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Why Do We Feel So Shocked By Our Kids’ Struggles?

Earlier this week, someone complimented the manners of my daughter while we were out in public. Without even thinking, I immediately responded, “Thank you so much!”

It wasn’t difficult for me to acknowledge the positive behavior in my kid or to accept responsibility for it as the person who was raising her. Yet, for some reason, when someone comments on a negative habit my child has, I’m not nearly as quick to nod my head, agree with them, and take responsibility for it.

In those circumstances, my natural tendency is to make up excuses, pass the blame onto my child, or avoid the topic altogether.

Why is that? Why do we find it so easy to admit our part in the pleasant behaviors of our children, but struggle so much with admitting our contribution to the unpleasant? Why do we expect people to believe that we parent perfectly? Or that IF our children have flaws, it couldn’t possibly be because of our parenting…

Unless you guys are raising Jesus–which I don’t *think* is happening–then that’s just a really, really unhealthy mindset.

It’s normal for our parenting to be imperfect. It’s normal for kids to be immature in certain areas. It’s normal for their immaturity to be BECAUSE of our imperfect parenting.

My oldest daughter is lazy with household chores because I’ve allowed her to be. She struggles with keeping a positive attitude when she’s overwhelmed. That’s from the example I’ve set for her. She also has a hard time speaking up for herself, which I haven’t helped her learn to do very well.

Those are undeveloped (sometimes very negative) traits she has that are entirely my fault.

But you know what else she does that’s my fault? She notices people who are lonely. She sees the beauty in kids who have behavioral problems when most people don’t even want to be around them. She always says please and thank you.

Those attributes came from a lot of hard work on my part as her parent, and it’s important to remember how much time that hard work took. While I was busy focusing on her love of people, I didn’t make any time to focus on her self-discipline.


It’s not an excuse to say your kids aren’t perfect at everything because there isn’t enough time in the day to teach them every skill. It’s the truth, and we need to stop feeling ashamed of it. The uniqueness of our parenting priorities helps create the unique ways our children will contribute to the world.

They can’t be perfect in every area.

They just can’t.

Pick which areas are most important to you, raise them up to be strong in that area, and be okay with everything else looking mediocre. And take credit for every dang piece of it.

Why Do We Feel So Shocked By Our Kids’ Struggles?

W. R. Cummings

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APA Reference
Cummings, W. (2020). Why Do We Feel So Shocked By Our Kids’ Struggles?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Feb 2020
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