There’s nothing worse than forgetting how to smile.
Life can get stressful, intense, hectic, heartbreaking. But if we forget how to smile and laugh – if we lose our joy – we’re suddenly at it’s mercy. I saw this again yesterday as I spoke with a mom’s group. Laughter bounced around the room. Stories of common experiences as women and moms connected us as friends. And then, silence.
As I began to share what we all feel as parents of “Tough Nuts” – anger, isolation, hopelessness, resentment – you could hear a pin drop.
Why? Because as one mom said, “We’re all thinking it. You just go ahead and say it!”
Somehow the words released it all, right there in front of us. The hardest part in raising a child with mood and behavior-related challenges is how it sucks the joy right out of us. When a child is having a colossal meltdown in a store or at a friend’s birthday party, how can we feel joyful? We don’t even want to be visible! We’re actually, if we get right down to it, plotting how we might leave the country and never come back.
What if we could have joy again as we raise kids with tough behaviors?
It might look a little like this:
- We’d partner with our kids. We’d be on their team, looking at the tough behavior together, solving the problem from the same side of the table. Instead of “You’re always doing XYZ,” we’d discover new ways of saying it. Things like, “Oh wow, you’ve got a lot of legos to pick up (from the tantrum you just threw all over your room). That’s tough! I wonder how you could get started on it? Let me know if you need any ideas.”
- We’d see our kids again. Do you see your challenging child anymore? Or just the behavior? I know it’s tough for me on the days when the only options coming from my daughter are “argue” and “argue louder.” When joy is present, I notice my girl’s bright eyes and creativity in the midst of the mood swings. I connect with her as a person and the relationship, not the behavior, becomes prominent again.
- We’d be affectionate with them. Don’t know about you, but when I’m facing a constant behavior issue with a child, hugging isn’t exactly my first instinct! Joy in those moments softens the anger and breaks down the walls.
- We’d pick our battles. We’d see the end-game – the goal we have for our children as people. Maybe it’s that they become “respectful, responsible and fun to be around” (the motto we adopted from Love and Logic). Maybe it’s independence, compassion, contentment, honesty. Whatever it is, with the goal in mind we can be selective about what battles we choose.
- We’d share our hearts. We’d stop guarding them and start giving them. We’d stop talking about ourselves in third person with our kids. (You know you do that too!) We’d get real. We’d let them know how they’re affecting us, but without the need to make that sting because we take responsibility for our own heart in the relationship. We’d find energy and the ability to invest again… and again.
How can we get that joy back?
In looking to the One who knows our hearts, our hurts, our challenges. The One who designed you, your child, your family. Look to Him.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11
In His presence is “fullness of joy.” Joy complete, total, full and fulfilling. Joy that reminds you what a treasure you are, and that you have everything you need to face the moment. It’s not dependent on the peace going on (or not going on) around you. It’s in Him.
Will you press in to that joy again? Will you look to the One who can bring back your smile?
Did you know I coach parents raising kids with special needs and behavior challenges? If you need a little boost in finding your joy and confidence again, please email me today to find out more!