How to Survive Your Child's Difficult Stage
- Cindi McMenamin Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2016 16 May
Most of the things we worry about as moms, come down to a phase our kids are going through. A phase that eventually ends and then our kids seem normal again.
And most of our children’s difficult phases are temporary. But how we choose to handle them can have more lasting impact.
As I wrote my book 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, I interviewed moms of children going through the “questioning” stage, the “testing” stage, and the “lack of motivation” stage, to name just a few.
In some cases, the phase lasted only a few months. In most cases, it lasted about a year. But in every case I've seen or heard about, it was a limited time – a short season of a child’s life.
One mom summed it up by saying: “Every phase my kids went through, whether good or bad, seemed to change over time. I spent a lot of time worrying about something that wasn’t even an issue a year later.”
In Ecclesiastes 3:1, God’s Word says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” The next seven verses talk about the different – yet normal – stages of our lives.
Because that passage is a commentary on life, it is also an excellent commentary on a child's life, and on the stages of parenting we will go through. There will be times when your son is happy, laughing, so full of life. And there will be times he is solemn, moody, and more contemplative than joyful. There will be times when your daughter is the life of the party and the shining star among all who know her, and there will be a time she isn't as popular or enthusiastic about her life. There will be times your children succeed and times they fail badly. Let your children, regardless of their ages, go through the stages of life and learn from them.
Ecclesiastes 7:3 says "Sorrow is better than laughter, For when a face is sad a heart may be happy" (NASB). The growing-up experience includes many different phases – even those that are difficult for us to watch.
While Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for every activity under heaven, that passage does not say there is "a time to worry, and a time to trust." That's because there is never an appropriate time to worry, only to trust that the God of the seasons and stages of life is over this season and this stage of your child's life, as well.
Here are some practical ways to stay sane during the various changes and stages your child will go through. These steps should also help you find your stability, as well, so that you can trust the God who has it all under control:
1. Learn to respond, rather than react.
When we react, rather than respond to our children’s behavior, it can escalate a situation between a parent and child, especially if you are reacting emotionally to something you don't understand (like your child's choice of dress or unusual request). Instead of reacting to something your child might say from a bad attitude or an irrational thought, respond by calmly saying, "Tell me more about that.”
2. Learn to laugh.
It helps to have a sense of humor. See the annoying or difficult stage your child is going through as something you will look back on and laugh about later.
3. Learn to count it out.
One mom told me she "counts to ten" in every situation where she's tempted to blow. Being patient by taking a deep breath and counting makes sure we are not as impulsive and emotional in our responses, as our children are in their actions.
4. Learn from moms who have been there.
Many times, God speaks to us through the wisdom of others. Talk to godly moms who are facing the same things with their kids and can offer sound biblical insight. If you don't have a group of moms around you who can give you biblical advice, find a Moms in Prayer group at your children’s school or find a moms group at your local church.
5. Lean on God and His Word.
In Psalm 16:8, David said: "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Life’s circumstances can shake us. Our children’s constant changes can take us by surprise and rattle us. But you can have the kind of confidence David had when he said “I will not be shaken.”
As you lean on God, who never changes, and His Word, which is rock solid, you can stand firmly and be a steady, immovable force in your child's life no matter what he or she is going through and no matter what changes are swirling around you.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the author of 15 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and her newest book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom. For more on her ministry, books, or free resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: May 16, 2016