Loving the difficult child

Once in a while, one of my kids fall into a funk, a period of negativity and difficult behavior which makes parenting a real challenge.

When this happens, not only do I feel sorrow for my child, but I also feel discouraged and inadequate. And yet, I know that this experience is almost a universal one among parents.

Perhaps it’s a hyper-sensitive child who whines and cries over the smallest vexations. Perhaps it’s a strong-willed child who fights you tooth and nail whenever you tell him to do something.

Perhaps it’s that hormonal middle schooler, who has suddenly become moody, disrespectful, and ultra-critical. Or perhaps it’s a child whose health issues makes her irritable and crabby.

Whatever the situation, although you know deep-down that you love this child, there are times when it can be a real challenge to be patient and loving. So what can we do?

Don’t take it personally

First, let’s not take our children’s behavior personally. Often it will seem like a child’s angry or scornful behavior is directed right at you. But the reality is that since you’re the mom, your child knows you love him unconditionally.

Therefore he has no inhibitions when it comes to expressing his feelings around you. This does not mean your child should be allowed to treat you with disrespect.

We need to be consistent about commanding and demanding respect from our children. Otherwise they will treat us like rugs — things to be trodden upon without care.

However, it is good to remember that, in most cases, it is the moms who bear the brunt of their children’s bad behavior. It’s not just you. It’s a part of motherhood.

Without losing sensitivity to the feelings of others, we need to grow thick skins, an objectivity that will protect us from the thorns our children fling at us. Continue reading

  • Mary Cooney is a home-schooling mother of five who lives in Maryland.


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