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Cultivating Motherhood: 3 bad habits hurting your relationship with your kids (+ what you can do about it)

Raising four active, strong-willed, rambunctious boys has been and is one of the greatest joys and the biggest challenges of my life.

Over the years there have been plenty of mistakes I have made sometimes hurting the very hearts I love so much. I would make promises to myself to do better tomorrow, only to find myself laying in bed praying for God to forgive me for my bad attitude, negative words, and wasted moments.

My bad habits made me think I was a bad mother.

Have you ever thought that way too?

If so, it is a lie.

Yes, we have bad habits, but we have a good God who can lead us on how to love the little lives He anointed us to raise.

If we want to win over the hearts of our children, then we also must be aware of the bad habits that get in the way.

Bad habit #1: Interrupting instead of listening

Ugh! If you want to know what kind of listener you are for your child, pay attention to how your child listens to others. Often our children will mirror their conversation pattern to the pattern we have set for them in our homes. We tell them to listen, but we struggle with listening to them.

I know interrupting is easy, especially when our kids are on a two-hour conversation about a book, a sport, or a game you have heard them talk about over and over again. I know interrupting is easy when you already know what they are going to say but they are taking forever to say it. I know interrupting is easy when they start talking out of their frustration and hormones. As moms, interrupting becomes particularly easy when we are tired, frustrated, preoccupied, or even feel we are at a disadvantage in the conversation. Pay attention to your triggers momma!

As tempting as it is to want to interrupt—listen.

Actively listening to our children teaches two valuable lessons: demonstrates what they have to say matters and models how to actively listen to others. Being a good listener is an essential key to cultivating a healthy relationship with our children. When we listen, we are fully present and able to hear the heart of our children. We give our children the gift of a fully present mom.

Bad habit #2: Correcting publicly instead of privately

I cannot tell you how often my boys would act out in public. Whether it was temper tantrums in Target or challenging a decision in front of their friends, there were many moments where I wanted to correct their public misbehaviors in a public way. Raising boys taught me correcting them publicly often resulted in more misbehavior. When I chastised my sons’ misbehavior publicly, they usually responded in embarrassment and shame (neither of these responses was my goal).

Discipline is meant for redirection and teaching valuable lessons.

When my children acted out, I decided to check my heart. Was my discipline as a result of my frustration, irritation, or even embarrassment? Learning to practice the pause helped me to take the time to correct my children privately instead of publicly. We can respond at our best when we can separate the behavior from the child.

Bad Habit #3: Focused more on what you want to say instead of how you are saying it

Have you ever had one of those moments with your kid where you start fussing first thing in the morning, or maybe you decide to turn your chat into an hour-long lecture? We can be so focused on what we want to say and proving our point to our kids that we forget HOW we want to communicate. Our children end up disconnected and disengaged not hearing or remembering anything we say because of how we spoke to them.

Choose to speak powerfully, intentionally, and with purpose.

Sometimes we zone in trying to prove our point, teach the lesson or say the “right” words only to miss the moment with our kids completely. The emotional impact of our tone and body language will fill the gap of trying to say the “right” words. Our goal is to redirect and teach, not prove we are right.

Remember, every moment is an opportunity to build a healthy relationship with our children. Deciding to speak with compassion and understanding will have a more significant impact and is more likely to make your words heard by your children. Listen, momma, just because you don’t see the impact of your words doesn’t mean what you say and how you say it is not important. You are cultivating and cultivating takes time.

Raising children is a gift, but boy can we feel like we are messing it up sometimes. Don’t hold yourself hostage to the ways you have missed the moments. Go to God, surrender it all to Him. Allow Him to show you how to turn these bad habits around. Remember, our children don’t need us to be a “perfect” mom; instead they need us to show them how to lean on a “perfect” God. Embrace you are learning and growing!

Cheering you on,


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43 comments on “Cultivating Motherhood: 3 bad habits hurting your relationship with your kids (+ what you can do about it)

  1. I love your thoughts and tips on this! You sound like you’re doing something incredibly right in the way that you raise your children! Especially if you are starting to apply these tactics when your children are young, then that sets your kids up for a lifetime of success.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Motherhood has/is definitely a journey. I have learned quite a bit from my mistakes and hope I can help other mommas too!

  2. Such invaluable tips. They are all so important. Interrupting is one of my weaknesses so I have to actively work on letting them have their say before I start talking.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Interrupting is a challenge for me too especially when they want to talk about Plants vs Zombies, Star Wars, or legos AGAIN 😆😆😆

  3. I need to finesse all three of these but especially #3. I had a mother who went from 0 to 60 in 2.7 seconds, snapping, yelling. I definitely do NOT want to be like that but do find myself wandering into that territory at times. I struggle + have to work really hard to NOT be that way. Each day it gets a little easier + eventually I’ll have more days that I don’t go to #3 + less days that I do go to #3.

    Thanks for sharing this information!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Oh, yes! I can relate on so many levels to what you shared. It does take discipline to be a better mother, especially on the hard days. The more we recognize our bad habits in parenting then we are able to be proactive about them to change. Every step matters!

  4. Great post 😁

  5. Oh, wow, Mama! You’ve got some great words of wisdom here! Thanks for sharing these helpful tips on checking our hearts as moms as we go through the parenting journey!

  6. Great article!

  7. Great tips here! I especially appreciate the reminder to be careful with how I’m saying things and to really be present when engaging with my kids. Not just making my own point. Thank you!

  8. These are excellent tips. The way you say something matters so much to kids and how they take away the lessons from what you said.

  9. Oh it is so true that our tones and words impact our kids tremendously – their feelings about themselves and the way they learn to communicate with others. But how do you fight against the exhaustion to make intentional communication choices with your kids at each turn? It’s a struggle for me! I’m a fellow mama of four 🙂

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Jennie is is not easy. Some days they all want to talk at the same time and go on forever. It is important that we listen, but they also need to learn about timeliness and not allowing conversations to be distractions. Sometimes I give them time limits. Everyone gets 5 minutes and we all listen without interruption.

  10. being mindful of these three is definitely hard sometimes.. i know i have interrupted, corrected them in front of others (depending on what happened) and said something not the way i meant to.. but i TRY not to do it often..

    • Mamie L. Pack

      I totally get it. Most of us don’t mean to do these bad habits but they do happen. Reflecting on our behavior as parents helps us to take the initiative on growing.

  11. Tiffani

    Yes, such a wonderful reminder! I’ve struggled with the interruptions myself!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Many of us do Tiffani. Sometimes I have to tell myself to stop and listen. It does take discipline.

  12. Erin Apple

    These are such wonderful tips! I feel like the interruption is such an easy mistake to make but an important one to correct. I love all your advice and thoughts! Thanks for sharing!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Awww thanks Erin. Sadly we interrupt often, sometimes just out of excitement. But we need to do better about choosing to listen. If our children realize we will listen to the small things they will want to share the big things.

  13. Thank you for the reminder and I totally agree with you especially with #2. It is a must that we correct our kids and actually everyone privately. Being wrong is mostly shameful but letting other people know it is just more embarassing.

  14. Armieyah

    Thank you for sharing this! Great reference for daily reflections. It can be tough to be a momma!

  15. I’m terrible with #1, especially with my husband, but am getting better. It’s so hard because I think of something and I just want to say it before I forget!

  16. These are great reminders that our kids have a voice too. I will bookmark this article as a constant reminder for myself!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Oh, thank you!!! I appreciate you stopping by.

  17. Such great post! I had the bad habit of disciplining my son publicly and never thought that he would feel so bad about it so instead I try to talk to him privately now and it made such a huge difference, he now listens more and he doesn’t throw a tantrum as soon as I discipline him!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Way to go Stephanie!!! Those little changes make such a tremendous difference in how our children respond to us. It’s awesome you have taken that step.

  18. These are so true, I especially have a hard time with my daughter having a speech and receptive delay – its so hard to get her to understand things in the best circumstances! Something we are constantly working on in our home!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Oh, I get it Ariana! It’s great you are working on it and doing something productive about it.

  19. Charissa

    These are really important things to keep in mind to grow a healthy relationship with your kids.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Thank Charissa!

      • I really love this post. Listening is key no matter how frustrating. How can I teach my daughter how to listen if I don’t listen to what she has to say? Your third point is important. It’s so much better to sit an calmly discuss than to be talk and be mad. This really left a lot to think about. Thank you.

      • Mamie L. Pack

        Thank you Kay!!! The biggest challenge in mothering has been my willingness to take a hard look at myself.

  20. These are some dangerous habits to steer clear of. Thank you for the reminder to being intentional about how we are speaking to our children.

  21. Yes, so true! Thanks for sharing.

  22. The Neurotic Mama Files

    So true! I need to work on my interrupting and speaking with purpose. This is a great post.

  23. I agree….being mindful and self aware of how we’re reacting to our kids is really important.

  24. alunderfullife

    I think these are also so important for other relationships in our life, especially the interrupting tip. I will definitely be putting these tips into practice this week.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Oh, yes! Any of these can be used in other relationships for sure.

  25. Renee Theresa

    This is perfect! So simple and so true. Three easy things i will do with my kids. Thanks!

  26. Thank you so much for this post! It really hit home with me on how I can better deal and understand my little ones.

  27. Silver Pyanov

    It’s so important to think in terms of relationship, short and long term, throughout your parenting journey.

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