Raising Strong Kids

I watched a single tear escape his long lashes.

He quickly swiped it away.

Inside twisted, that wrecked feeling mothers get when children hurt.

But this wasn’t the kind of pain a band-aid could fix or a kiss on the brow. This wound was inside, out of my reach.

“I’m the weird one, Mom.” His words felt like a blow.

I grabbed his hand, the one with marker stains and chewed-nails and refuted his words. “There’s nothing weird about you!”

He told me how different he felt from most of the other boys at school. The other 4th grade boys who cussed and bullied and wore tough.

And then my little boy said, “It’s hard being a Christian. It makes me odd.”

And then I felt my own tears, press hot against my lids. I closed my eyes and remembered the feeling. The one I lived with growing up.

I couldn’t discount his words or his pain, I knew they were true. He’s just so young to experience it.

“Were you ever the weird one, Mom?”

And so I told him my own stories. I whispered words I prayed would heal his heart, knowing they wouldn’t fix the problem.

We are called to the problem, to be the strangers of this world, to follow a different road, to live counter-cultural.

I told my son that we didn’t expect him to be perfect. We knew there was pressure to give in and I told him we’d love him no matter what and then I told him of times I’d tried to fit in. He looked at me with steel-eyes, “I know I can fit it, I don’t want to fit in.”

I marveled at his strength.

I walked down the stairs, heavy. I made a playdate the next day with one of the Christian boys who stood at the pole with us. I called a friend from my community group with a son the same age, grade, struggles. We devised a plan so our boys could find comfort and strength with each other.

And then I cried.

Because sometimes I feel like the weird one too.

It took a little boy to remind me that it’s exactly how I’m supposed to feel.

Do you ever feel that way?

———————-

If grace-based parenting has taught me anything, it’s to try and raise my kids the way God raises me–with infinite grace, unfathomable love and room to still be me. Today, I’m flying to the Relevant Conference and I’m proud to have Family Matters as my sponsor. Make sure you stop by the Mercy House table!


Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Oh, I so get this. We want to make it all better; we want to make it go away; we want our kids to feel “normal.” But I love the wisdom of your son: “I don’t want to fit in.” Amen! We can sure learn something from him.

  2. 3

    says

    I feel like the weird one. All. The. Time. I guess I’m just now getting to the point of accepting it as my new normal…realizing that I don’t have to agree with people 100% to love and have some level of fellowship with them.

  3. 6

    says

    Fourth grade is hard and ugly sometimes. I too have a fourth grade boy . . . he is also “weird” and has been bullied several times. It makes the hair on my Momma neck rise on end. It is so hard and makes me want to cry. My boy is NOT weird . . . regardless of what some of the other kids seem to think. Two of my boys are in the same classroom . . . third and fourth grade. One boy continues to “hurt” their feelings . . . he calls them poopheads. My boys attend a Christian school. I have asserted my Momma privileges and given the school officials a heads up. I have also talked to my boys and explained that some boys are hurting inside and that is why they are mean to other children. It is so wrong . . .

  4. 7

    says

    this brought me tears. so sweet.

    i felt this today at work. thanks for sharing. i love that the Lord brings just the right encouragement at just the right time.

  5. 8

    says

    ooooooh boy you hit a nerve! i am a single young Christian who struggles with loneliness at times! It is soooo hard! I cried tonight even. It is like nothing else when you have no close friends around (or who are consistent!) and don’t live with your family. I realized I kind of ran out of people to call… which reminds me… “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” Mmmm… that is where we are to turn when we feel anything but adequate ;)

  6. 9

    says

    now i’m crying too. that is the worst kind of hurt. one you can’t fix in an instant. my soul hurts for him and is reminded of all the times i tried to fit in.
    you have an amazing son your raising.
    remind him that this is just his temporary home, until he join Him in eternity.
    we are praying for you.

  7. 10

    says

    My youngest son struggles with this as well…and as a parent it is hard to not want to fix it. But, you are right. We should all feel like the weird ones as we go through this life as a light for Jesus.

  8. 11

    says

    Oh, yeah, this is a hard one! But, the young hearts who believe in the faith they’ve been given need our truth that the uncomfortable-feelings are for purpose. Our constant telling of that truth will feed their soul and nurture their faith. Only He can fill in the gaps. But knowing young that a hard life is the way of a disciple, that’s a great way to start off living–hard to See, but necessary to trust.

  9. 12

    Suzanne says

    My 5th grade son came home the other day upset because some kids were calling him very hurtful names. He was afraid that some of his friends would start to believe these other kids and he would be left with no one to call his friend. My heart ached for him in that moment. I sat down with him and asked him if all his friends thought this and he only named off a couple. I couldn’t use the excuse that “boys will be boys” because I know so many good boys that don’t behave like that. I explained that if he lost these couple of friends, that maybe they weren’t that good of friends in the first place and he might be better off without them. It’s so hard to shield them from hurt and you want to fix everything right away, but sometimes you just can’t. We did shield him from something very hurtful that his old baseball coach said last week because it would have devastated him. If only we could protect them forever!!!

  10. 14

    Christina says

    By no means do I think that this will “fix” this situation..but I don’t believe in fate, I believe in the sovereignty of our Lord and Savior and the words from His word echoed in my heart when I read your blog. I was reading Psalm 73 last night before bed and I believe the author – Asaph – pondered the idea of is it worth it to be strong in the Lord and be so “weird”? His answer – v.23 = “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge,that I may tell of all your works.”
    Your little boy is such a strong godly man. My daughter is only 1 but I pray for her to grow in the strength of His word that will allow her to stand so strong and say that she doesn’t want to fit in. Thank you for this encouragement to be weird and remember it’s all worth it!

  11. 15

    says

    What a precious son you have! I will be praying for him this morning. It sounds like you are on the right track by encouraging relationships with other Christians at his school. Strength in numbers!

  12. 17

    says

    Oh yes! I’m totally the weird one too. And you know what? So are my kids!
    They have weathered middle school/high school too. Let me encourage you to keep on keeping on! My heart swells everytime I hear my kids share their strength to stand against what is wrong in God’s eyes.
    Believe it or not….God is watching every little thing going on with our kids.
    Being weird is a small thing in the BIG PLAN!!

    PS
    Did you happen to catch The Middle last night? It was great about being different.

  13. 18

    Angela says

    I’m the weird one too. I’m happily married but unable to have children, that makes me the weird one. I also work in an office full of atheists. I feel like they team up against me to try to convince me I’m being brainwashed in church. It is hard work being the weird one. Unfortunately these feelings continue on throughout life. Blessings to you and your family for being strong during these times of struggle.

  14. 19

    Crystal says

    What a sweet, precious son you have. He is going to grow up into exactly the sort of man all parents will want for their daughters. Praying my 2 boys can follow his example.

  15. 20

    Connie says

    There have been many tears cried in our home over the years. I have 4 children, beautiful children who have grown up being weird, the odd man out. They are now 29, 27, 21 and 17. The older ones have gone off to college, have found their kindred spirits and soul mates, God has been good! The youngest is a senior in HS and is in constant emotional pain from watching the choices his classmates make. He is the ONLY one who doesn’t drink, cuss, mess with sex… the kids look at him with respect on the inside but are afraid to show it for fear of not being in the crowd. My son is 6’2″ is truly handsome and a wonderful young man. My heart hurts for him, I cry for him, I want to “fix” the other kids and their parents… I will have to let him go next school year and that rips my heart out but it’s time for him to soar on wings of eagles and glorify Christ with his life. Alas we are an odd family, All Praise to God.
    Thank you for sharing your son’s story. As tough as it is to see him go through this, he will endure because he knows his mommy and daddy love him. When home is a safe place, kids can grow up knowing all will be okay. God IS Good, all the time!

  16. 21

    LaChelle says

    Wow. I have so much admiration for your beautiful, strong family. You’re such a great example to me as I raise my three little boys. I’m definitely the weird one – a Mormon (gasp!). So many people misunderstand and ridicule us. But I’d rather keep my faith in Jesus strong and be the weird one, than hide who I am to try to “fit in.” Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

  17. 22

    Anna says

    First of all, it’s amazing that your son is so self-aware and that he truly “gets it.”
    Secondly, this post touched me in a different way. My children are not school-age yet, but I was immediately convicted because I recognize in myself the desire for my kids to be accepted and not feel weird. This post prompts me to change my perspective NOW and start praying for my children to be different-to be salt and light.
    Although I confess I wasn’t very “different” when I was in school…often giving in to pressure-I have the intense desire to make a change in my home! Thanks, Kristen, for sharing your world with us.

  18. 23

    Summer says

    You brought tears to my eyes. I know the feeling, and I hurt for my own children who are too young now to know this feeling, but may one day know it. In spite of the pain, I hope they, too, decide to stand out one day.

  19. 24

    jamie says

    You need to check out my church online: http://WWW.lifechurch.tv

    Our pastor recently did a series called WEiRD about this very issue. It’s available for free online to watch the whole series. We are called to be weird. Our church even made up bracelets to wear to inform thr world (if they didn’t know already) that we are weird.

  20. 25

    Lorie D says

    Sitting here crying for your son and my son who is in 7th grade and experiences this on a regular basis. Praying that we are both provided the wisdom we need to help them through it and praying they are strong in their faith.

  21. 26

    says

    It is so hard, this parenting. Kiddo told me yesterday about a friend who doesn’t sit with him at lunch anymore. “He moved up, Mom, to the popular table.” And that made me really sad. Do I want him to be popular? No. Do I want him to know that he *isn’t* one of the “popular” kids? Not really. After a talk, he said he didn’t mean to say the other kid moved “up,” but he *did* say it. and it broke my heart.

    Your boy is a good one. He’s not weird to us…or maybe we’re just weird, too. We love him.

  22. 28

    says

    I have a 4th grade boy who is the weird one too. He’s smaller than the other boys and doesn’t really like sports. He’s the only one in his circle of friends who is a Christian. It is hard being the one who stands outs and hard being the mama of the one who stands out. Praying for you and your boy!

  23. 29

    Amber K says

    Oh, Kristen. Bless his sweet heart. If we only lived closer…your 4th grader and my 4th grader would be bestest buds. This is not our home and I do feel like an alien here sometimes. But then I watch Extreme Home Makeover and I realize, there are LOTS of other good people out there (hey, it works for me ;) ) ; they’re just not all in our community or school or church even. You let him read all these comments that will help him understand he’s not standing alone. He’s in a circle of friends feeling the exact same way. And some of us are ADULTS with these feelings. God love him…and He does. <3 You hang in there, tell him to hang in there…blessing will pour down. I have a feeling God's got a plan to pat this boy on the back because He will not let His son go on without a pat on the back. :)
    He's in my prayers.

    Hugs,
    Amber K

  24. 30

    Kim Fuchs says

    1 Peter 2:9
    King James Version (KJV)

    9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

  25. 31

    says

    My 14yr old daughter is going through this right now. In fact, she lost her very close best friend because she was “too preachy” she said. What’s worse is that we were told her mother said, “Next time she starts preaching just tell her we converted to Judaism”. What kind of person says things like that to reinforce the behavior? I just told her to let it roll off her back, but it didn’t really roll off mine that easily. I’m sure it didn’t off hers, either. It is hard. I never went through this, personally. I was not a Christian until age 25, when my daughter was almost 2yrs old. I’m not much help in that matter, but I am so proud of her for standing up for her beliefs – standing up for Jesus – and doing what she knows is right, no matter what. Thanks for this post. :)

  26. 32

    Jamie Stovall says

    Yep. Me too. And my kids? They are homeschooled, so they feel a little extra weird sometimes. I don’t think it’s ever easy, but just as you assured him, we are SUPPOSED to be the weird ones. How beautiful that he doesn’t want to fit in. Thank you for sharing his story, which I’m sure you had his permission to do since you are so respectful of their privacy on this site. Thank him, too, because I can share his story with my five little boys (and three big girls) as they struggle. They will know they aren’t the only ones, and they will be able to see his face and know that cool guys everywhere get called weird sometimes. :-)

  27. 33

    says

    Oh I so get this…. I have a 4th grader too. He likes legos and star wars … doesn’t like sports, hunting…. he loves Jesus… I so understand.

    I so wish I could give you a big hug this weekend. I wish I was there to listen and worship with you, Shaun, Ann, Lisa Jo, and so many others….

    much love…

  28. 34

    says

    Powerful post… brings tears to my eyes. And confirmation to my heart about where you are supposed to be speaking during our Lightbearers Conference.

    Praying for your COURAGEOUS son… a young man who knows he CAN fit it, but doesn’t want to. That carries more spiritual maturity than many Christians I know. Jesus didn’t say this road would be easy, but He did promise it would be worth it. Asking Jesus to show up for your son in a special, intimate way… a “just for you” kind of way…

  29. 36

    says

    Oh, this breaks my heart. I was a “weird” one too, in different ways, and it’s so wrenching to see your kids be picked on for being different. I think you handled it brilliantly!

    I hope your unique and strong son is feeling better!

  30. 37

    says

    Oh Kristen…I SO know how you feel…we are trying to decide where to send our 4 year old to school next year and I already feel a fear rising deep within me because I remember the feelings of being the “different” one…I often feel like I’m ok being different (most of the time!!!) because I’m older, I’ve been “through it” but I SO want to protect my babe’s hearts from being hurt…Your little guy sounds like such a strong soul…You are evidently doing all the right things to build him up and in the end, that is all that will matter…He will remember that his mamma told him how wonderful he was and how wonderful Jesus is, in the midst of a crazy world where we are different…

    Btw…we only met for a minute at Relevant, but it was a pleasure to meet you and I LOVE all that you and your family are doing to love others around the world!

  31. 38

    Interested says

    I would like to say thank you to your son for loving Christ. I can only wish now that I was the weird one so young. I was not. Oh the pain I would have avoided if I’d have had Christ as a young child like he…stay strong young man, becuse He that is in you is stronger than he that is in the world. I love this post. I have been so touched by this. I will be sharing this with my children who sometimes feel this way (in their own way).

  32. 39

    says

    Wow. That is a big truth for a young child to understand. Does it sound weird to say that I am proud of him, even thought I don’t know him? Maybe it would be more accurate to say I’m inspired by him. Please tell him that his strong stand has encouraged me (and many others, I’m sure).

    My teen daughter right now is more on the side of wanting to fit in than stand out, and enforcing the limits we have in place to keep her protected (sometimes from own weak will) are often not well-received. It would be so much easier to be the cool parent — but that is not what God calls me to, and I needed this reminder that it’s okay that it’s hard and that her friends and friends’ parents think we’re weird.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>