When We Don't Like Our Children

When We Don’t Like Our Children

Years ago when I was a young parent with only three children (pre-adoption), I joined a friend, Kelley,  for a talk she was giving. The talk was held at a low-income housing development full of Moms who were desperately trying to keep their families together. They had endured all sorts of difficult life circumstances and needed some friendly encouragement. I’m glad my friend was there to give it. I was just tagging along.

Kelley began her talk with, “Some times I don’t like my kids.” There were audible gasps in the room. That’s just generally a statement Moms are not allowed to say. As she continued her talk, she explained the difference between loving her kids unconditionally and liking them (or not sometimes). I’m sure every woman in that room breathed an inward and a much-needed sigh of relief (including me).

If you really think about this, it’s true of all relationships even our relationship with God. Sometimes we don’t feel “liked” by God. It’s just a feeling but we try to get back in His good graces. We like being liked. So when I began to have children, I assumed I should like them and love them all the time. As my image of God changed, so did my understanding. God loves us unconditionally but He doesn’t like it when we sin because sin separates us from Him. 

The burden of Mom guilt.

If you’re a Mom, you know that you can love your child unconditionally and still not like some of their behaviors just like God. As Moms, we carry an extra load of Mom-guilt. I’m not sure where we got it. Maybe we all picked it up at Target by mistake. It seems to be a universal item we carry on our shoulders. We feel bad when we’re mad. (I rhymed). Right?

 Do you know who has an extra load of guilt? Foster parents. Adoptive parents. I’m not sure why. Maybe when we were signing all of those papers, we accidentally signed one for an extra bag of guilt with some fine print that said, I will always like this child no matter what he does. That’s just not realistic. In one day, I witnessed two foster Moms feeling guilty because they didn’t like their child that day. 

Guess what? I love my husband but sometimes I don’t like him. I don’t like him when we leave the house to run two errands and he turns it into ten and I don’t get Starbucks. We don’t like our children when they don’t do the right thing, have a fit, steal, lie, or fill in the blank. It’s a given. It’s what we do with the dislike that matters. 

What to do with the dislike.

I’ve watched Moms in the grocery store telling little tiny kiddos, “You’re getting on my nerves! Stop it!” I don’t think that’s the way to handle dislike. There are no clear directives for the kiddo to make amends or change the behavior. Does a three-year-old even know what a nerve is? 

The best practice is if a child needs to change the behavior, give him clear short concise instruction. Much shorter than that sentence. If the dislike is super strong and lasts for a long period of time -get some space. Be still before the Lord. Examine yourself. What’s causing your frustration? Is it your unrealistic expectation? Is it the child’s past trauma causing mayhem? Is it your lack of planning?  Lack of consequences? Lack of sleep? Or it a more serious issue that you need extra help overcoming. 

Ask God for wisdom and be honest with yourself about how you are feeling. 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

James 1: 5


Have you experienced a season of dislike for one of your kiddos? How did you handle it? Feel free to share! Want to here more on this topic? Check out Podcast Episode 120 here.

Foster/Adoptive Parents – It's Okay to Ask for Help

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

I’ll be the first to admit, this is difficult for me. I struggle with perfectionist tendencies which translated means – I want to do everything myself and I want it to be perfect. This doesn’t work well in reality. 

You may wonder why I’m talking about asking for help when this month’s theme is goal planning. The idea our American culture puts forth is you can do it all and you can do it all by yourself.

That’s just not the way God designed us. He designed us to be in community. We are all part of the body of Christ (if we are Christians).

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

-I Corinthians 12: 15-20

To take it a step further, as this set of scriptures does, we are part of a body. Each one of us is a part. If we don’t do our part, the body doesn’t work properly. And if we don’t let someone else do their part, the body doesn’t function well.

I said on the podcast this week my husband is a servant. He is totally focused on serving more than I am. That’s his part. 

When we don’t let people do their part, we are robbing them of the blessing.

The first time in my adult life that I really had to ask for help was when I was pregnant with my third child. I went into preterm labor at twenty-eight weeks, which was stopped. The result was I was on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. I was only allowed to walk to the bathroom. That short walk caused contractions. My church set up a rotation of ladies to check on me and prepare meals. I hired a college student to help with the other two kiddos. It was one of the hardest things for me to do. 

Fast forward to our adoption journey.

We were in Poland on our first trip of the adoption for five weeks. We left before Thanksgiving and returned five days before Christmas. During those five weeks, a good friend came and cleaned and cared for the house (my step-father, Bud lived with us). Another friend set up the Christmas tree and decorated it. Another friend who owned a bakery made us some cookies. We came home after about twelve hours of flights to find a clean house and our house Christmas-ready! What a wonderful gift.

I’d like to say after the experience of receiving help, I was more willing to ask for it. I wasn’t. I’ve had many more practice tests on asking for help – including during a CFS crash or two, homeschooling, and planning events and the list goes on and on. What stops you from asking for help?

Let me leave you with this. James 1: 27 mandates we care for the widow and the orphan. 

27 External [a]religious worship [[b]religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.

Not everyone is going to foster or adopt. You can help someone fulfill the mandate by asking for help. Some people are the part of the body designed to help you and your kiddos. They can’t do that if you don’t ask for help. 

Want to hear more about this topic?

Are you an adoptive/foster parent? Are you sometimes overwhelmed? Do you struggle with asking for help? (Raising my hand here!) You’re not alone. If you have been following the series this month on goal planning for 2020, don’t skip this episode. Maybe it’s time to ask for help! Grab a cup of coffee and join Kathleen as she shares some real-life stories about the importance of asking for help to achieve our goals.

God's Example for Attachment

God’s Example for Attachment

If you think about it, all of creation has been in survival mode since the Fall — trying to meet our own needs, creating our own gods, always chased by a fear of lack. Yet if we examine God’s relationship with us, it always begins with “I Am.” Whatever you need. Wherever you are. Whatever you are going through, I Am. 

God doesn’t begin His relationships with rules and regulations, but with His presence. Relationship must precede rules and boundaries. We don’t send a newborn to bed without his supper because he cries. We don’t correct a new convert when he lets out a string of expletives right after a worship service (or we shouldn’t, at least). By the same token, we shouldn’t punish a child for being unable to self-regulate because he experienced early trauma.

We are born wired for attachment. As the authors of Wounded Children, Healing Homes explain, “Eye-to-eye contact is a critical link that sets the brain toward balanced regulation. The mutual gaze leads to emotional attunement; a deeply satisfying experience of feeling harmonious oneness and completeness, not unlike the peace experienced in the womb. Without the attentive loving gaze and emotional responsiveness of the parent, the infant brain struggles on its own to develop and mature.”

So how did God attach to His first children?

He provided for their physical needs. 

God planted a garden and set man over it: And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden [delight]; and there He put the man whom He had formed (framed, constituted). And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight or to be desired—good (suitable, pleasant) for food; the tree of life also in the center of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of [the difference between] good and evil and blessing and calamity.” (Genesis 2:8-9)

He provided human companionship. 

God created Eve as a helpmeet for Adam: “And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:22)

He offered His presence and a relationship.

God came and walked and talked with them: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. . .” (Genesis 3:8a)

This was a picture of perfect attachment — secure attachment.

Broken Attachment and the Fall

After the Fall, everything changed.

Adam and Eve were banished from Eden, evicted from the only lifestyle they had ever known. Not only did they lose the presence of God, but they also lost their home and carried the shame of the Fall. 

I’m sure it was beyond stressful. When Eve said, “I have gotten and gained a man with the help of the Lord” (Genesis 4:1), she may have been in survival mode. How do you survive without the presence of God, who walked and talked with you daily? How do you handle life on earth without preternatural gifts? 

Let’s put ourselves in Eve’s place. Evicted. Homeless. Alone. The constant supply of free food is gone. She feels shame. Her husband tills the ground, which brings forth thorns and thistles. She must dress herself and her family. Do you think she may have been depressed? Avoidant? Ambivalent? Checked out? I would have.

We have no written record about the parenting style of Eve, but we can hazard some guesses based on the actions of Cain. (This is not to say that every child who participates in aberrant behavior can blame it on Mom, as Sigmund Freud thought.) Cain was stuck in one of Dreikurs’ mistaken goals (see Chapter 5). For some reason, even though Abel was securely attached, Cain decided he shouldn’t try. 

“The brain is “experience expectant”. That is, it is hard wired to expect certain signals, such as eye contact, kind touch, rocking, loving voice tones, playful interactions, and assistance from others during sickness or distress.” -Deborah Gray, Nurturing Adoptions

When Eve said, “I have gotten a man,” I don’t read a whole lot of excitement there. Do you? I could be wrong, but I picture her being detached herself. It definitely doesn’t sound like secure attachment.

Secure Attachment

So what does secure attachment look like? According to Bowbly, as cited in Nurturing Adoptions, securely attached children believe the following:

• My parents come back. They are reliable.

• I am worth coming back to.

• I can depend on my parents and the people they entrust to educate and spend time with me.

• My feelings are mirrored back to me so that I can process how I feel and how others feel. 

• I want to please my parents most of the time.

• I am rewarded for becoming competent, for my creativity, and for my positive states.

• I can get help with psychologically overwhelming events and feelings.

• My parents will teach me how to cope with problems and how to resolve them.

• Intimacy is enjoyable.

• My needs are routinely met in a timely, sensitive manner.

• Repairs to relationship disruptions are empathic and prompt.

If we ourselves have felt secure attachment, we expect our children to follow that pattern, as well — even if their experiences have been vastly different from ours.We parents tend to expect our newly adopted children to enter the home and quickly develop a secure attachment style. We assume that they know the amount of time and work it took to secure their adoption. 

*This is an excerpt from How to Have Peace When Your Kids Are in Chaos. You can purchase it here.

Want to learn more about attachment? Catch up on the series on the podcast:

Next Steps in Planning Your Vision Board


Yesterday, I talked about Three Reasons to Create a Vision Board, you can read it here. Today I’ll share one of the ways I plan projects and goals.

Create a Document or Paper for each project or goal.

 Break the project down into measurable, attainable objectives with deadlines for each. This is important. If you don’t have deadlines or dates to work on your goals, you probably won’t do it.  You’ll wish you could/would. 

Next thing you know another year has passed since you wanted to get healthy, better that relationship, start the website, make the quilt, etc…

Here’s an example from my own life. 

I’m an empty-nester-ish. I want to continue to spend time with my kids and grandkiddos in creative, intentional, and memory-building ways. *Just a note here – your vision board NEVER have to focus on being Insta-famous. Your vision should be about impacting your sphere of influence which starts with your family. 

Back to my example. Some things I have done (and continue to do) with family and friends. These fit in my family and relationship buckets.

  • Weekly swim days in the summer
  • Apple picking days
  • Fall Harvest and Craft Day
  • Christmas Craft/Cookie Day
  • Camp Lemon-Lime (Family Camp)
  • Joe and Throw (local coffee place) with my daughter to work – typing this there!

When I have these events on the calendar, I break down measurable goals to make them happen. Some are easier than others but all take effort.

Here’s a recent example.

Goal: Christmas Craft/Cookie day

Once I had a date scheduled, I worked out a list.

  • Plan crafts
  • Shop for supplies
  • Choose cookie doughs to prepare and mark recipes
  • Clean cookie cutters
  • Make dough

The list is a lot longer, but you get the picture. I literally write down everything I have to do on a list then I break it down into smaller jobs. After I have smaller jobs written out, I schedule them on the calendar. I used to use my journal (and sometimes randomly write things in there). The problem is I would lose the list and have to search. I’ve been using Trello now. I can make checklists, schedule things for certain days, see what’s next, and use the app on my phone or computer. Kristin uses this too! Maybe this seems like a lot of work to do for something. Consider the alternative, I schedule the day, freak out the evening before, go to the store, make the cookie dough, stay up until midnight trying to find a craft on Pinterest, and scrubbing toilets. I’ve done that before. It’s not fun. I’d rather break things down and do a little at at time.

Does this mean you have to do it this way. Nope. You don’t. You do what fits best with your personality and way of doing things.

These are just ideas. If one of your goals is to spend time with family, you’re going to have to be intentional. Otherwise, you may (like I have on many occasions) end up with a someday mentality. 

  • Someday when I have more time.
  • Someday when my schedule opens up.
  • Someday when I have more people to help me.

Remember the saying – Necessity is the mother of invention. It’s true. If you believe in investing in family relationships is important, you can find a way to make it happen with lots of intention and little or no money. For example if your goal is spend more time with your family -reading books aloud is free. Pop some popcorn. Sit by the fireplace and read. If you want it to happen, you must plan it. 

Rethinking your Vision Board

You may be thinking – wait, I thought this vision board was about starting a ministry/building a business, or some huge idea!

It is. For sure. But everything must be in its place. Like the illustration of adding rocks, gravel, and sand in a jar, to be effective, we must start with the big rocks first – God, family, relationships. If we don’t, everything won’t fit correctly. If you try to build a ministry without having the other aspects in order, it will fail. (This is just a friendly reminder.) 

It is important to be as proactive as possible. The saying – If you fail to plan, you plan to fail is true even or especially when it comes to God, family, and relationships.

Let’s say you have a great plan for spending time with God, family, and friends already in place and you want to move on to starting a business, a podcast, a website, teaching a class, starting a coaching business, hosting  retreat, or fill in the blank -you could focus your whole vision board on one of those.

Remember, your vision board is for your season, your sphere of influence, and your personal habits and goals. No one else’s. Well, no person’s. Like I said yesterday, it needs be be in God’s time and His plan. If you have never asked God to help you plan a goal, then be patient with yourself. Don’t expect to come up with a vision board to save the planet or have a Ted Talk that everyone watches. Your vision board will be a reflection of your authentic self with your personality and giftings shining through, not someone you think you should be. If you’re spending lots of time thinking how others will react to what you want to do, stop. This isn’t about your aunt’s opinion about whether you should write a book, have another baby, paint your house pink, or start a podcast. This is about aligning yourself with God’s will and His purpose for your life. If you want to paint your house pink, that’s not a moral issue, its’ a personality perk – maybe you just like pink. Let me end with this scripture to guide you:

11 And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], 12 [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; 13 until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity].

Ephesians 4: 11- 13

Want to hear more about vision boards? Listen to this week’s podcast episode!

Are you looking for a way to plan your goals for 2020? Have you ever tried creating a vision board? A vision board is a great visual to look at your goals on a daily basis. Vision boards can be fun, colorful, creative, and a great group project to do with friends. Why create a vision board?  Grab a cup of coffee and join Kathleen and Kristin as they share what a vision board is and three reasons to create one.

Three Reasons to Create a Vision Board


What is a vision board and how does it work?

vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. Literally, a vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life.

-makeavisionboard.com

A vision board is a great visual to look at your goals on a daily basis. Vision boards can be fun, colorful, creative, and a great group project to do with friends. Why create a vision board?

We need a visible vision to help us achieve our goals. 

Seeing your vision on a daily basis helps you remember it.

“Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Elie. The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; there was no frequent or widely spread vision.”

I Samuel 3: 1

Sometimes people think they should just live by the seat of their pants because they think having a vision or plan isn’t spiritual. The attitude, well if it happens it happens usually means nothing is going to happen.  How often do we live reactionary lives instead of lives of action and proactive plans?

Jesus’ final word before the ascension was full of action words (see Matthew 28: 18 -20). Go into all the world. Preach. Publish (I love this one) the good news.

Without a vision, people perish. 

Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained;
But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God].

Proverbs 29: 18

We like to quote the scripture. It sounds cool. Think about it for a minute. Maybe your vision provides disaster relief and you show up after a tornado. You didn’t bring water or medical supplies because you were just winging it. People could really perish in that situation. We need to have a plan. 

The Hebrew word paw-rah’ means “to perish”. Paw-rah’ was the word used in a biblical proverb where a woman’s hair was let flow out of its covering (hairband). Unconstrained in the wind her hair is directionless and blown in all directions.

medium.com

How can you go if you don’t have a plan? 

When my kids were younger, we studied Paul’s missionary journeys. While Paul didn’t have an actual canvas from the local art store with his vision hot glued on it, he didn’t just wander aimlessly either. He had a plan. His plan was inspired by the Holy Spirit and he followed through despite shipwrecks, snakebites, and imprisonment. 

3. God always has a plan.

Another important point – Pray before you plan. Also, don’t give up even when you have obstacles. As I write this, I’m on what was supposed to be a working vacation in the mountains of WV. The plan was I write while my husband fishes. That plan isn’t working out. More likely, God had another plan. My body is finally relaxing. I’m sleeping a lot more here than I do at home. I’m listening to worship music and dancing around like a crazy woman, bingeing on blogs about goal setting and taking notes on them in my favorite way – by hand in a notebook. God is directing my path, it is narrow. I could fight, be stuck and feel frustrated. Or… I can let the oil of the Holy Spirit grease my path so I can slide through easily. Hopefully, I’ll continue to choose the latter. 

In September, I attended Winsome retreat in the mountains of PA at White Sulphur Springs. The retreat was a refreshing time in a gorgeous setting. I connected with some friends and overcame a fear (that’s a story for another time).  What I didn’t do is receive a typewritten answer from the Lord about what my next year’s plan should be. I went to the retreat with an expectation of seeing some writing on the wall. It won’t. What was there was what God knew I needed at the time. Affirmation. Confirmation. And a message – You’re already chosen.

My Point? Don’t force the issue of a plan in YOUR time frame. Pray and wait for God’s time. He’ll show you. 

Turns out, this trip to the mountains is God’s time. So, today, I work on the skeletal plans of my vision and watch “dem dry bones hear the word of the Lord.”

Ready to make your vision board?

Don’t get out the hot glue gun just yet.

  1. Write out your biggest goals for the year. No matter how crazy they sound, do it. 
  2. Check and make sure your goals line up with the Word. Get someone close to bounce your ideas off of, someone who will support you and cheer you on.
  3. Get on Pinterest, Google, magazines, anywhere you can find visuals of your goals.

Still not sure what to put on your goal list?

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

If you’re like me and you like the physical act of writing plus you like to break things down into categories. My husband and I use the bucket method. It’s our bucket list. Each bucket represents an area of our lives. I think my hubby only uses three buckets – God, Family, and Work. He recently added health. I have more buckets – you can have as many as you like. 

For instance, if one of your buckets is homeschooling, you may have goals like – Get Jane reading on a 3rd-grade level. Read ten books allowed each semester. Here’s the key. Your goals need to be trackable, measurable, and flexible.

You can make a bucket for home projects, adult kids, friends – pretty much anything you want to work on.

Keep in mind you can shift gears later and decide which of these are most important. This is an exercise, not something set in stone.

The first year I did a vision board for my new career – writing, I got a little carried away. I decided I would write ten books within the next five years. It has been five years and I have seven books out now which is okay. It’s better to dream big and make progress than not to dream at all. 
Be sure to read tomorrow’s post where I share next steps, and the following day for how I put together my 2020 Vision board and pictures of the process!