Raising Your Challenging Child: Rejecting Formulaic Mindsets

In raising my challenging child, I’ve had to learn a new way of parenting. Many typical parenting techniques just won’t work for my challenging kid. One of the biggest difficulties for me in this parenting journey has been tweaking my parenting for this kid.

Setting up punishments and rewards just didn’t work for my daughter. When she decided what she wanted to do, she’d do it. If she didn’t agree with a rule, even if I explained the reason, she felt that she didn’t have to follow it.

I felt like a failure. My daughter was “rebellious” “willful” and “hard-headed.” I thought, wrongly, “If I would just spank her harder, punish her more, be more consistent, she would become a compliant, obedient child.” I completely bought the lie that creating a “good” kid was simply a matter of following the magical formula. “Good” mothers follow the formula, the kids fall in line, and everything is magically wonderful. “Bad” mothers have disobedient, rebellious, angry kids.

After all, that verse in the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

I had to change my thinking in several ways. First, I had to realize that the above verse is not necessarily a promise from God. Much of Proverbs is observations about the human status.

This verse from Proverbs is a generalization. As adults, it IS hard to completely reject our raising. However, if a child from a violent, angry home can become a good, productive, Christian adult, then I believe the reverse can be true. Kids from good, Christian homes CAN reject their parents’ faith. A child’s behavior is not always reflection of how good of a parent someone is or was. It’s scary to think that I can pour good stuff into my kids and have them totally reject God. However, that fact also keeps me on my knees each day in prayer for my kids. I can’t make the decision for them. There IS no magic bullet that guarantees that my children will follow God as adults.

Another way I had to change my thinking is in the belief that my child’s behavior at age 3 or 8 or 14 is a reflection of who she will become as an adult. Kids go through some really rotten phases. Just because a child is a pain in the neck at age 5 doesn’t mean that he or she will grow up to be a selfish bum. Children go through phases of frustrating behaviors. And then they grow out of them. Do the best you can to work through the hard times and let maturity and God make your child into who he will become.

The last way that I had to adjust my mindset is in my thinking that it was all up to me. God can work a huge miracle in the heart of my willful, inflexible child. I need to let God use me to gently lead my child to Him and allow God to make the changes. Honestly, I can’t do the work of the Holy Spirit for Him. Sometimes, I need to control what I can control, set limits, give consequences, and allow God to change my daughter’s heart.

In the end, a change of heart is really the only thing that will change my daughter’s behavior and attitude anyway.

Ezekiel 36:26 says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.


When I changed my thinking about parenting, especially in regards to my challenging child, parenting got much easier. Not because my daughter was transformed, but because I ceased taking my daughter’s personality and bad behavior so personally. I stopped seeing her argumentativeness, moodiness, and disobedience as evidence that I was a bad mother. It was easier to look objectively at situations because my feelings were less wrapped up in my daughter’s behavior.

Do you have a challenging child? Have you had to change your thinking with regards to parenting?

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Taryl (Arctic Mama)
    Nov 05, 2014 @ 19:29:56

    100% agreeing with this posts. Very wise words.

    Reply

  2. fairfarmhand79
    Nov 06, 2014 @ 09:38:44

    Thanks for stopping by. So many mothers have these internal scripts running in their heads. It affects everything that they do with their kids.

    Reply

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