As I begin this series, it is with much fear and trepidation. You see, I did not really know how to be a godly mother, and in many ways, my own behavior is so shameful that I am afraid that by sharing it, you would come to despise me. After praying at great length about it, I realized that this fear and shame for the person I used to be- is only the enemy’s way of preventing this message from being shared. So, I ask that you have grace with me and realize that only the Lord could take a woman with so many faults and imperfections and give her something to teach from his Word. All that to say- this woman that I once was has been forgiven by the Lord and I walk in victory today.
So, with no further ado:
Teaching the Difficult Child based upon the Audio Workshop by the same name.
There are many reasons why a person would come to a workshop on teaching the difficult child. When I prayed about this workshop, I perceived that the Lord was telling me to focus very little on my “difficult child” and spend the majority of the time focused on the things we did that helped in our home. The reasons for this are varied. One, my own children are often in my workshops and I do not want in any way to hurt any of my children by talking about what some may perceive as their weaknesses.
Secondly, there are many reasons why a child may be difficult. It may be a physical or psychological difference. It may be a personality difference. It may be a lack of training skills from the parents, but whatever the reason; there are many common steps we can take to help when a child is a bit more “difficult.”
Years ago a friend of mine asked me to tea and told me to bring my Bible along. When we sat down, she started going through all the scriptures where the Lord talked about children.
As the conversation went on, I realized that she was talking to me as if I did not love my children. I was shocked. Here I was homeschooling, and I had given up everything to be home with them. How could she think I did not love them?
Before I had a chance to speak and start telling her all of this she quietly stated: “I know you love your children, but the way you talk about them does not speak the truth of that to them or others.”
“You say things like: My child did ________________ today, do you want her?” Or “I just need a day off from her.” Or, “I am so OVER her fit throwing.” And my voice and tone to my children could at times be harsh, particularly my one who always seemed to have an explanation point at the end of the name.
I sat at the table stunned, then went home to ponder what she said. Was it true? Did I really treat my child poorly? What about my little joking: “Do you want her?” That was not serious, of course, but what exactly DID I mean when I said those things? I realized that my own attitude was not godly.
I sat down and prayed about my treatment of each of my children, with the more difficult one in the forefront of my thoughts and developed a plan of action.
For the next few days, we are going to talk about that plan of action with the Acronym STOP
S-Stop the sarcasm, joking, and belittling of my child
The first thing I needed to do was to change the way I treated all of the children. Although I did not see it this way previously, I came to see that I had fallen into the habit of joking or belittling my child.
Here is what I mean. When one was being particularly difficult, I might have looked at her other sister and threw my hands in the air. Often others felt as annoyed by our “special one” as I was.
But now I was convicted that this was true because I had set up our relationship that way. It had become an “us versus her” kind of mindset. I would speak in hushed tones about whatever outrageous behavior she had done. I would roll my eyes when she behaved erratically so that my other children would see it.
With those kinds of ungodly behavior modeled for them, the children would treat one another this way too. It was so bad that sometimes when we would hear our “difficult one” coming onto the scene, our eyes would lock in a “oh boy here it starts” kind of look.
But Ephesians 5:4 tells us: Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
So, I had to model the appropriate way to love this one. I started making myself smile broadly when she entered the room. I would not participate in any type of derogatory looks, body language or words about this child. I had to lead the way and stop this behavior, and was quick to correct it when I noticed it among the other children. We all had to learn to be welcoming to each child when they arrived in the room. Please do not misunderstand me.
This child was still difficult.
But instead of seeing her as a burden, I saw her as my beloved child, in whom my Holy and Living God was well-pleased. He created her, knitted her in my womb, gave this precious gift to me. And I was never going to be guilty of being ungrateful again.
In part 2 , I am going to share the second part of my action plan: TRUTH
If you are in need of additional resources on this topic, I have the following suggestions:
Teaching the Difficult Child MP3-audio recording of the workshop
Teaching the Difficult Child CD-audio recording of the workshop
You may also want to read the following article on Teaching the Difficult Child – Help My Daughter is Twelve! – Reader Question