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Our son Matthew struggles with ADD. This means he easily becomes distracted. Following through on tasks, for example, can be a challenge. Getting ready for school and walking out the door is especially problematic. One solution I have utilized is to help him focus by giving multiple reminders and numerous redirections. This hasn’t worked too well. 

Lately, my son’s frustration and overwhelm levels have increased. Inevitably, “crunch time” hits right before we walk out the door, and he still has more than one task to complete. At this point he starts spinning. Literally. My son will physically spin in circles. I become dizzy just watching him! 

The other morning, we were running behind and rushing to get out the door. Everything that morning had taken longer than it should have. Reminders and redirections had been frequent, and still he would get distracted before completing the task at hand (like breakfast). My other son stood ready and waiting at the door, asking if he could climb in the car to wait. I agreed, then I told my other son who was running late; “Matthew! Lunch, shoes, sweatshirt, backpack; let’s go!” His overwhelm in the moment skyrocketed. He literally “spun out” and shut down. 

I grabbed his arm to stop the circling. I then pulled him to me and gave him a big momma-bear hug. I handed him his lunch and his sweatshirt and grabbed his shoes and backpack and we walked to the car.

Once in the safety of our car and his shoes were on his feet, I brought up the morning madness. “Matthew, what was going on this morning?” With an edge of exasperation, he answered, “I don’t know. I just can’t think when you tell me to do so many things at one time!” 

I then responded, “Ok, I am very sorry buddy. This sounds so frustrating for you! We try to leave plenty of time in the morning, so you only have to focus on one task at a time. Sometimes, like this morning, things take an extra-long time, and we have to crunch to get out the door. What do you think you need when this happens?” He shrugged his shoulders in response to my question. It was clear he was unsure about an answer.

I suggested we ask Jesus about what he needed in these moments. I then asked Matthew to think of the last time he felt Jesus was near. He said he couldn’t remember, so I suggested he ask Jesus to remind him of a time. Soon Matthew said, “I remember one!” I noticed a peaceful look spread across his face so I suggested he spend a moment remembering how it felt to have Jesus so close. At the same time, I reflected on an Immanuel moment of my own. 

After several moments, I encouraged Matthew to ask Jesus what he needs in the moments he starts spinning. At the same time, I silently asked the same question. Instantly, a picture of Jesus hugging Matthew appeared in my head, but I waited. After a few more moments I asked Matthew if Jesus gave him any ideas. He replied, “Snuggles.” “With who?” I asked. “Jesus!” Matthew quickly exclaimed. 

I laughed, then said, “This is exactly the same thought I had! In the moments you feel like spinning, you need a hug from Jesus!” We then laughed together over how neat it was that we both had the same thought. (This is why we parents must practice relational skills, so we can use them in these important moments.) 

In the days since that discussion, we have had a few opportunities to implement the “new thought.” When I see Matthew begin to feel overwhelmed with a task, or when he starts spinning around, I gently suggest, “It sounds like you need a hug from Jesus.” He then quickly takes a moment to receive a snuggle and dose of Jesus’ peace. Instead of more spinning around, this Jesus-hug turns the morning around!

This morning was an especially frustrating time trying to get out the door. I reminded Matthew that he did not have his lunch packed into his backpack, and he started spinning in circles in the kitchen. While spinning like a top he said, “I don’t know where it is!” 

I gently stopped his spin with a hug, then I suggested he needed a Jesus hug. After a moment, I reminded him about his lunch that was still sitting in the refrigerator, where he put it the night before. He quickly grabbed his lunch, sweatshirt, and backpack, then he slipped his shoes on and headed for the car. No additional reminder was needed!

On the drive to school, his countenance was much lighter. He was laughing and joking with his brother. I asked Matthew what the hug from Jesus felt like, and he responded, “Warm and comfortable.” The hug from Jesus turned around our “crunch time” on the way out the door, and we were able to enjoy each other from there. 

Do you ever feel maxed out by the demands on your time, your energy and your bandwidth? Perhaps you don’t physically “spin out” like my son, but you may freeze up, lose your creativity, or become stuck in the same old rut and the same old solutions that did not work last time. I would encourage you to ask Jesus what you need in these moments. You may very well find the unexpected prescription for peace that your heart needs. 


Do you know anyone who would benefit from a Jesus hug? Help me spread the word and share this with your friends!


Posted in Parenting

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  1. Joanna Leonard

    Jen, this is such a beautiful testimony. What an awesome way to parent. I love that you are investing in your boys and in turn they will help many to connect with our gentle protector, Jesus Christ.
    Please continue to testify. Your words hold so much power and truth.

    • Sara L.

      Hi Julie, I want to encourage that it is not too late. I started learning these skills just as my oldest was turning 13. As I learned and practiced the skills, I shared my discoveries with my children and they learned from watching my example. My children are now 23, 21 and 18 and the changes in all of our lives is phenomenal.

      I suggest taking some time to talk to Immanuel yourself to discover what you need and what your teenagers need from you when someone in your family is spinning. Then practice what He tells you to do. If your teenager is the one who was spinning, I would wait for a quite time and ask him or her to identify what they needed when things were so overwhelming. The answer may not be instantly obvious to them, but thinking about the fact that there is something they need will help them to be able to start to identify their needs over time.

  2. Mark Lopez

    In this post, you provide amazing and encouraging story about your son and you. You did a great job in the brought up of your child. Also, I understand how much you feel joy and happiness when he hugs you.

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