Is Wanting the Best for Your Kids Setting Them Up for Pain?

BY: - 1 Nov '16 | Parenting

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Years ago, I went to a parenting conference. During one of the sessions, I remember a speaker sharing a personal story that ended with a major lesson she learned. She admitted that she was so focused on who her daughter wasn’t that she was missing out on embracing who her daughter was.

That remark has stayed with me for years.

It made me realize that despite our best intentions as parents, we often miss the mark. Because we want our children to have happy lives and experience minimal suffering, we can remain focused on who we want them to be instead of shining a bright, loving light on who they are.

And it’s not that we don’t love our kids for who they are. We do. But we also see the world through our own lenses. We think our childhood heartaches and struggles will becomes theirs, or we worry that if they don’t exhibit a trait that has served us well in life, they may very well suffer for it.

But this is far from true. Your child sees the world through his or her own lenses. Your son’s experiences are not yours. Your daughter’s perspectives need not be your own. And the amazing thing is that, despite these realities, your kids will be fine. They will find their way in a world that often seems complicated and unjust. They will find their piece of happiness despite the challenges they face.

Our job as parents is to nurture confidence within our children. Understanding how to stand in their own truth and walk through the world with heads held high is the single most important gift we can give them.

This doesn’t mean they won’t get made fun of or have moments when they feel lost or defeated. They will. It’s part of the human experience. But it does mean that during those difficult times, they won’t accept defeat. They won’t allow someone else to define who they are or what their experiences should be.

When you focus on who your children are, you are able to bring out the best in them. Maybe your child isn’t as outgoing or outspoken as you are. Maybe your child doesn’t share your love for math or writing or the arts. Maybe your child gets pleasure from doing things that bored the mess out of you when you were a kid.

But guess what? That is okay. It’s actually more than okay.

You did not have children to create a clone of yourself. Your children won’t always share your personality traits or passions. They often won’t have the same interests as you do.

Yet, despite all of you those differences, your children are uniquely amazing, and you have to support that belief. You have to stop worrying about how the world will receive your child and worry more about how you receive him or her. You have to start thinking about how accepting you are and why that acceptance plays such an important role in your child’s life.

Children who spend their lives being compared to siblings suffer. Children who feel like their parents can’t just see and accept them for who they are suffer. Your children need to be okay with who they are. They need you to share the building blocks of confidence, so they can thrive. They get these things from knowing that you see them and hear them and love them for who they are… not who you want them to be.

So as I raise my kids, I am doing my best to acknowledge their differences and focus on their strengths. I want them to be confident individuals who don’t feel pressure to fit into some mold created by society or their own parents. I want them to be strong in their convictions while feeling good about the people they are becoming.

And when I have a moment of worry or concern because one of my kids doesn’t display a quality that has brought me success in life, I need to remind myself that we are not the same person. I need to remember that we all have our own strengths and weakness, and that the one thing we all need to make it in the world is a sense of self-worth, self-love and confidence. If I raise them to have these things, they will be more than all right.

BMWK family, what do you think is the single most important thing parents can do to raise confident kids?



About the author

Martine Foreman wrote 496 articles on this blog.

Martine Foreman is a speaker, writer, lifestyle consultant, and ACE-certified Health Coach who specializes in helping moms who want more out of life but feel overwhelmed and confused. Through her content and services, Martine is committed to helping women embrace their personal truth, gain clarity, and take action to create healthier, happier lives. For more on Martine's candid views on life and love, visit her at To work with her, visit her at Martine resides in Maryland with her husband, two kids and sassy cat Pepper.


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I’m GONNA Lose It! How Do I Deal with My Newly Belligerent Teenage Son?

BY: - 8 Nov '16 | Parenting

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Dear Buckingham,

I am writing to you because my relationship with my 14-year-old son is getting worse. Every since he turned 13 years old, we have been going at each other regularly.

He thinks he knows everything and is starting to challenge me. He does not listen to me and acts like he is a little adult. I am trying my best to hold it together, but my frustration is really building. It is taking everything inside of me to not beat the heck out of him. He was nice and listened to me. Now he is trying to figure things out by himself.

Why did my son change after he became a teen? Please help me understand what he is going through before I lose it.

Please help,

Teen Mom


Dear Teen Mom,

I remember my mother feeling like you. While I did not understand my behavior as a teen, I certainly understand it now. Life experience has a way of teaching us things that verbal instruction cannot.

When talking with your son, keep in mind that he is probably struggling with self-discovery and developing a sense of autonomy. His willingness and ability to follow instructions is not solely based on his learned ideas or understanding about what is right or wrong from you, but his desire to test his own thinking and reasoning skills.

The pursuit of autonomy or independence drives or influences most teen behavior. Teens definitely possess the ability to think logically, but frequently they make decisions that are emotional in nature.

Your son might experiment with his life and others when in emotional distress or to just simply test his cognitive ability or capacity. During this self-discovery process, your son is likely to become defensive when his ideas are challenged regardless of whether he believes that they are right or wrong.

Most parents do not do cope well in the midst of such illogical behavior and often ask, “How can I understand or be open to dealing with this inappropriate and irrational behavior?” The answer to this question is simple: I remind parents, like you, to seek to understand that self-discovery is a normal developmental task that all teens struggle with it.

I also remind parents that self-discovery is just as painful for some teens as it is for the parents. In order to better understand this behavior, I challenge parents to think about their own teen years.

Do you recall what it was like to be a teen? Do you remember experiencing an array of emotions ranging from uncertainty, confusion, sadness and depression to excitement, courageousness, confidence and occasional happiness?

I personally recall experiencing the aforementioned emotions. I also recall thinking that I was invincible and believed that nothing could stop me from doing what I felt like doing; and sometimes, I felt insecure and vulnerable. During these turbulent years, my relationship with my mother changed as well.

The best thing that you can do to better understand your son is to engage in self-reflection. Self-reflection is the ability to gain insight about one’s self by examining one’s own thoughts and feelings. As parents and mature adults, some of us have learned the importance of processing our emotions and making healthy decisions, but must we forget how we felt, thought and behaved as teens.

During the self-discovery phase, teens begin to understand that they possess a gift called “free will.” Instead of fighting with your son, try listening to him, so he can better undersand his behavior. Remember, you will not calm him down by trying to control him. Attempting to control him will only intensify situations.

What your son is going through is normal, but how you cope with it can make it abnormal. I know it is difficult, but do not personalize his rejection. He is a growing boy who is confused and searching for answers. Today’s teens are facing things that most adults cannot make cope with. He needs your help to make sense out of what he is going through.

Consider attending counseling and/or a support group for teen and parents. You might learn more about how to cope with teen development and behavior.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

BMWK, what advice can you share about how to deal with the emotions and behavior of a teenager?

About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 212 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at


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