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Specific ProblemsIrritation With Children

Overcoming irritation with children:

Question: How do you handle getting anxious or annoyed with your children just for being there and all the noises that they make when you are trying to get something done, like cooking a meal?  

Answer: First of all, I don't think that every second of your time should be spent catering to your children's every whim. That's the goal  I seem to pick up from a lot of Attachment Parenting parents. However, neither do I think you should just go on with your life as if you didn't have any kids, and just force them to fit in where they can, if they can. I probably get a bit of that feeling from the strict Ezzo followers. No, it's not supposed to be like that either. Good parenting involves forming and keeping a good family, and a big part of "family" is enjoying each other as you live your lives together in harmony.

Now listen closely. Remember all that stuff you've heard in church about finding "God's will" for your life? FORGET IT. God's will for your life as of the day you got married was to be a good wife. In addition, as of the day you had children, God's will for you is to raise Godly children who will in turn raise Godly children. Period.

Now of course God has given each of us many other gifts and talents, and jobs to do on the side, but still, your top priority should be the above. God gave me many minor talents, and I also have many God given, good desires. Desires to help others, desires to coach others, desires to witness to others. Now, should I leave my family and become a missionary so I can use all these talents and desires to do "God's will"? NO. God made me a wife and a mother first. If he chooses to allow me to use my other gifts in the course of being a wife and mother, that's great, but I am not to neglect my first charge in order to fulfill any secondary ones. 

(By the way, this is why my ears always prick up when someone tells me that they have been "called" into full time Christian work. Everything every Christian does should be "full time Christian work".  In the case of a husband, supporting his family should take top priority over becoming a missionary. He can do all the missionary work God wants him to in any job, and if God provides him with a church related job, that's fine too, as long as his family still comes first.  1 Tim 5:8  But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever. (NAS) )

So, make your wifehood and motherhood your top priority everyday. I don't just mean that you should stop and entertain your children whenever they want. Step back and look at the big picture. What do they need for the future? Do they need their mom to sit and read with them right now so that they can feel loved and secure and able to have that same love to share with their children in the future? Or are they already feeling that way, and right now need to help you do the dishes instead, so they can learn to think of others and to be giving and caring?  Always think of what is best for your children in the long run. And remember to observe and know each individual child and their individual needs. And yes, sometimes they do need to learn to just sit and be quiet and not disturb you while you handle something important beside them.

If you do this , you will have the equipment to help you not be irritated with your children. If you view them as your top priority, then how can you be irritated when they interrupt you from a lesser priority? And if you enjoy them, as you will if you are raising them as God intends you to, then their interruptions will be a pleasure not a pain.

Now, as a human being with failings, I can easily relate to your problems in this area. This is not an easy assignment for people like you and me. We have to retrain ourselves and constantly be on guard against slipping back into the old pattern. Every time you are "interrupted" think: "Wait, why am I annoyed? What is my top priority? Do these dishes really matter? Do I really have to get this personal project finished right now? Or is stopping to correct and train my children more important?"

Okay, for example, let's take cooking. It's easy to get carried away with that one.  I know that it is considered "godly" in a lot of circles to be a great cook who provides tasty, healthy food for her family. You are considered even more "godly" if you can do it on a tight budget. You've reached the highest plane when you throw in a vast knowledge of heath remedies based on healing herbs and extracts, etc. This is all great and wonderful, AS LONG AS your top priority is rearing your children to have good hearts and godly character. If you have to feed them peanut butter and jelly to do that, God will still be very pleased.

So go ahead and cook homemade chicken soup from scratch (as I am doing this morning), but stop when the baby cries and pick him up. If your toddler is hanging on you, don't send him off to play, sit him up at the counter to watch and let him have a few of those carrots to play with after you chop them up. Include your children in the things you have to do, and set aside some of the things you don't have to do. Again, you don't have to entertain your children all day (that won't lead to godliness either), but you should try to be tutoring them, and teaching them, and just plain enjoying them most of the time. Save your very personal things (like reading this) for when the children are napping or otherwise already occupied. Once your children are getting the proper amount of attention (including both corrections and love) you will find that they will be more content, and their pressures and demands on you will be lessened, and you will start enjoying them as you should.

(c) Copyright 2007 L. Elizabeth Krueger.  All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.