That Child

You Might Have That Child If…


I want to take a little break from all the serious talk about That Child. Don’t worry, I still have more insight to share about raising That Child, but I think it’s important for us to keep laughing and understanding that God has a sense of humor even in the midst of all the hard stuff. At the end of the day He’s always trying to do two things glorify himself, and grow us. It’s really good for us to use the gift of laughter that He’s given us, to create a little levity in what can be very overwhelming circumstances with “That” Child.

So I just want to go through this little list, I actually have eleven items, and i’m hoping that at the end of this you will be able to add your own items in the comments below. I’m sure there’s a lot of other ideas that we could all add to this list, let’s start with these:

11 Signs you might have that child

You might have a “That” Child if…

#1:  You might have a “That” Child if they demand all of your attention.

Can I get an amen?! If you have “That” Child, they demand all of you, they demand parts of you that you didn’t even know you had, they demand the exhausted and the tired and the overwhelmed parts of you. The spent parts of you, the parts of you you don’t know what to do with. They demand it all, and they demand it all the time. Yes they do.

I’m here to tell you that when my oldest “That” Child was still at home, I used to go in at night and just watch him sleep, cause he was so still and he looked so innocent. Laying in there in the bed he wasn’t demanding anything of me. And then I would just go cry.

If you have a “That” Child you know exactly what I mean. They demand parts of you, and so much of you, and the glorious part of them demanding so much of you is it means you need that much more of God. See, the blessing of God sending me “That” Child, more than once was that it caused me to have to lean into Him. I knew that I needed Him, because of how much my “That” Child needed me. And when I ran out of me, I needed God. That was the blessing of it.

#2: You might have a “That” Child if their mood is completely unpredictable, moment to moment.

If you have “That” Child, you don’t always know who’s gonna wake up in their room in the morning. They might be totally agreeable and joyful and cooperative and you will want to know who woke up in their room. And they might be that way to breakfast…but after breakfast, you don’t even know what happens, it completely changes. “That” Child’s mood is all over the map, as are their interests, and their curiosity, and their attention, it’s all over everywhere.

“That” Child they can change, and turn around on a dime, and you keep trying to figure out “What did we do to get the cooperative, and what did we do to get the not cooperative”.

Here’s one thing I’m going to tell you over and over about “That” Child for all those times we’re thinking “I don’t know how to do this, this is so hard, this is so tiring” I want us to take the opportunity to pause, and consider what might it be like to be “That” child.

I’m going to propose this: it is hard to be “That” Child. It’s hard for their emotions to be all over the map. It’s hard for them to not know what they’re interested in, or how to pay attention, or how to focus, or how did they get on this, that, or the other thing? They’re wondering all that too.

It’s not just us.

And they deserve more than a little bit of our compassion as they navigate the intersection in those pre-teen and teen years of not just their “That” Child wiring but also those hormones when they kick in. They don’t know themselves – so we could stand to be compassionate and more caring with them.

#3: You might have a “That” Child if you cannot hear them, you know you must find them.

I had two boys before I had any daughters, and I had friends who had girls first and I remember going over to one of my friend’s house who just had daughters and I was like “Uhm, where are the girls?” And she said “Oh they’re in their room playing” And I thought to myself, Wow, what must that be like? My boys, If I couldn’t hear them I needed to find them, and I needed to find them quickly because you know what? They were probably doing something, that they shouldn’t be doing, and that’s how it is!

Not necessarily sneaky, not necessarily deceptive, although that was certainly true, but I’m talking about doing things because they were just so curious. Things they shouldn’t have been messing with. It’s truly what they needed to do. They needed to chase their curiosity but I needed to be around them when they did, giving them permission to be curious.

“That” Child is very curious, “That” Child wants to know things and investigate things, and if we can give them permission to do those things when we’re with them it cuts down on their need to do those in a sneaky way. But you know what I mean, “That” Child is not generally quiet, so if they are, ya need to find them!

#4: You might have a “That” Child if their thinking rarely precedes their actions.

Yes, you know what it’s like. You’ve told them a thousand times, you know you’ve told them, you’ve trained them, you’ve intentionally interjected truth in their lives, and guess what they do? Not what you say.

But it’s not because you haven’t said it, it’s because they aren’t thinking.

Many many many times I would say to mine: “Wait, think. Were you thinking? You need to pause and think. Make sure you’re thinking.” See, they just rush into action. But the good news is, they’re home with us and we can teach them!

If we can have the patience of the holy spirit over and over again we can teach them the power and the importance of thinking before they act.

#5: You might have a “That” Child if graduation seems really far away.

On The heels of one of our most difficult years with “That” Child as a homeschooling family, we went to our state conference in May. We had just been through 9 months of really challenging character issues and self control issues. I’m not even sure how much we actually accomplished in school that year because we were constantly dealing with these issues. Anyway, it got to May and we went to our state homeschool conference. Our state conference offers a senior graduation and I went in to watch it because I felt like I’ve just gotta get some inspiration, it just seems impossible that we are ever gonna make it to graduation with “That” Child.

So I’m sitting there, by myself, and there was this woman behind me and I began to cry and in her compassion she put her arm around me and she said “Which one’s yours?” She asked this as they filed across the stage and I said “none of them, my oldest one is twelve!”

But as I was looking at those graduates I was like “Oh please God, can we get to that? Can we make it to that? Would you give us what we need to make it to that?” On that day, that graduation seemed really far off.

If that’s you today I wanna encourage you to hold on, God’s got this. You’re on a journey, He’s got a plan, hold His hand, and take one day at a time.

#6: You might have a “That” Child if nothing seems to work.

Yes, it’s difficult with “That” Child. I went through all the books, I read The Strong Willed Child, The Sensory Sensitive Child…I mean I read everything I could get my hands on. I was looking for something that I could actually do to help. If they gave me any indication of time out, or putting them over here or doing a chart or whatever they said I was like “Ok we’re gonna try this”

And I tried, and I tried, and I tried, and I tried, but nothing seemed to work.

And I felt like “My goodness, what am I gonna do?” But again, I wanna tell you, the fact that nothing worked made me again, lean into God, made me go to God. The numbers of times I was on my face just trying to call out to God and say “What do you want me to do? I don’t know how to do this, I don’t know how to train him, I don’t know what to say.” And I would go and God always provided. He always gave me some creative Idea of something to try, He always gave me discernment and the wisdom I need as he dried my tears, and he bonded our hearts together as I leaned into God for that.

So even though it felt like nothing worked from what the world was offering, it gave me an opportunity to go to God and ask God “What do I do for “That” Child? For this specific “That” Child, what do you want me to do?” And He always answered.

#7: You might have a “That” Child if you worry about the effect they’re having on your other children.

This is one of the more serious ones on the list, and I had this in spades when we were going through this really intense time with our oldest, who was “That” Child. I remember just crying out to God and saying “I don’t understand, you sent me 6 more after him, how is it possible? He needs everything! I don’t even know how to do this and I don’t even know if I talked to this child today, I don’t even know if I hugged this other child today and I know I didn’t read to this other child today.”

And I would just cry and cry and cry.

I want to tell you, all of these years later one of the things that we would say to the kids when our “That” Child was having so many problems and one of the other kids would come up and say “What’s wrong? I don’t understand. Why does he have to get so angry? Why does he have to argue with everything? Why does he get so mad?” And we would talk to the other children about this and I would always encourage them to pray for him and we would always pause and pray for him and obviously we prayed with him many many times. Today I can tell you that my kids don’t resent it, that’s not how they remember it because you know what?All of my kids have had issues and we’ve had to pray them all through different things, that just happened to be his thing.

Look, I’ve said this before and it’s very valuable, I wish I knew who to credit with this saying because it is so poignant: “What defines you as a person, is what you believe about God.” And everybody will know that by the way you live, how you give, what you do, and what you don’t do, what you watch and what you don’t read, ok?

What defines you as a family is how you deal with your weakest link, whether that link is a behavior problem today, or some sort of a physical issue, or a mental disability, or an illness, you know like, at your house when somebody is sick at your house it doesn’t mean that you carry on as usual, you tend to the needs of the ones thats sick. And if someone has a learning issue, you tend to the needs of that learning issue.

So, as you’re dealing with “That” Child the rest of your kids are watching and they’re seeing how you deal with that kid, and it is ministering to them, you’re giving them an example of how to deal with their weakest link when they grow up and get married and it’s all about compassion and patience and love, and love, and love, and grace, and grace, and grace.

So the effect it’s having on your children is they’re getting to see God intercede in your family and in you, and do something amazing, as long as you keep pointing everyone to God. The effect on your other kids can be amazingly positive.

#8: You might have a “That” Child if you’ve cried yourself to sleep.

Night after night after night I remember my pillow being just soaking wet cause I just kept feeling like a failure. And you know what? My enemy wanted to keep me in the place where I felt like a failure, he wanted to keep me under condemnation for the days I lost it, for the days I did not allow the Holy Spirit to come and fill me with patience, for the days when I was frustrated and I let him know it, for the days that I didn’t handle it well in a God-honoring way, for the days, you know what, I didn’t wanna ask God, because I knew God was gonna ask me to be patient and I didn’t wanna be.

I would cry myself to sleep, and cry myself to sleep, and ask for forgiveness, and ask for a fresh new day, and you know what? God always gave it.

I wanna tell you, God, in our brokenness that is where He meets us. Over and over, and over in scripture it’s in our brokenness and our desperate need that He meets us, and He comes and does something glorious.

As long as we think we’ve got it, we don’t need Him. But when we know we don’t got it, that we need Him, that He is glorified and we get to grow in our dependency on Him.

#9: Yes, you Might have a “That” Child if you know they know all of your buttons, and they know how to push them all at the same time, regularly.

Yes, My “That” Child was able to find buttons that I did not know that I had, and he was able to consistently push all of them at the worst possible moment. Again, I really believe that the God of the universe, sovereign over all things, has blessed you with “That” Child. This is not a burden, it’s not payback, it’s not a curse, it’s a blessing that God has given you “That” Child To show you your need for God and the opportunity he’s granted you to grow this child into somebody that will glorify his name.

Pushing all your buttons is a blessing!

It’s a blessing to find weaknesses, and failures, and faults that you didn’t know you had, or in my case, I had covered up so well I had learned to ignore. I’m glad that I’ve had that child to point out the issues in myself that I really needed to work on. And that was again when God came and began to heal.

#10: You might have a “That” Child if discipline dominates every day.

Now, I used to have a thing with my “That” Child and when he would disobey during the day I would take away his favorite toy for that day. So let’s say that it was this little train, But, I wouldn’t just take it away from him and put it away, I would take it away and put it somewhere where he could see it and want it, but not be able to get it. And so my husband could walk in, and within five minutes of being in the door he could look at the mantle, and assess how the day had been.

I was looking for creative ways to get this child’s attention all the time. Whether it was putting him in time out, taking away things that he wanted, not allowing him to go and participate in things that he wanted to do, I had charts and graphs going, I was constantly trying to discipline him. Because with these kids what I know is they thrive in consistency but I fail at consistency.

So the discipline was not just disciplining him, but it was learning to discipline myself. The discipline of spending time with God every morning, of praying, of choosing to glorify and focus on God, even in the midst of a really lousy day, just going “Ok God, I’ve blown it. But I Praise you. Thank you for sending me this kid. I thank you, and I praise your holy name for the plan that you have, even though I don’t know what it is right now.”

That’s what it means, everyone of these issues gives us an opportunity to lean into God, or, we can choose to continue to lean into ourselves.

#11: You might have a “That” Child if giving up is really tempting.

I want to encourage you with every ounce of my being, don’t. give. up. Don’t give up on you and your ability to allow the Holy Spirit to work through you and to bless “That” Child, and don’t give up on “That” Child. Too many people already have.

When I started doing this presentation a couple of years ago, I actually called and talked to my “That” Child who is now a college graduate, married with my first grandchild, and pursuing a master’s degree. I called him and asked his permission to continue telling our story, and he said “You know what mom? Tell our story, and tell the moms this: don’t give up on us.

That is the message from my “That” Child to you as the mom of “That” Child. Now, your “That” Child may not be able to say it to you right now, and it may seem like they’re screaming at you right now to give up on them. But I am begging you, don’t. give. up.

Determine that you are going to trust that God has a plan, and that God has in them a mighty warrior for His kingdom, that He’s given you an opportunity to raise for His glory, and yes, to grow through your junk.

God has a plan.

Remember this mamas: you might have a “That” Child if God has blessed you abundantly, and I pray that you will hug “That” Child, and you will seek God, and you will lean into Him.

In His Grace-

Rachael Carman




If you would like to read more of my “That Child” series, click here.

Dear That Child Mom – You are Not Alone

It’s easy, when you are facing That Child every-single-day, to get into a place where you feel so incredibly alone.

When you are just sure that you are the only one who had that kind of day with that child.


Dear That Child Mom, you are not alone.


I’m glad you’re here.

I want you to know there’s a whole bunch of us out here.

And we all need each other!

I’ve had a couple of those kids come through a household with seven children, and my current one was just wired today.

Completely wired.

Could not sit still.

Was asking the same question over and over and over…

You get the picture.

You completely understand what I’m talking about.

So, Yeah. It was one of those days.

I assure you, if you’re coming to our discussion today, and it’s been one of those days…

Welcome. And you are not alone.

I gave a presentation a couple of years ago where I was sharing about my That Child to a group of moms in Minnesota. And before I even started, I looked into the middle of the crowd, there must have been seven hundred moms in the room, and this woman just started crying. 

I hadn’t even said anything yet. 


I can remember while I was being formally introduced to the crowd, I was actually praying for that woman saying “God, just hold her, I don’t know what’s going on… but she needs you right now.”

I watched her.

As she sat and cried.



The entire presentation.

After I was done she started coming towards me, and I was thinking… 

“Oh sweet Jesus, give me the words of encouragement that I need for this mom in her brokenness and exhaustion!”

She came up to me and said “You have no idea. Just sitting and looking around this room at all these other moms and to realize I wasn’t the only one, was so powerful for me. The enemy had me so convinced that I was the only one and no one understood.”  

Look, you’re not sitting in a room with me presenting to seven hundred moms right now, but maybe you will someday and I look forward to that time with a lot of hope that I can actually give you a hug.

But for right now…. from this computer screen, I want to assure you,  you’re not alone.

You are joined by thousands of moms across the country who are in the everyday battle that you are.

To maintain your sanity and find a way to love That Child that God has sent you.


If you have not read my confession about my first that child, I encourage you do to so.

I think you will quickly see I’m right there with you!

Lots of us are.

Join us for the rest of this series as we discuss, vent, and pray over our own version of That Child.

I hope to challenge your perception and encourage you in your mothering.

I pray that you will be blessed as we lift each other up and mother These Children.

Every Thursday at 3:00 pm Eastern, I’ll have a new live discussion on my Facebook Page about That Child. Meet me there! Bring your questions. Bring your struggles. Bring your heart. I’ll meet you where you are and do my best to help you work through this very challenging stage.

In His Grace –

Rachael Carman


Top 8 Things We Say to That Child

Welcome to my new series on That Child. If you missed my first article (and my confession) about my That Child, you can read it here.

We are about to really start digging in and having the hard conversation about our That Child, but before we get too deep, I wanted to remind everyone to not let yourself fall into the habit of living frustrated and grouchy.

Instead, really try to find the beauty and humor in our everyday life. Believe me, you will need that perspective some days!

Remember to laugh (and breath) on a regular basis. And to help you out, I’ve compiled a list of the top 8 things we say to That Child. Leave me a comment and let me know if any of these sound familiar to you.

Or if I left any off that I need to add!


8. Stop!

In fact, probably several times a day you find yourself saying “Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop! Stop, stop.” Right?

I used to love to go in, at night, and watch my That Child sleep.

He was so still.

So peaceful.

He was never that way when he was awake!

So I loved to go in at night, and just pray over him, and just stay, because he was finally still.

7. No!

They ask outrageous things.

At outrageous times.

And unfortunately sometimes it’s just our go-to answer.

Truth is, we don’t even really listen to them.

And I’m going to challenge you to work through that.

6. Pay attention!

Because so often, they’re off in some other land. So it is another very common thing to say to That Child.

I used to cradle Charles’s face in my hands and I would say “Look at me.” Because sometimes he would be looking at me, but the lights weren’t on, right?

The lights are on but no one’s home?

That’s the look that I got from Charles’s face.

So we want them to pay attention because we have something very powerful we want to say to them.

5. What were you thinking?


Things that you and I would never have thought to do.

And we need to pray for, as mothers of a That Child, we need to pray for discernment.

For the ability to see when they are really being rebellious, and when they’re just being curious.

Oh, and that God would grant us patience, when curiosity reigns the day.


4. Slow down!

Because they’re just running.

Running, running, running, running, running.

Everything is at full speed.

Glasses of orange juice on the table, not a good setup when that child’s around.

They need to learn to slow down, when it’s appropriate mom, but not all the time. We need to give them outlets for all of that energy.

With my  grown That Child and the one I currently have at home, I often will send them out to run laps around the house.

You’re gonna think that’s crazy, but instead of just sitting there, asking him to slow down over and over and over, something he just can’t do. I want to give him an ability, an ability to use that energy in a positive way. So running around the house, go out and shoot some hoops, something, to get the energy out.

3. What are you supposed to be doing?

See, That Child is very often not doing what they are supposed to be doing and it’s not that you haven’t been clear… they’re just easily distracted and they’re curious.

And so a caterpillar was crossing the road and they were supposed to get the mail, but, there’s a caterpillar.

And they had to put it back in its home and it’s home was three streets away, and…

You get the idea. I’m gonna tell you, they get a bad rap. I get that, they need to do we’ve asked them to do, and we say this a lot, but we need to build in grace when we’re saying these things to them.

2. Are you listening?

And the answer is often no.

They’re not listening because there is so much going on in their head.

So many ideas.

So much curiosity.

So much imagination.

So much going on that they’re probably not listening to you.

But again, it’s not always, rebellious. Sometimes it’s just childish immaturity.

1.  How many times do I have to tell you?

This is one of the things that I like to say often to my That Child regularly

Yeah, I have a book by that title.

Anyway, I had a friend one time that was calling her husband on one of those mornings with her That Child, and she was recounting to her husband all of the things that had gone wrong that morning,

“…he did this, and he did this, and he did this.”

And I think she told me it was 7:45 in the morning, her husband was already at work, and the day was already in shambles.

And she went on, and on, and on.

And the climax of her story was, “How many times do I have to tell him?”

And her husband responded “That’s, your job.”

Yeah, that IS our job as moms… we get to tell them over and over, and if we keep making it a “have to”, that’s when a root of bitterness can spring up, which we are warned about.

Hebrews 12:14-16 (NASB)

14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.

Here we have an opportunity to tell them over and over in a loving and patient way.

Your That Child was sent to you as a blessing, and even if right now, today has been a really hard challenging day, I hope you’ll drive a stake in the ground and determine to go forward with grace, and a new vision for that child.

I want to suggest to you boldly and courageously today that what our world needs, is strong young men and women, who are totally dedicated to the cross of Jesus Christ. That’s the opportunity that lays before us as moms of That Child.

To raise a generation of World Changers – young men and women who seek to serve God – and it’s not gonna be easy.

They’re gonna fight.

They’re gonna question.

They’re gonna push back.

And we have a profound strength with the Mighty God of Heaven, to raise a generation, that’s going to point others to the cross of Jesus Christ.

Join us for the rest of this series as we discuss, vent, and pray over our own version of That Child.  I hope to challenge your perception and encourage you in your mothering. I pray that you will be blessed as we lift each other up and mother Those Children.

In His Grace-

Rachael Carman

That Child and My Confession

Today I want to share a story with you. It is one that I kept hidden and didn’t talk about for many years. Because I didn’t know how to fix the situation. It is a story about my That Child.

It is our story.

His story.

And I have a confession to make  … 

I had been sharing about him without my That Child‘s permission! Yes, all the details.

The rages.

The arguments. 

The disobedience.

The challenges.

All of it.

As I started sharing bits and pieces, more and more people started asking me about my That Child. And they wanted to tell me about their That Child

How their That Child was “the one” driving them crazy.

And their That Child was the reason they put everybody on the bus.

Or the exact opposite, their That Child was the only one on the bus and they kept everybody else at home.

So I was getting more and more questions about how I managed. I knew God was saying it was time to start sharing about what happened. And I knew I needed to call my That Child, who is now 26 years old, has graduated from college, is married, and is, in fact, the father of my first grandchild.

To tell him that I felt God encouraging me to talk about our story.

To ask him for permission.

When I called him and said – “Listen, you know I’ve been speaking around the country telling our story for a while now, people are asking me to help them. To share how we did it. But I need to ask your permission before I do that.”

So here I am- with the full permission of my That Child,  here to tell you our story and hopefully encourage you. 

Now let me tell you a few stories so you can know for sure that I have one. Because let me tell you, one of the main things the enemy wants to do, is convince each one of us who have “one of them”, that nobody understands, and nobody else’s child behaves like our’s does. But let me assure you, I get it.

My That Child used to rage- and literally, froth at the mouth. I would hold him crisscross applesauce and rock back and forth and sing him hymns just to try to calm him down. And in response he would say “You’re trying to kill me, you’re making me bleed!” At the top of his lungs. All the while he was yelling, I was just trying to calm him. And those tears of mine, were dripping off my chin into his little scruffy hair.

That was my That Child.

The one who ran into traffic, twice.

The one who if I said “No” to, looked me straight in the eye, and did exactly what I had asked him not to do.

When he was really young I used to have a policy, that when he disobeyed I would take away his favorite toy and put it on the mantle of our home. See, I didn’t just want to take it away and put it where he couldn’t see it.

I wanted him to want to have it back.

To remember why I had taken it from him.

So my husband could walk in the door after a long day at work, take one look at the mantle, and know exactly how the day had gone. 

And believe me, some days when he came home, every toy we owned was tottering on the top of the mantle.

So I do get it, I really do get it.

These are the kids that make us want to pull out our hair.

Make us want to run, yelling and screaming from the building.

Make us confident that we are just a complete failure.

That we’ve lost it.

That we can’t.

These are the kids that we think we have failed.

The kids we love- but we don’t like them very much, not at all, actually. And it’s not something that we would say out loud, or in bed, or put in a journal or anything. I’m saying it for you, because I know it’s true.

You love them cause you have to.

Because their your’s.

But you don’t like them very much.

I hope that’s not true by the time we are done discussing That Child.

I hope that during our time together you come to love.


And cherish and like That Child.

I pray that you can catch a vision for what God has blessed you, yes, blessed you with

See, that child in your home, is the one that your mother prayed you would have some day! When I was young my mother would say to me “Rachael Dawn” (you know, anytime they say your full name- you know you’re in deep weeds). Well she would say “Rachael Dawn I just hope you have someone like you someday.”

And you know what, I did.

I remember calling her one night on the phone when my oldest, my That Child was throwing another fit. And when she picked up the other end of the phone, after she said “Hello”- I  just began to apologize over and over. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

But I want you to know today, that the That Child that God has blessed you with, He hasn’t sent them to punish you!

Not to get you back!

Not to teach you a lesson!

He has blessed you with That Child so that you can draw closer to Him.

So that you can point That Child to Him.

So that you can raise a world changer. 

Whatever face came to your mind when I said That Child, I want you to purpose today with me, not to give up on That Child. Because I promise, with God’s help, you can do this.

Join us for the rest of this series as we discuss, vent, and pray over our own version of That Child.  I hope to challenge your perception and encourage you in your mothering. I pray that you will be blessed as we lift each other up and mother Those Children.

Every Thursday at 3:00 pm Eastern, I’ll have a new live discussion on my Facebook Page about That Child. Meet me there! Bring your questions. Bring your struggles. Bring your heart. I’ll meet you where you are and do my best to help you work through this very challenging stage.

In His Grace-

Rachael Carman