So often parenting can be a hard gig.  Maybe the baby woke up 6 times last night, or your toddler had 4 accidents in two hours time.  Your daughters just spent the last hour bickering with each other about everything, or your teens are afflicted with the dreaded eye-rolling disease.  Often when we’re dealing with challenges, we can be tempted to think hard thoughts about our kids.  The baby is crying because he’s spoiled.  The toddler is willful.  The teens are selfish.   And on and on.

Yesterday my daughter was jiggling her sweet little 4 month old daughter who was fussing and unhappy.  “I think too many people held her today,” she said.  “That wears her out sometimes.  She’s usually such a happy baby.”

Do you hear the grace in those words?  And how thinking in that way helps a momma respond with love?

Her words made me think of other times a momma could re-frame a hard behavior of a child in a grace-filled way.

A child who is muttering and rushing her way through a reading-aloud session might be anxious, not rebellious.  A child stomping away when given multiplication tables to drill might be feeling frustrated over her inability to remember those math facts.  A kid who wanders off when a job is half done may have concerns floating around in his head that he hasn’t yet voiced to you.

Sure, once kids get past infancy, we need to begin teaching them about appropriate ways to respond to our requests. We should always be gently encouraging our children toward more mature, God-honoring responses. But guarding our own thoughts and choosing to think good about our children makes it easier for us to be patient and to respond with love.


  1. good reminder! xoxo

  2. So true. Thank you for this gentle reminder to all of us moms out here. It was easier when they were babies but much harder to tame our own thoughts when their words, personality, or attitude is not what we want or expect to see in our children or grandchildren.

  3. A great view and I must confess that I find myself quite frequently thinking the “hard” way because I am so focused on how they “should be responding”. Great reminder, T
    hank you!

  4. Heather Ratliff says:

    Thank you for this reminder. My kindergartner has been acting out at home and I confirmed with her teacher that she’s fine at school. Perhaps she’s stressed about trying to be perfect (or close to it) at school and her pent up frustration and anger comes out at home. I need to remember that she’s trying to be so good at school that she just can’t be good all the time.

  5. Thank you for this Mary. I really needed it

  6. Mary, you have so many ways of encouraging the best in other Moms. Thanks for these thoughts. I would love to read a follow up post on more nuts and bolts ideas on how to put this grace into practice. I struggle not to waver between what you call hard thoughts about them and hard thoughts about myself, (one or the other must be “at fault” right???) I love to hear the examples, that always seem spot on for my own life, of how to accomplish the turning of my thoughts. And how to follow that up with my actions. This turned into a tall request. I just wanted you to know that more would be appreciated, and all that you write is such an encouragement. Thanks.