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Kimberly Andrich shares nine lessons she has learned through eighteen years of parenting.

Previously at Catholic Mom, I shared about walking with our children who have strong emotional and behavioral needs, about the burden that falls also on our shoulders, and about hoping against hope and standing with God for our children. 
But how do we cooperate with God and live out our vocation in the midst of this difficulty? Here are some practical tips I have learned over the years that will help the frazzled mom or a parent in any circumstance: 



Of course this needs to be #1! Jesus abides in you. He desires to be so close to you that He gave of Himself in life and death, in the Eucharist, through the Holy Spirit. Invite Him into your life and spend time with Him on a daily basis. Learn to cultivate holy recollection, or an awareness of God’s presence, within you. As you learn to do those things, it becomes easier to carry Him into your day and to be aware of His presence even in difficult moments. Find something that will remind you to turn your attention back to Him: a cross in your pocket or a bracelet, for example. 


Put your trust in God.

Offer yourself and your family to Him, putting them and yourself firmly in His hands. Entrust your kids to Jesus, asking Him to hold them so close to His Heart and never let them go, or entrust them to Mary and ask her to present them to her Son. Ask Jesus to make up for where you lack. 


Teach your children to pray.

Those children, especially, who struggle will need to know how to turn to God. Even if prayer is rudimentary, or if they don’t understand, you will be planting seeds. But so often, these children take the faith that you hand them and run with it. The depth to which they go more easily than other children can be astounding. 




Let them see your weakness.

Let them see you cry. Tell them you are having a bad day and feel impatient. Let them know you are working through it. Apologize if you hurt them. These things will set an example for their admitting their weakness and wrongdoing and for their apologizing, and for their perseverance in the Lord. It will also frequently inspire compassion in children to see the needs of others. And sometimes it stops them in their tracks and stops their behaviors when they see someone else hurting. If that is your goal, though, use it sparingly. 


Practice compassion.

Sometimes when we are tired and our children are acting up or asking the one hundredth question of the minute, or when we don’t understand their demands, it is difficult to maintain composure. Practice looking them in the eye and paying attention for an extra ten seconds, giving them your full attention or showing them compassion. When that becomes easy, add another ten seconds. Of course, if they need a time out or another discipline right away, do that first. Then come back to them and give them attention. 


Frequently tell them you love them, including when they are the most unlovable.

Children need to know that they belong and that they are cherished, even when their behaviors don’t match that truth. It helps them feel safe. They need to know that, though you need to discipline them and though you may feel tired or impatient, those are just circumstances and nothing they do will make you love them less. Make sure they know they are valuable children of God and that, as much as you love them, God loves them even more. 




Take a rest.

It’s amazing how a 5-minute retreat to your room (or bathroom) with your eyes closed can do wonders. If you can, take more time than that. Don’t feel bad about putting on a show for the kids if that’s what it takes so that you can feel rejuvenated and return to your kids renewed. Take a walk if you can, or exercise. Get into nature. Anything that helps you relax and keeps you grounded.  Sometimes we also need to let out pent-up frustration. Cry, pound a pillow, or call a friend so you can vent. 


Create something.

And I’m not talking about sewing those All Saints Day costumes on the night of All Hallow’s Eve. Find something enjoyable, something that puts you in touch with the Creator. If you enjoy cooking, cook; if writing, then write; if painting, then learn a new technique and practice it. Or find a new hobby. Creating something has a way of bringing hope and new life into our weary hearts. Even a small dollar-store craft can be uplifting. 


Give yourself grace.

Honestly, parenting difficult children is … difficult. It’s not going to look pretty most of the time. We may feel like we’re failing on most days. We’ll wish we could take back things we had said, and sometimes our kids may even tell us that we’re awful parents. But parenting is about faithfulness, not perfection. Sometimes showing up is the best we can do. And on days like that, we just need to show up, bite our tongues, and ask God to redeem the rest. 


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How do we cooperate with God and live out our vocation in the midst of parenting difficulties? #CatholicMom


With these suggestions and with God’s grace, you will make it through, and your children will too. Lean on Him and keep on moving. God gave these kids to you for a reason. He chose you for them. He who brought you to this will indeed bring you through it.  



Copyright 2024 Kimberly Andrich
Images: Canva