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Be One Tough Mother

By Hannah Goodwyn Senior Producer Feel like your kids just don’t get the fact that you're the parent? I’m sure there are even days when you want to just get away from the little squirts.

It’s hard being a mom, no one denies that. But, there are ways to make parenting a little easier.

Julie Barnhill, author and mother of three, shares bits of wisdom from twenty years of experience in her latest book, One Tough Mother. She doesn’t have all the answers, but is convinced there are non-negotiable points moms must always keep in mind.

A Few of Julie’s 10 Non-Negotiables

Be the Boss (Without Apology!)

It’s time to take back control! The days of kids ruling the house and having you bow to their whims are over. Don’t let them manipulate and boss you around. Find a good balance in your parenting. Be firm, but not harsh.

“One of the first things we lack is we don’t own it,” Julie says. “We don’t own the fact that we’re the mom.”

Many moms are guilty of this. Somehow women got the impression that focusing on being their kid’s best friend was a good idea. But, they don’t need a buddy. They need you to be the parent.

“My generation went to the extreme of wanting to be the friend and not wanting to be the bad guy,” Julie says.

You know what, be the bad guy. Even though they slam doors and say how much they hate you right now, they’ll understand your actions and love you for it later in life.

Also, tell them to “shut up”! When they repeatedly ignore the “please be quiets” or stubbornly want to put up a fight, tell them to flat out “sit down and shut up!”

I remember the first time my mom told me, my brothers, and sisters to “shut up”. It put the fear of God in me. Mom definitely got my attention, and from that point on I tried not to hesitate in obeying her instruction.

“You cannot demand respect. You can only command respect,” Julie says.

Delight in Your Perfectly Ordinary Child

“We’re obsessed with raising extraordinary kids, and in the Christian world, extraordinary Christian kids. It’s not enough that they go to Sunday School; they’ve got to memorize tons of scripture.”

Praise your sons and daughters for their talents. Not everyone is born to be the next Michael Jordan or medical genius who discovers a cure for cancer.

Let your kid be a kid. Don’t expect or push them to be the most courageous, outspoken, or artistic kids on the block either. Focus your love for them on whom they are – your children, not what they do. Otherwise, they’ll never feel like they quite measure up.

Say No Like You Mean It

No, means no, right? Well, that’s the way it should be. But, it oftentimes isn’t. Some moms feel the pressure and give in to what their kids want.

Julie also has found that a lot of women who work feel guilty about it, and because of that, it’s harder for them to say “no”.

“But, you’ve gotta be able to say ‘no’ and say it with authority,” she says. “It has to be emphatic to let them know that you mean it.”

Set parameters for your kids and don’t let them convince you to fudge the lines. They need boundaries.

“It creates security with your child and saves you and them from a lot of heartache,” Julie says.

Get a Hobby Other Than Your Kid

Do you remember a hobby you had before you became a full-time mom? Pick it up again. Whether it’s photography or painting, writing or hiking, start treating yourself to a little fun without the kids.

Julie encourages moms to not “let [their] kids be the center of the universe… there’s heresy for a lot of people.”

It’s not selfish to take time to have fun and rejuvenate. You’ll be a more relaxed and satisfied woman and in better shape to be a good mother.

One important thing to remember is: “Your kids will hold you in esteem to the degree you hold yourself in esteem,” she says.

Never Give Up

For those of you moms who feel like you’ve failed, listen to this:

“You didn’t do everything right. I didn’t do everything right. And that’s where grace has to come in,” Julie says. “That is a choice we have to make; we’re going to be gracious to ourselves and gracious toward other women and other mothers.”

No matter how you think you’ve ruined your kids, it’s never too late. Your mistakes can be made right in your child’s life through God’s counsel and love.

“He’s seen those mistakes, and His grace covers those. He desires you to have that relationship where there is peace and control… good control because you’re taking on the rightful role [as mom].”

Julie lists more of her non-negotiables and tips in her book, One Tough Mother. For now, in the midst of the craziness, take these words of advice and toughen up a little bit.

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