Moms of Difficult Toddlers, Rejoice: Catholic Stuff Saturday

by | May 19, 2018 | Babies, Blog, Kendra's Thoughts, Parenting, Parenting Advice | 55 comments

It’s been a very busy week and is going to be an even busier weekend, but I wanted to pop in here to share some thoughts that really resonated with some of you already, and this week’s very excellent Catholic Stuff giveaway.

From a social media post . . .

Mothers of difficult toddlers, rejoice. There is hope. This guy is my oldest, and he was SO HARD. He would make himself throw up if he didn’t like what I made for dinner and thought he could get a popsicle instead. He dropped a full glass of orange juice on the floor of an airport restaurant, splattering everyone around us, because he didn’t like that it felt cold in his hands. He didn’t like taking naps so he did things like eating board books and shoving all of his clothing out of the second story window instead. He was frustrated with his siblings and his responsibilities. He always had a reason and an answer for everything. He always had a better idea for how or if he should do something. He was distracted all the time, to the point of really not being able to follow instructions. It’s funny to look back on, but it was HARD. 

We have spent almost sixteen years losing our tempers and wringing our hands, but also loving him and being consistent and spending time and explaining and following through. He’s had his dad and his grandfathers and a great scout master and a great spiritual director. And you guys, today this young man is such a joy. He’s confident and friendly and responsible. He is sweet to his little sisters and helps old men find things at Home Depot. I like him. I trust him. I enjoy his company. We spent today, just the two of us, at an amusement park. I don’t know what the future will bring, of course, and I’m not saying we are done parenting him. But I can say today that the challenge and the frustration and the effort feels 100% worth it, and gives me hope for my other stinkers.

That’s what I wrote last Monday, after Jack and I got home from our outing, and it was amazing to see how it resonated with parents who are in the trenches of parenting a stinker. Wondering if it’s your fault, wondering if your parenting methods and failures are destroying his little spirit, wondering if it ever ends, wondering how it could be worth it.

I have never claimed to be a parenting expert, but I really hope my perspective from almost sixteen years in CAN give you hope. It gives me hope, as I am very much still in the thick of things with babies and toddlers as well as teenagers!

To answer some questions some folks had . . .

Jack started spiritual direction in eighth grade. We use mentoring and leadership development programs sponsored by Opus Dei. We’ve found them to be a really excellent resource for spiritual direction and retreats for teenagers and adults. I highly recommend them.

You can find out more about Opus Dei locations and contact them here.

And an old post about it:


My general parenting philosophy, inspired by and practiced on this guy, can be found in this post:
And some thoughts on difficult kids, here:
We have found that obedience in small children in small things becomes the ability to make good decisions for oneself as an older child. Trust gained as a young kid who can do as he’s told, means being allowed independence as an older child and teenager.
There was a assertion by a commenter, on a recent parenting post of mine, that to require obedience of children is dangerous and wrong and will result in damaged children and damaged relationships. All I can say is that in my experience, so far, it has resulted in manageable toddlers and small children, and in at least one confident, independent young adult. The jury’s still out on the rest of them.
But mostly, I’d say, DO NOT parent by fear. If the parenting method you’re reading about tells you that studies and statistics say that your children will be horribly scarred by doing anything other than what this one guy says, just put it down and back away. Choose the parenting method that fits your family circumstances, and temperament, and the temperament of your children. Trust your gut, and don’t listen to fearmongering. Know that even once you have a general method that’s working for you, it will change in the details as your circumstances change. Believe in the resiliency your children. Know that you will make mistakes and that your family can survive them.
For me, it all boils down to three little things . . .
LOVE them.
LIKE them.
SACRIFICE for them.
I am confident that you can’t go too far wrong with this parenting thing if you love your children with a human and an eternal love, and that they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are loved. My stinkers know that they are stinkers, because I TELL them. But I also tell them that I love them so much anyway, no matter what.
I also think it’s important to parent them in such a way that I can enjoy being in their company. I’m pretty sure my kids could tell if I didn’t like being around them.
And finally, we make sure our kids know and understand them sacrifices we make for them. So that they can be grateful, yes, but even more importantly, so they can know that they are worthy of being sacrificed for.
Jack is being confirmed today. I’d be grateful for your prayers for him, and for our family. You and your intentions will be in our prayers as well.
And now . . .
I’m really excited to introduce you today to two amazing Catholic artisans and small business owners.
The first is Shannon Wendt of Chews Life. You’ve probably heard of them already. I’ve had her chewy baby rosaries for many years, but she just keeps making them better and better.
The latest models come in beautiful colors with fun chewy crosses and miraculous medals.
Purple Rainbow Chews Life Soft Rosary
She’s also got beautiful gemstone rosary bracelets for moms, soft bracelets for kids, and beautiful mommy-and-me rosary sets!
Shannon is offering a special discount for all Catholic All Year readers, just visit to look around and use the code CAY10 to get 10% off!
The second is Jonathan Conrad, aka Catholic Woodworker. He makes really awesome manly rosaries, perfect for confirmation, new converts, graduates, and fathers.
Olive Wood Rosary
This is the one we are giving Jack as a confirmation gift. (His favorite color is purple.)
And you can win one too! Jonathan has offered to give two away: one here on the blog, and another on social media later in the week.
To enter, just leave a comment here on the blog post telling me who you’d like to give this rosary to. Bonus points if he’s a recovering stinker!
But also feel free to just comment on the content of the post. We’re all here to advise or commiserate as needed!


  1. Caroline

    I would give my second daughter the purple rosary. Right now she uses one of our many free rosaries. I used to call her Yosemite Sam when she was little because she was always stomping her little boots in anger and letting everyone know she was rootin’ tootin’ stinkin’ mad when she had to do something she didn’t want to do. She’s now eleven and was just confirmed two weeks ago! She blossomed out of her old ways long ago and is a sweet and caring daughter.

    • Kendra

      Hah! Such a funny visual! And glad to hear you're on the other side. 🙂

  2. Hannah Jasmine

    I would love to give the rosary to one of my little brothers, who just graduated from college! And I really appreciate your words about raising kids, especially against fearful parenting.
    Prayers for Jack and congratulations!

  3. Richelle

    I would give the rosary to my brother because he has fallen away from the Church.

  4. Lisa Mc

    I would love to give a rosary to one of my coworkers who is going through RCIA. he stops in my office regularly and we chat about his journey. So excited for him!

  5. Kate Young

    I would give a rosary to my son, Julian, who is almost nine and STILL a stinker (and his favorite color is purple, too).

    Thank you for this post! I am still very much in the trenches of parenting, with kids 8, 5, 3, and 1, and I appreciate your perspective.

  6. Amanda

    My almost10 year old, still a stinker. But this post really gave me hope!

  7. carol

    I would love to give the rosary to my neighbor who is apostate . I would like the purple one. carol laurence

  8. Ri

    I would love to give a rosary to my husband – for Father's Day or just for being an incredibly faith Filled, strong leader of our family. Our second baby is due next week and he has been such a source of strength and support for us in the pregnancy and transition! Please pray for us this coming week!

  9. awhite

    I would love to give one to my husband! Catholic Woodworker's rosaries are gorgeous!!

  10. me

    My stinkers go through phases – a few years of stinker-ness, and then some years of grace (and then stinker comes shining through again!). I love them anyways!
    I'd give it to my eldest son who is going away to college in the fall.

  11. Unknown

    I have a stinker for sure. Would love to win a Rosary (both chewable and wooden) for my kids!! Thank you!

  12. Amy D.

    I’d love to give it to the godparents we’ve selected for our baby, who will be baptized in Father’s Day!

    • Kendra

      Congratulations, Amy! You are the winner! Jonathan from the Catholic Woodworker will get in touch with you.

  13. Nicole Ernest

    We love Chews life too! I would give that wonderful rosary to my deserving husband!

  14. Mary R.

    Long story… of why I'd give it to my cousin's husband. She passed away about four years ago, leaving him with two girls, then ages 14 and 18. Just before dying, she returned to the Sacraments and requested a Scapular that she was wearing when she died. He had a stroke and wasn't by her side when she died. Still an atheist, he was bitter and fell into alcoholism and spent much time in and out of recovery programs. The older daughter, somehow in the midst of it, began saying the Rosary daily and then gave her dad a miraculous medal and told him to pray to St Maximillian Kolbe, the patron saint of those struggling with addictions. Thanks be to God!! He became a Catholic at Easter with my uncle — his father-in-law — as his Godfather. This uncle is also my godfather.

  15. Bailey Schroeder

    I would love this beautiful rosary for my husband. He sacrifices so much to keep us cared for. I pray the rosary daily, but he has started joining me once a week- to say that it has brought us closer would be an understatement!

  16. arenda

    Yep, the rosary would be for my husband, too. He might have been a stinker back in the day, but not since I've known him. 🙂

  17. Jenny Cook

    I'm not commenting to win anything, just on the post. You're inspiring as always, Kendra, and your family is just so great. I'm one of those parents feeling lost in the wasteland that is the "parenting section" of the bookstore of life. You know, how each book tells you that the other guy's book is hokey at best and dangerous at worst, and that their way is the RIGHT way to not scar your kids for life? I'm sure that statements like that just roll off of many people's backs like water off a duck…but it gets me every time. It's so hard [for me] not to live in the fear of doing *everything* wrong. I'm looking for a spiritual director who can help me in the whole "pray, trust, and don't worry" sphere of things. Any prayers you or your readers would say for me would be much appreciated, especially asking Mother Angelica for intercession. She's not canonized (yet) but that woman had backbone and bravery to spare and she got stuff done without giving two hoots for what the naysayers said.

    • Kendra

      Of course, Jenny! It's normal to be worried, but I try to remember that God picked *me* to mother these particular kids, which has to mean that with his grace I can do it well, and they same goes for you and yours. It's great to get advice but only as long as it's helping and not hurting your peace! And you know you can alway email me!

  18. Heatherle Chambers

    If I win, I'll give this rosary to my new friend Michael, who is going to do RCIA this upcoming fall.

  19. Jes P

    I would love to present my civil husband the rosary at our Convalidation of Holy Matrimony which is also coinciding with my FHC and Confirmation, his baptism, FHC, and Confirmation, our daughter (due 5/21) baptism on August 11 this year. We are so looking forward to the end of our journey and how amazing for him to have such a great gift and useful tool to remember it.

    Did I mention he’s been abandoned by his parents for his decision of becoming Catholic?! This journey has been 4 years long and a very hard journey without his parents’ love and support.

    Happy Weekend for your family! I think all Stinkers (I’m one so it’s safe to say) grow out of it eventually. It takes love and support from many people to be able to do so.

    • Kendra

      Wow. We were just talking about this sacrifice over our bonfire last night with our kids (and Fr. Bryce Sibley who was visiting from Louisiana). It's a truly humbling thing to think about. I know God will reward his faithfulness!

  20. Anne

    I would give to my oldest son 🙂 Loved this reflection!

  21. Rachel

    Definitely my husband. And together we parent one of the most ridiculous stinkers imaginable.

  22. Jaime Krause

    I'd give it to my niece who recently had her First Communion, and I don't think she received a rosary from anyone!

  23. Diane Haman

    I have godchildren in two age brackets-two who are teens and three who are tots. These rosaries would make beautiful gifts for any one of them!

  24. Brandy Buckley

    I'd love to give this rosary my son. King of stinkers who makes me love harder than I knew I could and question my own sanity and sanctity more than I ever thought possible.

  25. Samantha

    I would definitely give one to my husband. He is my rock. He bought a cheap wooden rosary off amazon a few years ago and the crucifix fell off the wooden cross the same day and had to be super glued back on! He still uses it, but I would love to be able to replace it and move the old one into the family rosary bin.

    I also have a stinker son. He’s 11 and my oldest. He goes to a school whose faith formation is run by Opus Dei and I am so thankful every day for the positive influence he gets there. I try to be optimistic that he will better learn to handle his stinkerness.

  26. Emily Robinson

    I'd love to give one to my husband for Father's Day – who just had his favorite wooden rosary destroyed by our sweet, destructive, just-turned-three-year-old.

  27. a Pettis

    A family can never have too many rosaries!! would love to have a new beautiful rosary cor myself or the hubby!!

  28. Desiree H

    I'd give it to my 16 year old daughter, who was never once a stinker…unlike my 3yo. How can my 8th child be the one that makes me tear my hair out?? The kid makes me feel like a rookie.

  29. Anna B

    Love the content of this post! I would save the rosary for my husband- he is sloooowly working his way toward Catholicism but Our Blessed Mother is a big hang up for him yet. Though he will use a rosary to say a Divine Mercy Chaplet 🙂

  30. Kathy

    I'd give it to my husband. Our two year old is being quite a stinker.

  31. Audie

    As one in the thick of raising a stinker thank you! Sometimes it doesn't feel fair that he gets in trouble all the time while his brothers have privileges and whatnot.
    Also, my husband just commented that he needed a manly rosary AND his birthday is coming up!

  32. Melissa

    I’d like to give a rosary to my husband. Our 3 year old is turning into quite the stinker. I thought with her being my 5th I had it all figured out!

  33. GTomooka

    I would love to give the rosary to my sister-"in-love", Denise. She has 6 kids all older than my 6. She has been such a support and model to me. We all need to lean on Mama Mary. <3

  34. historybudd

    Reading this in 2023 as the Mama of a difficult toddler! Gave me so much hope.


  1. Chores for Enthusiastic Toddlers - Catholic All Year - […] Moms of Difficult Toddlers, Rejoice: Catholic Stuff Saturday […]

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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