About the Author

Sarah Mae has a past that would be her present if it weren’t for Jesus. A blogger, author, and co-author of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, she’s currently writing The Complicated Heart, a book for broken-hearted lovers of Jesus. Learn more at @thecomplicatedheart on Instagram or...

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  1. Sarah,
    This post REALLY hits home. If there was one thing I would do differently in my parenting, it would have been to NOT try to be a friend to my kids. That might sound harsh, but we really aren’t meant to be our children’s best friend. If we are, then something is out of whack. Children need and even crave boundaries. It gives them a sense of security when we set limits. Sadly, I was in an abusive marriage and I did give in to my kids far too often…I think because they were all I had and my insecurity was at an all time high. Hindsight is 20/20, but if our kids think that everything and everyone revolves around them and that they can always get what they want, they can grow up to be very selfish and self-absorbed individuals. Believe me, I speak from experience. My advice? Hold the line. Make the tough calls. If they say “they hate you” then chances are you’re doing something right. It doesn’t matter what all their friends do or have. Our ultimate responsibility in raising our children is to be true to God’s commands. Any doubts, read over Proverbs a few times and you’ll get the gist. Excellent post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Bev, thank you. It is hard, but I keep learning, and being encouraged to keep on from women who have been down the road is so helpful.

      Love to you.

  2. By the grace of God, you will see the day when your kids thank you for all the ways you have protected them and been fierce on their behalf!

  3. Sarah,
    Yes…I agree with Bev. And my story is similar to hers. I was in a bad relationship with my husband and we also had a second son who is autistic and mentally
    delayed. I was beaten down and just trying to exist. Unfortunately, I didnt have the energy for my firstborn son, who was doing well (I thought). I am now divorced and remarried to a wonderful man, my kids are in their 30’s. Even though my first son is married with a great career, my daily prayer is for him is to return to the Lord. That’s what I cry about….why didnt I hold the line when he was growing up? Why didnt I teach him about the Lord by setting a good example? We aren’t real close now…he’s a busy guy and we get along well, but theres a ‘distance’. So, I totally understand what you are going through. I would encourage you to hold your line, teach about Christ, take the time for them. Dont put yourself in a position of regret at what you didnt do!

  4. When accused of not being fair I think it is sometimes important to verbally agree it might not be fair (ie when everyone is called to clean up a mess or tidy the house) but it is what we are going to do and that we all need to get used to life not being fair because it never is. I am afraid that we are not helping children to be resilient in the face of adversity because we want their lives to be “good,” “easy,” or want them to be happy. Life is hard, requires perseverance the ability to weather storms and meet challenges head on and 21 is too late to start learning that, but it is a great time to finally be your child’s friend. Thank you Sara for sharing your struggle with the warring emotions of wanting the best for your child and not agreeing with what they think is best. Wise words.

  5. yes ! the last year I have struggled with this. we are a strong faithfilled family but I struggle with your exact message ..what if I make a mistake and they resent me ? I caved in on 2 occasions and said yes ( after my gut said no no no), but my mind said you’re too strict they will hate you later. both times it turned out to be a disaster. I prayed and told God how sorry I was for not listening to his direction and told the kids this will never happen again. God has put us as the parents in this role for a reason not to be undermined or nagged by kids to cave in.
    surprisingly the kids agreed !
    I’m blessed they know we are the parents ….alot of parents struggle with this. in the end we do our best / always holding onto our faith and showing love for our families. the world’s views may try to seep in but our faith is stronger.

  6. Dear Sarah Mae,
    I’m a 63 year old momma, who if granted one wish, would be a do over in child rearing. I am a degreed educator from a christian college no less and lover of my Lord who should have known better. I, like Bev was in a dysfunctional marriage and relied too much on the love and acceptance of my son. Ouch! He no longer has anything to do with both my husband and me. Years of counseling has helped our marriage. The merciful Lord knows this aching mommas heart. You were given Godly counsel. Stand your ground Sarah Mae.
    May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you!
    Dee

  7. Dear Sarah,
    Thank You for such a good, upright reminder! I have an adult child, who at the moment, does resent me and their father for some of the decisions we made when they were growing up. But, I know I followed our Heavenly Father’s direction and guidance. And although I do not regret the decisions we made, sometimes it still hurts to have your child think of you in that way. I can only pray in time that our Heavenly Father will work this out as well.
    Blessings ~

  8. I wish someone had said this to me when I was raising my grown children. I will be sure to pass this onto my grown children and grown grandchildren and anyone else I know who is raising children.
    Thank you for sharing. God Bless you.

  9. I have no kids. I see where you all are coming from as parents. You want to the best by your kids. You want too love your kids you don’t want the ever to grow up hating you. You want to displain them right in the ways of the Lord. Especially for this big world. When some of it can be bad and scary too them. Keep them safe. Especially on their Mobiles. On the internet. On their Play stations. Not feel like the Mum too them you never let me have that long on my mobile internet or playstaton. Plus when you have kids coming to you wanting also the latest mobiles or playstaton games. Because their friends have them. You as Mum feel the pressure too give into them. But at times you have to say no. The mobile you have will do you. Sometimes say we will see when it is your Birthday we might get it then. Plus as a parent you at time have to limited there internet time. Plus the playstaton games and the time they spend playing them. Things like this can start rows. But you have to say I am the parent you are the child. I am doing this for your good. What they do on the internet or their mobile etc. You as parent have to guide them. Say I am doing it for your own good. Think too yourself if they are teenagers. Would God allow me to let them spend all their time on mobile or the internet or playstaton. Yes a certain time. We might look like bad parent’s but your not. We have to tell them we love them show them there is things once the homework is done if still at school. That can be done outside looking at screens. Mobiles playstatons the internet. Teach them about the beauty of God lovely world. Yes let them have them for a while. But not to long. Let them always know they are loved and beautiful. That God loves them even if they don’t want to hear it. At the dinner table say grace for all meals. Pray for your kids. Especially when with their friends. If not saved don’t want to know about Jesus. Pray for their salvation. I know this even though got no kids as pray this way for my sisters kids. Who are not saved. Remember you are a good parent. Some day are hard. But you are doing a great Job. I was a registered Childminder for 19 years. I prayed for the kids Iooked after and I still do I said grace at meal times with them. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little

  10. I would deeply appreciate some devotionals regarding step parenting. As a step mama of one year I struggle greatly with fear of what they will think of me. I am not their mama and my husband is the primary parent in our household when we have them. And yet I have a part to play in their lives. I feel like I am stumbling in the dark. Despite helpful conversations with my husband (and God) my insecurities and fears persist.

  11. A good word for mothers and grandmothers alike. So many women battle this, especially those who have no support connections. Too often, well meaning family and friends come in and contradict your decisions, making it all the more difficult. We all need to follow God’s word and He will make a way. Thank you for sharing. It is a challenge for so many.

  12. “So I will continue to do my best, mess up, ask for forgiveness, seek godly counsel, pray, and keep on.” So good, Sarah. So good. I needed this reminder too.

  13. Sarah, thanks for being transparent. I wish I had read this 10 or 15 years ago! I’m in a good marriage and found myself, after our oldest strong-willed child forced me daily to tow the line with him, softening on my second born child. It wasn’t until her middle school years that I realized I needed to stop. My first born was mad at us every other day and in hindsight, I wanted at least one of our children to enjoy having us as parents. This can happen to anyone and we need to talk about it more. Your post will help other young moms stand firm, I’m sure of it. Our job isn’t to get our children to like us, but to help prepare them for leaving home as young adults. The good news is, it’s never too late to get with the program. His mercies are new every morning. Thanks again 🙂

  14. Sarah Mae,

    Thanks so much for this today! It’s just what I needed to read! I’m already struggling with this, and my son is only 3…(he’s very strong-willed). Love so much of your writings as well!

    Sarah

  15. This is me…..like you the relationship with my mom was very traumatic, I didn’t have a dad growing up either. So I really didn’t know how to parent and I just wanted my kids to like me. I’ve been in therapy almost 2 years now and wish i would have started sooner and adopted the advice you gave in this article. Here is to trying and keeping on even when it’s hard!

  16. I am in the same struggle. My almost 13 yr old is moving up to youth in our church. In our church that means the youth (7th-12th grade) sit together during morning service in the front of the church. I don’t know why it is like this. Some say ‘because it’s always been that way’, one said it was to build a community among the youth. We have made it a point, even though it has been hard at times, to have our children in church with us rather than in the nursery or children’s church. And this fall our church is dissolving Children’s church (kindergarten through 4th) so the kids can sit in service with the families. But the youth still sit seperate. We already had to talk to our children about why they couldn’t go to children’s church with their friends (we strongly feel lead to worship together) and now I am going to have to answer the question again with a teen who wants to sit with her friends. I am feeling anxiety over the inevitable conversation because I don’t want her to resent me but I feel 100% in my heart that we should be together. I’m afraid that there is too much of an emphasis on building up youth group instead of building up families.

  17. Sarah Mae,

    God made you & hubby the “guardians”/parents of your children till they become adults. That means having to make tough decisions. Ones they may not like, but in the end they will come back to thank you. Parenting in this world is much harder than it used to be. We have social media, apps, cell phones & computers. So many distractions & harmful things out there. They aren’t wise enough now to realize the dangers of all that stuff. Tow the line & go with your gut. If you really think now isn’t the time for something then tell your daughter you will revisit it at a later time. Don’t fall for the everyone else is doing it trap. That didn’t work for my parents. They would say ok “everyone is jumping off a bridge so go do ti”. I got the point quickly. Praying for you in this tough parenting season. Stand firm & be the parent not the friend.

    Blessings 🙂