The Hardest Part of Parenting is Me

In an instant, I was furious.

I’d gone into my teenager’s room to look for something and I couldn’t believe the mess. She told me she had “cleaned” her room all weekend and yet it resembled the aftermath of a tornado on a Monday morning.

I fumed all day.

She got in the car after school and I could tell by the look on her face it had been a hard day in junior high.

“You okay?” I asked tentatively, the way a mother has learned.

She took a deep breath, “I saw something happen today that was wrong. I told my teachers. I had to do the right thing,” her voice, wobbly. The story unraveled, the infraction and the injustice.

My anger fizzled as I forgot about her room and pondered heavier things.

The next day she brought home straight A’s on her report card. For the eighth year in a row.

The following, a Star Student Award for Caring for Others.

And on Friday when I picked her up, she wore a medal around her neck from her basketball coach for showing leadership and being the athlete with the most heart.

Her room was still a disaster. But it didn’t seem to matter quite as much.

She’s just 13. And I’m ashamed I had to be reminded all week by others what life is really about. Each day I saw my amazing daughter thru the eyes of her teachers and friends and it showed me how ridiculous our constant, often heated battles over her messy room and laundry piles really are.

Parenting is hard, no doubt. But I’ve found that I often make the whole thing a lot harder. After all, my children are children. I’m the adult in this relationship and with that authority comes maturity and wisdom.

The hardest part of parenting is me. And in the thick of it, I see that I’m the one being parented by God.

I look deeper–past the dirty room and scattered laundry and I see it there; it wears a different face, but under the layers of order, I see my nasty desire for control. Because really? The battles aren’t about a clean room or tidy drawers, folded laundry or emptied trash. It’s about my unhealthy desire to be in control of things that don’t really matter because I’m not in control of things that really do.

I’ve been a mom for more than a dozen years now and I’m still learning and taking my discipline as it comes. I’m still learning to choose my battles and let go of the trivial.

My goal as a mother is to raise children who love God and love others. I still long for organized rooms, tidy toys and clean laundry, but I’m trying hard to keep the little stuff little.

I’m raising incredible kids. And if I step back and out of the way, I’m able to see it with my own eyes.

And close them (and her bedroom door- ha!) to unimportant things.


  1. 1


    I read a quote recently that said something like, “In your quest to raise a great kid, don’t forget you already have one.” I have to remind myself of that often!

  2. 5


    I really needed to read this today. I have a 12 year old who has the same issues….messy room, huge heart. Sometimes I overlook the huge heart thing because I feel like the messy room needs to be tended to, like it’s a bad reflection on my parenting because it isn’t perfect. But his heart is what really is important. I like what you said about control. I’m going to have to write that down and remember that. Thanks for sharing, and being so transparent. Be blessed!!

  3. 6


    i got really uptight recently about my son dropping calculus II. i thought it meant he was lazy and slack and and and…. the truth is? he’s already into the college he wants. this semester does.not.matter. and the effect of his dropping the course? FAMILY time. he’s not holed up in the office doing 1.5 hours of homework at night. he has emerged. and is asking us to play boggle. what???? a 17-year-old son wants to play a game with his parents? oh, glory.

    you’re a great mom, kristen. thanks for closing that door. and sharing.

  4. 7


    Great post! Yes, closing the door is the beset way to solve this issue! Last week at a mom’s prayer group I heard a great quote. As parents we need to be quick to discipline sin and slow to anger in areas that aren’t sin. So like you said we can’t get angry at our kids for being kids!! Sometimes that is so hard to do though!

  5. 8


    Is your middle name Job or Solomon? 😉 Your wisdom is crazy-advanced sometimes. Your bolded sentence says it all. It needs to be crocheted on a pillow or something!

  6. 9


    Thanks for sharing this, Kristen. I can not be reminded of this enough. Trying to make the most of every day. I think keeping the little things little is key. What an amazing daughter you have, and what a wise mother she has. : )

  7. 10


    I have to stop and reflect on this often — that despite the messy rooms and unfinished chores, I have great kids who love JESUS and strive to be their very best. Thanks for this post!

  8. 12


    Thanks for this today! A timely reminder for me as I’m struggling with control and chaos in the midst of a move and school and life. :-)
    God has used you as a blessing in my life today. Thank you for your obedience.

  9. 13


    Wow, this really spoke to me today. My daughter will be 13 in a few months, and as strange as it sounds, I think our issues with our 16yo son bleed over to our daughter, and she’s the easy one! She gets good grades (with very little prompting from us,) has a big heart, and typically does the right thing. But I find myself coming down like a vulture when she gets a C on a paper or when she lets her room go too long, or gives the slightest bit of lip. I seem to have less patience with her being the 2nd child. When her room does get messy, I suddenly forget about her self-discipline to get her homework done, play club volleyball, maintain her good grades, be a good friend…

    Oh, so many things to reflect on right now. My mind is racing. I must go.

    Thank you.

  10. 17

    Michele says

    Amazing! Thank you for this! I am having the same battle with my 10 yr old about the room and the mess – and some days don’t fully realize what a great, kind, smart, empathetic, caring child I have.
    Thank you :)

  11. 18

    Heather says

    Your blogs always bring me to tears because they always hit home. On the flip side of that though, I think you should go a little easier on yourself. I am not orderly or organized by nature, my room was often in the state of your daughter’s. I can only imagine what my house hold and family life would be like if my very organized and orderly mother did not instill some discipline in my life. I strive to live out of the chaos. My room doesn’t always make it hee hee, but the rest is liveable and I owe that to my mom!

  12. 19

    amanda says

    love this post. love your blog. as a mom to a 4 yr old and a 1 yr old i find a lot of wisdom in your experience and posts! thank you :)

  13. 21


    Yes, Yes and Yes!!! My heart sighed when I read this, please keep pointing out these truths to your young sister moms…motherhood is about molding little hearts and being the soft spot for them to fall when the world rails against them, especially when they are strangers in this world. My daughters room was always a mess…and cleaning it up was not of much import to her….but oh how she has always strived to keep her heart clean! Well done mom…Big Hug! Shout it from the bloggy roof tops! My girl is in college now…what I wouldn’t give to sit in a messy room tonight to talk with her! :0)

  14. 22


    Wow! How did you know I needed this today! A friend posted this on her FB page…. yes Lord, thank you for the reminder! You see I too often find myself upset and uptight about our 19 year old’s bedroom… but then I step back and take a look. This is the young man that a year ago was determined to go into the USMC, no matter what! However when he went away on a mission’s trip the Lord worked on his heart… he is now registered at Liberty University, going to South Africa for 6 to 12 weeks to volunteer in an orphanage, was just asked to be in our church’s Easter program (he hates to act but does such a good job) even if it meant doing something outside of his comfort zone (they just changed him from a soldier to Jesus… yeah he is freaking out about that a little), and he makes a point to spend time with both his younger brothers… one of who is, well lets just say he has hardened his heart and is involved in things he ought not to be involved in (thankfully its nothing illegal… but still it breaks my heart) and he is taking to time to mentor his youngest brother in standing up as a Christian. So… his room looks like a disaster area but his heart is in the right place! Thank you so very much for the reminder to focus on what is truly important!! :)

  15. 23

    Patti says

    I love reading your blog and I am not one to comment – ever. :) However, I had to share that just this weekend I walked past my son’s room – as I do everyday and it hit me that I wish it were messy. You see, he is a freshman at college and we miss him – alot! Some days I would prefer to have him and his mess at home. I know he is following his dream and I’m very proud of how well he’s doing in college – with I’m sure a very mess dorm room. I’m looking forward to him coming home on spring break and I don’t think I will mind the mess one bit… well maybe a little… but I will be sure to not nag him about it. Keep up the inspirational stories.

  16. 24


    Your comment, ” The hardest part of parenting is me. And in the thick of it, I see that I’m the one being parented by God” reminded me of the best parenting book I’ve read: “Sacred Parenting” by Gary Thomas. Great read.

  17. 25

    Renee Holley says

    Give it some time. She may surprise you. My college age daughter used to have the messiest room of all my kids, but now she tells how she cleans her dorm room every Sat. just like we did when she was growing up. I was so proud.

  18. 26


    I could have been the author of this post. My daughter is 13. Straight A’s. Wants to start her own non-profit (she crochets hats and wants to give them to cancer patients who have lost hair). BUT, I fight with her over laundry and her room. Everyday. Blah! This post was just what I needed…first, I am admitting my control freakishness. Second, I am apologizing to my sweet daughter. Third, I shall pray. And, then? Change my attitude. I am blessed and acting as if I am not. Can’t thank you enough!

  19. 27

    Christina says

    So true thank you you are so right. My 17 year old son died on 11/28/12 & I wish he was here to talk about a messy room or anything else he wanted to talk about. Cherish every moment because in a moment all those moments can be gone.

    • 27.1

      Teresa says

      Dear Christina,

      I am so sorry for your loss, words seem so inadequate. Thank-you for your message.Holding you and your family in prayer.

  20. 29


    A smart mom will learn to choose the necessary battles. What impressed me about this writing is a) you looked at her, REALLY looked. b) you listened to both your daughter and Holy Spirit c) you learned that the door closes and really in the big picture of life, it doesn’t matter if her room is a mess as long as nothing died in it, and the smell is tolerable, it is HER ROOM. not yours. (from a mom and a grandma who speaks from many years of experience)

  21. 30

    Tara says

    So true! Wonderful post. You did a great job – better than I would have done in that situation – I am working so hard on stopping and listening – seeing things through their eyes.

  22. 32


    this was very timely. yes, i am definitely being parented and disciplined by the Lord through my kids. i see my own weaknesses magnified and i, too, am learning how to look for the most important things. and to stay humble before Him…

  23. 34


    My children are all grown now but I look back from time to time and realize little mistakes I made along the way. Hindsight is always 20/20. But, most importantly, they are serving God. It may sound old fashioned, but I would “try” to always used that question, “Will it matter in 10 years.” And being the cleaning freak that I am, I realized a messy room would not really matter in 10 years. But teaching them to be kind, respectful and honest would matter.

    I would say that you are on the right track! And what a beautiful daughter you have! Great post!

  24. 35

    Heather says

    It’s a constant struggle to balance these things out as a parent. God certainly is leading us, and those awesome moments with your daughter shining was his way of helping you focus on what a gift you have. I am doing a bible study right now for women titled BRAVE, and last week we uncovered God’s desire to have us boldly LET GO and give the control and glory to Him. It was eye-opening for me to realize that letting go of my constant need to control can actually be considered brave. Please keep these posts coming. They inspire so many of us!

  25. 37


    This is exactly what I took away from the Mom Heart Conference in Dallas this last weekend. I get it, but remembering it may be another issue.
    Here’s to praying we remember to trust him – to remain persistant in turning our kids back to him over and over!!


  26. 38

    Stephanie says

    Someone shared this on Facebook, and I love it. I need to read it over and over. I wish I could wake my kids up and hug them and apologize for being a lousy mom today. I am grateful I get a do-over tomorrow.

  27. 40


    Thanks, I so needed to read this. My kids are also amazing and I tend to forget putting my eyes and focus on the little things. Thank you!!!

  28. 41

    Kristy says

    Thanks for this post! I really needed this right now as I, too, have been busy sweating the small stuff and not recognizing the beauty of my kids’ hearts and their great achievements. Hopefully I can continue to remember the meaning behind this post every day and enjoy all the great parts and not focus on the messy, untidy moments. :)

  29. 42

    Andrea says

    I’m pretty sure you wrote the for me.. Although you wrote ths a few months ago, I am so glad that I read this today! I am new to your blog but am so enjoying everything you write about. Thanks for yor wisdom!!

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