a little.  Pray a lot.  Go to bed early.  There's hope and grace in a new day.

I know your pain.
I'm right there with you sister.

I promise you though, God is BIGGER.

Can I get an amen?  And a tissue?


  1. Thank you, Kari... Really... I need exactly those words in this time... I will copy a few sentences in my bullet journal to be able to read them if needed

    1. Me too, sister. Me too. (((((hugs)))) We WILL get through this!

  2. Amen and amen! My son is only 6 and already I shudder over what our future is going to be like. My husband has actually voiced a few of these lies in the past week. While I tell him they are not true, in my heart I sometimes feel the same things. I also wonder how our conflicts are affecting the 3yo.

    I've been reading some of your old posts (circa 2011?) and had an Aha! moment regarding some of my own behaviors that need to change. It already had a positive effect on our day yesterday. Thank you for sharing your heart so that others can benefit from your challenges and learning experiences.

    Are you familiar with the Casting Crowns' song, Voice of Truth? You can google it or find it on YouTube. It's a beautiful song. I'll share the chorus; it is powerful:
    But the voice of truth tells me a different story
    And the voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
    And the voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
    Out of all the voices calling out to me
    I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

    Blessings and peace to you and your family this day.

    1. Thank you for sharing that song. I have heard it, but forget it. Now it is ringing through my ears as a promise for another day. Thank you!

  3. What a great article! I raised a hard kid (with a lot of help from the Lord), and it was rough. But the earthly reward is a 27 year old son who is a strong Christian, served in the Marines, worked his way to a Master's degree, has an awesome job, and is married to a lovely Christian woman. Hard kids can achieve a lot, you see, because they are so tough. All of you moms who are dealing with a hard child - hang in there and never give up. Sooner or later you will see your efforts bear fruit. God bless you!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting Kay! It's great to hear from someone who has been there and survived and got to watch her son become a great man of God! This was more encouraging than I think you even know. Thank you!

  4. My hard kid has been getting easier the last couple of years. (He's 17 now.) I didn't think it would get better, but I kept praying, kept loving, kept expecting, kept reining him in, kept encouraging, and he's so much better. We had to get through those hormones and that rough time of am I an adult or a kid? He's embracing his manhood and really stepping up into responsibility and it is glorious! We still have our days, but I remember the glimpses of the man he is becoming and continue to encourage him and nudge him that way. And having my husband step in and tell him how real men should behave certainly helps as well.

    Be encouraged! You will make it!

  5. OK, I came back to say this: another thing that really helped was to remember that I am not raising a child. He's got that. I'm raising an adult! Adulthood is the ultimate goal and so rather than making him a compliant child, I want to help him develop the skills that will make him a great adult. One of those skills is respect, however, and he had to learn that showing respect to those in authority over him was something he would have to do for the rest of his life, so he might as well practice with me. We also talked a lot about responsibility and I told him I wanted to be able to give him more responsibility, but he had to show me what he could do with what he had. I see parents who are still trying to micromanage everything and that doesn't engender maturity and responsibility. Disclaimer: He hasn't gone off to college yet, so I could be eating my words next year, but we did leave him alone for a few days when we needed to go out of town. He had some commitments he couldn't leave so we prayerfully decided that we would let him stay home and he did great! So we are optimistic for next year. :-)


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