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#92: “I Love My Child, but Sometimes I Can’t Stand Him”

Season #2

Ever find yourself caught in the tug-of-war between absolute love for your child and the occasional, “I'm finding it impossible to deal with my child right now," moment? If so, you're not alone! Join me on Episode #92: “"I Love My Child, But Sometimes I Can't Stand Him," where we're diving headfirst into the candid realities of parenting a more challenging child. 

Join me as we unpack:

  • Understanding the "why" behind your child's behavior
  • Move past resentment and embrace acceptance, creating a foundation for a more positive parent-child dynamic.
  • Practical tips to let go of comparisons and celebrate your child's unique personality and strengths.
  • "Discipline with Dignity" techniques that promote cooperation and mutual respect

This episode is for you if:

  • You feel like you're constantly on edge with your child.
  • You struggle with shame, guilt, and self-doubt about your parenting skills.
  • You wish you could connect with your challenging child on a deeper level.
  • You're looking for practical tools to manage your child’s frustrating behaviors.

Remember, you're a loving, resilient, and capable parent doing your best. With the appropriate support, self-compassion, and a growth mindset, you can overcome any challenge and cultivate the loving, connected relationship with your child that you aspire to. Tune into Episode #92 for a fresh perspective and practical support. 


Ever find yourself grappling with conflicting emotions towards your child? It's an experience that many parents share but might hesitate to openly discuss. 

Challenging children often exhibit attitudes that can be tough to handle. When a child's demeanor is sweet, calm, and affectionate, it's easy to embrace them, but what about those moments when their attitudes provoke unexpected emotions?

How do you open yourself up to connect with a child who may seem a bit more challenging to understand?

I get it. I've been there too. In fact, I used to be wracked with guilt every time I had those fleeting thoughts of frustration or impatience. But here's the thing – those thoughts don't make you a bad parent. They make you human. And as a parent coach, I've heard it time after time from other parents wrestling with similar feelings.

Various factors that contribute to a complex child's behavior

  • Vulnerability to Love--A Prickly Defense Mechanism: Sometimes, challenging children present rough, prickly exteriors because they find love and connection too vulnerable. It's uncomfortable for them to be lovable and endearing, often due to a highly sensitive temperament or past hurts. Understanding this vulnerability is crucial in fostering a compassionate approach.
  • Subconscious Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Believing They Are Unlovable: In some cases, challenging children come to believe that they are unlovable. This belief becomes almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, influencing their behavior and interactions with others which are often annoying, off-putting, or even mean spirited. As a parent, it's essential to consider your role in this dynamic – do your actions unintentionally contribute to their negative self-perception?
  • Building Inner Narratives--Seeds in Formative Years and the Impact of Words and Actions: For a young child, the formative years are crucial in shaping their self-worth and self-esteem. The comments and feedback they receive, both at home and in their broader environment, contribute to the narrative they internalize. Consider the phrases you use when frustrated: "I don't want to be around you when you act like this" or "Why are you always so negative?" The impact of these words goes beyond the moment, shaping your child's sense-of-self. Reflecting on the language used by caregivers, teachers, peers, and siblings is equally important.
  • Parental Grief--Facing your Sadness and Disappointment: If you are struggling to connect with your complex child and feel yourself wishing your child was different than they are, you probably experience a lot of resentment and shame. I want to help you make a shift away from these difficult feelings. The first step is acknowledging and normalizing your own parental grief. You might have envisioned your child and your experience as a parent being very different than it currently is. This disappointment is difficult to face and likely fills you with equal parts of resentment and guilt. The first and most crucial step is to forgive yourself for the feelings of disconnection with your child and acknowledge that it's okay to experience this grief in parenting a complex child. Let's recognize the importance of allowing ourselves to feel the sadness associated with the challenges we didn't anticipate.

How to move past Resentment and Towards Acceptance

  • Acknowledging the Unforeseen Reality--Letting Go of Disappointment: As parents, none of us envisioned this reality when we dreamt of having children. The image we had in mind might have been different from the challenging child we are parenting. It's essential to find and feel the sadness around what is, letting go of the disappointment of not getting the child we imagined. Acknowledge the grief and adjust your vision to the reality of your unique and complex child.
  • The Importance of Privacy--Processing Grief Away from Your Child: Acceptance also means learning to adjust to the reality of your child's temperament and challenges. Grieve the adjustments you need to make, whether it's opting out of certain activities or events because they might be too overwhelming for your child. Feeling sadness about what you're missing is valid, but it's crucial to keep this grief work away from your child. Avoid exposing your child to the emotions associated with these adjustments. Seek a trusted adult – your spouse, partner, friend, parenting coach, or therapist – to process these feelings with. This private space allows you to navigate the complexities of parenting a challenging child without burdening them with your emotional journey.
  • Letting Go of Comparisons--A Key to Overcoming Resentment: Comparing your child to others, whether in your household or observed in your social circles, often leads to resentment. Dr. Brené Brown defines resentment as a feeling related to perceived unfairness or injustice, often stemming from hidden envy. Remember, as a parent, you cannot control who your child is. Let go of comparisons that only serve to amplify resentment and hinder your ability to connect with and accept your child.
  • Understanding the Impact of Envy--Overcoming Resentment: Envy is a powerful emotion that fuels resentment. When we envy the perceived ease of other parents' experiences, it deepens our frustration and resentment towards our own parenting journey. Acknowledge that your child is unique, and comparisons only serve to magnify a sense of unfairness. Embrace the reality that your child is an individual with their own set of challenges and gifts, and your journey is incomparable to others.

How to Grow Your Acceptance Instead of Your Resentment

  • Embrace Your Child's Uniqueness: First and foremost, recognize that your child's challenges are not a reflection of you. Let go of the fantasies you held about who your child should be and grow alongside them. Invest time in getting to know your child deeply. The more you focus on understanding them, the more you'll uncover their wonderful and unique gifts.
  • Cultivate Curiosity and Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations: Become genuinely curious about your child. Release unfair expectations that might have clouded your perception. Your child possesses numerous positive attributes; seek them out, elevate them, and express your observations to your child. This fosters a sense of gratitude for the incredible individual they are.
  • Practice a Gratitude Parenting Routine: Commit to a daily gratitude practice in parenting. Reflect on the lovable aspects of your child, even if you find it challenging initially. Create a space for positivity by acknowledging and appreciating their unique qualities. Consider implementing a gratitude journal or daily reflection to reinforce this practice.
  • Celebrate Victories and Reflect on Progress: In the midst of challenges, it's crucial to celebrate victories—no matter how small. Take moments to reflect on your journey, comparing your current situation to past challenges. While the road may still be tough, acknowledging progress reinforces your resilience and strengthens your ability to face future obstacles.
  • Understanding Your Child's Struggles: A Shift in Perspective: To truly connect with your child, it's essential to shift your perspective on their actions and behaviors. Remember, their outward expressions reflect internal struggles. Recognize that your child, when frustrated or explosive, is not intentionally making your life difficult. This paradigm shift allows you to approach parenting with more compassion, patience, and empathy.
  • Developing the Ability to Mix Feelings: Acknowledging mixed feelings is a vital aspect of emotional maturity. As a parent, you may sometimes lose the ability to mix your emotions, leading to reacting out of frustration. A gut check can help you assess your feelings towards your child. If you find yourself avoiding time with them, it's an opportunity to refocus your efforts and connect more deeply.

Practical Steps to Stay Grounded as a Parent 

  • Reflect and Refocus: Assess your feelings towards spending time with your child. If you're hesitant or repelled at the idea of spending time with your child, consciously take note, realign with your parenting intentions, and make an extra effort to connect.
  • Delight in Your Child's Presence: Visibly show delight in your child's presence, even if you're working through initial defenses. Authentic feelings will follow as you actively engage and appreciate your child's company.
  • Discipline with Dignity: Another thing that you can do to grow your compassion, your patience, your empathy, and be able to accept this charge you've been given to parent your particular child is to practice discipline with dignity. We delved deeper into this topic in episodes 88 and 89 of our podcast, and today, let's explore how this method can contribute to the growth of these essential qualities.
  • Informed Decision-Making: To truly embrace Discipline with Dignity, start by making informed choices tailored to your child's unique needs. While acknowledging the grief of saying no to certain activities, shift your focus to conscientiously deciding what will be appropriately challenging for your child without overwhelming them. Balancing your complex child's needs with those of the entire family is important. Occasionally, you may need to make different decisions for various family members. Other times, you may need to plan proactively and set your child up for success in family activities, like a concert. Consider bringing headphones to manage sensitivity to loud sounds or providing activities to engage the child when the event might extend beyond their comfort zone.
  • Retroactive Discipline: Embrace the power of 3D Parent “Retroactive Discipline,” particularly through “Circle Back Conversations.” Address problematic behaviors without inducing shame or blame, creating a safe space for your child to reflect upon their previous intense emotions. Retroactively addressing hurtful statements helps your child understand that they are not defined by their outbursts and are capable of making amends.
  • Acceptance Without Judgment: Make space for your child's intense emotions without judgment. Accept and validate their feelings, reinforcing that it's okay to feel upset or express negative thoughts. Foster a family culture where mistakes are acceptable and ruptures within relationships are always repaired and strengthened as a result.
  • Consistency in Parenting Approach: Consistency in parenting, especially for complex children, is vital. Caregivers and parents need to be on the same page and avoid bouncing between supporting and punishing behaviors. 
  • Build Resilience Within Yourself: Parenting a complex child requires resilience. Embrace the concept of the frustration traffic circle, with emphasis on the need to move from wanting to control or change the child to accepting and adapting to their needs. Acknowledge the potential impulse towards lashing out in frustration and instead, redirect yourself toward acceptance.
  • Seek Individual and Community Support: No parent should walk this path alone. Feeling isolated can amplify difficulties and drain your emotional reserves. Seek out individual support with helping professionals, such as parent coaches or therapists. Additionally, consider joining a supportive community - whether online or in-person. Online parent support membership groups, like The 3D Parent Village, local co-op gatherings, or online forums offer a safe space to connect with others who understand your struggles. 

As parents, we often pour ourselves into our children, neglecting our own needs. But remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. Prioritize activities that replenish your energy and emotional reserves. This could be anything from taking a walk to spending time with friends or pursuing a hobby you enjoy. By taking care of yourself, you'll be better equipped to handle the challenges of parenthood.

An Affirmation for the Resilient Parent:

In closing, here is my gift to you, an affirmation I wrote to read whenever you're feeling overwhelmed or discouraged:

“Today, I am setting an intention to parent with warmth and strength. I will not avoid setting a limit, negotiate, debate, give in, or give a “yes” when I need to give a “no.” I accept that my kids may have tantrums and meltdowns over the limits I am generously going to set. I will anticipate push-back, but I will not let that trigger me or lead to a tantrum of my own. I will remember that my children are young and sensitive and sometimes their behaviors are a reminder of that. In these moments, I will remember that they are not trying to give me a hard time, they are having a hard time. I will not transfer my anger or frustration onto my kids or lash out at them through my words, tone of voice, or actions. I will not blame my kids for the difficult feelings I may have about being their parent and how hard it is for me right now. I will remind myself that I only get one shot to raise each of my children and I am committing to give them the best parenting I can because they deserve nothing less.” -Beaven Walters, The 3D Parent

Episode Resources and Links:

Book: Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown

Podcast Episodes I Referenced:

#86 Parenting with Direction
#87 Parenting with Deep Connection 
#88 Parenting with Dignity in Discipline Part 1
#89 Parenting with Dignity in Discipline Part 2



**For Coaching Services** If you're looking for personalized guidance and support, consider exploring my parent coaching services. Let's work together to tailor the 3D Parent Approach to your unique parenting journey. CLICK HERE to book a complimentary parent coach consultation call.

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