I’ve written before about how I grew up in a family of 17 children — nine boys and eight girls — and how my wife and I raised seven children of our own. In every large family, there is at least one defiant child who is difficult to handle and demands more attention than the other children.
The phenomenon of having this type of child is not unique to large families, it’s just more common. In some families where there is only one or two children, one of the children may be defiant and extremely difficult to handle, but the existence of this type of child is more likely to occur in large families because the odds of having such a child increase as a family grows in size.
The type of child I’m referring to is not handicapped or mentally deficient. For whatever reason, the child simply acts up and demands more attention than a normal child.
I have a theory that I believe applies to this type of child, provided the child is being raised in a normal, devout Catholic, two-parent home. I’m going to refer to this type of child as the “defiant Catholic child.”
My theory of the defiant Catholic child does not apply to children who grow up in severely dysfunctional homes or in one-parent families. By limiting my theory to normal, devout Catholic, two-parent homes, I’m ruling out some obvious reasons for some children’s behavioral problems. Having said that, I’m not being critical of dysfunctional or one-parent Catholic families. I’m simply narrowing down the type of child that I’m referring to.
I’m sure you’ve seen examples of defiant Catholic children. In fact, you’ve probably observed these types of children on various occasions. When was the last time you were at Sunday Mass and observed a child who defiantly acted up and appeared to be challenging their parents to react to their behavior? Do you remember what happened when the parent threatened or disciplined the child? The child proceeded to embarrass the parent by becoming louder and more obnoxious.
Why do some children behave this way? What is it that causes them to defy and embarrass their parents in public?
In a moment, I’m going to give you my theory as to why this particular scenario may occur, but first, I need for you to understand that you may disagree with me or become angry and defensive about what I have to say. The reason you may become angry and defensive is because the recommendations I have as to how to deal with this type of child may be contrary to your beliefs on how children should be raised and disciplined. That’s perfectly understandable to me because I did not try out this theory until my older children were teenagers and, out of necessity, I began experimenting with my new theory on my younger children.
What is one of the primary reasons why a defiant Catholic child turns out to be defiant, difficult to handle, and demands more attention than most other children?
I have come to the conclusion that most defiant Catholic children were given a special, unique gift by Almighty God, at the moment of their conception.
The Catholic Church teaches that at the moment of conception, every person is assigned a guardian angel by God to watch over, guide, and protect the person throughout their life. On the other end of the spectrum, there is a belief among many Catholics that at the moment of conception, every person is also assigned an evil spirit by Lucifer. The job of the evil spirit is to get to know and follow that person throughout the person’s life and to tempt the person to sin against God. The final objective of the evil spirit is to pull the person away from God to such an extent that the person dies in the state of mortal sin.
When a newly conceived person has been given a special, unique gift by God, it doesn’t take very long for the evil spirit who was assigned to the person to notice the special gift. Because of the child’s special gift, the evil spirit focuses on tempting the child to act up and openly defy their parents.
The goal of the evil spirit is to make the child so unmanageable and out of control that at least one of the child’s parents 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, 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 has been 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, the hate that the child has developed for the abusive parent takes over and, in many cases, leads the child to embark down a dark path that prevents the child from fulfilling God’s plan.
What should you do if you are a parent of a defiant Catholic child? How should you react to the child’s behavior? I’ll answer those questions next week.