When You're At the End of Your Parenting Rope

Yesterday was hard for us.  One of our children had continual melt-downs and wrong perceptions and made our dinner-time almost unbearable.  Another kid plugged his ears and left the table at one point just to get away from the mayhem.  Amazingly, I didn't lose my temper.  (Insert applause here).

Admitting this to the public is somewhat bold, and if I was the sensitive type I couldn't do it.  Everyone thinks they know how to handle a special-needs kid...until they have one.  I was confident in my parenting until life threw us a curveball.  I could have advised every parent out there exactly how to handle every possible disciplinary action imaginable.  I was creative, courageous, unyielding, stiff-necked even.  I was a Mom to be reckoned with.

And then we had a child who didn't fit the mold.  He didn't roll with the punches.  He didn't 'get' our method.  He didn't conform, submit, respond or seem to even understand the cause and effect of discipline!  If any of our kids demonstrated rebellion against us we knew it and it was addressed immediately.  With a special-needs child you often realize that though their responses are inappropriate, that often their response is from pain or distress rather than a heart of rebellion.  

Each child is unique and this is the exact point of the difficulty of parenting.  A singular model - that aims for cookie-cutter results - is not 100% foolproof.  One of the a-ha! moments for me was when I saw a younger child of ours exceed an older one in emotional stability and maturity.  Suddenly it dawned on me that the level of development in one of our kids was years behind another!  And yet I had expected him to respond with appropriate maturity.  

Did I excuse his misbehaviour?  Absolutely not.  Did I understand it differently than before?  Yes.  How one deals with a two-year-old will be different at times than a six-year-old.  But if your six-year-old isn't progressing beyond two emotionally, going back to the two-year-old model may be an option.

I don't even like the term 'special-needs' but I'll have to use it for convenience.  God designed each of us complete with our strengths and weaknesses.  I know He has reasons in this.  Regardless of the reasons, it can just be exhausting at times.

When I look at our situation and want to complain I am rebuked in my spirit.  It is tiring.  It is more than I think I can handle.  I pray for wisdom.  I pray for change.  I pray for growth - sometimes more for my kids than for me ('Am I not done growing, Lord?  Don't you think I've had enough growth for now?'  And I can almost feel His loving smile as He hears my heart).

Frustrations come because life isn't what we expect.  We want it different.  At the very least, I just want a break sometimes.  This is the discipline of having children - that sometimes there are long stretches with no breaks.  The neat-little-tidy-package families that do everything right and orchestrate life to run on a thoroughly predictable schedule have received a special merciful grace from God that eludes the rest of us.  (Do those families exist?  Maybe, I'm still looking!)  Routines, organization and schedules are great and all...don't get me wrong.  What I'm saying is that sometimes life still gets messy, falls apart and kids still do wrong things to each other and to you and unless you live in a fairy tale you will at times want to scream and pull your hair out - no, I take that back: pull their hair out.

In those moments I am praying for peace and calm and presence of mind.  'Stay above the fray' I tell myself.  'Don't get dragged into this.' 'Let the drama remain where it is - with them.'  'Someone has to keep calm.  Let it be you as the Mom.'

But at the end of the day I may just not have all the answers.  There may be a time to simply tuck them in bed, pray over them and scratch their backs even when they don't deserve it.

And I am reminded that His Mercies Are NEW EVERY Morning.

Great is His faithfulness...

Even when you're a struggling Mom.


  1. Well said, I'm still learning this stuff too. Jackie K.

  2. Hi Sarah, I stumbled upon your blog accidentally one day, and come back to it from time to time as you often express a lot of what is going on in my own head. Interestingly enough I also figured out, reading your how I met sam stories, that I once knew your husband years ago in Africa. I dont have five children but i have three and a husband who travels, plus i work a little as well and usually dont get parenting breaks. I just thought i would say I hear you and am praying for you from the other side of the world! Bronwyn (from Australia).

    1. Wow - that is so encouraging to hear Bronwyn. I can't imagine how I'd do it if Sam did travel regularly. Last year he took a trip to China and it was about the worst time for me. I don't think I've been that low or exhausted before! He travels infrequently. I'm glad I can be of some encouragement. So thankful to hear from you! Blessings on you.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

I get by with a little help from my friends (Gratitude: day 11)

Invoice for Kids

Exercising Gratitude: 30 Days - 1