Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Parenting Through Stressful Situations

I feel like I could write a chapter book on parenting through stress.

I've parented through some pretty intense situations, 

When I had my firstborn, I was not a natural mom at all!
I was a young, inexperienced mother who wasn't too sure of anything...

I remember changing those first diapers and trying to get
the groove of showering again plus coordinate with a
fussy baby and his feeding schedule. It seemed an insurmountable
uphill battle, that finally eased up over time.

As baby number two came along, there were the sleepless nights again, 
and this time trying to put together a decent work schedule (albeit part-time), 
and then return to university to finish my degree
PLUS care for two demanding little ones...

Then after number three and four came...there were the stresses of a new life
in marriage and new neighborhood. Positive changes yes, but I still recall
all the getting to know you years all while dealing with pregnancy sickness
and babies, tots... and children in school.

We thought we'd have only ONE more...
however, we gained three more children of the "deal"!

So, number FIVE, SIXand SEVEN came fairly close together. 
Each one is 17 months apart from the one next to them. 
Three babies within three years!

and I'm battling to keep my eyes open ;
(but trust me, writing is cathartic so I continue)

All throughout these seasons we've also dealt with the "normal" stresses
 that often come with young families: unexpected financial burdens,
 pressures at work, difficult seasons of parenting
 (like the toddler stage or the transition to becoming a teen).

And for us, there's been a few unexpected additions in our journey: 
chronic sickness, fighting depression during most of my pregnancies 
(and post-partum after the last one), dealing with unique educational needs 
and testing, and loss of some of our support systems that we had had in preceding years.

I realize that our journeys are not necessarily going to be the same. 

Nonetheless, one thing I can tell you though is this, 
when you are parenting through stressful situations 
there are many steps we can take that will help keep us 
balanced and on track.


For a long time, I have not liked that scripture!!!

My husband has used it in rough times to quote to me, and basically said, 
"Buckle down Rachael, whether you like it or not you can't give up now."

I know it's true, and I know it's a great scripture, 
but in that moment of such intense pressure, I often feel like I can barely take any more...

The babies are crying, the phone is ringing, the supper is still not made,
 I'm in my PJs, the teens are discontented and being disrespectful, 
the kids are bickering, and it always seems that it's in those 
moments that the worst bombshell will drop...

The bombshell has come in many forms, but regardless of how it comes, 
you know in that moment you have two choices:

1) have a big fit (whether on the outside or the inside)

...maybe even feel like running away from it all...anyone else ever been there??


2) Breathe deeply and pray for wisdom. It's the stop and pause response. 

Talk to yourself and say, yes this does look hard 
(maybe even downright impossible depending on the situation), 
but step-by-step I/we can get through this crisis with Christ's help.

Sometimes, I admit, I do a combo of 1 & 2.

However, I'm learning more often than not, that stressful situations come, and
then they go...

No More Perfect Moms  -     By: Jill Savage

Learning to Surrender:

This for me has been the most difficult life lesson that I still battle.

How do you surrender control under the pressure??
How do you go beyond saying "I can do all things through Christ.."
 or "Trust in Me with all your heart..." to really living like you mean it?

I'm not always sure of the answer, but a few things I have learned along the way...

a) you are never going to know all the answers no matter how much you try

b) it is never going to make total sense no matter how much you attempt to "figure" it out

c) free will is both a gift and a "curse"

By curse, I mean that others have the same free will 
to choose good or bad as you do.
And sometimes those choices will cause you
to experience great amounts of pain...

And sometimes, even our choices will cause others pain (even if unintentionally), 
so we better learn how to forgive and show grace...
cuz we're gonna need it too!

 Although He will not always give us all the answers,
 if we surrender our hearts to Him, 
He will give us the strength we need for the journey.


There is probably nothing greater than having wisdom in a stressful situation.

Whether it be:

Wisdom from His Word.

Wisdom from prayer time (He may drop a thought you hadn't previously thought of)

Wisdom from others who have gone before you.

(i.e. talk to those who will give sound advice, not just say what you want to hear).

No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are    -     By: Jill Savage, Kathy Koch


Let go of what YOU think others expect from you.

Let go of what you expect from yourself (when it is unreasonable).

Let go of trying to keep up a certain image.

Let go of unhealthy relationships.

That may include limiting the time you spend with people
who don't support you where you're at, and add to the pressure.


Allow yourself permission, to be honest, and ask for help when prompted.

This has probably been the toughest change I've made.
Whenever someone used to offer help, 
I'd always say thanks, but no thanks, we've got this...

One day while lamenting in a marriage counseling session
about how difficult things were going for us with the new baby, 
the counselor challenged us to take help whenever it was offered. 

He asked us why we thought they were offering in the first place.
Of course, they were most likely wanting to help!

I admitted that I thought they were only being polite. 
Same thinking that my spouse had.

He challenged us to take people at their word, 
and if they back out after you give them a few examples
 of help you need, then that will be on their own conscience 
(well, of course, they may not actually be able to help OR 
they may have indeed just said that to be polite, 
but that's not on us to "pre-decide")

So, we both ventured out and started to do that...

It was humiliating at first.

A few people did flat out take back their offers when they saw
we were truly receptive to their good wishes...
but many said they really would be honored to help us in any small way they could. 
So, I learned to keep a few suggestions in mind 
(a meal, or take a child or two for a playdate, or 
if they could genuinely keep us in prayer for something specific).

Interestingly, I also started to change the way I offered help to others (it's a two-way street, right?!).

Instead of just saying a general, "How can I help?" when I see someone else 'drowning' in their present life circumstances, I have learned to offer specifics of what
I can do in this season to help them, and give 2 or 3 options for them to think on.


So, let's do a quick recap:

The bottom line is that when you are parenting through a stressful situation
it is imperative that you don't get freaked out. 

That you take a moment in those intensely pressurized situations 
to relax, breathe, pray and tell yourself it will be okay.

 Then you need to seek out the right wisdom and
learn to let go of any unrealistic expectations. 
Be gentle with yourself, and with others.

Lastly, that you learn to take help when it's offered, 
and offer it genuinely when you see someone else in need.

Don't forget that difficult seasons don't last forever!
Better days are ahead.


If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know how much I enjoy
& appreciate author, Jill Savage...

Well, she's released a new book!! 

"No More Perfect Marriages"  looks like an absolutely fantastic companion
to her two previous amazing reads: "No More Perfect Kids" & "More Perfect Moms"

Get yours today by clicking on the picture below!

No More Perfect Marriages: Experience the Freedom of Being Real Together  -     By: Jill Savage, Mark Savage



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