Relational Repair for "The Difficult"
by Jen Hatmaker on January 7th, 2014

I know I’ve let on that I’m perfect, like how I’m a meticulous gardener and fantastic house-seller and poised guest on TV shows. It appears to the ordinary reader that I am one smooth operator. I realize that seems clear to you. But may I let you in on a little something?
I am hard core struggling in the parenting department right now.
Particularly with one child.
This one child o’ mine, who is precious and beloved and a darling little thing, well, she is freaking wearing me out right now. She hasn’t a negative bone in her body, and I don’t believe she has ever said a disrespectful word to me. It’s just…she is relentless and obsessive and inquisitive beyond comprehension and never, ever, ever stops asking questions and never, ever, ever lets anything just be and this is every second of every day on all the days and sometimes I want to rip the ears off my head with my bare hands.
Because my readers failed to diagnose me as an introvert all these years (I’m somehow making this your fault), I realize that my need for quiet, non-talky space is exactly the parenting match for an extroverted, sensory-seeking, emotionally needy 2nd grader, except the opposite of that, like this conversation the other night:
Brandon: Do you just want to be by yourself?
Me: Yes. Or you can come in, but I don't want to talk or think thoughts. I want no words, no questions. I am suffering from Needy Child Fatigue. I am on the verge of homicide. You've been warned.
Brandon: Noted.

Consequently, because of the NCF, I’ve been a jerky, irritated, short-tempered, impatient Icky Mom to this child for a few weeks. I’ve been my worst self. Where loving attention was called for, I gave short answers. When a simple answer was required, I sighed. When the last dregs of daily parenting just needed a short book and a few (more) minutes of conversation, I said we didn’t have to read on Christmas break and hollered in a six-second prayer from the other room.
It’s like I can’t dig deep enough for the requirements of this relationship lately. Whether the well is just dry or my selfishness is simply unbridled or this child really would shatter the patience of Job, it doesn’t matter. Because she is unhappy and I am unhappy and apparently I am the grown up and something has to give.
I wonder about you today, dear reader. Do you have a relationship that is bringing out your worst self? Does the patience and gentleness you manage for others evaporate at the sound of a certain person’s voice? Do you catch yourself responding to someone in a way that would make your Mama snatch you baldheaded? Maybe it’s a spouse, or a certain child, coworker, boss, neighbor, family member…you know what? This list could go on forever, because PEOPLE ARE DIFFICULT. I mean, we’re not. Other people, I’m saying. These difficult people are making us act bad against our will.
So I’m going to share with you my attack plan on getting this relationship back on the rails, and maybe one of two of these ideas might work for you. And if not, ripping our ears off with our bare hands is still an option. (For the record, I am not talking about an abusive relationship. That is an entirely different conversation. The following does not apply to people who are abusive or destructive or violent…just difficult.)
1.) Every morning, absolutely every morning, before my feet hit the floor, I will pray for two things in regard to this child: love and selflessness. Dear God, give me a heart overflowing with love and banish my selfishness with your awesome magic powers. One of the greatest tricks to prayer is that it miraculously brings us in line with God’s feelings. The longer we pray for an enemy, the less of an enemy he becomes. The longer we ask for courage, the less terrifying a situation seems. The longer we ask for love and selflessness toward someone, the sooner we see that person as God does: beloved and worth all this work. He changes us in a sneaky way. We often don’t end up with what we wanted, but we somehow end up with a different heart. 

What do you need to ask for every single morning for your person? Patience? Forgiveness? Empathy? Dig deep and figure out what you have the least of and need the most, then storm the gates of heaven for it every morning. Help me today, Lord. We’ll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.
2.)  I will settle something: This cannot be about making her change; this is entirely on me. If I’m waiting for my awesome prayer vigil to slow down the hourly interrogation tsunami, I’ve missed the point. This isn’t about behavior modification, because the second she regresses or holds me hostage in her bizarro time-clock-calendar-countdown-schedule lair, I’ll despair. The only person I can change here is me. I cannot pin my emotional burden on her behavior; that is unfair. 

Are you tormented waiting for your person to change? That is a fool’s errand. Imagine your person is never going to change. Not one bit. That thing you hate? It’s forever. Those habits and attitudes you can't stand? Make your peace. NOW, you can deal with you. Take someone else’s reform entirely off the table. Do you want to live angry or frustrated or naggy for the rest of your life? Because the fact is, we cannot change anyone else. We are only in control of our reactions, our emotions, and our perspectives. The ball is in our court, and the only one keeping us in Emotional Prison is ourselves.
3.)  Meet her neediest need intentionally once a day. For my girl, it is undivided attention and time. The opposite of me, she would prefer constant conversation, engagement, and interpersonal activity from morning till night. There would never be a break, a need for space, the urge to be alone. NEVER. I cannot meet this insatiable need, because OHMUHGAH, but it is shocking what 30 minutes of undivided attention accomplishes. It fills her tank to the absolute brim. I can do this. I can play Candyland or gymnastics or whatever sort of mind-numbing super fun activity she loves in addition to the regular attention I give all the live long day. 

And you? What fills your person’s tank? Attention? Specific praise? Sex? Some habit? We can do these things once a day, and we may be shocked when they start coming easier and more frequent. So what if these affections are forced at first? Who wants to play freaking Candyland? This is part of that pesky “putting others first,” and there is no other way to do it but to do it.
4.)  In the last two weeks, I’ve told my closest friends how badly I’m struggling. (I just pulled up our text thread, but I can’t post it. It is too raw and horrid, but just trust me, I was HONEST. And also, if private texts ever become public, I will need to move to Istanbul.) Friends help everything. The only thing worse than struggling is struggling in secrecy. Every emotion and failure becomes worse when hidden. 

Why do we think we’re the only one who has struggled in marriage? In parenting? The only one who doesn’t like a kid right now? Who is acting horribly toward someone and can’t pull out? Please. Asking friends to advise and pray is so healing; we are not alone anymore. Do you need to invite someone in to your relational struggle? I have never one time regretted confessing to my friends about anything. On the contrary, they make me stronger, healthier, kinder, better. Every time.

When it comes down to it, I’d rather work hard on a difficult relationship than flounder in frustration over it, waiting for it to miraculously improve. Inertia is no friend of healthy relationships. We must press in, refusing to accept “toleration” as our best option.
The careful attention we give can absolutely change a challenging dynamic between two people, inserting patience and grace and love where there was once apathy and anger and irritation. But even if the relationship remains unchanged, we are still better when we aren’t behaving like our worst selves. That release alone is worth the work, mitigating the shame of Being Icky to Someone.
Hopefully you’ll find me in a few weeks patiently answering questions and smiling easily and not clenching my teeth with my wee one. And maybe if I stay the course, God can even work a miracle, like transforming me into a person who wants to mete out all the weeks, hours, and minutes of my next six months on my daughter’s Days Until app while patiently explaining Daylight Savings Time (again) and discussing the difference between real people, cartoon people, and TV people (again) and thinking to myself: THIS IS THE LIFE.

It could happen. You don't know.

Do you have a difficult person? Aren't you tired of just "enduring" it all? What are some of your tools for getting a relationship back on the rails?

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with no tags


Melinda - January 7th, 2014 at 2:12 PM
Yes! I have this same second grade daughter living in my own home right now. Is it a second grade girl thing? Maybe! Although my 11 year old son is also in this mode too. It's exhausting at times. This morning went swimmingly well getting him out the door on time and with no arguing. Crazy happy dance for this girl! Each morning I too have to start with prayer for how our day is going to go and what kind of mom I am going to show them today. Sigh... Not always a good outcome. Thank you for your honesty and suggestions. loving your book, 7 right now!

Laura - January 7th, 2014 at 2:16 PM
I needed this!!! Obviously I have become selfish in being irritated at someone wishing they would change their annoyingness. The ball is in my court to change my attitude and to put them first. THANK YOU!
renee h - January 7th, 2014 at 2:16 PM
this spoke to me today thank you
Corrie - January 7th, 2014 at 2:17 PM
Love this. Thank you for your honesty and your encouragement. We ALL have those people, and let's be honest, it would be easier, albeit dangerously harmful to disengage or expect them to change. I definitely know who's on my list, and love your suggestions for mending the relationship. I've definitely discovered that praying for my attitude around those who annoy me the most helps, but what has helped me even more is praying for them specifically. When I'm wanting God to bless them and open their eyes to His love for them, I'm more likely to see myself as a part of that opportunity to bless!

Anita - January 7th, 2014 at 2:17 PM
You know that song, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"? My lyrics are: Every little thing he does annoys me. Everything he says pisses me off!
So yeah, I hear ya. And yeah, it's time to fix me.
Laurie - January 7th, 2014 at 2:18 PM
I can certainly identify with your feelings. I am a teacher and every year there are a few students in my class that are so needy that they drain me physically and emotionally. There are days that I can't even listen to the sound of their voices. It makes me feel guilty.
Joanie - January 7th, 2014 at 2:19 PM
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Cheri Gregory - January 7th, 2014 at 2:20 PM
I haven't just had a "difficult" person in my life, I've had an IMPOSSIBLE one. Spent the first 20 years of our marriage using my #1 motivational tool -- nagging -- to get him to change so I could start being nicer to him.

Finally figured out...heh heh...the only impossible person in my life isn't him. Or anyone that I don't see in the mirror when I'm alone in the bathroom.

Totally grateful that nothing -- and nobody -- is impossible with Christ. Now, I'm working on remembering that more frequently... :-)
Megan - January 7th, 2014 at 2:20 PM
I really needed to read this today. My person is also my adorable Ethiopian daughter. I swear she is a 4 year old version of your daughter. Just. so. tiring. Thank you for voicing your struggles. We can do this. I know we can!
katrina - January 7th, 2014 at 2:21 PM
Love this. Needed this. Thank you!
Lisa - January 7th, 2014 at 2:21 PM
So I am new to your blog and I have to tell you not being a particularly religious person I am spiritual and faithful and... I have raised a challenging child into a thriving, remarkable and all amazing young man of 28 now. Did I want to stick a fork in my eye at least 1000 times a day while he was growing up? Were the daily fears and anxious moments of being a working class single mom with no help or family support enough to make me want to just drift off into nothingness? Well YEAH but... when I thought that I simply could not take one more moment of this child's neediness, demands and constant wants I would STOP and say to myself out loud, "what is it about his behavior that is so much like the parts of me I am ashamed of or dislike? What about how he's acting do I repel because it mirrors something in me?" Most of the time I could nail immediately how something he was doing or acting or saying was exactly a behavior in myself OR something about someone in my past that either hurt me or affected me negatively. When I could own the emotion I was able to stop reacting and instead ACT ON what the child was really wanting - just my undivided attention, that's it. That's really all they want, if for us to be committed to them, not distracted, and really listen or really love on them - alot. At least that's how it was for me.
Joni - January 7th, 2014 at 3:13 PM
Thank you for this Lisa. Your words have helped me clarify my issue with my family member.
Meg - January 2nd, 2018 at 9:15 PM
This was really helpful to me, too. Thanks for your comment.
Kathy M. - January 7th, 2014 at 2:22 PM
THANK YOU. I needed this, so much, for insight into dealing with a strong-willed, but huge-hearted first grader. Bless you!
Carly - January 7th, 2014 at 2:22 PM
This spoke to me loudly. Especially number 3. My son just needs me to listen to him talk about Pokemon or Magik or answer his "would you rather be a zebra or an ant" questions. I can do 30 minutes. You are a wise woman Jen! Also it's nice to know that others share these same frustrations and prayers.
Beth Serner - January 7th, 2014 at 2:23 PM
I have a 2nd grade boy, and he is the only extrovert in the family. Poor thing wears us all out, but some days are better than others. I see my bad habits rubbing off on my older son in how he treats his brother, so I will be praying and working a little harder to change in the coming days. Your blog is an encouragement to me, and I hope you get lots of encouraging feedback from your readers.
Jill - January 7th, 2014 at 2:23 PM
Hey....I have one of those girls, too!! Thank you...I needed this. :)
Leslie - January 7th, 2014 at 2:24 PM
Just what I needed to read today for the encouragement to make some changes.
Vanessa - January 7th, 2014 at 2:24 PM
Oh, you precious woman! Thank you SO MUCH for writing all those words because they were EXACTLY what I need to read! Something about all the together time of school breaks doesn't mesh with my fantasies about school breaks. Instead of being idyllic and refreshing and bonding they are lazy, uncomfortable, and psychosis-inducing. My kids take turns being my "most-favorite" and "least-favorite" (although I'd never actually TELL them which is which).

I'm hitting my knees and praying for these precious girls of mine and for God to protect them from my less-than-fantastic parenting... Thanks, Jen!!
Stephanie - January 7th, 2014 at 2:25 PM
That has GOT to be a 2nd grade girl thing. Emotionally exhausted and "needed" out and disgusted with myself for how I feel. It is nice to know that I am not alone. Thank you for being real.
Chris - January 7th, 2014 at 2:25 PM
I like this. I like this for lots of reasons. I like this because you're telling the truth about motherhood. Sometimes, it's really hard. Sometimes I get tired of all the mommy blogs that seem to be all wagging fingers and shame. Sometimes, it's especially awesome to hear another mom say, "Some days this sucks a lot."
I like this because you're giving us something to go on because you know we've all been there.
I like this because what stands out most in this post is love. It's love for your Needy Child that drives the whole thing.
I have one too. (Well, I have six total but number five in particular right now is neediest right now.) So, I'm using your action plan and I'll add one more thing.
When she is having a quiet moment (rare) and I look over at her and feel the amazement of being her mother and the glory of His creation in her...I tell her. She's only three and I spend a lot of time telling her no, stop screaming and get on the stairs for time out...sometimes I like to stop and tell her she's beautiful and interesting and fearfully, wonderfully made and that I really LIKE her, not just love her.
And then the moment passes and she's back to having a tantrum over her socks being on wrong or some other equally horrific slight...but at least we had the moment!

Corry - January 7th, 2014 at 2:26 PM
I also told my foster daughter over the Christmas break that we didn't need to read every.night :) I'm also an introvert and need some space, but she's a 10 yr old that wants lots and lots of attention. I was attempting to mask a grumbling attitude toward a parent-intensive school project several weeks ago when she said, "I'm so glad to have a mom that will help me with these kinds of things." Ouch, ok, bad attitude blasted away. But I still didn't want to read over Christmas break, lol.
jennifer - January 7th, 2014 at 2:26 PM
As a mama of a grown ups now - agh. I can tell you that I had one of those - she is now way more quiet, and goes to the internet for most questions, or her girlfriends... She's 21 and in India on a 3 month mission trip. Honestly, I would give my right arm to have her bug me again with endless questions and too much information - we used to call her CBS - she was the news - the endless reporter.

I know that doesn't help you now - but with 4 grown, I learned to tell myself that nothing lasts forever. She will grow in a blink of an eye, and no matter how demanding they can be, you will look back fondly, (I promise) and wish you had just given in to it and enjoyed it while it lasted.

Now my issues with dealing are SO much harder - when they are adults, it's a different ballgame! One of my sons can still be difficult, (at 29!) and I tell myself the same - this is a season, that will pass. What does God want from me - to learn? to teach? - to be an example? Or to just sit in His lap and rest? I spend most times, sitting in His lap.. :)

Love your posts and your honestly - always. :) Blessings!
Katie Nelson - January 7th, 2014 at 2:26 PM
Feeling this with my difficult 6yr old boy. Constantly negative, angry and disobedient. I think he learned it all from me. Thanks for this post.
Amy - January 7th, 2014 at 2:27 PM
At first, I was confused and pictured myself with my 5 yo boy - who is beyond precious, mind you, and then I had to shake my head and continue reading your story. That was, of course, until I determined that you were actually talking about me. You strike Nobel-level brilliance with the idea that waiting for the other person to change is a fool's errand and to just take it off the table. Good stuff here, Jen!
Lisa - January 7th, 2014 at 2:27 PM
Oh my I have twin-ish (adopted from different bios) 9 year olds! Questions questions questions! I have to change me and fill their love buckets! Darn it!
LOF - January 7th, 2014 at 4:10 PM, human beings made in the image of God are "Bios", huh? What a lovely, respectful, adoption related quote. Gah!
Jennifer - January 7th, 2014 at 4:26 PM
I think she was maybe referring to the fact that her kids are the same age, but from different biological parents, so they're "twin-ish?" I certainly didn't feel like her comment was disrespctful.
Laura - January 7th, 2014 at 4:28 PM
I think she just meant, they are the same age, so twin-like, but not twins because they have different biological parents. Not at all unlovely or disrespectful as you so sarcastically put it.
Joyce - January 7th, 2014 at 5:06 PM
Goodness everyone seems to take offense at everything another says these days. It's obvious she meant she has two kiddos the same age by different biological parents and that is all. I'm an adoptive parent and took no offense by what she said! Seriously people need to just chill!

Lora McCall - January 7th, 2014 at 2:27 PM
Love this. I homeschool my 3 boys and I am an introvert. God gets his laughs everyday.
1. How much are you praying for Her?
2. When i get super triggered by a kid, it tends to be deeper than just said kid's behavior. I would try to really slow down in thoses moments and ask yourself lots of questions about how you are feeling.
3. Every parent feels this way with at least one kid. You are not alone.
4. Do something unprompted everyday for her. I've had friends do the 30 day rocking challenge. Its really hard.
Prayers sent your way.
Adryan - January 7th, 2014 at 5:23 PM
That's good, Lora.
Diane - January 7th, 2014 at 2:28 PM
I so needed this today. And yesterday. And a year ago. I have two adopted children, in addition to three biological children (sound familiar?), and one of my children absolutely has found every single one of my short comings and exposes them every. Single. Day. I have struggled with myself, and my feelings and guilt for TOO LONG. And she has gotten a very un-lovely person to look up to. Things HAVE to change, and I can only control myself. Thanks for the practical advise. Hoping I can climb out of this pit because it's miserable living here, for both of us.
Mary - January 7th, 2014 at 4:23 PM
I'm in the same boat - 3 bio (ages 2, 5, 7), 2 foster adopted (ages 2 and 5). Yes, he drove me crazy when we were just fostering and I had my chance (I am so sad to admit this) to let him go forever, but God is bigger and I made a choice. And I still have to make a choice(s) every single day. I am an introvert and he is so far on the opposite end of the spectrum that it literally hurts some days to have to spend all day everyday with him.
I am a major work in progress, definitely the hardest thing I've ever done. I have started making changes and hopefully progress, such as being intentional to have "me" time honestly as often as I need it which is sometimes everyday, sometimes twice a day... or more. My husband and I have decided I need a personal retreat BY MYSELF at least 3 times a year for 3 nights/2 days at least (I use a discount hotel site to book it). I just came back from one and it was splendid. Within 10 minutes of arriving, my Bible fell open to, "Am I a God who is near? says the Lord. And not a God far off?" Jer. 23:23
I can't imagine what life will be like as he grows up, but i can't get overwhelmed by that because we are not even promised tomorrow. I suppose I can love on him today... I hope.
Heather - January 7th, 2014 at 2:28 PM
Thank you!!! I needed this SO much today!!! With a 2 month old baby and homeschooling a 4 year old and first grader with sensory processing disorder my Momma candle feels like it's been burning at both ends and just this past weekend I ended up crying to my Bible study friends about what a horrible Mom I've been to my 2 older kids lately! Hearing that I'm not alone in struggling with parenting and figuring out a plan with some specific steps to change is an answer to prayer!
Tracy - January 7th, 2014 at 2:28 PM
OH GOODNESS...AGE does not understand NCF. I am the mother of a beautiful 20 something home from college. No matter how much time I give her, it is NEVER ENOUGH. She is constantly telling me I am always busy and ignore her. Really? I take her shopping, eating, drives and I even watched The Bachelor with her. How committed could I be:( I am exhausted, tired of the drama and need a freakin' break.
So today, before I ever read this post JH...
I decided I needed to implement plan "I do give you time but obvioulsy it not the kind of time you need plan." Thanks for the jumpstart and rah rah rah that it is possible.
Possible to be all things, wear all those hats and be alive at the end of the day.
I have learned that parenting doesn't end when they grow up, it just changes. My hopeful prayer and desire is to be
A mother that knows when to change and how to be the mother they nees no matter how old they get.
mom to seven - January 7th, 2014 at 2:30 PM
I have NCF...but in a very different way. I have the arrogant, self-centered, know it all, 18 year old son who just wears me down day after day because I don't understand a thing about life. I mean, color me stupid. He asks questions and then argues with me over the answers I give. The problem is that he NEEDS help preparing for life after high school and yet ignores even the most basic information. I am and have been under the empty mark for a long time and pray for strength to keep plugging away.
Kathie - January 7th, 2014 at 5:45 PM
I will pray for you. Don't quit. He will hopefully realize how smart you are around 25-27. It is a phenomenon I can't explain.
Kim - January 7th, 2014 at 2:30 PM
I think you and I need to get together for coffee. Better yet, let's get our daughters together and maybe they'll entertain each other long enough for us to have a conversation.

I have one of those girls and I'll second the comment about friends. My girl is 9 and she's needy, but she also has a tendency to get nasty and mean, especially if she's hungry, tired, or bored. I can manage the hungry and tired parts, but the bored? I can never do enough for her! I have a couple of friends who I have actually called in the midst of screaming fits (in the interest of honesty, we were both screaming and not just her) because I needed someone to talk me down off the ledge (figuratively speaking). After a series of explosive outbursts, the situation here escalated to the point that we started seeing a professional and while some of it has improved, we still have a ways to go. I do realize that this child has needs that she will ALWAYS have and they don't always mesh with mine, and that in the heat of battle I need to remember how much I love her, how much I wanted her, and the lengths I went to in order to get her. In fact, it's when she's at her worst that she needs my love the most. Thanks for the reminder that the one whose "fixing" I should concentrate on is ME.
Lindsey - January 7th, 2014 at 2:31 PM
I have a whiner. A sweet, precious, feels all the feelings of everyone, everywhere at 100
All.the.time. A blanket dropping on the floor is cause for a 10 minute meltdown. Someday God will use this for great things - I know this. But in the day to day, all the crying over every little thing wears me out. And brings out my worst self. I, too, am resolved to pray each morning & all day long for God to changes heart & attitude & somehow grant me empathy. Thank you for your honesty.
Jen Smith - January 7th, 2014 at 4:35 PM
Your daughter is an intercessor.
Vicki - January 7th, 2014 at 2:31 PM
Perfect for me. Have been struggling for a while. You words really struck me. Thank you.
Christy - January 7th, 2014 at 2:31 PM
YES! YES! 1000x YES!!! I have one EXACTLY like your daughter, only 2 years younger... and one the same age as yours whose issues are different, but which evoke the same response from me. I've been at my absolute worst the last several weeks and it's comforting and encouraging to I'm not alone in this battle, because it's definitely a lonely road feeling like you're the only one to loathe game play and constant neediness from one or two in a house with 5 children. God bless you for keeping it real, Jen. Thank you!
Ursula - January 7th, 2014 at 2:32 PM
Thank you so much for saying this. I'm parenting a four-year-old who is pushing all my buttons. It is so hard right now. I love all your advice. The one other thing that is helping me is to make sure I spend some time every day doing something where I enjoy her. For me this means rocking her for a little bit when she is asleep so I can look down and see how adorable she is during a time when she cannot squawk in my face.
Cath - January 7th, 2014 at 2:47 PM
Good idea--"rocking her for a little bit.....when she cannot squawk in my face." I'm dealing with a 4 year-old as well. May just try this as she drifts off to sleep.
EP - January 7th, 2014 at 2:33 PM
Oh thank you! One kid, who I love more than breathing, brings me to NCF often. Thank you for voicing that I am not the only one (aka worstest mom in the UNIVERSE) and giving an action plan!
Joanna - January 7th, 2014 at 2:33 PM
Amen! I can't even count how many times lately I have told my 6 year old that she doesn't need to know everything! How awful is that? I wake up every morning and tell myself "only love, show her only love". Thank you for these words today :o)
Valerie DeLoach - January 7th, 2014 at 2:35 PM
I cannot even begin to thank you enough for this post. I have one person in my life who has brought out the ICKY in me so often lately. I end up feeling badly after each forced interaction because I KNOW I am not my best self when I have to deal with her. Thank you for helping me to see that I need to make a change - not only for myself but for those close to me. I have already shared this on my blog in hopes it will reach some of my readers as well...

My goal is to stop taking things personally and whenever her actions start to get me worked up, I am going to figure out some way to divert my attention - write more, exercise, cook. Letting her negativity consume me is only bringing out the worst in ME.

THANK YOU JEN.... We are all in this together.
Jessica - January 7th, 2014 at 2:35 PM
Well said. Very well said.
Erin - January 7th, 2014 at 2:35 PM
I have to say that I am one who always reads your blog but I have never commented. This really hit home for me. I needed this today Jen!! My kids are in winter break which might as well be called eternity at this point. I struggle daily. To acknowledge where I struggle was big, but then I could'nt find my way out. All I could do was research how to "fix" my kids. Now I realized that the person who needs fixing is ME. Not my beautiful, sweet & spirited kids. Your candor and honesty is a BLESSING to us all. From the bottom of my heart...thank you for sharing!
Julie M - January 7th, 2014 at 2:35 PM
I'm glad to know that my personal meltdown yesterday has a diagnosis, NCF. Now I know what to tell my 2nd grader when he comes to check on me... :) And there's a cure! Or a therapy at least... I look forward to hearing you speak in person on Saturday. Until then, hang tough and pray hard.
Morgan - January 7th, 2014 at 2:35 PM
Six second yelled prayer. I am so happy that I am not the only one that has done this. Thanks for this post, from the bottom of my introverted little heart (mother of 3 girls aged 5/7/9).
Tina - January 7th, 2014 at 2:36 PM
This was good to hear as I was just confessing to someone the other day that I didn't feel that I 'like' my 2 year old, full-of-energy, constantly-talking, every-sentence-ends-with' mommy?' or ' mommy!' or 'mommy...' stands-on-my-feet-while-I'm-trying-to-nurse-my-three-month-old-baby sweet son. But oh how I do love him and feel like like a terrible mother for not always seeing him as the sweet boy he is. I'n thankful to know this is not just a struggle for me and that my prayers for patience and joy in my boy can be answered in my heart by God. I am doing the same things as you. Getting up to pray about it, trying to give quality time. I also think he needs other people around so I'm going to try to find places he can go to get other stimulation other than me. Thanks for your it!
Angela - January 7th, 2014 at 2:36 PM
A. You're adorable. B. You could re-read the chapter of "Seven" where you couldn't stop crying the week your chatterbox was sent to the orphanage. Baby girl is making up for 5 years of unanswered questions. C. Motherhood is hard. D. Adoption is HARD!!! You are doing great.
Elizabeth - January 7th, 2014 at 2:36 PM
I have a three year old & a three month old. Should I end there? Ha. It's a daily struggle with my high energy high needs 3 year old. Who knew 3 was such a hard age? Thank you for your post!
sea - January 7th, 2014 at 2:36 PM
Oh my gosh! How I needed this one TODAY. I am also an introvert... I could go hours just being alone, quiet, reading a book, and be just fine and dandy! But I, too, have a VERY extroverted, needy 11 yr old daughter, who loves my full attention, conversation, and makes "to-do lists" for us to do together (let's bake this triple-layer cake today, let's make this craft, ok today I want us to go do --- and--- )! I also have some other issues (due to my being an introvert and a selfish person, let's face that ugly fact about myself too) but won't get into those! Just know that I loved this post. And I can handle 30 minutes a day. And this heart needs some changing. Hugs!
alexis - January 7th, 2014 at 2:37 PM
Girl, I needed this. Thank you for sharing! I am in the same boat and of course felt horrible about the whole "I don't like my kid right now". Truth is, I don't. But I love his brilliance and his heart is so sweet, I'm working through the part that agitates me. AND I'm thinking of ways to change because... you are so right...he won't. I also am glad to not be alone in this. My text to my sister about running away to Paris helped a little, too. ;)
Amy - January 7th, 2014 at 2:38 PM
Bless it. I love this simply because I too am living it right now. Mine is a moody ten year old girl and I find myself praying DAILY that period will come soon so that we have a REASON for all of the mouth and sass that's coming from her. Thanks for your honesty in sharing!
Juanita - January 7th, 2014 at 2:40 PM
Jen, my needy child is now 15. She has gotten worse. Ugh. I love her and she's really super sensitive and respectful but she asks and talks NON-stop when she's home. She says things like "I just want to be heard" which is both precious and ear-splitting. Because...well, I hear ya, kid but can I have a break??? Yesterday she texted me no less than 15 times. "Where's the noodles?" "Do you like my hair like this?" "Can we get another cat?" "Why can't we get another cat?" "Cats are cuddly and soft." " I need someone to cuddle at night." "Isn't this shirt cute?" "Are you coming home soon?" "Where are you?" "Are you ignoring me?" ......I'm not even kidding. This is my real life. And I'm so glad school started back yesterday because God help me someone is going to have a breakdown!!
tg - January 7th, 2014 at 2:41 PM
my son and your daughter are twins. helps to know i'm not alone.
Heather - January 7th, 2014 at 2:42 PM
I was on my face in the carpet of my bedroom this morning praying, "God, help me." Reading this today is one answer to my prayer. Thank you.
Andrea - January 7th, 2014 at 2:42 PM
Jen, I was a little tiny bit totally devastated when I got boys instead of girls. Nobody bakes with me, NOBODY wants to read Little House on The Prairie before bed, I hear nothing about what happens at school or anything else that I don't drag out of them. But God knew what he was doing because I too am an introvert masquerading as an extrovert. As an introvert, I have learned that sometimes I need to lean the other way (go out when I'd rather stay in, listen when I'd rather read, etc). And as an extrovert, your daughter will also need to learn to read the signals of others and be able to be alone. As painful as it is right now, you're teaching her something valuable and she knows that you love her and it's okay to not be able to give her all that she wants. Don't stop trying, but don't beat yourself up either. There were times that my openly introverted Dad just didn't answer me or acknowledge that I was speaking at all and yet I felt totally loved and valued growing up (I did think he had a hearing problem for a while). But it made me choose my words more carefully around him - save my conversation for more important matters. What I wanted to say is just give yourself a break, it's okay!
Cath - January 7th, 2014 at 2:43 PM
Thanks Jen--just what I needed. I'm in the UK now, so it's already late, but I must confess I just blew off my 4 year-old at bedtime.
Kristen - January 7th, 2014 at 2:43 PM
How do you always do this? It's like you are in my head! This morning I snapped AGAIN at my dear daughter because she just.doesn't.stop. EVER. I think she's afraid she will die if she stops talking or singing or humming. She was supposed to go back to school today but we're stuck in the Polar Vortex of Insanity & all 3 kids are home again today. My only sane child is sick with the stomach flu & apparently has puked out his ability to aim. Good Lord, I could have put horse troughs on all sides of his bed & he still would have missed them. Patience is wearing thin, the hubster if out of town on business, & all I feel like doing is praying for Little Miss Talks Alot to get laryngitis & googling human muzzles (note to self, don't google human muzzle). Instead I read your post & now I'm praying for strength to get through a couple of games of Mancala & then she will be off to piano & I'll have a solid 30 minutes of peace & I CAN DO THIS! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the reminder that it's ME that needs to change, not her.
Trista - January 7th, 2014 at 2:43 PM
I'm right there with you. 2nd grade little girl who is also just like that!! I feel bad for saying so frequently "Just go play! Please find something to do, anything!" She has never been one to play by herself- ever. She just wants to be with me- all.the.time. I know, I'll be looking back one day and wishing she wanted to be around me more- but for the love, sometimes us mama's need a minute (or a few hours,whatever). I will agree with you though, when I suck it up and give her 100% of my attention for a little while it does wonders and I always enjoy the time. Thanks for posting, glad to be in good company :)
Maggie - January 7th, 2014 at 2:43 PM
I needed this, thank you!
Sandra - January 7th, 2014 at 2:45 PM
I was just thinking to myself while I was quietly eating lunch (VERY rare for this mom of five) that I am a very nice and lovely person and not such a bad Christian either when I am by myself and everyone is OUT OF MY FACE. However, as I said earlier, I have 5 kids. Three of the five are on a "drive mom out of her ever-living mind" rotation right now, and I have given in to anger, irritation, apathy and My Ugly Self more times than I care to remember. One redeeming moment this week was with my quiet and gentle daughter who absolutely LOST her mind because she didn't do two days of her reading log over Christmas break. Because she had the flu. I (by the grace of God only and the HOly Spirit's intervention!!!) was able to talk her down from that one and pour into her little heart what she needed at that moment. Her crying is to me like a banshee shrieking while scraping its metal nails on a chalkboard. Even when she is genuinely sad and not just being whiny, my Ugly Self just cannot deal. (This goes way back to when she was a baby and some post-partum ugly that rears its head occasionally) So, hey there was a victorious mom moment that I am proud of. So I'm with you...this parenting thing IS way, way harder than I thought it would be and I am learning that if I don't lean into God and his grace and his love that covers over it all, then things will for sure get ugly. My hope for 2014 and each difficult person I deal with is that they would be a better person for having been around me, not worse. Hang in there, you are most definitely not alone!!
Tina - January 7th, 2014 at 7:51 PM
"Her crying is to me like a banshee shrieking while scrap ing its metal nails on a chalkboard." - YES!!! Just YESS!!!!! I totally just giggled over this.
I have a sweet, overly extraverted, child that is THIS. She is ALWAYS singing, talking, humming, singing, or CRYING. She isn't quiet - ever - she even talks in her sleep.
I am introverted. As an act of self preservation, I have learned to completely tune her out. Like, I don't even notice when she's singing/humming anymore. It takes visitors to notice it. Seriously.
Kris - January 7th, 2014 at 2:46 PM
Thanks for always keeping it real. I needed this today. Struggling so much in my relationship with my 14yo step son and as a result my husband. They are a lot alike and that is part of the problem. The other is he ran away last year, chose to go live with his mother, and then made a lot of choices that have hurt all of us. He is living with us again and each day I struggle to trust him, and to not freak out over the lack of control I have over anything. Trusting that God has him in his hands and no matter what happens HE is in control. Parenting is hard, marriage is hard. Relationships are hard. I am also an introvert and want to go hide in my room rather than deal with any of this!! Praying for you.
Carolyn - January 7th, 2014 at 2:47 PM
Oh my, I feel as though I coud have written this for so many occasions or seasons in my lIfe. Spot on, Jen. I think this is my most favorite writting of yours I've ever read. Thank you.
I will tell you one small story about when my boys were young. I had prefect nieghbors- i mean lovely spirited, absolutely perfect lives so it seemed. I admired them greatly and felt completely aghast at my sloppy life in comparison. One day, following a night of complete homework meltdown with my oldest, stoic, not gonna do it son, my neighbor's son came over. I apologized for the "loudness" of my parenting the night before, sure that he was scandalized over my apparent mess of parenting- he was really puzzled by that. Apparently they couldn't hear me next door (oh thank you Jesus!!) but then he told his mother the night before in a moment of tears and anger managed to tear his French textbook in half and wing both halves across the kitchen.
Your lessons here are exactly the lessons I have been learning as a parent, a church family (especially!) and fellow human following hard after Christ...
Kimberly - January 7th, 2014 at 2:49 PM
Thank you!! I so have a bad attitude toward my 9 year old son. He has what we think is a mood disorder and it is getting worse. My hubby and I are about to pull our hair out with the whining, crying, fits and screaming that we get daily. We walk on egg shells around him hoping not to set him off. He is mean, hurtful and angry but only at us. He is a sweet, loving and caring child over all but lets the negative come out at home. I have built a barrier against him to guard my feelings from the pain he throws. I know my attitude needs to change and I need to love him more and feel angry less. My prayer life needs to improve and I need to take time for me as well. Thank you for your encouragement and honesty.
Cat Hart - January 7th, 2014 at 2:50 PM
I haven't liked my 11 year old son in quite some time. But a lot of other people do so I try to see what they do. Though, they don't have to live with him! It does help to let friends know what's going on. I have one who tells me to suck it up and one who is more smooshier with her words. It's a good balance!
Carri - January 7th, 2014 at 2:50 PM
As a mother with a kid struggling with sensory processing disorder, this was balm to my soul. You are blessed and speak truth that is deep and funny and ultimately awesome :)
Amanda Jones - January 7th, 2014 at 2:50 PM
Jen, my second grade sensory seeking son nearly sends me to a psych unit every holiday season. His stimming gets stirred up and I can hardly function. It happens every year. Merry Christmas! He is about to come home from his first day back at school and I so hope he was able to control his body and mouth. I hope you find some peace creeping back in this week.
Anonymous - January 7th, 2014 at 2:51 PM
I have just skimmed your article, but I am going to go back and digest it thoroughly when I can. I really, really, really needed this right now. Mine is a middle schooler who struggles with attachment issues, which are complicated by a recent life threatening medical diagnosis which is forcing her to take my advice, or as we are finding out, go behind my back to do things that can have a detrimental affect in her. I feel like my whole being is about keeping her well now and her whole being is about pushing me away and it is so, so wearing. Thanks for being real. This journey can be so hard.
emily - January 7th, 2014 at 2:51 PM
oh goodness-- i always love reading your words-- you're funny (hysterical) and just honest-- and wow- this post struck me-- i have SIX!! SIX needy children-- and i am like you--- i am an introvert who meets her word limit BEFORE 8 AM- and there are still 12 hours left with the kiddos AND I homeschool-- what was God thinking?

but yes- i have several nonstop talkers, several, let's play a game, now? how about now? how about another one?

and i am selfish-- i've realized that-- but need less of me and more of HIM b/c i'm a bit of a sucky mom right now--

thanks for the nudge/shove :)
Julie - January 7th, 2014 at 2:52 PM
This morning on Day 18 of our overly extended Christmas break, I wished that you lived in a climate where the bad weather had prevented your kids from returning to school so that you could write about it and I could relate and laugh. I know that wasn't a nice thing to wish on a sister, but your end of school year and end of summer posts were practically therapeutic to me and I thought I needed some more therapy to get through another day with my darlings home from school. This post was absolutely what I needed to read as I wade through loving them here at home another day. Unfortunately, by this time in our period of too long togetherness, this article applies to my relationship with each of my children (not just one). I guess that just makes your article all the more perfectly timed. Thanks for being used by God to pass along a message I needed to read today.
Anne - January 7th, 2014 at 2:53 PM
I have a little 4yr old boy who has been home with us for over 2 years. And while I love his sweet face, he wears me out in a way that I didn't think was possible. Obsessive. Constant. Overwhelming. This post is me - and if anything, it is so comforting to hear someone else share it also. Thanks.
Nancy B. Kennedy - January 7th, 2014 at 2:56 PM
I seem to be in the minority here, but I don't think there's anything wrong or selfish in telling your child you need five or ten (or ten thousand minutes) to yourself with no interruptions. It does no good to wear yourself out day after day thinking you have to be "on" a hundred percent of the time. Boundaries are a good thing, IMHO.
LadybugJewel - January 7th, 2014 at 3:46 PM
Wise words.
Jenise - January 7th, 2014 at 6:58 PM
Agree!! It will keep you sane.
Lee Ann - January 7th, 2014 at 2:56 PM
I sooo needed this! And I sooo learned from it. And I will. Xoxo
renee johnson - January 7th, 2014 at 3:00 PM
Thanks Jen! I relate with my second grade boy! The worst part is the guilt I feel. You helped my lightning fast mind realize that maybe I need to change.
Pam - January 7th, 2014 at 3:03 PM
Yes, I am living this right now with my daughter. Thank you for this blog post!! It is a daily struggle and I've been working hard the past week or so to change MY mindset instead of trying to change her. She's a toddler for crying out loud, but let me tell you, she knows how to push every single one of my buttons! She is almost 3, but sounds very similar to your second grader. She thrives on receiving attention from me. Like you mentioned, I've been trying to give her my undivided attention at certain times. I've also received a lot of encouragement from reading the Hands Free Revolution facebook page/blog by Rachel Stafford. Just ordered her new book Hands Free Mama and can't wait to get into it!
Laura Erickson - January 7th, 2014 at 3:03 PM
Thank you for being so honest and reminding me that the change needs to happen on MY end. I have the opposite issue regarding my teenage son, who barley resembles the boy I once knew and loved...who now seems so distant, negative, and emotionally unavailable. I am convicted that my prayers have been for him to change, and not that I would be the unconditionally loving parent he needs. SO HARD. Teens have ROCKED my parenting world, and I feel like the most awful parent most of the time. Reading your blog makes me feel like I am not the only one who struggles. And that is huge--thank you. God bless your livin' soul and all of your 'babies' to pieces.
Brandy mccombs - January 7th, 2014 at 3:06 PM
I heart you Jen! Today was the first day my twin 8th graders are in public school (first time in 6 years due to us homeschooling) and our third grader is in school (first time EVER) and I simply cried to Brandon in the middle school parking lot, "I am so sorry for all those times I lost it with them during homeschooling!!! I take it all back!!!" Ha ha ha!!!!!!! I am forever grateful for my Momma Friends who are real and accepte for my shortcomings and help me to be better.... Well, less neurotic. Love you girl!
Amy - January 7th, 2014 at 3:09 PM
I have a 12.5 year old boy who is working my last nerve. He is so aggravating to me lately. And I have a 4 year old sweet as pie cancer survivor son who I try not to dote over too much. It's a very tangled web here in Louisiana. UGGH! I need to pray daily for sure! I'm trying to do a better job, but it is oh so very difficult. He makes it difficult to love sometimes. I need to read The 5 Love Languages of Children. I have it somewhere. Cause I need to figure out his love language. He perplexes me!
Mariposa - January 7th, 2014 at 3:10 PM
Thank you. I am so glad to know I am not alone. Needed these words today.
SB27 - January 7th, 2014 at 3:10 PM
Yes. So what I needed to read right now. I said to my husband last night (and I know someone will just tear me apart for this) that Mother Theresa did great things but I don't think she did the bravest thing. Sometimes I'm so tempted to live a life that allows me to simply go from person to person providing a tangible need. Food, clothing, a hug, a prayer. Because that seems a heck of a lot easier than staying and not giving up on the relationships that are put in front of me. Because we humans, when we get really close and vulnerable - we let each other down. I do it to them, they do it to me and neither one feels good. It just feels raw and crappy and uncomfortable. And I think maybe the bravest thing I can do is keep engaging, keep investing, keep loving, keep putting my vulnerability out there in the name of love and relationship so that Jesus can work on me hard in these very hard places.
JLS - January 7th, 2014 at 8:43 PM
Wow. Well said.
Michelle - January 7th, 2014 at 8:54 PM
SB27, I love your response just as much as I love Jen's post. I've thought those exact tho it's but never had the courage to say it. Serving my family is often times more difficult for me than serving others. I'm sure some mom will make me feel guilty about my confession but God knowsy heart & my struggles. So there, I said it.
Angela - January 7th, 2014 at 9:13 PM
No shame coming from this mama. I am right there in the throws of it all, too! Reading Jen's post and your comments helps me to know I'm not alone. Thanks ladies! :)
Lauren - January 7th, 2014 at 9:13 PM
So true!
Courtney - January 7th, 2014 at 3:11 PM
How did you know what's going on at my house! Ha! Thank you for being so honest.
emmily patella - January 7th, 2014 at 3:12 PM
Such a well timed entry. I must admit, though, that this is currently weighing in me with 2 of my 5 kiddos. One because he is a lot like me as a child. . And apparentlyi was pretty annoying. The other because he is almost 3, and and almost 3 year olds are life suckers. I appreciate your ideas and will most certainly try to center myself against them for the rest of the week and hopefully will come out better on the other side.
Jennifer Jensen - January 7th, 2014 at 3:16 PM
Oh my lawd! Your timing is perfect! Yes, yes and yes I need reckless grace to overcome my innate habit of pursung my lips and ranting to my hubs every time the mention of "said person" enters the conversation. Wonderful prayer prompt reminders Jen! Thank you so much!
Colleen - January 7th, 2014 at 3:19 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have had these same kinds of feelings about one of my kids and have been feeling awful about them, but at the same time, she is just so exhausting to me. It's so good to hear that I'm not the only one, and to have some ideas to try to get things back the way they should be!
Rachel T - January 7th, 2014 at 3:20 PM
My little guy, who I positively adore, asks the same 5 questions all day long. The other day he started in on a gabfest that lasted literally 29 minutes, 5 of those were the repeated questions. Thank you for reminding me that I am the one who needs to change.
Brenda T. - January 7th, 2014 at 3:21 PM
This is me. To a T. I'm am an introvert. We adopted a little 3 year old extravert (to the gazillionth degree) from foster care 5 years ago. I call her the bucket with holes. She is never satisfied with attention, it has to be constant. Sometimes when you write about your conversations with said child, I feel like you just wrote a conversation between my daughter and I. Here is a recent FB post of mine:

Driving home today and this is my conversation with G.
Me: I'm thirsty
G: Where?
Me: I said I'm thirsty.
G: Where? Where is Steve?
Me: I said I'M THIRSTY. But who is Steve anyway?
G: The brother from the Arthur Christmas movie.
Me: (In my most sarcastic tone) Oh look (pointing to the side of the road) there's Steve the cartoon character.
Gabby in an excited voice: Really? Where?

Seriously, my life is like an episode of Who's On First. Every. Single. Day.

Wise words in this post, Jen. And a GREAT reminder for me. And just so I can help you understand the depth of my struggle -- I work from home AND I homeschool. Yep, we're together ALL. DAY. EVERY. DAY.
Donna - January 7th, 2014 at 8:48 PM
Pls have your daughter's hearing ck'd. I have a hearing loss that was not diagnosed until I was an adult. That conversation was like a million I had over the yrs!
Donna - January 7th, 2014 at 9:37 PM
Yes, I too have discovered several children with hearing deficits over the years. Adopted children (especially from foreign countries) seem to be quite susceptible to this. Get her hearing checked!
Breanna - January 7th, 2014 at 9:17 PM
Yes, I have two buckets with holes! We recently adopted two sisters from the foster system (ages 8 and 21 months). The constant need for attention is exhausting...

Me: Why don't you go find something to do?
Child: Ok. (...several minutes later...)
Me: Please, go find something to do.
Child: I am doing something.
Me: What?
Child: Keeping you company.
Me: No, mommy doesn't need company right now.
Child: Ok, then I can just sit here and watch you.
Me: No, that is creepy.
Child: I can do it behind you so you cant see me....
J - January 7th, 2014 at 9:44 PM
And if her hearing checks out ok, then have her tested for auditory processing disorder. It is not uncommon if she were a neglected infant.
Melissa Irwin - January 7th, 2014 at 3:22 PM
I need #2 tatooed on my person. Maybe my face. Ugh!

Thank you, Jen for continuing to be so goofy and so wise in the same 5 minute span, both eloquently and brutally honest. We need more of your kind. :-)

And yes, I have a 9 year old boy who I desperately need to change. I mean, what you said in #2.
Carla - January 7th, 2014 at 3:22 PM
Yes - this is my life too! I have one child whose need to be cool in 4th grade is absolutely enraging me as this gifted child is no longer interested in working hard at school and now has this bad habit of putting his little brother and other friends down. I grind my teeth daily as I interact with him and I pray and pray for him and myself.

One tool I do is set a reminder on my phone - once during breakfast and once during dinner (the times I find myself losing it the most) to tell me the Holy Spirit is with me and that the burdens and other life events that make me mad at him (instead of loving him) are within God's power. It's not that long - I use code words so they don't really know what I mean in case they pick up my phone. It's the annoying type of alarm, and I put it on snooze to remind me every 10 minutes if it happens to be a roughish day

I also journal and pour my heart out. It helps a lot. I need to let my friends in more, and this post has encouraged me to do that
monica - January 7th, 2014 at 3:23 PM
Yes, our adopted Russian daughter who spent the first 12 years of life in a mental orphanage, solely because she is a dwarf. Her needs are excruciating. Thanks for the reminders.
Anne - January 7th, 2014 at 3:25 PM
I have two "special needs" children who struggle with anxiety and they exhibit these exact same symptoms. I used to get so frustrated (and sometimes still do.) I think I was actually kind of mad at God. I just wanted them to be "normal". I think in a way I was grieving the children that they weren't. I have come to realize that getting angry and short tempered with their behaviors only does damage. Oh, and another thing...I homeschool them. So what was I going to do, be short-tempered ALL day?! So I realized the change had to take place in me. I totally surrendered to the fact that I may not do the things in life right now that I want to do. Raising them with patience takes nearly the entire day. For example, today it took 3 hours just to do math. Raising a special needs child take a lot of time and effort.
I realized I can't expect it to be them that be the ones who change. God made them as they are for a reason, and I am going to do my best to usher them through life the best I can. I know they are going to do great, and I am going to have more patience, understanding and grace because of them.
Morgan - January 7th, 2014 at 9:29 PM
I just wanted to reply to your comment because I've been going through the same thing w/ my 13 year old and the grieving over the child she isn't. This post is amazing. I wanted to share with you another post I read's more focused on acting out/adhd but it has a lot of good advice as well. =MjE1MzIwODk1S0
alison - January 7th, 2014 at 3:29 PM
oh I am so glad I read this today! we are in a great place right now due to my son's new obsession with coloring, but I am also an introvert and he can't stop talking. And I am ashamed to admit I have often asked him to please. stop. talking! and he says "I can't, I don't know how, I have to talk!". It can be so hard. And when I've tried explaining it to others I feel like I just come off as a really bad mom. this helps. thanks!
Melissa Adams - January 7th, 2014 at 3:29 PM
I like REAL. REAL is my favorite. I guess that's why I like you so much :-)
Jamie - January 7th, 2014 at 3:39 PM
I've been thinking this but really needed to hear it, thank you for posting & for being honest!
Susan - January 7th, 2014 at 3:39 PM
Wondering if this will work with elderly in-laws who try my patience in EVERY interaction with them. They are both so needy and SO difficult as they decline. Parenting parents (role reversal!) is every bit as hard as parenting children! Going to put your plan in action TODAY. I think it just may work! We have
jenn - January 7th, 2014 at 3:40 PM
We are moving due to mold found in our home we had just decided to homeschooling our 13yr old. Our 4yr old has been couped up due to suppressed immunity and a teething 8mo old who is nursing and biting oh and I'm pregnant turns out with some complications and my hubby just started school. I don't like any of them right now to be frank!

heather bays - January 7th, 2014 at 3:41 PM
fix me first. concentrate on me and what i need to fix change then like magic fairy dust the relationship gets better cuz then i remember how crapbally i am and give the person more grace. and the holy spirits help and His magic in giving me more patience. good luck and god bless
Dawn - January 7th, 2014 at 6:18 PM
Okay, I realize you meant to say "capable" but I think my new favorite word is crapbally! :) I am a whole lot of crapbally. :)
HB - January 7th, 2014 at 3:42 PM
Two words....THANK YOU!
theresa - January 7th, 2014 at 3:43 PM
What if your just tired, real tired? And you don't have any "want to" left? And what if it's your husband? And what if you know it's going to hurt a lot of people? And what if you think it's just easier to give up? What if you don't want to or feel like you can't tell anyone?

Joan - January 7th, 2014 at 6:13 PM
Theresa, you've got to talk to someone. It is easier to give up, but God doesn't call us to do what is easy. I've been there. I've been the one who needed to change (stop being so perfectionistically demanding, mostly to myself). I had to start looking at him with love, instead of with irritation. The book Power of a Praying Wife helped a lot.

But seriously, do talk to someone, preferably a counselor rather than your friends so you can be as candid as possible and work through this. It's worth it.
Joyce - January 7th, 2014 at 8:16 PM
I hope there is someone in your life you can be open with about your struggle. If not a friend I hope you'll reach out to a counselor or pastor. I understand your exhaustion. Take care.
Sarah - January 7th, 2014 at 9:26 PM
Praying for you. I know. It is hard. My husband is my person, too. God wants you and me to hang in there and seek council so we can determine what boundaries to set and what selfishness to let go of. God shows up when I seek Him. When I'm face down on the ground He shows me know much He loves me. I wouldn't have known without this pain. I am praying that he gives you the strength, wisdom, council, love, light, and breakthroughs that only God knows you need at the exact time you need them. I'm totally with you sister.
Patricia - January 7th, 2014 at 10:12 PM
First, you don't give up. Next, you take it to the Lord in prayer daily, and be patient. Be different and offer little positive changes and watch those changes materialize into BIG changes from the other party. Give it a try!
Rebecca - January 8th, 2014 at 12:58 AM
Let me tell you something... Jen Hatmaker once shared some words with me that I will never forget and I swear it was the starting point to saving my marriage. She said matter-of-factly "this is fixable". And let me tell you, our marriage, in the world's eyes, was NOT fixable. But she was right. And if our marriage was salvageable, whatever you are going through, is fixable to.

I'll tell you something else... If you don't fight through the tough and really tough times (every marriage goes through it) you will miss out on the beautiful and REALLY beautiful times. Had I given up, I'd be missing out on the two most beautiful children I've ever laid eyes on and the best years ever with my husband.
What I'm saying is fight for your marriage. As someone else said, it is worth it. Start with the actions Jen laid out! Her advice saved our marriage (and God, and a whole lot of humility!)
Sharon - January 7th, 2014 at 3:45 PM
I have three beautiful little boys all under the age of 5 with special needs. I've been going through this exact thing. Thank you.
Laura - January 7th, 2014 at 3:46 PM
Never, not ever, do I respond to blogs, and yet I had to. I actually just finished reading "7" last night - left me with mixed emotions, will sort them out sooner or later. Right now my family, and my "difficult one" are consuming the lion's share of my time. I was a content, happy, controlled mother of 3, ministry partner with my husband when God interrupted our normal and dropped 4 kids (a sibling group) into our lives, and into our home (apparently FOREVER). To be sure, we agreed with Him, but had not for a second been considering adding to our family - heck we were on the "other side" of parenting, with a 21 year old and two 15 year olds. And yet here I sit, about three months into being the mother of "7" - what? I am not really even all that maternal, and yet a skinny, bubbly six year old, two eight year olds and a head strong nine year old needed a mom and needed a dad - and for reasons beyond me God picked us. And so for the past month or so I have lived feeling like the worst parent, if not the worst person, on the face of the earth as one of our eight year olds is just about to send me packing off to the looney bin for some much needed R&R. I am tense, dare I say a bit angry, in my dealings with him - and I soooooooo need the miracle you are talking about. I couldn't agree more with regards to being honest and sharing my heart with some of my dearest and most trusted friends - it is healing for my hurting heart...and hope...and even affords me an opportunity to laugh a bit - what on earth was God thinking. At any rate all that to say, thanks for your blog today, a timely word for a worn out heart. God is good.
Nicole - January 7th, 2014 at 3:46 PM
Your writing makes me lol. I struggle with my mom being the annoying person in my life. Everyone loves her quirks... I cringe at them at times. I think some of it has to do with the way I think she should act, or dress, or just behave in general... Need to let go of my expectations & change my own heart bc it's only affecting me.
Laura - January 7th, 2014 at 3:48 PM
My needy child who talks all day and thinks I should play pretend every second is still 20 months away from kindergarten. We can't afford preschool, so there is no escape. It is a challenge! When I play I am thinking of the dirty dishes, and when I do housework I feel guilty for not spending time with her.
Lisa - January 7th, 2014 at 3:53 PM
The only thing better than what you have written is the sheer volume of people who stand in solidarity with you. I am one of them. Thank you.
Pam - January 7th, 2014 at 3:53 PM
You know, I was your daughter. Chatty, inquisitive, wanting to do stuff with people...and my favorite people were my family. At age 46, I am now currently estranged from my mom. I haven't talked to her in over a year. I have not one single memory of her ever playing a board game with me, or doing a craft project, or just spending time with me. This is important stuff and I so appreciate you sharing your struggle. As a mom of a chatty, sensory-seeking kid (and he still is at age 17), I get how exhausting it is...truly! However, as a daughter who would weep tears of joy and reconcilation if my mom were to admit her struggles and choose to engage and invest selflessly ANYWAY, your post is honest, true, and important. Good for you! Play CandyLand, then go curl up in fetal position in a bubble bath to refuel, but know that the boring, mind-numbing game of CandyLand speaks volumes to your daughter, her priority in your life, and your love for her. For real.
Michelle D - January 7th, 2014 at 10:33 PM
Amazingly awesome perspective!! Thanks for sharing!!
Stephanie Sterling - January 7th, 2014 at 3:53 PM
No this is not a second grade child thing this is a personality thing. Here's a sample of a recent conversation with said personality of fourth grader.%u2026

Her: "If Suburbans costed a dollar would you buy one?"
Me: "Suburbans will never cost a dollar, so please don't ask me questions that don't exist in reality; I don't want to get your hopes up."
Her: "But if they did, would you buy one?"
Me: "If they did, we would buy 80 of them."
Her: "Where would we park 80 Suburbans!?!?" (SHE ALWAYS TRAPS ME LIKE THIS!!!!)
Me: "Well, if we lived in a world where car companies sold Suburbans for a dollar, I imagine houses with very large driveways would only cost ten dollars and so we would buy a house with a parking lot."
(At this point I cannot believe I am having this conversation)
Her: "Why don't car companies sell them for a dollar? They would sell more of them."
(at this point I am trying to decide if I should end the conversation by saying, "I don't know" or use it as a teaching moment about supply and demand and the cost of making an enormous SUV and how selling them for a dollar would bankrupt the entire country)

I'll let you decide what choice I made...

And another%u2026

Her: "If we ever adopted a kid, would they have a name already, would we give him/her one, or would they change it?"
(*CONTEXTUAL NOTE* We mentioned that we are currently praying about adopting later on down the road%u2026 we still have a 4 year old and I would like to get him to a place of relative sanity before introducing a new child to the mix, so this is something we are considering YEARS from now)
Me: "If we are thinking of adopting an older child, I'm guessing he/she will have a name already."
Her:"Well, what if we don't like it?"
Me: "Some things we do because that's what we should do, not because we don't like how things are, How would you like it if we suddenly decided to stop calling you by your name and changed it?"
Her: "I would like that, I always wanted you to name me Laci or Maci or Bailey or Logan."
Me: "Well, we named you the name you have because we liked it and had no way of predicting the name you would like to have ten years later." (as soon as that sentence was out of my mouth, I'd realized my mistake)
Her: "Well, If you could have predicted what name I would like when I was ten, would you have chosen, Maci, Laci, Bailey, or Logan?"


These conversation go on and have been going on for the last several years. The child of hypothetical questions. It's all I can do to hold it together most days. And the worse part is? I'm a counselor. I know how my responses shape her view of herself. And I know how I SHOULD respond and yet, like you Jen, Sometimes, I just can't dig deep enough. And sometimes I justify my dismissiveness by telling myself it is understandable because I talk to people all day long%u2026 but then I have to remind myself (sometimes several times a day) that the same mind that comes up with all of these "ridiculous" questions (I say that only because I know she will never read this) is the same mind that sees beauty in the smallest things, and is the same mind that CANNOT pass a homeless person without wanting to offer a meal from the nearest fast food place, that displays exuberance and passion in the slightest of pleasures%u2026 She is the most trying child and at the same time the most fascinating one.

My advice? Always look for how the downside always has an upside - that's what she has taught me...

Julee - January 7th, 2014 at 6:57 PM
I have the eleven year old version of that. We have at least a half dozen hypothetical questions a day. Throw in a few, "Can you pronounce this word like I do?" Insert weird pronunciation of a random word which I try. "No, no, try again. Like this." I try again. "Try again. Just a little more of a shhhh sound." I try again. "That was better but the ending needs to be short and quick. Like this. Try again." This goes on forEVER!

Angela - January 7th, 2014 at 10:00 PM
Lol! I am shaking the bed (while my husband is sleeping beside me) laughing so hard at these responses!
Morgan - January 7th, 2014 at 9:37 PM
OMG to both you and Julee - I have a 13 year old who still (to me) asks me the most ridiculous questions that I have to believe she KNOWS I couldn't possibly know the answer to. Just the other day my daughter was trying to make me say things in an accent. I am trying to be more light hearted so I even tried, and then she proceeded to tell me that it was a crappy accent, and then wanted me to try a "country" one.

The suburban conversation had me LOLing....
Stacy - January 7th, 2014 at 10:35 PM
My 3 year old daughter once "chastised" me for not naming her "Ariel" didn't I KNOW that that was the name she was meant for! And now she is 7 and has twice had to have a "serious" conversation with me about how she is going to change her name to "Ginny" (from Harry Potter) when she is 18 and she hopes it "won't hurt my feelings" that she wants to change it from the name I gave her! LOL! I just keep saying that "we will discuss it when it happens, but you can't leagally do anything about it til age 18 so I refuse to discuss it til then." She spent two nights trying to convince me to talk about it, finally she gave up and moved on! Prayers and positivity to you!

Joy - January 7th, 2014 at 10:52 PM
I am sure this gets tiresome, but I love these conversations! They are super cute and kind of fun. When I was reading these, I was comparing that my kids wear me out too, but tit doesn't seem this cute - grass is greener? :) You could write these out and make funny books or songs out of them like the song "if I had a million dollars."
Amy - January 7th, 2014 at 3:54 PM
YES!!!!!! I needed to hear this TODAY. You wrote this FOR ME. Thank you :)
Kathy - January 7th, 2014 at 3:55 PM
I so needed to read this today. I'm struggling, and this is a smoothing balm on my ragged spirit. Thank you!
Amy - January 7th, 2014 at 3:56 PM
as I wiped away tears I am glad that Facebook exists today as I read your blog. Thank you for your honesty and the courage to share your journey with the other introverts who are trying to survive NCF!!! My C is in first grade and you have described our relationship to a T!! She is a lot like me in a lot of ways but she is a chatterbox just like her daddy
Elizabeth - January 7th, 2014 at 4:08 PM
Jen, I have to commend you SO MUCH for differentiating between "abusive" and "difficult." I spent years beating my head against a wall because I didn't know I was in an abusive relationship, and had no idea that the same tactics used to make "normal" or "difficult" relationships better, make an abusive one worse!!! I have yet to come across any mainstream relationship literature that makes a distinction between the two, and I feel that it is very important. So thank you!
DanielleD - January 7th, 2014 at 4:09 PM
That child you described? I have two of them. Both boys. I spent the first few years of parenting bitter and exhausted and annoyed. And then I realized and internalized your #2. It changed everything for me. And Scream-Free Parenting was also a game changer (I don't know if that's your issue%u2026). Blessings. XO
Jen - January 7th, 2014 at 4:14 PM
Oh How I love this post. I have 2 that are like that. Non stop talking, questions, statements, restatements, statements about the restatements, UGH. Constant. I am an introvert as well, and neither of my girls are. Ever. I was mom to 2 boys first and was sad that I never got to do the "girly" stuff. Now we have adopted 2 girls and our relationships are no where near the fantasies I had all those years. I love them dearly, but we might as well be from different planets. I also have blown off the bedtime story because I cant handle ONE. More. Question. You are spot on about the real value of real commited time to them. It helps. If for no other reason than to reduce guilt of the almost constant go find something to do, go play with your sister, go find a video, go ask your Dad that question... I pray every day that they will learn to internalize all the noise..... but I also pray for ME to learn to listen to the questions, answer the questions, enjoy the questions.....
Cat - January 7th, 2014 at 4:18 PM
Oh thank you for sharing. Right there with you- my extreme extrovert 5 year old is breaking us her introvert parents. We haven't given her what she needs so she's been acting out. And it's hard to give her what she needs since every ounce of extra energy is being sapped by the 4 month old.

So we need to get the extroverts together to wear them
Out ;-)
Glenn - January 7th, 2014 at 4:19 PM
Single Dad here, crazy ENFP that likes to go home after work and recharge. All my outgoing people pleasing runs out about 5:30. Thanks for this post, as I will sit there and tell my 9-year old version of me why Pokemon is silly or Minecraft makes no sense. I fear I've fallen into some of the same habits sometimes and I'm ashamed. I really appreciate your honesty and as a reminder from my dearly departed Pastor, he used to say: "Tribulation worketh patience. Think of that when you pray for patience." :) I pray for power and understanding now. :)
Allison - January 7th, 2014 at 4:22 PM
My "difficult" is 5, and he is SO needy. But only needy on his terms, like when all of a sudden he is bored of playing with something he turns on the whine and pitiful and makes it my fault that his life is so horrible. All he wants/needs is a little attention from his #1 fan (who is supposed to be me) and I want is for him to talk like a normal human and stop making me feel like the world's worst mother. Prayer, I'm going to start with your prayer option...
Shalista - January 7th, 2014 at 4:24 PM
I feel awful a lot of the time because I have NCF as well. A loving sweet child that just wants attention all the time when I have a billion and five things to do. And really, it's rarely something that can't wait 30 minutes while I make Rainbow loom with her and watch silly youtube videos. I am glad you admitted all this because I struggle interally all the time with being a good enough mom and it helps to know that I am not alone.
Amy - January 7th, 2014 at 4:25 PM
This is terrific... I needed to hear it all. I do have one suggestion, though... you could just have one of your other kids "accidentally" destroy Candyland without anyone else knowin.... just sayin'.... ;)
A - January 7th, 2014 at 4:32 PM
I have been dying a slow death for years living with a difficult person and this has confirmed, yet again, and much to my chagrin, that the ball is in my court. I have become characterized by anger and apathy and sometimes I can't remember why. And then sometimes he reminds me why :) Anyway, I'm dying and it's ugly and it must change. I'm a stubborn woman, but I am in kove with Jesus and He loved me when I was and am so yucky. So...I give. Thanks for this.
amyzog - January 8th, 2014 at 12:03 AM
Me, too. *sigh* me, too.

GS - January 8th, 2014 at 7:10 AM
Yes but how does YOUR tank get filled, I mean, *really* filled, deep down? I'm in your same situation (genders reversed), if I hear you correctly, and though I've gotten way past Anger over it, and am just not an apathetic person by nature, I still experience - regularly - the emptiness that results when one is doing all the giving, and shoulders all the concern about the marriage, and the other just... does her own thing, day in and day out... Many, many days I just feel like I'm running on fumes, just doing what Tom Hanks' character did in "Sleepless in Seattle" after his wife died: I breathe in, I breathe out.......
Jenn Becker - January 7th, 2014 at 4:32 PM
Oh my balm to a weary, frayed, freakin' annoyed soul. All kinds of ugly has been spewing out and I was beginning to consider running away to someplace It's quiet there, right? My teeny blond 4 yo with an abundant vocabulary unknowingly thanks you for speaking real life to this mama's heart. Xxoo
Carrie Lou - January 8th, 2014 at 1:25 AM
I live in Montana. It is quiet here, yes. But that does nothing when you have a NCF. I wish. ;)
Megan - January 7th, 2014 at 4:36 PM
This post was music to my NCF-worn-yet-still-attached ears! However, should worse come to worse I do
know a FABULOUS ENT. I deal with NCF with a steady diet of fountain cokes, girlfriend texts/conversations, and routine quiet times for all parties involved. Stay the course, friends!
Sally - January 7th, 2014 at 4:36 PM
I think that many of us, as parents, deal with this when our child has a character trait that is so different from our own traits. So many of your comments left me thinking about a book I read long ago in college called LORD, CHANGE ME (I think by Evelyn Christenson). It talked (as I recall) about dealing with people or situations that we find difficult, but that rather than praying for other people and circumstances to change, we should pray that God would change US. The result being that our attitudes toward the situation can drastically change. I think of this book often when I am praying for others to change, and am reminded that it should be MY attitude that I'm praying for. I think you're on the right track Jen -- and I hope your daily prayer will help change things. Blessings! ~Sally @DrinkingFromMySaucer
Melissa - January 7th, 2014 at 4:38 PM
years ago I was REALLY struggling with my then 3 year old. I had such a hard time with him in ways I hadn't struggled with my other kids. I talked over my struggle with a mom who I respect so much. Her kids are older and she has really been such a great example in my life. She gave me the best piece of parenting advice I have ever received. She told me, 'Think about how you *wish* you feel about this child and start saying these things to him daily.' So I thought about it and that very night I went in to this boy, snuggled up in his bed with him and said, '------, God made you SO good. I am so glad you are mine!' I kid you not! It didn't even take a full week to feel that way toward him. God completely changed my heart. I still say these words to him on a regular basis, because I completely mean them. And it seemed to take a burden off his little 3 year old heart too and he became a happy, loving little 'Tiger', instead of the angry, roaring one he was before.
Elsie - January 7th, 2014 at 8:05 PM
I just teared up a little after reading your comment. Thanks for posting. Such good advice from your friend!
phyllis - January 7th, 2014 at 11:46 PM
there ya go!!
Kimberly - January 8th, 2014 at 1:50 AM
Tracy H - January 8th, 2014 at 7:09 AM
Wonderful article by Jen, and love this idea to help... Doing it starting today !
Jen~Beautiful Mess - January 8th, 2014 at 7:36 AM
Did the same thing in my marriage, why I didn't think to do it with my kid is beyond me. Thank you.
Krista - January 7th, 2014 at 4:47 PM
Reading this I though, "I don't have kids. I don't have that kind of person in my life." And then God nudged me and said, "Yes, you do. She's the one you complain about constantly to your work friends. She's the one who makes you feel like you are the world's most introverted person, when in fact you're a big ol' extrovert." Ahhh, yes. I am roommates with the biggest extrovert I know. I can only imagine what you must be feeling with Remy, because I will be at home, snuggled in a blanket with a book, zoned out, and she comes home, oblivious, and wants to tell me her day... in five-minute increments. She is the neediest person I've ever met and it

So thank you for this. Because instead of just feeling irritable all of the time at home, I am reminded I can be intentional about making sure she feels heard and cared about.
Tanya - January 7th, 2014 at 4:47 PM
I have a needy one too, although he is also negative and it is very wearing on me. The more I give, it feels like the more I need. Our attachment therapist says to tell him, "I have enough love for you today." The time he gets to spend with me definitely means so much to him though :) Good luck to all of us who struggle with this.
Lee - January 7th, 2014 at 4:49 PM
OMG I so needed this! My 2nd grader (boy) is so like this, except he has a great many negative bones in his body and is not afraid to use them in my direction. Deep down I know that it is really his anxiety so I try not to take it personal as I remind him for the millionth time that it is not tolerated. Lately however, I have hit my wall with him. Things outside his control (death in my family, fight in my family, etc.) have made me much less patient with him. Today I got out of bed determined not to lose the battle. I think I won, of course we still have cub scouts to go tonight! I need to try to fill his cup everyday.
Rev. Run - January 8th, 2014 at 8:19 AM
Thanks for this - you aren't alone.
Anna - January 7th, 2014 at 4:52 PM
I needed to read this today - thanks! I am a very particular person who likes things certain ways and I tend to get very annoyed with those closest to me (mom and husband) who are VERY different than I. My mom and I work together sometimes and I can be downright hateful to her. I am terrible. I definitely need to focus on filling the tanks of others instead of worrying about what they need to do for me!
Sarah - January 7th, 2014 at 4:56 PM
I always say that my son Jack has made me an angrier person. It always gets better when I give it over. It also helps when other people enjoy him and all his quirk

Tracy - January 7th, 2014 at 4:56 PM
Relating is an understatement. I have two bio kids and two adopted kids - they range in age from 14 to almost 9 and I am STRETCHED THIN. In general, but specifically with my adopted 10 year old daughter. She steals from everyone in the house except her biological brother constantly. We have locks on almost every door and can't seem to stop it. Shelies..about almost everything, all the time. She is mean to the other kids and deliberately picks arguments. She is disagreeable and defiant and disobedient. I love her and I fought forher, but I despair some days of it ever being fun or even safe to be around her. I wonder what the next 8 or 9 years will be like and want to cry sometimes. And, I'm ashamed to say, that in my grown up, healthy and well adjusted way, I have been terrible to her in response. I have been distant, I have yelled, I have shamed, I have corrected in front of the other kids....the list goes on and on. I want to believe that she will change, but she may never. It has to be me, and aim not sure where the energy to even want that comes from. This call to redemption is no joke!
Debbie - January 7th, 2014 at 10:53 PM
Tracy- your description of your difficult daughter could have been written about my son, also adopted (in the Fall of 2012.) We also have three bio kids. If you haven't already, check out "When Love Is Not Enough" by Nancy Thomas. It has been SO helpful to us. After reading that book I found a counselor who specializes in attachment issues and our family is becoming fun again! We have not arrived yet, at all, but have GREATLY improved in just four months of counseling, lots of reading and especially lots of prayer. I have seen more genuine laughter and smiles from him in the past six weeks than in the year plus we have been home! And I actually woke up the other morning and smiled when I thought of him- now THAT is progress!:).
JR - January 7th, 2014 at 5:06 PM
Very introverted: three boisterous, chatty girls - ages 9, 9, and 5 almost 6 = I also wish to remove my ears. So much loud, so much touching me, so much fighting - I always feel like screaming at everyone. And they aren't really doing anything wrong or bad -just being themselves. It's really my issue - definitely requires a lot of prayer and to-friend venting!
Joyce - January 7th, 2014 at 5:16 PM
Boy you hit the nail on the head!!! So thanks for reminding me that I don't need to go it alone that the Lord is right there ready and waiting for us(hubster too!) to call on Him to help us parent our two kiddos! They both test, try, and bring out the worst in me a lot. Not their fault, totally mine! Love all you write and confess Jen!
Jill - January 7th, 2014 at 5:25 PM
I am on day 19 of Christmas break and you described my youngest to the "T". I find myself saying "just please stop talking" or "I can't listen any longer. My patience is gone. Go to bed." Thank you for being real and directing us readers back to prayer. At the end of the day, I wouldn't want to hurt her ever. I totally adore & love her beyond measure.... but yes, I would totally tear my ears off sometimes if I could. Lord, Help me!
Carolyn - January 7th, 2014 at 5:26 PM
Wow, I so needed to read this. There is not much else to say, but thank you for posting it
Jana - January 7th, 2014 at 5:29 PM
You wrote this just for me, didn't you? Me, because these last few weeks/months/years have found me feeling precisely like you wrote: "...jerky, irritated, short-tempered, impatient...Where loving attention was called for, I gave short answers. When a simple answer was required, I sighed", specifically with my 9yo son who induces NCF. And then, a couple nights ago, he confirmed all of the above...he said "Anytime I ask you anything, you sigh". Ugh, knife in the gut. It's true. I tried to explain WHY I sigh. Afraid it's falling on deaf ears at the moment. But it doesn't matter. Like you mentioned, he might never change, (ohsweetLORD) and I've gotta find a way to deal. Thanks so much for this post.
Amy - January 7th, 2014 at 5:34 PM
My sister told me one time when I was hip-deep in lose-my-mind-ville, "These are the good ol' days." And she was so right. I remind myself of this often when I feel peeved toward a kid. Indeed, right now we are living the good ol' days. Thanks for your honesty!
Lesley - January 7th, 2014 at 5:36 PM
I JUST recently went through this very thing with my little boy. After days of soul-searching and frustration, God really humbled me and caused me to see that it was all on me, and that, when it came down to it, I was wishing he was a different type of person. It broke my heart, because I love him so much.
I let go of that first-born stereotype that I've been trying to cram him into since he arrived on this planet, and have started over again, studying him, giving him room to be who he is, and digging deep for extra grace when his neediness starts to get to me. And you're SO right%u2026it doesn't take much, just a bit of intentionality each day, and his confidence is soaring once more and his countenance is happy. God is so good to help us through this every-day stuff. Parenting is like sanctification bootcamp!!
Colleen B. - January 7th, 2014 at 5:38 PM
Oh boy....on day 2 of snow (cold) days after 14 days of Christmas vacation...and several weekends in there to add even more together time, I needed this. We had a really nice vacation, but I have a child who goes from zero to 600 in about 1 second. An invisible switch gets flipped when he is unhappy with whatever rubbed him the wrong way and today, I am just needing them to go back to school. They need to go outside and play but it is -15 degrees and it is too cold to do that!! Instead of my planned snuggling in for a movie and baking cookies, we had arguing and crying ...and NO cookies!! I keep trying to remember that I am enough. I. AM. ENOUGH. **Breathe** I don't understand how but He chose me to be their parent and thought I was enough..because HE is enough. I saw a quote yesterday that said "Talk to God more than you talk to your kids". Yeah, today I totally biffed that one. Praise God there is tomorrow! For the record, I adore you. Thank you for being so very real. We moms NEED that in this day of facebook, pinterest and instagram "perfection".
N. Lockard - January 8th, 2014 at 9:59 AM
Dads need it too- we adopted 2 boys (9-10) and it gets tough- sometimes we wonder if it would be different if they were our bio- but no God is changing our hearts its the same - we just need Him to change us
Barb - January 7th, 2014 at 5:42 PM
I'm bawling as I read this. I have a 2 year old and a 3 year old and I am freaking tired... I am cranky and hollery, and I can't ever feel rested. Thanks for your words of encouragement. But, most importantly, thanks for your words of honesty. I have quit facebook because I am tired of comparing myself to all the moms with kids who are impeccably dressed, have immaculate homes and fill their hours with making homemade butter and wrapping paper. It's all I can do to get my kids dressed and make sure my teeth have been brushed. As I speak, my daughter is going commando. I don't have the energy to care. Thanks for your thoughtful writing. God bless you for speaking to the hearts of tired momma's everywhere.
Cecilia - January 7th, 2014 at 10:49 PM
Been there. There were days, weeks, months, years when I was a stay at home Mom where just keeping them alive was a success. You are not alone.
Rebecca - January 8th, 2014 at 12:57 PM
Barb, I feel the need to share this with you. One time, when I had 3 kids in diapers, my husband come home to found the house a disaster, the kids running around like banshees, me with out a shower and in my pajamas. The first words out of his mouth? "Wow, honey, good job not letting the kids burn the house down today!" said with no hint of sarcasm. He was serious. That was the best thing he could have said to me when I felt like I was failing at everything parenting and homemaking. So, I will say to you, Good job keeping your kids alive today! :)
Steph - January 7th, 2014 at 5:45 PM
WOW! I so needed this today!! Thank you for being so raw & real! =)
Heide Kemink - January 7th, 2014 at 5:49 PM
This hit a nerve. It made me cry. But I am the child, my husband is the parent. We are 50 year old empty nesters. I am alone all day long. Sometimes I babysit my Grands. But I long for my husband to come home and talk to me, pay attention to me, give me a hug. I know he is tired so I try to let him have time to unwind but after making him dinner and asking questions I can tell he is annoyed with me. I don't consider myself needy, I am not a dishrag wife who cannot stand on her own two feet. Just lonely and want my boyfriend back.
- January 8th, 2014 at 12:55 PM
Heide, wow, me too. Exactly.
jen - January 7th, 2014 at 5:50 PM
Thank the Lord you do not live in Michigan where in addition to the 2 full weeks of Christmas break, we are into the THIRD snowday in a row....seriously. SOMETHING HAS GOT TO GIVE!
Lisa Littlewood - January 7th, 2014 at 5:54 PM
I too have a sweet, VERY sensitive, very needy, extroverted 6 year old girl.... I love her like crazy, but have stopped counting the number of times I've told my husband that I don't have what it takes to fill her emotional tank. It makes me sad and now that she's in school I feel guilty going out to the gym or to run errands or to do some writing in the evenings because I don't see her all day, but I'm home with the other two girls (4 1/2 and 7 mo) and I'm exhausted. As an introvert I also thrive on those down times and don't know how to manage it all ): thank you for the post. And reading that all of these other women are in the same boat is so encouraging!
charisse - January 7th, 2014 at 5:58 PM
Nothing can drive you like your kids. At other times, nothing can push your buttons like your kids. Its on my heart to offer two things to you. I appologize in advance if the suggestion comes out wrong. I like you, I do, youre awesome! But this is your "child" here. Youre writing in a negative context about your child, for all the world to see. Have you ever peered into the life of an autistic child or the frustrations of the parents of a child with a legitimate disability? Cerebal palsey even?
Julie - January 8th, 2014 at 2:12 PM
I have two boys.. no matter what they are kids and they will learn all from their own parents first as we did so we all have to watch what we complaining... specially our own kids and they are little kids who doesn't know everything and no experience! Well.. if they are some selfish husbands or kids who is older than 20yrs then it's different story.. haha! and people are not difficult, they are just different so we all can learn each other. If we are not happy ourselves then we can't be happy with kids either even though we love them... Be happy yourself first all moms then you will see something different!
Alex - January 7th, 2014 at 6:10 PM
Wow! Amazing! Thank you for sharing. I completely agree, the only person I can change here is me [Truly, I can't even do that. So thankful to have a Father constantly holding me up and committed to my sanctification.] At the same time, I have a child who has an issue with what some people refer to as "incessant chatter" and I find he does it when he is dysregulated. Like you said, investing that 30 minutes can fill the tank. If I make investments (and some of these investments are totally strange) to help support my little man regulate, generally I have a better chance of sanity for the day. Thanks for the post! By the way, I'm sure your texts are no worse than mine and I'm sure they don't compare with the ugly thoughts I've shared with my child's therapist.
Rebekah - January 7th, 2014 at 6:10 PM
Thank you for writing this. I have 2 kids that want a lot of interaction, and another 13 year old girl that I offend just by looking in her direction. :) This encouragement was what I needed today. I often think when I am in the middle of it all "is this what God meant by 'women will be saved in childbearing'?" Because it drives me to pray/shout/scream desperately to God for the help I need.
carrie - January 7th, 2014 at 6:17 PM
I have a 13 year old boy who hates showering and wearing clean socks and doing anything to mask his funk. He also has apparently developed a severe winter dandruff situation on his scalp. He was digging his head at church the other day. He refused my orders said very nicely through clenched teeth to stop it right now. Thus beginning a verbal disagreement entirely had through clenched teeth and low gutteral mutterings. Then I got up to lead worship. Because you know, spiritual and all. So I get it. And I love him but right now I'm constantly on the verge of gagging at his grossness.
jenny - January 7th, 2014 at 6:22 PM
Well crud.... Thanks a lot. ;)
kelly - January 7th, 2014 at 6:24 PM
Thank you and may Jesus bless you for your honesty and genuine love in action :)
Nita - January 7th, 2014 at 6:27 PM
Girl.Friend. Yes, yes, yes. I needed this so much.
Practicing joy - January 7th, 2014 at 6:33 PM
I have 3 of these needy kids, 37, 33, and 24 the one at really need us got the end of the stick. I am soooooo tried of needless in our kid. I love them I would lay down my werri and simple life for them. I just hurt and ack in the thoughts that the one hey need the most is the one that fight the most. JESUS
Audrey - January 7th, 2014 at 6:38 PM
Ah... the constant questions and chatter. Yes, my 12 yo (adopted at 10) follows, asks constant questions, and brings out - yes - my worst self. Thank you for articulating this so well. I once heard that God puts people in our life to refine us and make us better. Just think how refined we're becoming through this. Bless you for your honesty and for so eloquently articulating this topic.
Reggie - January 7th, 2014 at 6:40 PM
I had the opposite situation. I was the extrovert Mom trying to not hate myself for driving my introvert kid crazy. She finally gave me a book called The Introvert Advantage which I dutifully read. All of the sudden it became clear both of us were fine. We were just different. She learned how to set boundaries. I learned how to respect those boundaries and not take it personally when she wanted to be alone. Your kid sounds SO much like me.
B - January 7th, 2014 at 7:03 PM
I wish I had your friends. The one time I attempted to tell my troubles to a friend, she could only cough up a suggestion that I contact the Supernanny. :/
Stacy - January 7th, 2014 at 7:12 PM
Ah.... sweet sister in Christ, Thank you for your willingness to share your heart and struggles. Parenting is hard, exhausting work sometimes and I am so with you on wanting to strive for healthier parenting. Once when we were in a tough season our pediatrician told me that we should be giving our kiddo 7 verbal encouragements a day. WHAT the heck!
It really is an intentional process sometimes and a circle of praying friends that "get" your struggles is golden.
Peter - January 7th, 2014 at 7:26 PM
Talk about first world problems.
Jenni - January 7th, 2014 at 8:42 PM
I'm confused at this being a first world problem. I'm guessing there are mothers everywhere who are parenting children with very different temperaments than their own. While the struggles may show themselves differently in different circumstances, cultures, countries, etc., this is not an exclusively first world problem. This is a motherhood problem. It's a people problem. How is trying to parent outside your temperament a first world problem specifically? I've lived in other countries, and from what I gathered people were still people. I find dismissing things as 'first world problems' is funny only when you are making fun of yourself. Otherwise, it might come across as snarky. Just a thought.
Linnea - January 8th, 2014 at 1:08 PM
Snarky is putting it mildly! If you didn't get anything positive from this beautiful, honest, humble blog ~ Don't bother coming back! No need to put others down on their own blog to make your poor self feel good. I am praying that God does a work in my heart right now to help me get rid of the anger your rude words invoked in me. God bless you and may He wrap His loving arms around you in such a way that you have no doubt it is Him.
Meg - January 7th, 2014 at 7:38 PM
This. Is. Awesome. Everybody is afraid to talk about the realities of motherhood, especially for us extreme introverts, who by God's humor, were given extreme extrovert children. There are so many moments that I have it on the verge of my tongue to tell said kid to "just please be quiet for one second." But I'm so thankful for the Holy Spirit keeping that back, because it's not his fault. My husband reminds me that right now I'm this little kid's whole world. That was a hit to the gut. So I'm so thankful for your "action plan" you posted. I'm sure this will come in handy. Also. "Needy Child Fatigue." LOVE IT!
Andrea Enright - January 7th, 2014 at 7:45 PM
All so true! You can always only control your own actions and change yourself. I also love the suggestion to address the neediest need intentionally each day. It's amazing how intentionality can lower the stakes of the situation while also making it easier to do each day. And AMEN to sharing your burdens. We absolutely need honesty and accountability and can't go about it alone! PREACH!
Michele - January 7th, 2014 at 7:46 PM
So glad to read your blog and then through the comments and know I'm not alone. I am a stay at home mom (not by choice) with a two year old and oh my gosh...I've tried to reach out to others-to no avail. She is too stinkin' cute and everyone thinks I'm just over reacting and, "She's only twooo. Oh, isn't she just the sweetest, cutest, I can eat her up all day..." And she is...except when she's not. She's a bit mature for her age so she talks COHERENTLY a lot. "Mommy, what's that?" (at every commercial). "What happened?" "Why not?" Not to mention how she repeats the same question 3 or 5 times in a row... I just had to stop writing to pray with her, at her request, because I just put her to bed with no fan fare so I could just get some "me time". Is it bad that I rolled my eyes at every person she asked me to pray for? (Sigh) Just glad to know I'm not alone in my introvert world dealing with an energy snatcher.
Shelly(Michelle, too) - January 8th, 2014 at 8:11 AM
Michele, your post brings me to tears. I am on the other side of your adventure. My oldest is in college. I would give almost anything to hold him as a little guy again. She stops you to ask you to pray with her? I know you are close in and living the battle right now, but what a privilege you have been given. We said our prayers together but now, at my son's age, he is exploring if he even believes there is a God. I walk with God's promise that he will find Him in his own way as an adult. Be consistent with her and set those boundaries for your own sanity and so she knows what the boundaries are. She will learn that skill and she WILL outgrow the questions. It will be a gift for you both if she will always be able to ask you to pray and to talk to you. Being stuck in two year old pergatory seems like a long time when you're in it but it will be over soon. The more often you sigh and roll your eyes at the incessant requests and questions, the more she will absorb those signals. In a blink of an eye she will be in preschool, then kindergarten, then the business of life really kicks in. Hang in there, lady. And give her what you can. You will be rewarded on the other end of this parenting thing.
Michele - January 8th, 2014 at 12:34 PM
Oh Shelly, no tears! I wish I could give YOU a hug! I am thankful that God has me disciplined enough not to totally be transparent in front of her. She did not see me roll my eyes! I realize her understanding and VAST vocabulary is a blessing, which makes it hard to feel the way I do-but I can't ignore the fact that I do. I will keep pressing through this.
As for your son, keep praying for God to reveal Himself to your son in a real way. Pray for people and situations to overshadow him so that all he can do is realize with no question there is a God. Scripture tells us that if we instill it when they are young (and it sounds like you have) then when they are old they will not depart from it. Think about how Solomon must have had A LOT of "Bible studies" with his father David - yet he did go away for a time but he returned to the Lord with a deeper appreciation and commitment.
If you've never read Jen's blog that shared the Mops lesson notes you should. It talks about why your son is probably where he is and may give you more insight on how to pray. Praying with you! Jen's blog:
Rachael - January 9th, 2014 at 8:38 AM
I don't know if you will even read this, Michele, but I just wanted to say how classy and beautiful your response to Shelley was. You could have been snarky or said she didn't understand or been offended or any number of other responses, but instead you simply accepted her offering. Then you turned around and prayed for her. So beautiful.
Katie - January 7th, 2014 at 7:50 PM
Yep. Just...yep. Thank you. :)
Melissa B. - January 7th, 2014 at 7:52 PM
Hokey smokes. It's like you are in my brain. I have THIS EXACT PROBLEM with our adopted son (he's 10 and he's been in our family a little over a year). Seriously, the parts about "time" and "real vs tv people" and the "nonstop talking" make me think you know him. And my response and attitude towards him is in a poopy place right now.

Thank you for writing this and encouraging us to live like God is calling us to live. It's hard. It's not fun, but we (and them) will be better for it. Blessings to you on this crazy journey.
Jacquelynn - January 7th, 2014 at 7:58 PM
This. Is. Awesome. Thank you for spilling your heart!
Shelly - January 7th, 2014 at 7:59 PM
Sounds like you've got a GT kiddo on your hands! The behaviors you describe are textbook.
Jo - January 9th, 2014 at 1:56 AM
I was wondering the same thing. I've got one and she can drive a person crazy in ten seconds flat! She is the MOST loveable, sensitive, sunshiny and inquisitive child ever. She is my ray of sunshine but when bedtime rolls around....bam....she's tucked in and nighty nights are done lickity split. The intentional time with her really helps. we learned to knit recently (her request) and that has helped quite a bit. it gives me something to do that's meditative while she has something meditative as well. the conversations are meaningful and are at a much slower pace.
[email protected] - January 7th, 2014 at 8:00 PM
Does it count if you not only want to pull your ears off, but you want to run far, far, far away and sit in silence for days? Maybe even a little rocking back and forth? I have a 3 1/2 year old that has an obsessive personality. This is him in the car, "mama, mama, mama, mama, mama.........mama, mama, mama." You get the point. Praying for help! Glad I'm not alone.
Maddy - January 7th, 2014 at 8:07 PM
It's as if you're living in my house. Our 7 year old newly (7 months) adopted daughter from Taiwan is pushing the same buttons for me. Eerily same. We have 2 boys as well (12 and 7) and I almost cried when my friend excitedly mentioned her kids returning to school this week%u2026.because I homeschool and our sweet girl is about to put me over the edge. And we're all feeling it.
I SO needed this%u2026.the chance to know I'm not alone, the reminder to know how to handle it better, and pray, and because I'M the adult here. I literally had that conversation with myself just yesterday!
Thank you thank you thank you Jen. You are such a blessing.
Mindy - January 7th, 2014 at 8:18 PM
This made me weep. And, this girl doesn't cry for nothin'. I'm single, no kids, carefree? you might say. But, have been struggling the past few weeks with my boss of 14 years. I'm an assistant - a regular girl friday - anything and everything. I base my loyalty on how much I believe in him personally and professionally, but have not agreed with his choices of lately. He's become family to me. I've found myself being high and mighty.....and angry. This post reminded me what my precious Grandmother told me years ago. "Pray for them. If you can truly, honestly, no holds barred, pray for another person, then you can't really be mad anymore." I need to change me....not him. Because we all need a little grace to see the big picture. Thank you so much for the reminder. For. Reals. Tomorrow is a new day.
Heidi C - January 9th, 2014 at 12:45 PM
I completely agree Jennifer! I have a very extroverted little guy (7 years old) and I am very much an introvert. He has understood since he was about four that Mommy will put herself in a time out. He knows that when Mommy does that, she will come back in 15 minutes and be the brightest and most fun Mommy she can be. I think it great to teach kids at a young age that different relationships will have different needs and how to deal with that. The world isn't going to change for them and there are plenty of us introverts out there!
DandelionMama - January 9th, 2014 at 7:56 PM
How beautiful. Best of everything to you and your new perspective.
Jennifer Polizzi - January 7th, 2014 at 8:21 PM
I agree that you need to give a chunk of undistracted, fully present time to your daughter. However, it is ok to tell her when you need a chunk of uninterrupted quiet time. I have told my kids many times that "Mommy needs some quiet time right now." Kids need to learn to understand this about others: no one can or should be constantly available to them. You are not selfish or a "bad mom" if you need some time when you are not bombarded with questions or conversation. I find that it is easy for me to check out and relate to my kids in a distracted way. I think this is when they really start to pester (ie. constant questions or talking, or, in one of the comments above, constant texting) because they sense we have checked out emotionally. Quite often, we do, not necessarily because we are introverts (even though we thought we were extroverts before kids) but because the very nature of a mother's role is to nurture relationships, which take a tremendous amount of emotional energy. There is no lunch break or cubicle/office to retreat to when we need to regroup or focus as there was when we were only employees and not moms. Yes, prayer is essential (not because God is magical, but because He is the source of all wisdom and strength), and including healthy boundaries with our kids as well as healthy, fulfilling outlets for ourselves.
Wendy E - January 9th, 2014 at 12:34 AM
I agree, Jennifer. I used to say, "Mommy's ears are tired now and need to rest for a while. Then I can listen better again later." I think this gives children a chance to practice being "givers" in regard to relationship - and to help them understand that their needs are not always the most important thing. When they got older this turned into what I expressed as "noise overload" (and happened fairly predictably at around 4pm, ha!) It also served to model an appropriate way to ask for a break when they needed it (which my introvert sometimes needed to do.) As you also said, this doesn't work if you aren't ALSO giving them uninterrupted attention and living in a way which is oriented toward meeting their needs. Just wanted to say, "Ditto." :)
m - January 7th, 2014 at 8:22 PM
My only comment would be....why would u post your story with a picture of Snooky? It is floating around the internet right now, and guaranteed there are many people who probably think this story is about her...many people don't actually read a story....they see a picture of someone crying, and assume that her life is in shambles or something....just saying, u should have chosen a different picture for your story with the caption.
Been there, done that - January 7th, 2014 at 8:31 PM
In some ways our roles are reversed. I have a mother who was and is depressed, negative, overwhelmed, at times neglectful and overly judgmental and critical, bordering on emotionally and verbally abusive. Also, she often behaves in a child-like fashion - therapists think it is because she lost a parent at a young age and didn't move past it in some ways. Until I figured it out she often tried to make me her parent and surrogate counselor, talking about totally inappropriate stuff with your kid (sex with her husband, for starters). I haven't really enjoyed her too much for the last 30 years but I haven't given up, although I do keep a lot of distance between us as an adult. Over Christmas I listened to her talk endlessly about her job (endless details no one but her coworkers would care about), her bad health, how much she hates her siblings (not a surprise they have given up talking to her), her husband (my stepfather), his sorry kids, on and on and on.....I used to respond a lot more but found it only triggered more drama, negativity, tears and now I mostly just nod and watch the clock until it's time for bed or I can think of another escape.

I know she is not that bad around everyone. We just bring out the worst in each other. I know she won't change, luckily I have worked to make the rest of my life pleasant, and remember I am not responsible for her (lack of) happiness in this world. I hope she finds it in the next one. I know as a parent she did not find much happiness in me, a child who was a high achiever and that only made her feel worse about herself. I am sure it's hard for parents to cope, but I'm afraid if you don't try and reach them, they will learn, like I did, that it's best to be independent and find people they can count on. Then, it shouldn't be a surprise when infrequent and short calls and visits are the norm, and then it will be too late to make significant changes.
Allison - January 7th, 2014 at 9:37 PM
Thanks for sharing this story about your mother. You have just given me so much peace for a situation I have been struggling with, and I appreciate this more than you could ever imagine. Here's to independence, and here's to breaking the vicious cycle for my own children!
Mer - January 7th, 2014 at 8:43 PM
Oh! You rock! My FASD, RAD, Sensory seeker, ODD kiddo drains me. I struggle with disappointment in myself as much as her behaviors. Thanks for the reboot.
Alex - January 8th, 2014 at 6:30 AM
Mer....there is hope. Keep it up. Two of my sons have had all of the above labels and continue to have RAD and PTSD, and they are doing well. Believe me, God is miraculously providing. Much of His provision has been through exceptional therapy (benefiting me as I parent these babies from difficult places). You are part of the healing! You are chosen. God is seeking to draw glory to Himself as He heals your child in your home. Your experience is painful. I am trusting and asking God right now that you will experience His healing in your heart and your family and that the Joy from the healing will be so deep that you couldn't have imagined another life for yourself. One thing I have to keep telling myself [Yes, I talk to myself. Sometimes this situation is so isolating] is that I am honored God has chosen me to be part of something that can obviously only be done by Him. In other words, as I parent my "average" children, I can believe I'm a "good parent." With my two sons from hard place, I'm constantly reminded that without Him I'm toast (and that's always the truth right?). I get to experience His Truth everyday. He is enough. Blessings to you.
Roanna - January 7th, 2014 at 8:43 PM
Wow! So many comments, so many struggling! These poor children! LOL! I have both an extrovert and one with sensory issues. A teacher once told me "We limit them to 3 questions a day". What a novel idea! I only think of it when question #4,228 is tipping me over the edge. Then I say " That's your question limit"! There was a post on FB not to long ago that turned on a light bulb for me. It was about the extrovert and how they recharge by interaction with others and how the introvert is drained by interaction with others but charged by alone time. I showed it to my daughter and explained it. Now I can easily tell her "You need to find another extrovert to charge up. Mommy is drained!" And it's not a personal rejection! And lastly I have to remind myself that love is the action I take(or not), regardless of how I feel! Thanks for all the sharing on this... misery loves company! I have read your blog a few times and love it!
Candace - January 8th, 2014 at 5:07 PM
I love this and I'm going to have to try this with my own little chatty buddy. I know he's mature enough to understand if presented the same way you did it. Of course, I will have to answer 322 questions about it before it gets put into play, and of course, everyone he has contact with will know that "Mommy is an introvert and I'm an extrovert and I'm draining her......" because he doesn't reserve his chattiness just for the people at home. There are no skeletons in this house! He shares our business with anyone!! LOL Thanks for the great idea!
Katie - January 7th, 2014 at 8:49 PM
Thank you so much for your honesty, Jen! I am struggling with being the worst version of myself with my boss, and it came to a head with a very heated, 2.5 hour "discussion" yesterday. I went to work today feeling like I have met my breaking point. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your proactive suggestions for changing my approach, and forgetting about changing him.

Prayers for you as you try this new approach--your efforts are a powerful testimony to how much you love your child!
Shelly - January 7th, 2014 at 8:50 PM
I also prayfor graduation. And college. Far far away from home. And it seems I'm going to get my wish. Gulp! Hang in there! Cause even this goes by far too fast (official old lady advice).
Christina - January 7th, 2014 at 8:58 PM
"It's not good manners to tell such long stories."

Words to my then 4 year old. It may sound harsh, but I think it's a parent's job to teach social behavior and sometimes you gotta go for the direct approach when the non-verbal cues aren't working:)

Sarah - January 7th, 2014 at 9:08 PM
Thanks to you Jen and all you fellow, exhausted and frustrated moms out there! I am so impatient with my 5th grade twins sometimes, who constantly want to interact with me! I have shouted at them how annoying they are! "I don't want to play with you--that's why I had twins!!" Oiy--prayers for all of us!
Michelle - January 7th, 2014 at 9:01 PM
Wonderful!!! Thank you for your honesty, I could have wrote this word for word to explain my own situation exactly. My three year old girl is wearing me out. I find myself finally at the end of the very intense speaking engagement im apart of all day long... finally shutting down, Im just done, answers become very short, and if something does come out of my mouth without just pointing what I would like done, it is very aggravated. Dinner, bath, and please bed time, I need the break. So I hear loud and clear. I have three boys, and with my experience never needed the consent conversation. It is amazing to me that someone actually has this experience so close to mine. Someone prayed for me one time (not about this situation) and in the middle of the prayer they said that this child was going to teach me about myself. I have held that close to my heart, and know that whatever she pulls out of me at times, I don't like it, and I don't like that part of me at all. I am constantly reminded how much I need a savior,
sheri - January 7th, 2014 at 9:05 PM
Oh Jen Hatmaker. You are speaking to my soul. My heart. My life. Thank you a million times over for this. I am absolutely re-reading this every day until I actually enjoy hearing my kindergartner explain to me how things work (which is, of course, completely fabricated and exhausting to keep up with).
Anna {This Perfect Mess} - January 7th, 2014 at 9:05 PM
"The only thing worse than struggling is struggling in secrecy." Amen!
Beth - January 7th, 2014 at 9:09 PM
This is me and my 4.5 year old daughter! She's relentless and inquisitive and stubborn and so darn smart I go crazy! She has sensory processing disorder so she's constantly seeking input and has no regard for personal space, and I like my personal space! She talks nonstop and needs my constant attention and affirmation. I'm going to start praying for ME and my interactions with her. Thank you for these wise words!
Shannon Ly - January 7th, 2014 at 9:10 PM
Thank you so much. You put to words what has only been in my heart. This is my 5 year old son. He has no need for personal space, an inside voice, or quiet time. EVER! I know that someday all of these things will serve him greatly in God's Kingdom but in the now I need to put to practice what you've stated above. Thank you for your honesty.

Amanda - January 7th, 2014 at 9:11 PM
Jen, I think our 7 year olds are twins somehow...oh me oh my. I'm an only child and have been perfectly happy with being alone and quiet for years on end now, but my sweet oldest daughter cannot stand quiet and being alone at all (at least while we are at public, quiet as a mouse!). I have had the same kind of prayer sessions you mentioned, and asked God to help me find that selfless bone in my body so that I can give her what she needs, no matter that my mind is spinning! I have also broken down and explained in 7 year old terms that everyone needs a rest time, particularly on our days off, and when we all take rest at the same time--particularly on Saturdays or Sundays--we are more recharged and better able to enjoy our time together after rest time. This has worked well as long as we are consistent with it--and I let her keep the cat with her during her time. Compromise!

Thank you so much for sharing as it is a struggle I've had a lot in the past month, not just with one person at home, but one elsewhere and this blog shall be printed and shared with the friends who are also struggling with their "difficult" people (which sometimes may very well be me? :)
Steve - January 7th, 2014 at 9:12 PM
I loved this. My relationship with our adopted daughter is severely strained, and I don't know what to do. It is good to be reminded that others have struggles too. Thank you so, so much.
Stephanie - January 7th, 2014 at 9:12 PM
Girl you have spoken the TRUTH! I'm so blessed by it. Thank you for being real!
Meg - January 7th, 2014 at 9:15 PM
Bless your insightful, dead-on, truth-telling heart. My week started with an epiphany (on Epiphany!) related to my prayers for patience. I GOT IT. And then Glennon wrote her post about marriage that made me all weepy and NOW THIS. It is as if you people are reading my mind, and you don't even know me. God is speaking to me through you two. He is slapping me upside the head and saying PAY ATTENTION. Well played, God.
Sara - January 9th, 2014 at 4:38 PM
Meg - Same here! Glennon's mind-boggling post followed by this amazing post is shaking me awake!
Lisa - January 7th, 2014 at 9:18 PM
In awe of God's mercy right now. This very morning I was pouring out my heart to Him in absolute despair/embarrassment at my attitude and behavior toward a family member over the holidays. I am so disgusted at myself in the way I handled this relationship. Shocked at my raging selfishness. This relationship has always been difficult but when I'm not getting myself in the Word and relying on His strength every single day I am with this person, it gets ugly. I just told God He had to show me where to start. "Give me something." Thank you. This is unquestionably my "something". Grateful for new beginnings and lavish grace!
Tara B. - January 7th, 2014 at 9:19 PM
Hi Jen! I'll be praying for you to feel peace and contentment with the fact that you are trying and persevering with Remy and that's mountains of love in of itself. I'm torn up when my heart wants more than I can give in the moment but I cling to the fact that God loves me despite my icky self. Our youngest boy whom you met at the Encompass camp in MT has brought us to the edge {heading to juvenile court next week}.

I sooo needed to read these words and be reminded in this hard time when all I feel is frustration and exhaustion from pouring myself into a relationship that only one of us "seems" to want..."When it comes down to it, I%u2019d rather work hard on a difficult relationship than flounder in frustration over it, waiting for it to miraculously improve. Inertia is no friend of healthy relationships. We must press in, refusing to accept %u201Ctoleration%u201D as our best option."

Thanks for bringing the Light in dark days through your own processing. Hope we can see you again this summer! Love and Hugs!
CJ - January 7th, 2014 at 9:20 PM
Were you eavesdropping on my phone call with my friend today?! Thanks for these words. Couldn't be more perfect timing as I'm struggling with the same exact issues with my child.
Jana Coley - January 7th, 2014 at 9:20 PM
I try to do two things (both of which my mom taught me):
1) I try to remember to love people for the way they are, not the way I want them to be.
2) I try to remember to pray for them...not pray for them to change, simply pray for them. It may not change them, but it will change my attitude toward them.

I strive to be as gracious as that precious lady. I'm 47 & no where close yet, but I haven't given up either.
Keri - January 8th, 2014 at 10:57 PM
Jana, this is so inspiring to me. Thank you for sharing.
Jennifer - January 7th, 2014 at 9:23 PM
Oh how this speaks to me! Thank you!! I have to laugh because it is opposite here. I am an extrovert and my 10 year old daughter the introvert. I want her to be jolly and fun and mix in' it up and woo hoo! But she needs space and solitude and breathing room. I worry and angst that she will be a lonely hermit. How ridiculous is that? God made her as she is and know this family couldn't handle two of me. I am praying that God changes me to appreciate her quiet sensitive soul and all that she brings. And perhaps get me to shut up! I'm Houston, maybe we meet in the middle and switch kids for a week? :-). I think we'd "get" each other's girls.
Christy - January 7th, 2014 at 9:31 PM
This was exactly what I need to hear (read) at the most perfectly timed moment. Thank you for writing, thank you for sharing, thank you for baring your soul, and thank you for being real and honest. You inspire me to be a better person!
Taylor - January 7th, 2014 at 9:31 PM
Thank you for this. Literally minutes after I read your post, I got a text from a friend--telling me to get on your blog. We both confessed our NCF and suddenly I felt more free and less guilt-ridden. I am so grateful for your words and for my warrior mama of a girlfriend. This mama thing is so hard--thank you for reminding me that I'm not the only one struggling! Thank you thank you!
Patrice - January 7th, 2014 at 9:39 PM
First of all....thank you for being so stinking transparent! If anyone here says they have never felt that way they are either a liar or they are just simply that 'difficult' person to the rest of us!
I have had these 'difficult', question asking, quality time (language love) people not only in my life but in my family....which makes them more challenging because I just can't get away from them! I am not allowed the simple pleasure of just removing them from my coffee calendar. They just keep showing up again and again at the end of every single day! aggghhhh!
I like your ideas....keep them up and update us on how it goes.
As for are a couple of things God challenged me to personally this year (feel free to steal them if they appeal to you)
1. I started asking God to give me His eyes. I asked Him to show me my family through His eyes.....I slowly began to see them in a differently. It gave me more compassion, empathy and understanding. It didn't entirely take away my desire to strangle them, but admittedly I was more loving, kind and patient.
2. I asked probably the most powerful question I have ever asked God (careful on this one, it's a doozy). What is it God that you want to 'be' for me in this situation that only this situation makes room for in my life?
I found that every situation is purposeful opportunity by God to increase His relationship with me. He stretches me so that He can push more of Himself in me....(therefore he must primarily reside in my thighs as that is where most of my stretch marks exist!) The mindset of the world we live in is ever increasing in compelling us to be focused on doing and not being.....Clearly to apply practically I have to 'do', but I was simply impressed to start first with the 'be'. Not only does He have the ability to 'be' everything for me, He also has the desire!
Right now He has made it clear that He wants to 'be' my exceeding and abundant every time I face my 'difficult' stuff I remind myself and my situation what He is for me!
Love you girl! You Rock and you are a super awesome mom!!! Thanks again!
Rachael - January 11th, 2014 at 9:05 AM
Patrice, this is a powerful question. Thank you! I've pondered many a time what God wants to teach me in a given situation so as not to waste it, but I think this question may be more "on the mark."
Mandy - January 7th, 2014 at 9:42 PM
Such a timely blog for me! We are 6 months home with our son from Uganda & it's tough. Like I'm drowning in craziness tough! I see now that I'm not alone & I'm not such a horrible mom. Thank you for being so open & real with us!!!
Tracy - January 7th, 2014 at 9:44 PM
Don't forget, moms that are drained, that only God is an unempty-able source of love. All of us get drained, all of us reach an end. Turn your kids to the cross, tell them that you are done for now, and then point out that God is never tired of hearing their problems/complaints/stories, and that he never runs out of love or patience for them and that your willingness to listen when you are really just DONE listening! is from his power, his presence in your life.
Jacki Rucksdashel - January 7th, 2014 at 9:48 PM
Oh my gosh!!! I am laughing so hard right now just thankful I'm not crying! I have a difficult child very much like yours and I'm reading your words aloud to my hubby and we are laughing, thankful to not be alone, and encouraged to love. Thanks Jen!!
Rachel Toalson - January 7th, 2014 at 9:54 PM
Oh, how I love this. Once again, Jen, thank you for writing your heart. I am a mama of five boys (7 and younger), and let me tell you, I have never known a harder responsibility. Besides the fact that I'm living with aliens, my oldest is a very strong-willed child, and I read your blog after a night of fighting over bedtime (No, it's not time to do a workout. I know this is the only time Mama has time to do a workout, but it's time for little boys to be in bed and not in my bedroom. No, it's not time to write a book. I'm sorry. I know you really want to. There will be time for that tomorrow. (side note: how do you even discourage a kid from doing this???) No, it's not time to organize all the bookshelves in your room. Thank you for the willingness to spend your time doing it. But just...AHHHH...GET.IN.YOUR.BED!).

Sometimes, it really does get to a point where just the sound of their voice sends the blood pressure high because I don't know if it's going to end in a fight or whether my patient self or my not-so-patient self will be there to meet it. One thing I know always, though, is that God is changing me, always, on this mama-journey. The birth of them is the birth of me, and the growing of them is the growing of me. It's a great work of transformation, this parenting. It's not at all easy and never, ever comfortable and not even convenient, but how amazing that each day is walking us closer to near-perfection!

Now I'll re-read this comment tomorrow when I have to fight with him about getting up for school.
Diana Spieker - January 9th, 2014 at 1:24 PM
Rachel, that is so lovely! I will remind myself of this when the next battle happens: The birth of them is the birth of me and the growing of them is the growing of me! Amen! I have 4 - my oldest is also a strong willed guy. Sometimes I worry that each of my kids should have been an only child. But I pray for them - and for the mother God gave them (cause I need all the prayer/help/intercession I can get).
Sarah - January 7th, 2014 at 9:56 PM
Jen Hatmaker, you are precious! And I LOVE reading your blogs and your honesty and your truth. Thank you so much for exposing yourself to us so that we can all wake up in the morning knowing someone is just like us. For reals. Keep going cause that little girl is a rock star. And so are you. xo
Jennifer - January 7th, 2014 at 10:00 PM
I'm currently struggling with this with my teenage daughter who now has a 18 month daughter. She moved out (which helps), but we don't see eye to eye on anything and she DOES NOT want to hear anything that would be helpful or loving, she's always angry. I really needed to hear "what if she never changes?" Just thank you.
Jennifer - January 14th, 2014 at 12:00 AM
Being a young mom is so very hard cause you are loosing your youth and kind of dropped into a responsablity that was not imagined. I am 40 with a 21 year old daughter who is making me a Grandmother soon. I am thankful that she is older than I was. She was a difficult teen.My mother said one day you will have a daughter that will treat you, the way you treated me. When she was 14 my mother said sorry she can stop now.Your daughter will change and you will have a wonderful relationship with her my mom daughter and my self are finally on the same page.
DawnMarie Moe - January 7th, 2014 at 10:00 PM
When a mom talks more than a child wants to hear, the child just starts listening to her/his inner self. She lets mom talk as much as mom needs to in order to feel like a "good" mom. I think mom's get to do the same thing, to a certain degree. I think you can let yourself off the hook of 100% quality attention. Some of the talking is just talking. Put your arm around her and think about what you'll wear tomorrow. The mom part of you will hear anything truly important coming out of the little head. Our mom brains sort the information, and hear the stuff we need to hear. Sometimes they just want to talk to us and what they say doesn't actually matter to them, just that you are there.

Which kinda reminds me of our relationship to God, in whose image we are made. The Holy Parent hears our incessant prayers, our incessant whining, our incessant neediness -- and sorts the wheat from the chaff and attends to what needs to be attended to and lets the rest work itself out.

It's okay to teach her that sometimes you need a break. Because when she needs a break, I'm guessing she takes it.
Shannon - January 7th, 2014 at 10:02 PM
As an adoptive parent of a very needy child, I just want to put a shout out there to all of the rest of you that have taken on the privilege and challenge of raising an adopted child. I do want to remark though, that parenting children who are adopted (especially those adopted from foster care, orphanages or as older children) is very different from parenting your birth children in many ways. Children who are adopted often have attachment issues and have not properly learned to trust anyone. Their behavior is often a result of learning how to survive in difficult circumstances- not just a way to be annoying. Oh, how I wish the worst of my troubles was having an overly talkative or inquisitive child!! An adoptive parent has the responsibility and task to "go back to first base" and teach these children a new way to live, to survive. They have to learn things that our birth children have known since their infancy- that they are loved, that they are safe, that their needs will be provided for, etc. So, I beg of you adoptive parents, please do not compare yourselves and your situation to those of your non-adoptive counterparts. And please, please do not compare your adopted children to children who have had the privilege of love, nurturing and safety since birth. Work on attachment and trust with them and more often than not, the annoying behaviors will disappear over time. Don't give up & pray for strength!
Sadye - January 9th, 2014 at 1:17 PM
I have a hearing impaired child who is late diagnosed and very languaged delayed. It wouldn't be right of me to say"oh I wish I had the problem of my child talking so much". Every single persons problems are important because it's their problems. Because one person might have it "worse" doesn't make one persons better. Everyone has to live with themselves. I see the point you are making but please be careful when making it. To me, it read as unsupportative and I don't think you ment it as such. We all do our best. My struggles are mine and suck. Yours are yours. One is not worse or harder because they are ours. We cannot wish for what we do not have. Only try to make what we have the best we can.
Patti - January 21st, 2014 at 9:34 AM
I also am an adoptive parent and a foster are right on and it is imperative that they are raised differently than your bio children. Its hard and challenging and tender and sweet and full of needed grace. Hang in there sister!
Rachel Toalson - January 7th, 2014 at 10:07 PM
Oh, how I love this. Once again, Jen, thank you for writing your heart. I am a mama of five boys (7 and younger), and let me tell you, I have never known a harder responsibility. Besides the fact that I'm living with aliens, my oldest is a very strong-willed child, and I read your blog after a night of fighting over bedtime (No, it's not time to do a workout. I know this is the only time Mama has time to do a workout, but it's time for little boys to be in bed and not in my bedroom. No, it's not time to write a book. I'm sorry. I know you really want to. There will be time for that tomorrow. (side note: how do you even discourage a kid from doing this???) No, it's not time to organize all the bookshelves in your room. Thank you for the willingness to spend your time doing it. But just...AHHHH...GET.IN.YOUR.BED!).

Sometimes, it really does get to a point where just the sound of their voice sends the blood pressure high because I don't know if it's going to end in a fight or whether my patient self or my not-so-patient self will be there to meet it. One thing I know always, though, is that God is changing me, always, on this mama-journey. The birth of them is the birth of me, and the growing of them is the growing of me. It's a great work of transformation, this parenting. It's not at all easy and never, ever comfortable and not even convenient, but how amazing that each day is walking us closer to near-perfection!

Now I'll re-read this comment tomorrow when I have to fight with him about getting up for school.

Also, my family, in the last year, has embraced a mission statement "Love is the whole and more than all" (words from poet e.e. cummings) and has taken one family value per month to intentionally explore. This has been amazing for our family. Amazing. I've written extensively about our experience...we're eight months in, and I cannot tell you the ways that we have been changed. Pursuing something intentionally, as a family, keeps the focus on loving and honoring and blessing one another, which can't help but spill out into the world. It has been transformational. Truly. We have days when we fail miserably, but even then, seeing through the lens of our family values has helped us extend mercy and compassion and grace to one another. I think this is probably the biggest way we have tried to engage and improve those difficult relationships (with our children and other people). Our first month, June of last year, we examined our value We listen. Earnestly. Always. and I learned how much I miss conversations because I'm so focused on something more pressing than what my children are saying. The second month was We speak truthfully. Respectfully. Lovingly. and I learned that I don't always (sadly, not often at all when we started that month, and I still have a long way to go) speak in a loving way to my children...usually in an impatient, you're-bothering-me tone.

The last seven months have been the most exciting and maddening and humbling I think I have ever lived in my life, and we still have five months to go! But my husband and I already have said we're going to be doing this again, every year until those values sink down deep into our children's hearts, but mostly our hearts.
Emily - January 7th, 2014 at 10:11 PM
Thank you, thank you for sharing! I needed to hear these words today.
Reba - January 7th, 2014 at 10:35 PM
Oh, thank you. Sweet words for my soul today...
Beth - January 7th, 2014 at 10:35 PM
Thank you Jen! The Lord has definitely used your words to encourage me as I am currently living at home with my mentally ill father. So difficult to give love when no love is received.
Lindsey - January 7th, 2014 at 10:36 PM
I have "an extroverted, sensory-seeking, emotionally needy 2nd grader" also. Well, except that she's a first grader. She was also adopted from a foreign country and spent her first year in an orphanage, so I completely understand the layer(s) of challenge that adds to the equation. She also has cerebral palsy and severe hearing loss. She not only wants and needs to be engaged with me every waking moment of the day, but because of the hearing loss and speech delays, needs everything repeated at least twice. Then she needs unfamiliar words defined, usually complete with drawings or gestures.

She is the most genuine soul. And I love her to death. But most days, I feel my eye begin to twitch when I hear her wake up. (At 5:30am.)

I realized that I had become the "jerky, irritated, short-tempered, impatient Icky Mom" a few months ago and have worked so damn hard everyday to change that. I hated that our interactions had become so negative. (Child (who definitely knows what month it is, but is grasping for the straw of Mom's attention) : Mom, what month is it? Me: YOU KNOW WHAT MONTH IT IS. JUST STOP TALKING.)

I literally woke up one day and thought, "I am the only Mom this little girl has. How sad would it be to have a Mom who never wanted to interact with you and replied to you as if it were a chore every time?" (Oh wait, I had that Mom, so I suddenly realized exactly how I was making my daughter feel.)

I've tried really hard since then to strike a balance. I try to let her know when I've had enough and need a little silence (a signal she does need to learn to read in people), but I also try to give more of myself when I just don't feel like I have anymore to give. I have to say the past month or so has been really good with us. You are absolutely right when you note that change is not going to happen. My daughter is loud, needy in every way, bursting with energy, constantly seeking some form of input. I am quiet, very tired, constantly seeking a nap. We need to find our middle ground because she is my daughter and I am her mother and we love each other.

Thank you for the post.
Lisa - February 2nd, 2014 at 3:50 AM
I appreciated your response! All of it, especially your very practical application "I try to let her know when I've had enough and need a little silence (a signal she does need to learn to read in people), but I also try to give more of myself when I just don't feel like I have anymore to give."
K - January 7th, 2014 at 10:47 PM
Oh my. I don't think I've ever read something so amazingly and clearly explaining how I feel. I have had a CONSTANT feeling of guilt and failure for the last year. My husband and I have been caring for my niece and two nephews along with our own two boys. It is simply the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I know what I NEED to do, I pray that I will do these things, but every day I fail. I'm supposed to show Jesus to others through the way I act. I'm pretty sure they think Satan lives in our house.
Jen--your posts have helped me so much this past year, and this one feels like a personal text from a friend. Thank you for your pure honesty. :)
Lisa - January 7th, 2014 at 10:54 PM
Thank you for this post...I have seven adopted children at home and this is exactly how I've been feeling for the last month. Three of my seven are a sibling group adopted from foster care, ages 12, 10, and 9 and all of them emotionally wear me out. They never want to stop talking. And for all of you moms writing about questions your kids constantly ask, I think I'd welcome the questions rather than having to hear looooooong, drawn out stories of some movie they watched three years ago, in which EVERY detail is being told to me...and it's not some real-life story that matters in the world....complete nonsense or science fiction or silly cartoon. At least if they asked a lot of questions I could engage some kind of wit or logical skills....but being asked to sit and give my undivided attention to a story that I can't even make sense of if I tried really hard, is beyond tiring. I was really struggling and questioning why I decided to adopt so many children and asking God if we made a big mistake. But this post confirms what I was feeling deep inside...I am the one who must change. I must find the joy in all of my children and find better ways to affirm them and connect with them than what I've been doing lately. But you're right--it's really hard for an introvert mom!
Jennifer - January 7th, 2014 at 11:05 PM
My third child loves to talk, ask questions, tell jokes, etc. I love that about him and I remember well the exhausted days of having three little ones within four years. And he rarely took naps like his siblings!

However, my oldest is now in college and each time he comes home to visit and has to leave again I cry.

No one can tell you how fast it really goes. It's something you don't realize till it's done. But I promise you as one who has gone through all the phases, you want those days back. You want them home again. Listen to Trace Adkins song, "You're Gonna Miss This." Play it on the really hard days - please. It's such a good reminder because its so true! Hard to realize in the midst but we end up wanting the days back.

I love your ideas, Jen Hatmaker. We have to be very intentional about treating others through God's eyes. Let Him help us love others the way He wants - that means lots of GRACE! :)

Treasure those little ones. Let's pray for each other when we need extra grace. Please take it from someone who'd love those days back again. :)
Amy - January 7th, 2014 at 11:33 PM
Oh my. Like everyone else has said - THANK YOU for this. Quite literally exactly what I needed to read today. My evening with my spunky and "spirited" little person was much better because of it. :)
Leave a Comment

Blog (1)