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Jennifer Maggio Christian Blog and Commentary

Jennifer Maggio

Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others. 

6 Tips for Raising Difficult Children

  • 2023May 24

Okay, full disclosure here. I struggled with the title of this article. Our children, young or older, are gifts from God. They are precious and called with a purpose. God has a plan for them, filled with purpose and hope. And we love them with every fiber of our being, so let’s just get all that out of the way first. Admitting that our children can be difficult does not mean they aren’t gifted by God or that we don’t love them immensely, it simply means that parenting them is... well... difficult! That said, I want struggling parents to be able to find the words on this page, as you sojourn through what may be some of the hardest days of their lives. I you to know that you came to the right place. The parenting journey isn’t for the faint of heart, so let’s dive in, shall we? 

I think some famous author has called parenting difficult children “raising strong-willed children.” Perhaps that is a better term, but today, we are going to call them difficult. Let’s face it. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals. Yes, we have the Word of God (and boy, has it been a lifesaver in my life as I’ve parented). Yes, we can read parenting books and thank God for the wisdom offered by those who have gone before is. Yes, we can watch YouTube videos and download podcasts. But our children – the very ones that God gifted us with – don’t have an instruction manual of do’s and don’ts that are specific to them, and some of us have had quite a time of it, haven’t we?! 

Two of my three children are now grown and have left the nest some years ago with the third not far behind. There have been easy seasons of my parenting years, when things seemed to come together and fall in place seamlessly, and then there have been the hard seasons, when nothing seemed to come together and I felt like I was running on quicksand, barely able to come up for air. Here is what I learned along the journey: 


  1. Lose the guilt // Just because your children have missed the mark, it doesn’t mean you are a terrible parent. For so long, I carried this immense guilt if my children failed a test or cheated or used profanity or stayed out too late or in some way broken the rules laid out before them. I somehow internalized that every behavior was a reflection of my parenting. It immobilized my children. It alienated them. It made me an angry parent. Our Heavenly Father is perfect and yet we, his children, make mistakes. It doesn’t mean He is any less a good Father. It means we have a sin nature that we grapple with. Lose the guilt and offer the kiddos some grace. Nothing effective is accomplished through guilty parenting.  

  2. Laugh again // When is the last time you had fun with your children? Do you know what I have sadly found to be true? We get involved in tasks and duties and checklists and rules. We are so inundated with the demands of laundry and homework and carpool and soccer practice that we forget to have fun. We spend most of our time putting out the fires of those screaming the loudest, reprimanding and punishing and correcting and disciplining. We don’t take the time to dance in the rain, karaoke in the living room, and play board games. We have stopped laughing with our children. We become the big, bad, angry, monster always looking to correct them with furrowed brows. Learn to enjoy your children again.  

  3. Don’t overindulge // Parents are tired. We balance a dozen balls in the air at any given time. Sometimes, due to guilt, exhaustion, lack of understanding, or any number of reasons, we enable and indulge. We get tired of the whining, the temper tantrums, the busted hole in the wall, or the defiance, and we simply give in. We become weak on the parenting journey and we relinquish boundaries that we should have held their foot to the fire on. Do not overindulge! It will reap dividends later. Ask God for the strength necessary to hold strong boundaries. Don’t buy the shoes if you can’t afford them. Don’t buy the toy. Don’t bend the rule that you deemed important in your home. If you have a gut check about that party, don’t let them go. Don’t allow the guilt of long hours at work or a past mistake or an ugly divorce or even your own insecurities cause you to overindulge your children. It only cripples them. 

  4. Set the thermostat // Lose the emotion. Don’t be quick to anger. Don’t scream. I was recently holding a conversation with my adult son and he said, “Mom, you always set a great temperature in the room.” He began to explain how I laughed and brought joy (at least sometimes, I do!) As the parent, we get to set the thermostat of our homes. Do we read the Word together? Do we pray? Do we have family meetings about hard things, not just surface-level conversation?  

  5. Stay the course // Parents, I know it is hard. I know the days are long and sometimes thanks are few. I know that there seems to be little rest for weary souls, but don’t stop praying. Don’t stop believing. Don’t stop implanting wisdom and truth and wise counsel. The Lord will mount you on wings like eagles. He will restore, in due time, so stay the course. When they are adults, they will – I repeat, will – stand and called you blessed. Don’t give up, even when you can’t see the fruit of your labor in this season. You are planting seeds.  

  6. Lean in to the Holy Spirit // The Holy Spirit sets captives free. He guides us. He leads and comforts. He is the X-Factor that changes everything. My kids used to “hate” my relationship with the Holy Spirit. He would reveal things to me through the power of discernment that would catch them every time. I would have a dream that I could not shake. I would have a “gut feeling” and just knew that something was up. I would drive over to a home where my children were staying the night to get them, when I couldn’t explain why. Learn more about the Holy Spirit and the gifts he offers. It can be a life-changer in parenting and every other facet of life.  

First seen on iBelieve.

Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others. 

To the Single Mom Who Feels Left Out

  • 2023May 10

My dad was a hard-working farmer from Mississippi who missed the first few weeks of school each year, because he had to pick cotton. He did, indeed, walk miles to school each day, barefooted and in overalls. Like his family before him, he made a living as a farmer and fisherman for most of my life. He had several side hustles, before anyone even knew what that was! While we always had plenty of food on the table and clothes on our back, there wasn’t much extra. When I was about nine, we moved to a new town and joined a new church. It was the largest church in town and many of the “cool” kids from the local private school went there. (I was a public-school kid.) As we moved through elementary and into junior high and high school, I felt more and more like I just didn’t fit in. While the youth group planned their annual trip to the ski retreat each winter, I was stapling the sole of my shoe back on to ensure it lasted to the end of the school year. All the girls seemed smarter, prettier, thinner, and richer, and I often felt very left out. 

Many of you probably have countless stories of feeling left out, too. Perhaps you are having a flashback to the dreaded daily cafeteria encounter in sixth grade, when your eyes quickly scanned the room for a set of friendly eyes, in desperate hopes of finding a seat. Maybe you were chosen last at P.E. for the kickball game regularly. Prom. College parties. Church socials. Friend gatherings. All of us have felt left out at one time or another. In fact, most of us have probably experienced the feeling on numerous occasions, so we need to get good at handling it! Here are a few things that I have learned that help, when I am feeling most left out:

  1. Focus on what is true // I don’t know about you, but my natural response tends to be worst-case-scenario. I have had to consciously train my thought life to be in alignment with God’s word. If not, it won’t take me long to be a down a rabbit hole of lies, e.g. They didn’t really like me anyway. I never fit in. No one is ever going to ask me. I don’t have anything of value to offer. They did this on purpose. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” This reminds us that we must focus on what is true. When our minds run to the lies, we counteract not with how we feel, but with God says. He says we are “loved, called, chosen, redeemed, healed, beloved, hope-filled, and complete” just to name a few! What’s also important to remember is that very often when we are left out of an event, invitation, etc., the ones who didn’t include us did not mean, in any way, to hurt us. Perhaps they had a limit on seating for their event, limited budget, or have been busy with life’s demands.  Maybe you just didn’t cross their minds for this outing, but will be included in the next. Fix your thoughts on what is true, worthy of praise, and lovely.  

  2. Communicate // Be honest when you’ve been hurt, if you have been left out repeatedly and genuinely want to foster a relationship with this person(s). Do not allow bitterness or offense to fester. Share your heart regarding the matter.  There are a variety of reasons why we aren’t included in invitations, groups, or events. Sometimes, it’s God’s protection for us. Sometimes, it’s because others aren’t clear on our interests or intentions. Sometimes, it’s because we simply didn’t speak up. Whatever the reason, Matthew 5:23-24 teaches us to resolve conflict with our sisters and brothers in Christ. Any unattended emotion that festers will get bigger. Before you know it, you’ve made a gigantic inferno where there once was only a flicker. Spiritual maturity requires open communication with hopes of resolution. 

  3. Forgive // The truth is, there are times, when people are simply mean. We didn’t get included because the mean girls in high school were just that – mean. We are called to forgive. You cannot be a forty-year old mother of three, working a full-time job, and juggling car pool and dirty clothes, and still festering over Brandi in junior high who always bullied you. Forgive her. Often, we have no idea what others are experiencing that result in their behavior towards us. Maybe abuse exists in their home. Maybe a father abandoned the family. Maybe the death of a loved one left a gaping heart wound that hasn’t healed. We simply do not have any idea what people are facing.  

  4. Evaluate insecurities // As a childhood abuse victim who has endured abuses of many kinds, the death of most of my family, and other trauma, I did not leave my childhood unscathed. I brought with me insecurities about my appearance, education level, social status, and countless others. The same is likely true for you. Life experiences can sometimes birth insecurities. It is important that we acknowledge that sometimes we were not left out. Others aren’t targeting us. We are just battling insecurity. We must learn to overcome with the power of the Holy Spirit and take control of our thought-life, as well as meditate on God’s word.  

  5. Be proactive with others // If you lack social engagement and are missing that aspect of your life, be proactive in scheduling an event and inviting friends. Host a fish fry or barbecue or game night or karaoke contest. Be intentional with making new friends. Rather than focusing on what you weren’t invited to or who didn’t include you, be proactive in nurturing strong relationships with friends and family. Further, you be the one at church, social events, or work gatherings that seeks out the lonely, dismissed, or ostracized. You initiate conversation and foster the gift of hospitality in your own life. Perhaps the Lord has given you the experience of feeling left out, so that you an use it as a ministry opportunity for others, knowing full-well how hard that experience has been for you to endure.  

  6. Pray about it // This one is hard to say (write) and may be even harder to hear (read). Sometimes, we aren’t included in invitations or social gatherings, because we are hard to be around. Maybe because of previous pain, unresolved trauma, a heart wound, or lack of social skills, we are combative, loud, know-it-alls, self-absorbed, bitter, complain-y, lack listening skills, or other. We need to pray and ask the Lord if there’s anything in our heart that does not align with his word or that hinders us from forming strong, meaningful, relationships. He is faithful to reveal to us the areas that we need to work on. And then, we must do the hard work of being honest with ourselves and improving in those areas. 

  7. Be kind to others // Despite how you have been treated, choose to be kind to others. Treat others the way you want to be treated, no matter how they have treated you.  

Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others. 

Find You Again

  • 2023Apr 26

The transition into any new season can be a challenging. There are so many unanswered questions and for people like me, who hate change, it can be especially hard. I am the type of person who loves the expected. I love safe places, boundaries and normalcy, I am not big on surprise parties or surprises in general. Well, I guess you can say I am one of those boring types of people - you know, the predictable type. I think that the same can be true for many of us. There is a part of us that just likes to know what to expect. When we are transitioning into a new season, there is just NOTHING expected about that journey!  

One of the most important things you can do for yourself as you move forward is to diligently seek and search until find yourself again. You MUST to find YOU again. Here is what I have found to be true. Finding ourselves again, after a trauma, pain or change, is hard, and we will never be able to do it, if we are not intentional about that it. You are too important to let “YOU” disappear. Many of us are simply putting one foot in front of the other, trying to make ends meet, surviving day by day, barely coping. Her is what the Lord says about you,  

 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11 

Yes, you may be going through an unexpected life change, but that does not mean God has forgotten about you or counted you out! He has plans for you. He can and desires to use you. He has gifts and talents implanted inside you. He wants you to use those for His glory. So where do you begin? 

You begin with healing. There are some steps to healing that you want follow to begin to work through the healing process. First and foremost: be patient. Healing is a process, miracles occur instantaneously. A scab doesn’t say you are healed; it says there is healing in process taking place on the inside. Remember our hearts, our emotions, our soul, all of our brokenness, suffering, hurt, and pain is housed inside of us. That is where we must be healed. Sometimes healing can take a long time, hear me clearly, it is not impossible to be heal from your hurt. All things are possible with God. I am a living and breathing testimony to that truth!  

After you have worked through your healing, you must begin to dream again. Yes, you read that right – dream again. You have dreams inside you that you have put on the back burner or tucked them away deep inside you. If you’re a parent, you understand how we have no problem empowering our children with their dreams, but when it comes to empowering ourselves to follow our own dreams, we brush it off! We say, “Yes, Johnny, you can be the next President. Absolutely, you can open your own law firm, be a business owner, become a musician,” we are our children’s biggest cheerleader. Yet, somehow along the way, the pressures of life took our ability to dream for ourselves! As a parent, the best thing you can do for your children is to accomplish your own goals and dreams. What better testament of God’s power and strength living through you than to work towards a God-given dream and actually accomplish it, with His strength?!  

The best thing I can tell you about learning yourself again, finding yourself, and embracing the season you are in is to trust God with your future. FULLY trust God! Things may not look like you thought they would have. Your circumstance may be different than you expected, it may be harder than you ever thought it would be, be reassured that your God is still on the throne. He is still with you, still making a way for you, and your best days are yet ahead. God had not been derailed by a temporary set-back in your life. Now, that is surly good news for you! Lay down the worry, the anxiety about your future, and fully trust the Creator of the universe. He has the master plan, He can plan for us, far better than we could ever do for ourselves.   

Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others.