It breaks our hearts as parents when our family isn’t close. This mom desperately wants her children to get along with one another, but the reality is much different.

Q: It is my deepest hope and prayer that our family can be so close knit that nothing can break our relationships apart, and that our kids can depend on each other when they need each other. It is also my deepest hope & prayer also that the children also come to genuinely know Christ as their personal Lord & Savior. That being said, that is not where is standing right now. We have seven children, ranging from 2 to 14. Over the past several years, our oldest children, especially our 14-year-old, have been defiant, belligerent, disrespectful, rebellious, liars, thieves, grudge holders, etc. They have been the rulers of the roost, for quite some time.

This lifestyle that they enjoy so much is leaking out to the younger children. They basically have had no intention of paying attention to anything I tell, and I’m at my wits’ end. I have no idea what has caused them to behave this way, expect that they basically no respect for their mother.

I have always showed them love. I’ve always tried my best to give them what they needed. We need to heal relationships and need help in getting our family on the right track.

A: I’m so sorry that things are not going well at all in your home. That can be so discouraging to a parent. While I am unable to dive deep into your concerns in this forum, my prayer is that you will find hope in this answer. Because there is hope. No child or family situation is beyond hope. Just the fact that you’re writing means you are invested in making changes that will positively impact you and your family.

Showing them love doesn’t automatically equal respect. My best guess is that you have put not presented yourself as the leader in your home. People don’t pay attention to leaders who aren’t leading.

A couple things come to mind after reading your note. First, the only person you can change is yourself. You can’t change your husband. You can’t change your children. You can only change you, but when you do change yourself, you will find others will change in response. But change is messy, and ugly and things nearly always get worse before they get better.

Now you say that you have no idea how your children got to the place where they have no respect for you as their mother. Showing them love doesn’t automatically equal respect. My best guess is that you have put not presented yourself as the leader in your home. People don’t pay attention to leaders who aren’t leading, and Alpha Speech is a great way to start. Stop explaining. Say it once and level consequences when necessary…without worrying about whether the child in question will obey or change as a result.

Because your concern is complex, I can’t answer it any more fully than that. My best advice is to contact me for a free, 15-minute phone consultation with you to see how parent coaching can help you to become the mother your children will want to respect and obey.