The Difficult Child

To truly grow, you have to be willing at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you can be. —Charles Dubois, Swiss neuropathologist and author

Your difficult child is the one you love beyond measure. This child is also the one you don’t like sometimes, the one who challenges your perception of yourself and your world, and the one who won’t fall in line. This is the child who you profess not to understand, the one who embarrasses you, or the one who defies you at every turn. This may be the one whose lifestyle choices worry you, who shuts you out, who cannot seem to ever sit still, or the one who demands too much of your attention.

Our children have agendas, and as our lives intersect, their issues become tangled with our issues. It feels like they are standing in the way of our happiness, but that is never the case. They may disappoint us, but only if we hold them to a standard they cannot embrace. Our children are not capable of giving us what we need—only we can do that.

This situation is there for a reason, and it has to do with the growth that will help you both evolve. This precious opportunity holds information that can turn your life around. It can help identify the areas of your life that need more balance. You may need to become more patient, more tolerant, or more supportive. You may need to let go more or hold on tighter. Whether you agree with their actions or not, this child is challenging you to look at life through another lens. Know that this experience can teach you so much—and that the relationship contains lessons you both need to learn.

Examine the reasons you feel frustrated or angry, and look at the buttons it pushes. Where does this child challenge how you think about yourself? In what areas might you need to let go of control and move to acceptance? Do they remind you of parts of yourself you would rather not face?

You have to move past your resistance to find a place of forgiveness and acceptance for the child who does not do as you want. All of our interactions with others, but particularly those of our family system, have lessons for us to learn if we are open to them. Our relationships are a direct reflection of how we interact with the world, and there is tremendous growth to be gained from the awareness we unearth here. Look at this relationship, and examine what you feel is lacking. Whatever we feel someone is not giving to us is the very thing we are not giving to them. This is not easy to accept, and we create many excuses not to face the truth behind that statement, but this realization is the key to changing the situation.

Remember that we can only change ourselves, not anyone else. Everything is energy, and everything is in a state of flux and flow, including our relationships. We often find that when we change the energy we exude, if we are observant, we notice that others change around us as a result. In a place of acceptance, comprised of unconditional love—free of judgment, conditions, guilt, and punishment—we create deep transformations in our troubled relationships. It is only in this place that true transformation can occur, for us and for another.

This difficult child has much to teach you, and you have much to give them if you are open to negotiating methods of parenting that may not be working this time. Rather than ignoring the situation or trying to maintain an inauthentic relationship with this child, look to yourself first.

Examine where the difficulty really comes from and why it hits home; this introspection may surprise and enlighten you.

Think of your difficult child and dig deep to find ways that he or she pushes you to evolve, grow, and change your perception of who you are. The next time your difficult child challenges you, stop and ask yourself if you can look at the situation through a more objective lens. How can you alter your typical reaction to this situation to help you define who you truly are? How can you meet the behavior with love for the child and for yourself?