In last week’s article, The Defiant Catholic Child, I wrote that in every large devout Catholic family there is at least one child who is difficult to handle and demands more attention than the other children. In my article, I called this type of child “the defiant Catholic child” and limited my discussion to children who grow up in normal, devout Catholic two-parent homes.
I discussed my theory that most defiant Catholic children were given a special, unique gift from Almighty God at the moment of their conception. I also discussed that in addition to being assigned a guardian angel by God to watch over, guide, and protect a newly conceived child, it is believed that each new soul is also assigned an evil spirit by Lucifer whose purpose is to tempt the person throughout their life.
The key point in my article was that when a newly conceived child is given a special, unique gift from God, the evil spirit who is assigned to the child quickly discovers that the child is gifted and immediately puts a plan into place that focuses on tempting the child to act up and openly defy their parents during their early years of development.
What happens after that is that as the child continually acts up, at least one of the parents ordinarily becomes angry and believes that they have no other choice but to harshly punish the child. The harsh punishment of the child makes the situation worse because the child reacts to the discipline by becoming more defiant and unmanageable, which causes the parent to bear down even more. The parent then feels that they have no choice but to increase the severity of the punishments.
The primary objective of the evil spirit is to create a situation in which the parent becomes more and more abusive, which eventually fractures the relationship between the parent and the child to such an extent that the relationship is irreparably harmed.
When this occurs, the divine plan that Almighty God had for the gifted child is derailed and the child develops mental and emotional issues that haunt the child for the rest of their life. While the child may still love the abusive parent, there is an element of hate that the child has developed for the abusive parent which, in many cases, leads the child to embark down a dark path that prevents the child from fulfilling God’s plan.
At the end of my article, I asked these two questions: What should you do if you are a parent of a defiant Catholic child? How should you react to the child’s behavior?
If you’ve ever had experience with this type of child, you know that punishments for bad behavior usually backfire and the child becomes more defiant and unmanageable. Before I answer the two questions that I posed to you, I want you to think about how the Blessed Mother or Saint Joseph would handle this type of child.
Stop reading and think about how the Blessed Mother or Saint Joseph would handle this type of child. Assume that having a talk with the child would not work. What other approach do you think the Blessed Mother or Saint Joseph would use with the child?
What’s your best guess? Commit to an approach that either of them would take before reading further.
What I am about to recommend should begin when the child starts acting up more than what is normal. When the child’s behavior is out of control or the child is screaming uncontrollably, the first thing you need to do is put holy water on your finger and trace the cross on the child’s forehead while saying, “I bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.”
After blessing the child, pick up the child and lovingly carry the child while reciting the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, the Hail Mary prayer, and the Guardian Angel prayer.
If the child fights with you while you go through these steps, avoid becoming upset or impatient. Simply recite the prayers and continue to carry the child for as long as it takes for the child to relax and to become comfortable with you.
While you’re holding the child, you can go about your business. If it’s time to sit down for a meal, keep the child in your lap while you eat. If you’re at a family event, carry the child wherever you go and while you’re visiting with others. If there are things that you wanted to get done, set those things aside for the moment while you take care of your child.
Regardless of the child’s age, as often as possible, you need to express your love for the child by your words, touch, and actions. You should never discuss the child’s bad behavior with anyone if there is a chance that the child may hear you. This includes when you think your child is in bed. You may not know it, but the child may be at the top of the stairs or around the corner listening to what you are saying.
While the child is growing up, you need to express genuine surprise whenever the child misbehaves. An example of this would be by making this statement: I don’t know why you’re acting up right now. You’re a good boy (or girl). I know that you want to be good for me.
If the child snaps back and says something like, “No I’m not good,” don’t argue. Respond by saying, Oh yes you are and I know that you want to be good for me. Then, if possible, change the subject.
All your positive statements should be made with confidence and certainty. It’s important that you act as though you’re genuinely surprised by your child’s bad behavior. The tone of your voice should always be calm, loving, and confident, with no hint of anger or frustration.
Never ask your child questions like, Why are you behaving that way? or Why aren’t you obeying me? Your child does not know the answer to those types of questions and will usually answer the questions in their mind by thinking, Because I’m a bad boy (or girl). Instead of asking those types of questions, you counter their negative thoughts by your positive statements.
You should always avoid all forms of corporal punishment, which includes spanking, hitting, slapping, or aggressively grabbing the child. The use of corporal punishment is always subconsciously interpreted by your child as an act of hostility. After repeated acts of hostility on your part, your child will begin to develop a genuine hatred toward you. Your child will also learn that the preferred method of solving conflicts with others is by anger, physical aggression, and harm.
The behavior that I’ve outlined here should not be taken as a suggestion that you should refrain from disciplining your child. Your punishments can be severe when necessary and may include the denial of various privileges. If the child plays a game with you by attempting to make you feel guilty about the severity of a punishment, all you need to do is calmly tell the child that you love them and that someday they will thank you because they will know the correct way in which to punish their own children.
This is how I believe that the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph would deal with a child’s bad behavior.
Trust me on this topic. You want to make sure that the special, unique gift that God gave to your child will not be snuffed out by your hostile and inappropriate behavior.