Living Loving Learning

Dear Robin…..

In Dear Robin on Monday, November 17, 2008 at 8:58 am

Whether or not you educate your children at home, you will encounter days when your children just have bad attitudes (other days it may be you!)

Following is an e-mail question and answer session, with the names removed to protect the not-so-innocent.

I don’t pretend to have a lot of answers….just many mistakes and lots of experience!

And I was quite honored that she would ask for my advice!

From my friend:

Oh, Robin, help me.  What did you do when your kids had a nasty attitude?  I’ve only got one (with the bad attitude), but it is ruining everyone’s day.  Right now he is upstairs doing some boring work instead of the more interesting stuff that was on tap for him today.  Disrespectful attitude, uncooperative, and just out to pick a fight about anything, it seems.  No reasons that I can figure out.  He’s my high maintenance one, but lately it’s been worse.  I either need some new ideas or a big bottle of wine.  Since I’m teaching 3 others, probably some new ideas is a better choice.  But if you don’t hurry and respond, I’m goin’ for the wine.

My reply:

OK – get your wine 🙂 

Yeah, there’s usually at least one. (on any given day)

And, what did I do when my kids had a bad attitude?  How about STILL have! LOL  I have one that daily gives me a run for my money…..or my sanity. 

I’ve really come to realize that a lot of that bad attitude and strong personality is the flip-side of their leadership giftings.  Does that make any sense?

It will take CONSTANT training into righteousness, LOADS of prayer, a few tears, and MEGA-LOADS of love. 

Here’s where I can only encourage……You and your husband know him better than anyone else.  Pray for a breakthrough….Pray for an answer…Encourage his heart to make a right choice.  And make the consequences of his wrong choices hurt bad enough that he’ll want to choose rightly.

I feel for you…..I really do understand. 

Here’s where the good part comes in.  It’s when that same kid will call you on the phone during his work break some day…..just to talk!  Happened to me just this morning from my 27 yo son.  What a blessing!! 

Hang on……it WILL come!

 My friend:

You just made me cry.

He is an amazing and sweet kid with more strengths than any kid I’ve seen. And no one has EVER seen this side of him outside of this house.  My friends don’t even believe that he causes me trouble because he is just such a joy around others.  My fear is that I am going to break his spirit so much that he won’t want to call me to chat when he’s 27.  It just feels like we are butting heads all the time lately.

This is hard!  I didn’t know being a mom was going to be so hard!    Sometimes I wish I was just one of those parents who didn’t give a rip, ya know?  Not really, what a nightmare, but you know what I’m talking about.

Thanks for the encouragement.  It really helped.

Me again:
I’m glad it helped a bit.  Here’s the hard part……don’t take his actions personally.  I know you’re the only one there….but he really doesn’t mean it against you.  He just means it against any form of authority! haha  He will always challenge the status-quo.  He thinks he knows what is best.  It’s the natural way of a leader. 

You WILL NOT break his spirit….Keep being firm.  Continue to help him see that you are in charge…(I always tell my kids “I was born first….sorry, that’s just the way God planned it, for some reason”) 🙂  Appeal to the Jesus in him.  

Isn’t it amazing how much “learnin'” we get in the training of our own children?

Do you ever have days like  this one? 

What other suggestions would you offer my friend?





  1. This is so good. Other things I can think of, pretty much because you’ve told me are don’t get emotional because then you are stooping to their level, and RESPOND don’t REACT. Definately get Dad involved by the end of the day.

    I can say from being raised in a God-fearing, disciplined home like many of you are seeking to create in your homes, although I bucked against authority MANY times, I respected my parents so much for sticking to and being consistent in what they taught. Don’t give up!

  2. I always have days like this one. I only have 2 children and they switch back and forth in moods. Mine even are educated out of the house. I have verbalized that if I had it to do over again I am not sure if I would. Not really I love them both.

    No suggestions from me but I will be checking back for some. I may be assisting (teaching) my son in his education by the beginning of the year. I will need all the help I can get.

    I always love your advice and wisdom. I am hoping that some of your daughters will chime in too. 🙂

  3. Good, I feel normal.

  4. well, I tend to think outside the box. I have raised my son myself and the people that have been in his life…I have tried to make sure that were a good influence on him. He is now 15 and have read that this is the age where (he thinks) he knows more than me. When he is having a “tude” I tend to focus on all the good he has done. I do not like it very much when he tries to correct me or tries to put me in check…and I tell him that it hurts my feelings when he does this and I wish he would think about that next time he says something “ugly” to me. To be honest…I REALLY focus on the good…He has done so many good things that I know he can not always be that way. I know I have my bad days as well. Since you are homeschooling…I am not sure what is the right thing to do. Maybe you can have a “field trip” to the local jail or prison or maybe he is growing as a person and he does not know what to do with all the thoughts and feelings that are going around in his mind. I have told my son that if he has questions or needs to talk to anyone….I have told him to talk to his leader in his small group or one of the guys (over 21) at church. I hope that you are able to fine your answers soon. I will keep you in my prayers.

  5. You’re awesome! Thanks for being a mentor to me!

  6. I am a father staying at home with my two boys. I have found this experience extremely frustrating at times. I always want to fix things. When I cant fix it I get angry. Over the last year of being Mr. Dad (sorry I cant say Mr. Mom), I have learned a great amount of patience and some insight into how I can become a better spouse.

    My three year old has the terrible twos now, and I am sort of glad that it is happening now, rather than when he was two. He can communicate better which is great because I can talk to him about his behavior. He is the oldest and I am working with him on leadership skills. I have found that alot of his attitude is because he is wanting more responsibility and independence. He is just three but I give him opportunities to help me and work with me on laundry, cooking, or cleaning, and he enjoys the fact that he gets to help. It makes him feel like he is a big boy now.

    Now I can just address his attitude by telling him that if he chooses to behave like a big boy then he will get to do big boy things. Sometimes I have just got to spank him. I love that. Just Joking.

    I know this is a learning process just as much for me as it is for him. My prayer is that God will always give me the patience and perseverance to handle these disruptions with wisdom and discernment.

  7. I don’t have any words of wisdom. One thing I am learning, I live with little people where sin abounds. It’s not personal (I think Erin reminded me of that). They have a sinful nature just like I do. They are selfish just like I can be~~~ And let’s not talk about the tongue and the fires that start with it!!! I think at times I’m taken back that they actually SIN. I guess I thought these precious little ones would walk around with their big blue eyes always obeying. Yeah right! Was I naive or what!?

    And I have sent Robin many Dear Robins…….
    you’re a blessing and a God send for sure!

    We are enjoying the fruit of all your hard labor!

    To your friend~~~ I am figuring out some battles are best done on my knees. I have one child who I have to go to my prayer closet and pray before I discipline almost every time. I think in times past I have left the essential prayer element out of my parenting. I know it sounds too simple. Also, when I have had a really hard day with a particular child Jonathan and I will go in and after the child has gone to sleep lay our hands and pray over the child. This child knows every one of my buttons and will push push push! I’m also learning to pray with my childern about their frustrations. To stop—and recognize okay things are sprialing out of control we have to change directions. Also, we have morning meetings. We take turns with a bear, whoever is holding the bear gets to talk. Unless your holding the bear you can’t talk. It’s at this time they can just pour their heart out, what frustrated them yesterday, and their hopes for the day. My Aunt suggested I start this. I thought she was CRAZY!!! I treasure this time now. It is the first thing we do after breakfast and bible. The kids “love” it. I thing they think their voice is heard and valued. I don’t have any scriptural reference for it but I will look. I know it sounds fluffy ~~~ but it has been a huge help. Also, I have a child who just doesn’t understand other’s personal space. So, we got online and went through picture after picture of people and their facial and body language. We role played with the other family members. What does it mean when someone crosses their arms and has a sad look on their face? How should you respond when someone is angry and wants to be alone? I just thought we were born knowing how to deal with others emotions and how to read them. I was wrong. A lot of the facial expressions and body language her siblings were showing her that meant she needed to back off she thought they were trying to be funny. That they wanted to play. Lack of communication. I guess I’m learning God never wants us to be in the box parents—He wants us to get our nails dirty and get to the root of the problem. He is there. He created these little ones. He knows every hair on their head~~~~ surely He can lead me to still waters with these children! HA!

    I have written a book! I’ll stop now 🙂

  8. i will remember this if God ever blesses me with a baby or two. for now i will just apply it to my cats, but some how i don’t think it will work the same…

  9. Question: What do you do if you have a child like the one mentioned above and you are NOT a big wine drinker?

    A little help here 🙂

  10. When I started reading this letter to Robin, tears welled up in my eyes and my heart overflowed with my own struggles in this area.

    I have had six children. 24, 22, 18, 12, 10 and 5. Four boys and two girls. I am not a strong disciplinarian. I am not any kind of disciplinarian. I have made the mistake of FEELING for my kids too much. They are not as fragile I have been giving them credit for.

    I believe God uses our strengths and our weaknesses for His glory and to build His kingdom in our children…someone once gave me a cross stich that said: “A mother’s heart is her children’s classroom”. That scared me. Because my heart was a confusing place to be. But through the process of God healing me and me learning how to walk in His ways, my children have had an adventurous education.

    Because of my empathy for my children, I believe God has worked a tenderness in them for others and a deep love for eachother. However, because I haven’t trained them in discipline, they lack self-control that would have made life easier and better for them as adults.

    My oldest three children have made it so far. My younger ones are benefitting from have a more mature mother. But the way I see it is that we all fall short and God is able to take our weaknesses and use them for His glory.

    When I am consistent and unapologetic and STRONG (in a good way) my children thrive. And it is so TRUE that proverb in Proverbs that says: “a wise son makes his mother’s heart glad.” Proverbs is full of advice on EXACTLY how to make that son “wise”.

    Thanks for this place to communicate
    you guys are a blessing

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