In a comment below Sara asked if I had any advice on making love the natural response to my children. After writing and finding my comment back quite lengthy I decided to make it a blog post. Not because I think I’m some expert but rather because I have struggled so deeply with this and have found comfort and mercy from God I thought maybe others might benefit from my experience.
I'm so not worthy to give advice on this topic. I try very hard to make love the natural response but fail daily. My efforts include much prayer!!! Years ago I bought "Akathist to the Mother of God: The Nurturer of Children" and made attempts to read it once in a great while when I thought of it. I really wanted to pray this because it sought the Theotokoes in help to raise my children. Who better to ask? It wasn't until recently that my prayer life was less than desirable. But now I know that the one and only way to make "love the natural response" is through prayer. I've gotten very strict on myself with my rule of prayer, it's humble but consistent now and I can definitely see the fruits of my labor a tiny bit at a time. I decided to endeavor to read just two stanzas a day and not think about any more until I have consistently done this so that it was habit. Than I could slowly add one at a time. In the back of the book there are other prayers and I read one of those beautiful prayers to God each day. My favorite is A Prayerful Sighing of Parents for Their Children. You can find this online to print off if you do not own it, here.
But they are rather inexpensive to buy and are published by the Serbian Monastery in AZ...here.
One more prayer that I found online (can’t remember where) that I try and pray often is:
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen
Having a prayer rule used to be VERY overwhelming to me but once I became consistent and witnessed the fruits of it I find it hard to miss for if I do I REALLY miss it.
So my only advice is PRAYER PRAYER PRAYER for I cannot do it alone!