I forgot to mention that we recorded a few of podcasts while we were together in Utah: a sister’s overnight podcast fest:) My brother Eli came over as we were getting ready to record late that night and we lassoed him in to record an episode with us that actually aired this week. We talked through some ideas to help when parenting gets tricky.

Gosh I love this kid who added some spunk to this episode.

Podcast recording about what to do when parenting gets tricky with our brother Eli

I am the second oldest of the nine kids, and he is the second youngest.

He had some questions about how to deal with one of his kids who is in a tricky stage right now, and we decided to record our discussion about when parenting gets tricky.

What to do when parenting gets tricky

We talk about so much on the podcast, but I wanted to write down some of my thoughts here.

Take some time for quiet pondering

I took this class recently talking about the power of taking some time each day to ponder. There is so much NOISE in the world! Turn off your AirPods, turn off the music in the car, put away your phone and just breathe. Even if for just FIVE MINUTES each day. When I have done this I have felt so much more direction and promptings. People I need to reach out to. Nudges of something that could help one of my kids. Quiet is so important in our world that is continually more filled with noise and distractions. (I have a whole post about this class coming soon).

Be a “durable object”

There is so much power in our actions. One of my favorite parenting tactics is an idea from my wise sister Saydi: turn into a “durable object” rather than getting huffy or angry. To be clear, this is one of the most difficult things to do when you’re riled up and your kids are pushing every button. But when we add our emotion into the equation most likely will only add to the escalation. If we remove ourselves from the situation and give ourselves and that tricky child a chance to breathe, emotions can de-escalate and helpful conversations can happen.

Be curious, not judgemental

Go sit in their bedrooms and think about who they are. We can learn so much about our kids by sitting in their “space.” This doesn’t mean being nosy and rifling through their stuff. It just means taking a moment to be present in the spot where they spend most of their time. Feel who they are. This has power to soften your heart. My sister Saydi talks about she did this when she was frustrated with her teenage daughter and how the little sticky notes she had posted around, the things she kept on her desk, etc. gave her a window into her daughter’s heart.

Reserve a day each month for each child

Even more important than getting curious and observing our kids, we need to spend time with them. Give them our hearts. I loved this idea Eli shared: He and his wife reserve the day of each child’s birthday each month to focus on that particular child. For example, if one of your kids has a birthday on the 16th of the month, the 16th of every month is a special day to hone in on that child. I want to incorporate this idea!

Utilize the “Repenting Bench”

We didn’t talk about this on the podcast, but the “Repenting Bench” idea from my family growing up is a wonder I tell you! It gives an opportunity for a “reset” when kids are charged up at each other. And also helps kids learn to communicate and navigate differences as it helps build relationships. Sound too good to be true? Check out that post because it really is magical.

Watch those kids sleep

This is the best thing I did when my kids were little. Every night I would go check on the kids before I went to bed. There is something so beautiful and peaceful about a sleeping child. Those eyelashes resting so gently on those cheeks. Somehow, especially after a really tricky parenting day, watching those kids sleep drew my heart into theirs. After a particularly grueling day watching my kids sleep would remind me of one of my favorite quotes:

“Oh God of second Chances, Here I am Again.”

Oh how I love that there are second chances. Infinite second chances if we are willing to put in the time to use them. And learn from the stuff we mess up on.

Parenting is no joke. And I loved this conversation reminding us all that life is long. And we are all learning so much along the way! So much more on that podcast if you want to listen in, but I’d love to hear anyone elses ideas as well.

What do you do when your kids are being especially tricky?

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  1. An actual question, I’m not being snarky. Does it bother you and your siblings to be talked about by your parents as part of their work? I wondered if Eli felt bothered about being defined as ‘the difficult one’ – especially given what you were saying on the podcast about not defining a kid into adulthood by their behaviour as a child. I’d be interested to hear about how y’all manage finding your own personalities and roles as adults in a large family with such a public role as examples of parenting! I loved the episode with Eli btw, real food for thought in there. Thank you.

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