“She’s just irritating!”  An honest but very difficult statement a parent admitted to me about her own child.

But I commend this mom for being so honest and so direct, for her genuine love and concern for her child and their relationship, and the earnest work she is doing to understand and make things better.

It’s very challenging to have a child whose personality clashes with our own.  All of us as parents have probably, at some time or stage, felt irritation or conflict with a particular child – perhaps wishing he/she were different in any number of ways.

I spoke with a mom recently whose concern was about one of her children who marched to a completely different drummer than the rest of the family.  And her question was “do we keep trying to change this child or become more flexible ourselves and meet him where he is?”

What I admire most about these parents is that they recognize that there is a situation that may not just be about fixing the child but perhaps taking a look at the whole family dynamic.

And it isn’t easy.

It takes personal reflection and observation of what’s actually occurring in all of our interactions within the family.

Is the behavior happening in order to get more attention, more power, to just be noticed?  Is there too much extra activity for the introverted child, too little opportunities for success for a discouraged child, too high expectations in the family?  Does this child have a  special need that should be addressed with a physician?

It takes an emotional climate check – but the very first step is awareness of the problem – and like these strong moms, the willingness and the love it takes to understand and to change things.

If you are experiencing a particular challenge with a child in your family and would like to discuss how to begin, call The Parenting Place Warmline – 784-8125 and we can begin together.

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