Parenting Truths 8: Parenting hurts (emotionally)

Ouch. Nothing breaks your heart like feeling rejected by your child. (Unless it's feeling like you failed your child.) Whether it's as simple as your baby refusing to nurse, or pushing away food you've made, or saying "I hate you!" The 3.5-year horribleness or the 9-year-old tantrums. The eye rolling or the not wanting to be kissed in public anymore.

But as I said yesterday, remember that this is a long, looooooong conversation you have with your child. Not everything is going to be good. Some of it is going to be bad. Some of it will hurt your heart. But as the parent, you owe it to yourself not to get too hurt. Instead of thinking it's about you, listen to the feeling behind your child's behavior, and see if you can help your kid get through whatever it is. Refusing to nurse? Could be teething pain, a nursing strike, overtiredness. You can help. Pushing away food? Greater need for independence, so you can start giving two limited choices so your kid feels empowered. Saying "I hate you"? What is your child feeling pushed by that's making them feel so powerless and defensive.

Yes, it hurts, but the rejection of your child is just the symptom. If you can stay quiet and listen even more closely, you can figure out how to help your child manage their feelings and the situation better. And then you'll be able to move on to a better part of the long conversation.

You're doing this.