How to Love your Difficult Child?

Do you experience your blood pressure rising when dealing with a difficult child every now and then?

One morning you wake up and without even any interaction with your difficult child, you feel blood rushing from your shoulders to your neck to the back of your neck.  Your difficult child can give you a negative vibration such as this.

You rationalize these physical symptoms because you want to  give your difficult child a fair chance.  You restrain yourself from reacting negatively or unfairly. You distract yourself with other tasks at hand.  In reality, your difficult child is beginning to show some annoying behaviors.   However, you resolved to be patient.  You remind yourself that you must keep your promise not to be irritated at your difficult child over this trivial matter.

However, your difficult child can wear you out towards the middle of the day.  You find yourself correcting the situation you are in with him or her.  You either reprimand or you let your difficult child get the flack of his misbehaviors.

What bothers me with a difficult child is their  ”fish-brains”. No word like that in the dictionary but it is a term I coined for my children when they are clueless to what they are being reprimanded for.  They forget the issue like they have Alzheimer’s.   But, wasn’t it just a few weeks ago when you explained the issue to them?  All of a sudden, because the day is different, a little different time of the day,  what you told them about a certain issue does not hold true anymore.

For example, an elderly lady in our parish told me that my 10 year old boy keeps running along the hallway, uses items in the Church kitchen, and gets some snacks without permission.  Well, of course, my husband and I talked to our boy and made sure he understood that the Church property must be respected.

Did my 10 year old get that?

It may seem so. He looked remorseful and pitiful. But, next week when I was busy talking to some parishioners, he still did it again. My husband and I talked to him to make sure he got it. However, he did the same thing each week to our dismay.

What do you do next?

Yes, I felt like exercising the Proverb verse “Spare not the rod”. Yes, we gave him some logical consequences. But, the only thing that would work in this situation is just making sure he is in view all the time so you can supervise and correct him as soon as possible. You would expect more from a 10 year old but at this current time in his life, he still needs our watchful eyes.

It is the same scenario with our older children. They do some behaviors that are pretty disappointing. You know they are troubled but since they are over 18 years old, we can only hope that listen to our counsel and turn around their lives.

But how do you love a difficult child, the strong-willed one amidst you? How will you love the child who continues to act against your wishes behind your back? How will you love the child that seems so troubled but ignores your counsel?

My spiritual director gave me a very good insight on how to continue loving this child.   He asked me to meditate on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and let Jesus teach me to love this child.     And, if I can’t at the moment love this child, due to the horrendous deeds they do,  ask Jesus, to love this child for me.





  1. ‘Difficult child’ is a horrible, judgmental label. How dare you! It’s easy to project negativity onto the child, instead of looking at your own behaviour. They were created from you, and you raised them! You made an article on BPD mothers. Yet you are judging your own child with harsh labels, and black and white thinking. And not taking responsibility by turning to ‘god and jesus’. Stop emotionally abusing your child.

    • Yes, it is a horrible label and I have in fact corrected myself months after I wrote this post on how it can harm a child. I wrote one for Yahoo on how labels can wound a child.

      BPD is a horrible illness but it should not define you. You are different from the illness itself. Your children cannot give you what they do not have. The healing you require will come from Jesus. He knows what you are going through so whatever people say about the illness and the negative effects, know that it is not your fault and you will not be judged in that way by our Lord. We, the people, who are your caregivers, must humble ourselves and love you for who you are.

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