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How to Find God's Grace When Dealing with Your Difficult Child

  • Veronica Neffinger

    Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the…

  • 2015 Oct 14

Often, the hardest things are the most rewarding. This is a simple platitude, yet it holds special truth in the Christian life as we witness all the good that comes from hardship. The mountaintop is more beautiful after the valley as we so clearly see the fulfilled promise of God making all things new and beautiful, often in the most unexpected moments.

In a blog post titled “Why My ‘Difficult’ Kid Is a Gift and Not a Reason for Despair” Lisa-Jo Baker brings home the paradoxical truth that, amidst the trials of life and the times we feel most battered and fed up, God is crafting something beautiful.

Kids can be difficult. Although I don’t yet have any of my own, babysitting and having younger siblings has been enough to show me that kids are not often easy to manage; they require so much attention, care, and love. As adults with so much already on our minds, this can be exhausting.

Baker talks about her oldest son, Micah, who is seven years old. Like most seven-year-old boys, he can be a handful. 

And yet, she says, “I would do it all over again--the uncertainty, the battles to understand him, the temper and the challenge, the brokenness and the stubbornness, and the desperate ache that requires me to step into his world and pour myself out as a love offering, freely given with no expectation of payback. A gift. I lay myself down for my son who is learning to love because I first loved him.”

Being a parent requires a great amount of self-sacrifice. As humans living in a fallen world, we still daily struggle with sin and selfishness, coveting our time to ourselves amidst our crazy days going from one task to the next. So when a little person invades that space, we can easily be resentful and our worst selves can become all too evident.

“I didn’t know I was selfish until I had kids,” says Baker. “I didn’t know I was angry and quick to keep a list of wrongs done to me, of slight slights, of everything I felt entitled to and was happy to demand.”

How do we keep giving to our children when we feel like we just want a moment to ourselves? How do we remember that children are a gift from God?

Finding the Gift in Your Child’s Annoying Personality” on gives this advice: Don’t eradicate, cultivate.

Whether your child overwhelms you with his talkativeness, his bossiness, his energy, or his sensitivity, remember that God has given you the gift of cultivating these things in him.

So when your children seem to argue with every rule you set or burst into your bedroom for just one more goodnight hug, remember that giving of yourself is what God has called us to, and it is a gift from God that we are often taught this by children.

“[W]e will keep teaching each other what it looks like to give up the pieces of ourselves we thought we needed, in order to make room for someone else,” Baker says.

God, through His grace and mercy, often uses even a child getting on our nerves to sanctify us, if we only remain open to His working in our lives and the lives of our little ones. 

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Publication date: October 14, 2015

Veronica Neffinger is the editor of