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Please – just don’t.

If you see or hear a mom struggling with her misbehaving child(ren) and you feel the urge to offer your own parenting advice, please – just don’t.

If your children always behave or only have the occasional mishap of being slightly grumpy, you cannot put yourself in the place of a mother who has literally tried everything for her child to no avail. If you put your child in time out and they stay there, please – just don’t. If you ask your child to be quiet and they become quiet, please – just don’t. If they have never hit or kicked you purposely, hit their siblings or hit or scratched themselves repeatedly until they are bleeding, fallen out in the middle of the floor kicking and screaming like an intense wild animal, please – just don’t.

It’s not that parents of difficult children don’t want advice or feel that help is unwelcome. It’s that they value it most and accept it the easiest from other parents who have experienced what they are walking through. Other parents who realize that spanking makes it worse, not better as some would expect or insist on, and other parents who are good, loving, smart, consistent, and educated people just like the parents who are blessed to have a well behaved child. Sometimes the “others” are clueless as to what it is really like to have a child who doesn’t fit the norm and may unintentionally respond with blunt commentary that will linger for a long time in the mind of a mother. We all love our friends and family who have opinions but please – just don’t. The very last thing a tired, defeated mom needs is your sing-sung perfect paragraph of advice, which has already been tried before by the way and it didn’t work. It worked with your child so you think it will work with all children. It won’t. Parenting is not that simple.

There are difficult decisions that moms of difficult children make every day. Sometimes we have to accept that our child isn’t going to “grow out of it” and it’s more than just temper tantrums. Sometimes the “terrible twos” turn into “terrible threes” and fours and fives and sixes and sevens. Benjamin Spock said about parenting, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” When your child is responding to nothing and all your attempts are failing, stop thinking about the advice of others. Stop thinking about what they all said would work and just do what is right for your child. Hold your child when they are ready. Hug them and kiss them and tell them it is okay when the fit is over and they are crying and telling you that they don’t feel good because their tiny head is holding a big headache after all the screaming and they don’t know why they act that way sometimes. Just love them through it and love yourself through it too. You are not a bad mama. You are jumping hurdles some will never have to jump.

To those walking through this, I’m walking with you. To those who aren’t and can’t properly frame what we are dealing with – please, just don’t.

~Hannah Saunders

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