The only thing worse than going through hard times is watching our kids go through hard times. Never is the instinct to protect and fix stronger than when the little people, entrusted to us by the universe, are hurting.

I’ve watched my kids go through their share of heartache; enough to last a lifetime, thankyouverymuch! There are days and weeks and months where I think, “Enough! Enough heaviness. Enough challenge! ”

But unfortunately, sometimes, we can’t fix it. Sometimes those hardships will be ongoing with no end in sight. It’s just the way of the world.

What do we do? How do we deal? I’m no expert. I fail over and over again. But here’s what I’m going to do today:


Love them. Like them.

Their world is full of critics. From the minute they step out of the door, there is someone who will try to put them down. Social media will make them feel outcast. Magazines and TV will make them feel inadequate. School will make them feel dumb.

Today, my home will be a safe place, a fluffy nest, for my child to land. She will know that here, I’m her biggest fan. When she walks in the door, she will breathe a sigh of relief that she is in a place where she is loved, valued and enjoyed. She will know she can let down and be herself, and no one will judge her.


Let them see their strengths.

Does she have a sensitive heart? Is she smart? Fashionable? Intuitive? Is she good with animals?

Child or not, we all tend to focus on what we see as our weaknesses. I’m often shocked when I hear a negative self-image statement come from my child…I think they’re the neatest kids in the world. But often, they have a recording of their weaknesses playing in their minds.

“I’m always sick. I won’t ever get well.”

“I’m so bad at school. I suck at math.”

“I’m fat.”

Today, my child will hear what she’s good at. She will know, unequivocally, what her strengths are. I will be a treasure-hunter, looking for her goodness. I will tell her, again and again, until I can be sure that the tape of her strengths is playing just as loudly (or louder) than the tape of her weaknesses.


Lead by example.

How DO we deal with this thing called life? How do we cope when life hands us an unexpected medical diagnosis? A hospital stay? Bad grades or getting cut from a team?

Our kids learn how to deal by watching US, their caregivers, deal. Do I handle hard times by vegging out in front of the TV? Pouring myself the better part of a bottle of wine? Being a grump?

Today, I will model positive coping strategies for her. She will see me make a cup of tea, sit down, and engage with my family. She will see me exercise and eat healthful foods. She will see me discuss my feelings and ask for advice. She will see me get the help I need.


Linger. Listen.

Oh, how many times do we have to hear the phrase “Be present” before it sticks? When we were kids, our parents didn’t have phones or the internet. They weren’t perfect, and they often locked us outside for hours on end to get a little peace and quiet (or was that just me?), but they didn’t have the constant distraction of a piece of technology in their hands.

We have just a little bit of time each day to listen…to really hear…what’s on their minds and hearts. And it doesn’t take very many times of glancing at our phones, while they’re telling a story, for them to decide they’re not the most interesting or important thing in our life (despite what we may feel in our hearts). For our kids, love is ACTION.

Today, I will engage with her face to face. If she has something to say, I will put all of my energy into listening, just for that moment. She will know that she is important and loved, and that her thoughts and feelings are valued.


Liberate myself.

I can manage to blame myself for every illness, every bout with depression, every wrong choice my children have ever made.

In no particular order, I’ve had kids threaten to cut their wrists with a knife, get taken in by police, criticize my parenting to my friends right in front of me, fail classes and not own up to it, get sick due to my lack of diligence, get bad grades because I neglected to pursue learning disability issues…shall I go on? I’ve got some more.

While it’s helpful to be self-aware so that we can make necessary changes, it is not helpful to beat ourselves up.

I can easily get bogged down in the “what ifs” and “I should haves”. Ask anyone close to me and they’ll describe a time I disappeared from their lives for a week or two because I was busy berating myself for being a bad parent. This didn’t help me become a better mom, and it most certainly didn’t help my kids become better humans.

Today, I will do my best. I will teach her to make good choices, teach her to take ownership of her life and her victories and her mistakes. Today, I will let my child be her own person, not an extension of me.


As a friend and I determined a few days ago… Parenting. Is. Hard. No duh, right? There’s no way around it. And it seems like it’s all going well, or all going to hell – no in between.


I’m not a perfect mom. But today, I can be good, better than yesterday. Tomorrow will worry about itself; today is the last today I get.  I can love a little more, lead a little more, listen a little more carefully.