When Your Kids Complain About Everything And You Want To Just Give UP

When Your Kids Complain About Everything And You Want To Just Give Up

The drive home from school yesterday was not a joyride.

Lately, my husband Guy and I have been battling the issue of complaining and discontent in our home—I wish I could say it was just the kids, but I fight against it too. Personally, I have grown a lot in this area. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I was either. In general though, my sweet boys have gotten into the habit of letting us know in no uncertain terms that they are displeased if things don’t go their way. And it’s been like this for months…..

It happened again after school yesterday.

I picked up my oldest two and in less than five minutes, this conversation happened:

“Hey guys, we might have a little surprise for you later” I said, cheerfully.

“We are going to the skate park?!” they squealed.

“Oh, nooooo, we don’t have time for that today,” I said, “I was thinking more like going out to dinner someplace special.”

Cue the tears. Ugly ones.

Enter complaining spirits.

Pan a long range shot of mom pulling the car over to the side of the road in an inconvenient spot.

Close up of mom’s face as she turns around in her seat to look into boys’ concerned faces.

“Guys” I said gently and calmly. “I love you, but you are complaining, again. I never mentioned anything this week about the skate park and I was trying to do something nice for you today but it is such a bummer that instead of saying “okay mommy” and being glad for a treat, you are crying and complaining. It’s okay to be disappointed, but this kind of reaction is not Christ-like.”

I’m not a big fan of trying to teach in the moments of conflict but I wanted them to know, immediately, that though I understand their emotions, they needed to learn to handle them in a way that was honoring to both me, and God.

I left it at that, and entered back into traffic. Only a minute or so later, Oliver said, “Mom, I’m really sorry for my attitude. I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that. Will you forgive me? I was really more upset about something that happened at school this afternoon.”

Cue repentant tears, which sound a lot different than protesting ones.

“I’m sorry too, Mommy” Quinn lamented, “Will you forgive me?”

The rest of the short drive home consisted of me listening sympathetically to what was really beneath the surface of their emotions—and how Oliver handled a frustration with a friend at school so maturely and kindly, even though it still hurt him in the aftermath.

It turns out that we had a great afternoon and a wonderful dinner out—a rare treat as a family.

But here’s where I’m especially grateful for the after school scene today: I have been praying on a daily basis about complaining and the lack of contentment in our home. Guy and I have been going over Scripture with our boys to try and reach their hearts, but honestly, sometimes as a mom you wonder when the lesson will ever take root, you know? Its days like these that remind me that we need to persevere as long as it takes when there is a sin issue or a certain negative spirit in our homes. It pays off! It may not be in the timeframe we wish, but we must be patient, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of our children—and us!

When we plant good seed, it yields a good harvest.

Galatians 6:9 is the perfect reminder for moms and dads in the trenches: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

I affirmed the boys for their godly repentance and shared with their dad how much I appreciated their ability to turn it around so quickly and sincerely and I was purposeful to affirm them again at bedtime. It’s not easy to stop a wrong reaction in the heat of the moment, even for me!

Maybe you are battling a spiritual war in your home too. Perhaps your kids are entrenched in sibling rivalry or everyone is out for his own gain. Don’t let one day bleed into the next. Pray. Pray. And pray some more. Work through Bible verses together and patiently teach and train your kids in the way they should go. Don’t give up if they don’t seem to “get it.” Focus on doing the good parenting day in and day out and entrust the outcome to God in His timing as He matures the hearts of your children.

I wouldn’t choose an afternoon of conflict resolution over a pleasant ride, but there is value in these teachable life moments. And that makes my heart happy all the same.

I guess the ride home was a joyride after all.

YOUR TURN: Have you seen God working in the lives of your kids too? Or does it seem like you just aren’t getting through? Are you battling a certain issue in your home? I’d love to include your family in my prayers!

 

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

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Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).

Mother Of Knights Blog--Top 10 Posts From 2015!

Top 10 Blog Posts From 2015

It's time to review my top 10 posts from 2015!

I LOVE reading and reviewing all the top posts from my favorite bloggers and writers! It's also a blessing for me to go back and see how God used this blog to encourage readers. I'm learning so much as a wife, mother, friend, and Christ-follower so it's amazing to me that the areas where I see God working on me are often areas of growth for you too! Iron sharpening iron, right?

Thank you all for hanging with me through a very sporadic writing year and for your kind encouragement to me in my vulnerable moments!

Without further ado, here are the top posts from Mother Of Knights for 2015! And here's to many more (And more consistency too!) in 2016!

Number 1

7 Steps To Radically Change Disobedient Kids Into Obedient Ones Without Conflict--This post went viral and for good reason! If you want to have peace in your home and learn how to help transform your kids into obedient children, read on! Then check in and let me know: Are you a reactionary parent or a proactive parent?

Number 2

Why This Christian Won't Protest 50 Shades of Gray (And You Shouldn't Either)--Another viral post! I knew this one would probably put me in the crosshairs of hot debate and boy, did it ever! Thankfully, most people championed what I had to say, even though it was controversial. I think the topic applies to any kind of protests/bans that Christians may want to stand for--this post will make you think twice.

Number 3

When Your Child's Personality Rubs You Wrong--This one went viral too! I wish I had known this stuff when I first had kids! Personally, this may be one of my favorite posts from the year. Wake up and read this one in the morning to prepare your heart for parenting the kids that "challenge" you! The message here will bless every mom...and dad!

Number 4

Is There Room In Your Marriage For One More? How My Intimacy Idol Almost Ruined Us--Oh, man. This one hits me right between the eyes every time. Maybe your marriage isn't the ideal you imagined it would be? You aren't sure where to turn or how to make it better? I get it. Read this one, ASAP. I hope you can avoid my mistakes......

Number 5

When Your In-Law's Don't Respect You--The words here can help us with any difficult relationship, truly. I'm betting that some of us are feeling bruised and battered from time with difficult family members over the holidays. Maybe this will help towards healing!

Number 6

10 Bible Passages For Exhausted Parents--Yawn....if anything or everyone is keeping you up at night, this is for you! This one comes from a place of complete and total sleep deprivation. Pass it on to your tired friends!

Number 7

When Sibling Rivalry and Messy Rooms Threaten To Push You Over The Edge This Summer--This is a foundational way of thinking to keep your sanity over clutter and chaos! Here's why our anger is actually a gift and what anger is NOT meant to do. If anger is an issue for you, I hope this post will reframe your thinking and give you hope!

Number 8

The Key To Stop Yelling In Anger At Your Kids-And Why Anger Is NOT A Sign Of Unforgiveness--This one is a vlog! If you have ever wrestled with anger and yelling, today can be the last day! Take the time to watch my message in the video and find freedom from guilt and anger. I recorded it in the aftermath of a migraine, straight from a long flight from the airport-I felt THAT compelled to record and share it, disheveled state aside! And if you have ever wondered why it feels like you simply can't get past deep anger and hurt from someone who has harmed you in any way, this will bring FREEDOM to you too!

Number 9

What To Do When Your Child Says, "I Hate You!"--Dreaded words, but it happens! It can send a parent into a frenzy but it doesn't have to! Here are some practical tips for when your child speaks to you in anger.

Number 10

The Christmas Stocking That Exposed My Shaky Marriage--So many spouses can relate to this one. It's another of my personal favorites because it's something I need to keep working on and remembering! If you have ever been disappointed by your spouse, this post will speak straight to your heart!

There you have it! My top 10 posts from 2015! I am continually praying that God uses this blog to impact the Kingdom! Thank you, again, for taking the time to read and be a part of my blogging family! I love you guys!

YOUR TURN: I would love to write more on the topics that interest you so please, let me know in the comments if there are any topics you would like me to write about! Which of these posts resonated with you--I'd love any feedback you have for me! Do you know someone who would be encouraged by one of these posts? It would bless me if you shared it with them!

 

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

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Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).

When Your Child's Personality Rubs You Wrong

When Your Child's Personality Rubs You Wrong

Do you have a child whose personality can rub you the wrong way and wear you out? Maybe your son or daughter is your exact opposite, or maybe they are so much like you that it's scary! Both scenarios can create battles of the will and exasperate both parents and kids.

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Fendi Shades Might Help, But This Is What Will Really Make You A Happier Mom

Fendi Shades Might Help, But This Is What Will Really Make You A Happier Mom

Last year, I had a bunch of credit from an online shop that sold high end sunglasses. Over the years, I went through my cheap shades as if they were disposable and I had been toying with the idea of buying a quality pair that would last.

With the money from cumulated gift certificates, I ordered a beautiful blue tortoise shell pair of uber chic Fendi glasses. It was one of the few big splurges I have ever made!

From the moment I put them on, I realized that all those years of wearing 5 dollar glasses had conditioned me to see the world in a subpar light. But these beauties were of such quality that I could see clearly and in perfect comfort-no more scratches and squinting. No more pinched skin on the bridge of my nose, or headaches from ill-fitting ear pieces. I didn’t have to view the beautiful sunny days around me in off color compromise because I could view them in the perfect balance of shade and light.

I hadn’t known what I was missing. I really did get what I paid for, in both cases.

It reminds me how much the way we view the world alters how we live our lives. When all we can see before us is an uphill battle, or defeating relationships, or messy rooms, then just about everything loses its luster.

When I was a teacher, I had a colleague who had emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba. Ignacio didn’t live a lavish life and he had plenty of trials that he could have focused on, but I never once, in the 7 years we worked side by side, heard him grumble or say a negative word about anything-no matter how small. He was so thankful to live a life of freedom and relative plenty as an American, that he never forgot where he came from and how blessed he was.

He also had a passionate love for Jesus Christ and few people shined brighter than Ignacio. When I think of the word contentment and joy the first image that comes to my mind is a smiling and kind-hearted Cuban man who often showed up at my door with an iced coffee or a sweet roll. I don’t see him as often as I would like to anymore, but I’ll never forget the example he was to me of how much our attitudes and perspectives will either imprison us in misery or free us to live life to the full as God intended.

Ignacio viewed the world through the lens of thankfulness and it made all the difference.

How about you and me?

Negativity and sorrow can be crushing not only to ourselves but to everyone around us. I bet you can think of someone that is a “joy robber”. You know, those people who you come away from feeling kind of “meh” or like you just had the wind taken out of your sails? Instead, we all have a conscious choice to focus on the good, count our blessings, and determine to say things that will build people up. It doesn’t mean we can’t be honest about our struggles, but the believer should always have a confident hope and joy that is contagious, despite hard times or challenges.

As parents, we can “huff and puff” all around the house sighing over this mess or that behavior and making everyone feel our displeasure. We can say that we want to show a Christ-like example to our kids and then grumble our way through each tiny obstacle in everyday living instead of serving our families with joy and gladness as an act of worship to Jesus Christ. It should never be like that for a mom or dad who is pursuing a love relationship with the Lord.

Here’s what the Bible has to say about it:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

My mother-in-law is a perfect example of this. After her husband of 30 years suddenly passed away, she endured several severe strokes that have left her in a wheel chair and in a convalescent home for nearly two decades. I have never heard her complain. She remains in bed most of the time now and yet she continues to talk about her love for Jesus and takes an interest in the wonderful things everyone else is doing outside the small walls of her shared bedroom. Even though she has never had the chance to push her grandkids on the swing or take a family vacation with us, she still shares our excitement and joy over our opportunities to do so as a family. It humbles me every time.

Grandma

Our joyful and positive outlook on life can make or break the spirits of those around us but one thing is for sure. We waste our own lives when we have a negative mood that permeates our thinking. You and I have this one chance to take hope by the scruff of the neck and be a light that draws others (And our own kids!) towards us like a moth to the flame.

We want to leave a legacy of joy and hope for our children, not discouragement and oppression because of our attitudes and careless words. I wish that it was as easy as donning a pair of designer sunglasses but this kind of legacy involves doing some intentional heart work.

Do whatever it takes to commit to a more joyful outlook. Toss the mediocre lenses of your mind in the trash bin and upgrade them for a pair that gives you a more hopeful and accurate view of the world around you.

YOUR TURN: Would you consider yourself a “joy-robber”? Do all the little demands of everyday life get to you and steal your joy? What kinds of things work for you to keep your perspective balanced and Christ-centered? How do your kids respond when you are a happier mom or dad?

Let me know your thoughts in the COMMENTS and if this post blessed you, please share it with others!

P.S. This post contains an affiliate link and when you make a purchase through my link, I get a little credit at no extra charge to you and that helps my ministry-thank you!

 

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

7 Comments

Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).

When You Know You Need To Limit Video Games, But You're Afraid Of Your Kids' Reactions

Along with my son’s birthday at the beginning of summer, came new video games for his XBOX 360.

The video game world is new to us-our oldest was nearly 8 before we allowed him any kind of gaming and that was just this year. We often set times to limit their video games and Sundays have been our screen-free days.

Still, it didn’t take long for us to experience first-hand the effects of gaming-changes in attitude (not the good kind!), begging and pleading when we have already set a limit to how long they could play, arguing over taking turns, and general fit throwing when it came time to put the controllers down.

Any of this sound familiar?

What I quickly began to realize is that in my sons’ immaturity, gaming was becoming an idol. They cared more about video games than anything else. I was beginning to wonder where my sweet boys went! It seemed like gaming was winning out over our values as a family.

As their mom, I knew that I needed to set some tight boundaries-not because I needed to control my kids with an iron fist, but because they simply were not capable of seeing the harm their behavior was causing the relationships in our family-between themselves as siblings, and towards mom and dad.

We have a little mantra at our house: Relationships over things.

If something we are involved in or obsessing over is harming a relationship, then we have to deal with it right away. When people become secondary to property, it's time to do damage control! So, this past week we held the very rare family meeting and laid out some new ground rules and more importantly, why we were doing so. I’m going to share with you what we decided to do in case you are feeling that tug on your heart that you need to take a similar plunge.

Here’s what we told the boys:

Prepare Them

The night before, we let them know that we were going to have a family meeting the next day-we weren’t doom and gloom about it, just wanted them to know that was going to be an important time for us to talk about some "family stuff". They nodded their heads-fine by them.

Positive Tone And Laying A Founation

First, we approached the conversation with an upbeat and positive attitude, not a serious scolding tone lest we lose and alienate our audience from the get-go. Then we reviewed Ephesians 6:1-3 to lovingly remind them that their role as kids is to obey mom and dad because God, in His love and wisdom knows that obeying us will result in a long and enjoyable life. I had each boy take turns reading a verse or answering some simple questions-short and sweet but keeping them engaged!

More head nodding. So far, so good.

Obey mom and dad because of our love for God? Check.

And because it will lead to an enjoyable life? Check.

New Guidelines

I then briefly explained that we were going to be doing something new for the month of August (mind you, this will most likely stay in place but this month is our experimental time). We reminded ourselves that people are important than things and that we need to be outside more and using our brains because that is healthy for our bodies and it honors God when we take care of ourselves.

Then, we took the plunge.

Keeping my tone of voice upbeat, I explained that they would each earn 30 minutes after 3:00 PM every week day to play an educational game or watch an educational YouTube video about a game (They could also play one of their FAVORITE games,  Just Dance , because it is physical and gets them exercising-fine by me!).

They can lose the privilege to play but I would give them fair warning if that was about to happen. In general, I don’t parent with the reward system because I don’t want kids to do the right thing to get something. I want them to do the right thing, because it’s the right thing. But I also don’t want to remove games all together at this point, and in this area, it seemed a reasonable approach.

I then explained that on Saturday morning, they could play entertainment type games for an hour each. (But, it also meant that one of the gun-shooting games that I didn’t think was appropriate for my son would be off limits for all of this month-I didn’t share that in the family meeting because I knew it would be a big blow. I saved that conversation for a private talk with my oldest so that I could go into better detail and give him room to cry and grieve over it and I could focus on showing him empathy.)

Sundays would remain screen-free as in the past.

The Reaction

There were a few brave tears as the impact of these new guidelines sank in, but they cheered up a bit when I explained that they we were taking a special trip to Game Stop to buy a used copy of a mom-approved game they had been wanting for some time.  They would get to play the game that first Saturday!  This helped ease the wound a bit-phew! Which leads to this important next step.....

Set Them Up For Success

As the parent you have to prepare yourself for a few days of complaining, kids being “bored,” and general withdrawal-like symptoms. This part? Not fun, I won’t lie. But, it’s worth it-I promise! As the parent, it’s important not to take their frustrations personally or resort to your own irrational behavior. Take it all in stride and loving and gently stick to your decision. My kids and I both had to adjust and it was important for me to set them up for success.

Here are a few things I did to minimize whining:

Swap out old toys from the garage and bring them inside or set up outdoor activities so they have some “new” things to play with.

Playing Dodge Ball!
Playing Dodge Ball!

Plan a few play dates with friends, particularly outside at parks or at local pools etc.

Swimming!
Swimming!

Stop what you are doing more often to sit down with them to play board games or do crafts and artwork.

Playing Games!
Playing Games!

Implement a reading time where older kids read to younger ones.

Reading Together!
Reading Together!

Offer constructive options to them before they begin to complain about being bored.

Crafts!
Crafts!

Lovingly remind them when they are doing the right things, that you are proud of them and excited that they are earning their time to play a game later that day.

How Are We Doing After Week 1?

It hasn’t been a perfect transition but honestly, it has been much smoother than I anticipated. My husband forgot about our new guidelines one late morning and sure enough, I came into the room to kids playing video games. We regrouped and got back on track. No harm, no foul! Don’t let little hiccups or poor communication sabotage your new boundaries!

And guess what? My kids are cooperating with one another again. They are playing games with each other, being creative with imagination play, and getting outside on the swing set! I call that success!

We really are happier, after just a week of this new standard in our home. I’m wishing we had done this sooner! If you feel a sink in your gut when you think about your own family’s gaming habits, why don’t you join us in setting limits? Don’t let your fear of your kids’ reactions keep you from parenting them well!

 YOUR TURN! So tell me, do you feel like gaming is taking over your kids? Do any of these parameters seem like something you can try in your own home? What have you already done to set boundaries in your home and what is working for you?

Also, this post contains a couple affiliate links, so when you make any purchase through those links, my ministry gets a few cents at no added cost to you-thank you!!

UPDATE Week 2: Sweet relief-the boys aren't asking me to play all.day.long. anymore. They already know that they will get 30 minutes at the end of the day. And, they don't protest when the time is up! They are SATISFIED, people! Hallelujah! That's what being reasonable, positive, and CONSISTENT does for you. This Saturday, my son wandered in to the living room all sleepy-eyed asking what we were going to do for the day. I reminded him that he gets a full hour to play his choice of entertaining games on his XBOX and he looked at me and said, "But why do I get a full hour?" I reminded him that it was Saturday and that that was the privilege he earned. He threw his arms around my neck in happiness and excitement-he had already FORGOTTEN that he gets this special time! And now? I'm a rock star in his eyes. Happy kids again.......happy mom.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:5-8

 

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Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).