When We Love Our Kids BUT Struggle to Like Them

We all have parenting challenges. One of the most painful parts of my burnout phase was the negative, blaming thoughts and fears I had about my kids. When they were having a hard time, instead of being able to keep in perspective that they were tired and struggling that day, my fear took over. Stuck in fear, I would worry that they were spoiled and ungrateful. Of course, this worry would be followed by shame because it was my fault. If my kids’ behaviors were subpar, I was to blame. These parenting challenges led to this internal spiral usually resulted in a harsh overreaction to my children’s behaviors, typically making the situation worse instead of better.

It was really painful to have these thoughts and fears about my kids because this colored how I saw them and responded to them. It was so unfair to my kids. I had very little perspective when I was stuck in fear. My fear could not remember how they followed directions earlier that day or that yesterday they played really well together at the park. It could not remember a couple of days ago when one of them shared a new toy. In fear, I could not see my whole child. I could only see their difficult behavior in that moment and that behavior was defining who they were.

Luckily, around the time my negative fearful thoughts were at their worst, I was also working with a parenting coach. She would regularly remind me that my kids were normal and I was doing a good job. I would be reminded it was normal for kids to get upset and have a hard time.  She also helped me find new ways of responding in those moments, calming everything down versus escalating the situation. 

I was still very aware of my fears and negative thoughts. To put my fears into perspective, I put a picture of each of my kids on my fridge and vanity mirror. A picture where they were happy and joyful. I also put up pictures of me with each of my children.  Pictures of us together having fun, laughing, and smiling.  Those photos reminded me that my children’s difficult behaviors and my subsequent negative thoughts were not constant states, but merely difficult moments. When I looked at those photos, it helped me remember that difficult moments were fleeting and it was part of an ebb and flow of daily life with kids, not a constant state. 

In very painful moments, my fears regularly told me this is the way it’s always going to be. 

Believing these awful moments were permanent was so overwhelming. I felt helpless. The photos served as visual reminders that my fears were just that, fears and NOT FACTS. When I was able to keep things in perspective, I remembered this moment was a temporary difficult time and would not last forever. My kids and I were in fact OK.

Thought for the day

Fears, when we are triggered, can be so powerful and convincing. Can you identify any fears that creep up for you when your child or children are having difficult behaviors? Write out your fears and the internal thoughts that usually accompany your fears, such as my child is so spoiled or they never listen.  Identifying your internal dialogue and becoming increasingly aware that these are fearful thoughts and not facts will begin to help you untangle your reactions in the moment and tackle you parenting challenges.  Eventually, you will be able to clearly see where your child’s difficult behavior ends and your fear begins.


Michelle Puster M.Ed.

Mindfulness Informed Professional

Helping burned out parents find inner calm and compassion

440 Cobia Drive Suite 1301

Katy, TX 77494