Wits End

Because with this whole mothering thing I get one thing right and ten things wrong.

I need to pray more.

I mean, I do, of course, but at best it's sporadic instead of consistent and intentional (like a good habit should be). I need to pray more specifically (and regularly) regarding Annelise's behavior, her attitude, my attitude and our relationship in general.

I want to praise her strengths, positive character qualities and choices more instead of what feels like constantly dealing with negative behaviors or choices, I feel like I am too often playing defense instead of offense and that needs to change.

She is independent, strong willed and opinionated, none of which is a bad quality, but we are working (struggling with) on her expressing those character traits in the proper way. We're dealing with tone of voice (sassiness), talking back, attitude (complaining or emoting) and prompt obedience all of which stem from respect, self-control and well, willingness to obey.

Not that these behaviors are constant but they have been recurring often enough that I am desperate to see improvement. When we hear sassiness or talking back, etc. we call her on it, talk about it and remind her to speak nicely, don't argue, blah, blah, blah (and I say blah, blah, blah because that's what it sounds like to me and probably to her because it's happening at some point almost every day).

There are always flare ups after she's watched Disney or other *kids* shows, so those are off limits again (why do they ever come back? I'm weak I guess).

She's lost almost all privileges over the last few weeks and this morning she lost watching Duck Dynasty until further notice. We've reviewed different scriptures (she's even had to write some out) and talked again and again about respect.

But I'm not seeing improvement, or when I do it's fleeting (one step forward, three steps back). Are my expectations too high? Ouch. Maybe. Is it because I'm trying too hard to correct instead of model? Ouch. Maybe. I'm working on my tone and attitude (this is ongoing, y'all) as well. I'm also trying to praise her good choices and behaviors instead of criticizing, yet still be consistent with reminding/redirecting her when disrespect raises its ugly head.

So now that I'm at what feels like my wits end I'm turning to my scriptures and more prayer.

Which is what I should have done first.

I'm going to choose a few scriptures that relate to these issues we're having and pray them over her (well, for her). I'm also committing to pray more in general and maybe even with her about all of these things.

My goal is not perfection but to make imperfect progress.

I'm confident that God can work this out.



  1. Remind me ~ how old is Annelise now?

    1. She's 9, 10 in September. I want to nip/mold things now so they're (hopefully) not too terrible in the teen years. :)

  2. It's normal at her age. My niece and my son went through the defiant mouthy phase and they eventually grow out of it. It just takes time and a lot of patience. Just keep gently reinforcing your household rules and she'll eventually come around.

    1. Thanks Lynn. She's tested the waters in this area before and things eventually smoothed out, so maybe this is another trial/phase. We'll definitely keep working through it and praying and talking and trying this and that and taking away and so forth....argh!! :)

  3. I feel your pain sister! Whitney's transition into puberty isn't going well for either of us! I pray morning and night and throw up my hands after most interactions with her.

    I hate those Disney shows and don't allow them at all!

    1. I'm sorry you're going through similar angst--but it's good to know I'm not alone. :)

  4. I would love to know what scriptures you use with her- please share!

    1. I've looked through some and will post sometime soonish--once I decide. :)

  5. I don't intend to defend the defiance- but I know that sometimes after school, etc. my kids can take out frustration on me (because I am a "safe" place.)
    -not cool-
    When that happens it helps to have them get some exercise- it's amazing how those endorphins can clear up their little heads & help them be better versions of themselves. It's really what I should do instead of turning to carbs... easier said than done.
    Not that that this what she is doing- just a suggestion.

    Also - It's hard yes- but it's normal.
    You are doing all the right things Holly!
    You are a great mom- it's so good that you are following through and she is learning this lesson now rather than 15,16,18.... not that it won't come back- but she will have such a good foundation it will be okay.

    one of my daughters-- never was defiant. Always wanted to please & be "perfect." Now we are suffering watching her struggle with this obsession to be perfect.
    It's so sad. I had NO idea?
    If I would have known that her "perfectness" was NOT NORMAL, that occasional defiance is normal & healthy & can/should be dealt with then move on - I could have gotten her help sooner.

    1. Thanks Patsy! I appreciate your perspective and experience so much, thanks for sharing!!

      I can understand about blowing off steam and sometimes I worry I'm on her too much or expect perfection--and I try not to come across that way--I mean every one deserves grace--but I certainly don't want a negative pattern to become a normal thing--but then again maybe this is another phase to work though--and keep building that foundation. :)

  6. Keep on keepin' on. The boundaries are needed and the consequences must be carried out, so you're doing the right thing there. And you're right - pray, pray, pray. I have felt the same way you're feeling right now -- I completely understand what it feels like to be at my wit's end. We deal with negative behaviors - mostly me-first or impulsive actions that clearly don't put others first.

    Does she have a way to earn back some of her privileges or lessen the time being grounded? We are usually pretty hard-core with grounding (say, 2 weeks to a month) then if we see a change in heart after a week or 10 days, we'll sit down and talk. We try to teach over and over how the negative behavior is sin, but sin is forgiven.

    About 6 months ago, we tried an approach that worked. We wrote a contract when we grounded Max because he was disrespectful to a Sunday School teacher. We take that kind of thing seriously because he has a sharp tongue and this is an area that we need to be especially careful to discipline.

    Anyway, the contract something like "I understand that because I did x, then as a consequence I am not allowed screen time for 2 weeks. After 1 week, Mom and Dad will talk and decide if there has been improvement and will re-evaluate if screen time can be resumed." Of course he was angry (a good sign, really) but had the sense to sign the contract and then mid-week we talked about specific ways he could show improvement (since he clearly needed us to refresh his memory of our expectations, this was good timing for a review.)

    He definitely listened and was highly motivated to change his behavior. He was more helpful around the house, was polite, apologized with the right attitude in his heart, etc. All good things we pointed out.)

    Sorry to write a book, but just wanted to say you're not alone and offer an idea that worked for us. Good luck!

    1. I really like the idea of a contract Anna, thanks for sharing about it! I've been worrying (sort of) about how she'll ever earn lost privileges back, right now they just disappear into the void of until I say so. I like the idea of progress reports (talks) too--I really want to be positive and encourage her to keep improving instead of always (or what seems like it) nagging.

      But the last two days have been better!!

  7. I too, feel your pain! My middle child is inching toward 11 and is just starting to get a little better! My older daughter is 12 and has mostly passed that lovely time of life (the calm before the storm, I'm sure!).

    Here's one thing we tried with both kids: While tucking them in at night, maybe after a rough day, but not in the heat of the moment, we would explain to them that they are going through a stage. We would tell them it's common for kids who are 9 and 10 years old and ask them if they've seen similar behaviour from kids at school. They would agree that most of the kids in their class seem to struggle with this. We would then explain that as parents it's our job to guide them through these stages SO THAT the hiccups in their behaviour now won't become part of their personality. They agreed that no one wants to be around an adult that complains or has a rude comment for every little thing, so we would assure them that we would do everything in our power to help them break these nasty habits that are starting to build up. We'd would chose a verse to read together and then pray. There are lots of great verses about the power of our words, but I also like to use the prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 because it covers their inner being, and growing in power and love.

    After that it's an easy-ish reference point when you're doing your best to call them on your behaviour every, every day. blech. It's an unfortunate stage, but I guess it's pretty good training ground. :)

    1. Ooh that's so true about waiting until the heat of the moment passes--so hard, but I need to work harder on that. I also think she's hearing similar stuff from friends at school (we've talked about that some) so that's another strong influence to try and redirect.

      That's a great verse, so positive--thanks for sharing it and your experience. I really appreciate it and knowing it's a common thing to go through--sometimes I forget in the trenches. :)

  8. I'm not sure you can "nip/mold" things now that will have any effect on later. Each phase will have it's own challenges. I think you are doing exactly what you can do right now, including acknowledging that this stuff is just tough! Keep on keeping on!

    1. Thanks Lelly! You're right about each phase bringing it's own challenges--but I guess rewards too--so that's good.

  9. I feel you! we are coming out of that stage now with two young adults-one actually left teen years this year (I can't believe I have a 20 yr old!) oh those days are so very very hard. and seemingly never end. but directing and praying seem all you can do. staying consistent in what you teach I believe is important (even when we fail in modeling but trying to do right-another lesson in itself) but at least they keep hearing the same thing and know expectations. also finding friends w/ similar values to reinforce so she doesn't hear it only from "nagging momma"-and I know you have a great support group for that!

    While I have my own flood of guilty feelings and regrets now that my kids are *nearly* grown I say keep doing what you are doing. being a strong willed, independent, self sufficient, opinionated person can serve them well in their adulthood!


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