When the Going Gets Tough, Part 1

This three-part post addresses parents of difficult children, but can be generalized to apply to anyone hoping to influence a person who is morally ambivalent.

When a child’s alarming behavior threatens to establish itself as permanent traits through repetition, someone who cares is desperately needed to intervene on behalf of the child’s character and future. Tragically, some parents are so minimally invested in their kids or their standards are so low for them, that they are nonchalant about their own child’s highly concerning character and behaviors.

Those parents who do intervene are often criticized by those who have no comprehension of the child’s willfulness. Some kids are determined to sabotage their own lives and the peace of their family. Their parents’ words might be anything but sweet, but appropriate and necessary in a situation worthy of disapproval.

To an outsider who gets only a snapshot of a committed parent and child in a struggle like this, it can be misinterpreted as the parent being hyper-critical or harsh. A longer look would reveal this is a worn but committed parent, dealing with a child determined to defy all that will benefit his life.

It depletes a parent emotionally and physically to uphold high hopes and expectations for their child. The temptation to take the path of least resistance is always present, offering gain of instant relief from the conflict. But also present is the knowledge that it will come at the price of lost long-term peace and diminished character development.

Our children’s potentials are before us, waiting to see if we will believe in them or give up on them. No matter how tired or frustrated parents become, a child’s life is significantly influenced by our expectations. Their full potential is theirs to apprehend, not ours to limit by mirroring to them a belief that mediocrity is the pinnacle of their potential.

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When the Going Gets Tough, Part 2

Parenting children leaves little to no room for selfishness or neglect. I don’t mean neglecting THINGS — a messy house is just a thing — I’m talking about neglecting kids. Children at every age need love; they also need us to tackle attitude and behavioral issues.

Parenting difficult and oppositional children is especially demanding. Those who have done it know it is brutal. They can be a Parent Extraordinaire, but if their child applies his strong will to foolishness, they will often be measured not by their herculean parenting efforts but by the behavior of their child. The best of parents can be deemed a “bad parent”. It’s one of those horrible injustices inflicted on undeserving parents, because … well, people can be stupid.

Those who have been mistreated this way … Ignore the critics. Carry on. Your child’s excellent future depends on it.

Parents of obstinate, rebellious, or insolent children need support and encouragement from their friends, family, community, and teachers to not give up on their child. They need to hear others want the best for their difficult child.

For parents whose child has chosen terribly despite your commendable efforts, you have my empathy, as well as my encouragement to not take the easy route by giving up on your child. Be righteous yourself, but stay the course, expecting integrity, excellent character, and respectful behavior from your child. The more extreme your child’s choices, the more intense your battle. The more intense your battle, the more marvelous you and your child’s victory.

I know the prolonged, frustrating effort is extremely hard and others may not understand or help. People may even heap unfair and hurtful judgment on you, based on what they see or hear about your child’s behavior. It’s painful. It’s adding insult to injury. It’s unjust. All of it is. You didn’t raise your child to be doing what he or she is doing. And you’re exhausted. You don’t need public disapproval on top of all you’re dealing with at home. Rest and recover when you need to, but please, please, please don’t give up on your child.