Yep, I said it. I told our kids their negativity was sucking the life out of me. On a Sunday…on the way home from church. It wasn’t my proudest moment. I’m usually pretty thoughtful with my words to our kids. I like to encourage and build them up – tell them how much I love them and like them, point out their gifts and talents. I try not to throw out threats that I know I’m not going to follow through with, or say things I’ll regret, but there it was…I said it. It came rolling out of my mouth before I could catch it and stuff it back in.

One of our children, who will remain nameless, (although I’ll give you a clue, he’s the newest family member) came into our lives with the propensity for negativity. His first thought is pretty much always NO. He doesn’t like it, he won’t like it, he tried it once and didn’t like it…you get the idea. Usually, he ends up liking it, but it’s after we go through a lot of negative talk, and it feels like it’s sucking the life out of me before we even get there.

I had been on this subject for a while with this child. I constantly give mini-speeches about negativity and how it affects how you feel–your brain is powerful, and when you think negatively and say negative words, it hurts you. Doctors say even to the point of physically making you sick. We discussed how you can re-train your brain to be positive, to think positively. A good friend of mine even told him about the meaning of the phrase “the silver lining.” She told him how it was important to find the silver lining in everything in life. It’s always there if you look for it.

It was a great talk, and I was inspired, at least. But this particular morning, the very next day after this awesome talk, I reminded him to find the silver lining but he proclaimed that in this situation there is no silver lining. The situation he was talking about is school. Seriously! This makes me crazy. Do you know the number of kids in the world that are so thankful just to be able to go to school, to learn, to get an education–kids that walk miles and miles, that cross rivers and valleys to have the chance to go to school. (check youtube if you think I’m exaggerating here. There’s a video of Chinese kids who literally climb a cliff with a rope ladder everyday to get to school) And here is my child saying there is ZERO silver lining to school.

I honestly don’t even think he actually hated school that badly. He is smart, he does well in his classes. He comes home and tells me things he likes. I really think it’s that this kid was just stuck in a trap of negativity. It’s the way he’s wired, has been taught, seen others be, or whatever–the reason doesn’t really matter, but the result is damaging to him…and to me.

The final straw that led to me saying this awful thing to my kids, happened after a full weekend lecturing about positivity. We got in the car after church, and I announced we were going to eat at Newks. His older brother said, “Noooo, not Newks! We ate there last Sunday.” That was it. It sent me right over the edge. One of my kids is complaining about an awesome school, one that we’re thankful to have the ability to send them to, and my other kid is complaining about going out to eat for Sunday lunch. Not to be dramatic, but their negativity was eating away at my soul!

I remember one time when Willie said my negativity was sucking the life out of him. Well, not exactly those words, or it might have been those words. It was close. He said it plainly enough that it hurt and it stuck with me, and I decide to change. We had 4 little ones, with the younger two just 10 months apart. Marriage with a bunch of little kiddos at your feet is no joke. There’s only so much of you to go around. Unfortunately, that’s the time when a lot of people call it quits. Husbands and wives don’t put in the work to reconnect, they “grow apart”, they forget why they married that person in the first place. I was noticing Willie pulling away, spending more time disengaged from me, from us. Things weren’t going so well, and then he said it.

I always wanted a big family, and I truly believe I was made to be a mom. I was a good mom, and our kids were adorable, fun and precious. I had a great job as the children’s minister at our church, and we were starting to run duckcommander.com out of our home. All good things. I had everything I ever wanted, but I was tired. The words coming out of my mouth to Willie, were only reflecting the last part of what I just told you about my life back then. I was telling Willie all of the negative things that happened in the day instead of the positive ones, and my words were sucking the life out of him–and me, I just hadn’t realized it yet. I decided I’d better change. It didn’t happen all at once, but I worked on it.

I started mentioning the good things more. Welcoming him with a big hug and kiss. I was determined to tell him all the fun things the kids did that day, the nice customer service email I received, and the great new VBS I’d found for the church. This wasn’t natural at first, it was intentional. Even if I didn’t feel like it, even when I was tired, I did it. And I promise you, it changed things. It changed me. I was a happier person. I felt better throughout the day–had more energy, smiled more. I noticed the good things, the blessings. I was living life with gratitude, instead of complaints. It changed us.

We were happier and more connected, but It didn’t change the difficulties in our lives. It didn’t take away the hard parts. The approximately 42.5 hours it took to get all our little ones fed, bathed, teeth brushed, read to and sung to every night. It didn’t make them stop arguing, dumping out all the cereal, or falling on the floor in a temper tantrum when they didn’t get what they wanted. It didn’t change that Willie and I sometimes argued about stupid things, or that my dad was going through chemotherapy treatments, or that there was a pile of bills to be paid. There didn’t seem to be enough time in the day to fill all the orders or answer all of the emails–and I still needed to find two more teachers for this Sunday, and the inspection sticker on the car had expired, and on and on. Here’s the thing, though, it changed me. It changed our marriage, our family, and probably the trajectory of our lives. I truly think it was that monumental.

Am I perfect at this? Nope, but I know what negativity does to me and to the ones I love the most. So, when I see it in my life, I work to stop it right in it’s tracks. Read what Phillippians 4:8 says about how to live a life of gratitude, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” I truly believe that putting this into practice will change you and those around you.

Thankfully, we have had major improvements in the positivity levels of the kid I’m talking about here, and his older brother who got roped into this awkward moment hasn’t complained about our Sunday lunch choices in quite a while. Not sure what did it, but I’m happy to report that the life did not actually get sucked out of me. We all survived.  Maybe we all need to hear sometimes that the way we act isn’t just hurting us, it’s affecting our relationships with the ones we love.  If it doesn’t help to tell you to change it for you, change it for those around you. You don’t want to suck the life out of the people you love the most.

Korie is a New York Times best-selling author whose writing credits include The Women of Duck Commander, Faith Commander: Living Five Values from the Parables of Jesus and The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty, Duck Commander Devotions for Kids and Strong and Kind: Raising Kids of Character. Follow online @bosshogswife or www.duckcommander.com

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Korie Robertson

Author Korie Robertson

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Join the discussion 38 Comments

  • Avatar Brittany Hildebrand says:

    So good. Thank you for sharing. This is me right now.

  • Avatar Pauline Pierce says:

    This is so good! I really needed this!

  • Avatar Rhiannon Handford says:

    Thank you for sharing. I am a big fan of yours and your family. You always have the best advice to say. Thank you!

    Have a wonderful day!

  • Avatar Jaime Abregana III says:

    I really needed this. Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar Evelyn Statham says:


  • Avatar Bett Reagin says:

    Wow, needed this encouragement! Thank you for sharing Kori!!

  • Grace Marino Grace Marino says:

    I totally agree! It is so easy to be negative! Thanks for sharing! I was going to share that I keep a little box in my room for every year, and I try to write something positive on a stickie note throughout the year. By the end of the year, I can look over all the positive things that happened to me, and be thankful about them.
    Think like a proton, and be positive of God’s goodness!


  • Avatar Dawn Goddard says:

    This is sooo good! I needed to read this! Thank you for being transparent. ?

  • Avatar Olivia Wilbanks says:

    Amen!! I find myself sometimes looking more at the bad instead of the good and letting little bad moments affect me, but no more! Being positive and happy and keeping the positivity alive will help me and my growth as being happier and more apparent to God’s beauty and treasures! Thank you for this truth. God bless you!!

  • Avatar Lindsey Zimmerman says:

    Amazing! Right before I read this blog I was driving my daughter to school listening to her complain about things. I came home and was reading my bible and had literally just read Phillippians 4:8 before reading this blog. Thank you Korie for writing this and thank you Jesus for confirming the heart talk that needs to happen in my family. God Bless you and yours.

  • Avatar Dustin Graves says:

    So so so true!! Thank you for this, it was what o needed to hear. "Thank you lord for using the robertsons as an outlet to spread your word!!"

  • Avatar Amanda Reeves says:

    Always said to mine"Negativity is contagious and I’m not catching it!"
    Love your honesty and "perfectly messy life"- we are right with you!
    Amanda Reeves

  • Avatar Leah Robertson says:

    I’m a sophomore in college and this week has just felt like the worst week of my life. It really has just been one thing after another. I run cross country and my team who is like my family here has also just been very negative which is compounding to my negativity. It really is a contagious thing. This really made me realize that even though I have had a hard week, things could be a lot worse and that I do need to find the silver lining and start being a little more positive.

  • Avatar Ana Garcia says:

    I have been working on self love and this is just what I needed to make a great day go even better.

  • Avatar Esmeralda Fiscal says:

    This was my children’s first week back to school & my new work schedule of 3 days a week, 12 hour shifts. I have been exhausted & overwelmed with this weeks changes. Your words spoke right to me. It’s so easy to speak & think negative when all the blessings are right in front of us. Thank you!

  • Avatar Laura Amon says:

    Perfect summation of the importance of gratitude (1,000 Gifts) and acting happy in spite of how you feel (Happiness is a Serious Problem, Dennis Prager)

  • Avatar Dylan O'Dea says:

    Thank you for that Korie! That was very well said and is very helpful. God bless you and your lovely family!

  • Avatar Michelle Smith says:

    Thank you. I’ve been praying similar to this lately. I’ve noticed my negativity outweighs my positivity. Pray that I’ll be able to change for my sake and others, especially my heart, my three sons.

  • Avatar Tiffany St Germain says:

    Thank you! This can be so difficult for me. And I could feel the life being sucked out of me but couldn’t quite grasp that that was it. I let myself bring that into friendships as well. God definitely used your words to speak conviction to my heart.

  • Avatar Mary Kirlin says:

    I stumbled on Sadie’s blog and yours just now. You and your daughter brought me to tears. I thanked God for this happy accident and had to comment. Sadie’s blog was and often still is my life…at 61. Yesterday I found some old photos of myself. I looked with new eyes at photos of me, they all looked quite normal, BUT at the time each was taken I hated them. Waves of self loathing, body shaming, anxiety and depression ran rampant. I learned to dodge photos and stay behind the camera. Oh how I missed out on sharing memories with my kids and brands. Thank you for raising a strong daughter of faith and being the voice I needed to hear for so many young women today.

  • Avatar Craig Mann says:

    I needed this reminder. It is a trap that we also fall into regularly in my family and we are constantly working on being more positive but it is so easy to be negative sometimes. Thank you for the reminder and encouragement!

  • Avatar Cherish Bocock says:

    Thank you for being so transparent!! This is exactly what my spirit needed to hear. It truly ministered to my heart with much conviction. Many blessings to you and your family!!

  • Avatar Beth Diaz says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. So refreshing in this day and age to witness true faith and genuine heartfelt belief and ENCOURAGEMENT. So thank you. I am also a mom and struggle against negativity coming from all side external and internal. I also worry how it is affecting my son. Thank you for the reminder of how great it can be to live a life of positivity and gratitude and glory to God. Thank you for the reminder and uplifting message!

  • Avatar Judy Baughman says:

    Thank You Korie, I try to Smile Be Happy 🙂 My Motto But Yes if you let it Life with suck the Joy of it right out you 🙁

  • Avatar Karen Coats says:

    Thank you for sharing that , we are all human and fall short of the Glory of God . I deal with the same Negativity and we all have our down days. your family has been a positive and refreshing example of Gods grace for millions of viewers and you ALL should be proud to have had such an effect on your fans , In a TV world full of Junk shows that do nothing but tare down the Family system DD will be remembered for so much more. Think about that the next time you have a bad day. We feel part of your family every time we watch the DD shows, and we all are part of Gods children so that makes us family. You are one strong woman , and thank you for taking on such a large responsibility with your new family members , there is no doubt that Our lord put you in charge of such a great task. may God bless the Robertson Clan , and may America bless God.

    Eldon & Karen Coats , Paulden, AZ

  • Avatar Chad Griggs says:

    Korie, the Robertson family, and everyone that takes time to read this:

    I agree with you Korie, 100%. The power of positivity is a virtue. My father instilled this in me at a young age. I grew up listening to cassette tapes from Uncle Zig. Zig Ziglar continues to teach me even after his death.

    I was 25 years old, six months from graduating Law School, when I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. My attitude was not one of devastation. It shocks me even now to remember how I was so comfortable with such devastating news.

    I am 41 now, and I’m cancer-free. I however still live with the effects of four massive brain surgeries, as well as reconstructive plastic surgery. I will have small seizures for the rest of my life. I’ve had to take "way too much" medication for 16 years now, and I will have to do so for the rest of my life. Not to mention that the back of my head looks like a shark took a bite out of it.

    I’m actually a handsome guy, and I keep in shape, however, it’s proved difficult to get a date considering everything I’ve just mentioned.

    Without my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and my unfailing commitment to maintain a positive attitude throughout, life would be quite different for me.

    MD Anderson Cancer Center has become a home away from home of sorts. EVERYONE at MD Anderson has cancer. Young and old. Some, way too young. It’s heartbreaking.

    I learned something to be amazingly true while fighting cancer. Not junk science at all. My brain surgeon spoke to me about it from a clinical standpoint.

    There is actually a percentage of people who will either live or die simply based upon their attitude. The chance of survival actually increases based on one’s positivity regarding their situation. You know what I’m getting at.

    There are those, and I’ve witnessed it personally, who complain and continue to worry and fret, asking "why me, this isn’t fair, I’m not going to get through this, and on and on." Christian people as well, I don’t just mean those without faith. Some actually become extremely angry. I’ve been told to "go to hell" for simply saying hello.

    This "negative" Attitude directly affects how the body deals with adversity, helping or hurting the healing process. Many Books have been written on this subject.

    Obviously this is much more intense when dealing with something like cancer, however it also translates to daily life. The way we react and respond to simple daily life absolutely has an effect on our attitude. Continually responding in a negative way over and over again is cumulative. One begins to see life through a filter of negativity. The glass is half empty mentality.

    I have a very different life now than I once did. I was able to practice law for a while and I collected all of the "things" that should have made me very happy. I was married, I had a beautiful daughter, and a beautiful wife of whom I loved. You guessed it, somehow I was miserable. Even after cancer I still had not followed my own advice. Cancer was behind me and I had forgotten about the lessons I had learned. It cost me dearly. How quickly we forget.

    It took a while, however today, without trappings of wealth, even sometimes finding myself unable to pay bills at the end of the month. I’m unbelievably happy.

    I have a wonderful relationship with a beautiful daughter, my ex-wife and I love each other, in a different way, however in a beautiful way! Positivity allowed for forgiveness. The Lord continually showed me how to remain positive. To better understand the definition of faith.

    I simply applied what I learned many years ago when I was told I had cancer. The power of positivity. The ability to rise above. Positivity encompasses much more then the actual definition of the word. It’s a way of life. A Christ like life. Continuing to push through with a smile on your face and a skip in your step understanding all the while that everything will be okay.

    Chad Griggs

  • Avatar Jo Roe says:

    Thank you, Korie, for your honesty and transparency what an encouragement for those of us who struggle with negativity. I read a quote one time, Attitude is a choice, and it truly is. I learned the hard way as a young person that God is a loving, encouraging God after going in the wrong direction in life. He keeps teaching me and I keep learning so I am always hopeful in Him:-)

  • Avatar Matt Scott says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing!
    I teach my kids: "What’s the opposite of complain?"


    I am also inspired to teach positivity… how and why… to kids.

    I wrote a Dr Suess style book series to do just that!

    Hope you check it out and like!

    We Can!

    @ FindSomethingAwesome.com


  • Avatar Leslie Rogers says:

    Truth in its purest form…Thank you

  • Avatar kennedie burston says:

    Thank you Korie! Today I was on my way to school (college library) and was determined and set on this day sucking. It seemed like it hurt to wake up, I my trashcan with my car for the second time and other personal situations from last night to this morning. I even thought to myself, "I don’t need to feel like this" but I just couldn’t shake the negative feelings and thoughts. Then I read your post and realized that I DO NOT have to feel like crap if I don’t want to, and I am excited to put positive thoughts/silver linings into practice.

  • Avatar Lolita Harker says:

    Thank you for writing this. It will be hard but I need to change and hopefully will help my husband to change also. Going through tough financial times and my husband’s health is declining due to poor choses but if I can see the positive maybe he will also. Need it to keep our marriage strong. Thank you again for showing me the path to try and follow

  • Avatar Diane Parsons says:

    Looks like you have dealt with this negativity in a great way. A lot of negativity can be habit, but when I read how you described your son’s behavior it reminded me of the DISC personality model. Sometimes understanding the WHY, can help you with overcoming an issue. Your son sounds just like a "C" personality – just like Moses. If you remember, Moses said NO a lot to God. C personality is compliant to their OWN standards, cautious, conscientious, etc. If you study up on the DISC model, you’ll see what that the C fears criticism and needs security. The C is passive toward tasks and people, and it could look like they are slow or lazy – especially when compared with someone active toward tasks or active toward people. It’s important to note that being a child will influence the display of personality; children are immature and must learn how to behave, but the foundation of their personality will also shine through that immaturity. There is info out there that shows what the C personality needs & what they bring to the team & areas they need to grow in. It’s been a life-changing thing for me to come to that understanding for myself, my spouse & my daughter. Once we understood that our natural inclination was to say NO, then we could grow to trust God to say YES. I’ve been practicing being a better C for over 20 yrs & NO is still my first response, but I’ve learned to stop and respond positively rather than react negatively. There are a lot of personality tests, but I like this one best & have found it most useful. DISC has been taught in a lot of churches, you may be familiar with it. Many sources out there; I like Dr. Mels Carbonell out of Georgia.

  • Avatar Christina Stewart says:

    This was amazing! I’m working on being a better mom also. I have 4 children; two stepsons who my husband has split custody, and my 2 daughtersfrom my previous marriage.
    I homeschool my daughters through a Christian school program. My stepsons go to public school because their mother and my husband have to agree on where they go to school. Lately the negativity has been overwhelming!
    I really needed to hear this; thank you for this post!

  • Avatar Katherine Fowler says:

    This could apply to not just Children, but to all parts of my life. Thank you.

  • Avatar Shannon Bradbury says:

    Thank you Korie!!!!! I needed to hear these words about the negativity sucking life out of people. I am a mom to 5 (4 boys + 1 girl= 16+ under.) While they have talked negative… Lately this past month especially I have been the one who talked negative the most-!!! It has made huge repercussions in my health + marriage! Until I read this blog – I didn’t realize how I needed to change and find the silver lining and the good in my day. Thank you so much!!!!!

  • Avatar James Shepherd says:

    Korie,you were right on with your words. If you didn’t step up and speak your mind it could have gotten worse and worse. Then the problem would been addressed when you were mad. Then things could have been said in anger and those words would have been said that were bad and made things worse. I know that God is pleased the way you handled it. The good side of this is that now the children know where you stand. Speaking up shows that you care and they know where you stand.God bless you and your family.

  • Avatar Sue Jaske says:

    My husband has had a negative attitude all his life ( told to me by his relatives), i think things that went on in his childhood may have had an impression on the way he thinks, he speaks before he really thinks how what he is going to say may hurt another person. I have tried to tell him just because it happened in his early life doesn’t mean it has to be that way know, he’s pretty stubborn and usually thinks he’s right, makes life difficult sometimes. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  • Avatar James Shepherd says:

    Way to go Korie. God is in control and he has led you the right way. I wish that other people would take it to heart. We never stop loving o u r family but it really makes things tough. I will pray for you and your family if you will do the same for my family. It really gets harder the longer it drags on.

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