When Parenting is Hard

By Greg Baer M.D.

February 23, 2023

What can you do when parenting becomes hard? What can you do when that darling, cooing infant gets older and:

  • Whines all day, stomps their feet, and defies you?
  • Fights with their siblings and others?
  • Won't get off their phone, video games, and social media?
  • Is withdrawn, depressed, cutting, and having suicidal thoughts?
  • Is anxious, worried, frustrated and cries easily?
  • Exhibits symptoms of ADHD?
  • Is addicted to alcohol, drugs, porn, or sex?
  • Is irresponsible with school, chores at home, being on time?

I know, sometimes you want to scream, but it will help you to know that you’re asking the wrong questions.

Parenting WILL be hard—often impossibly difficult—so the real question is, How do you prepare for the hard times that will come to you as a parent?

Even better, how can you prepare yourself to PREVENT these problems that almost all parents encounter?

If you have a heart attack and need coronary artery surgery, will you HOPE that somebody in the room has been to medical school and has trained for years in heart surgery? Of course not. In difficult situations, you need someone who is thoroughly PREPARED to deal with your problems.

But who is this someone who prepares us for parenting—easily one of the most difficult jobs on earth? No one.

Despite the impossibly difficult task of parenting, we parents get no competent or thorough training for the job.

To most of us it can seem just too much to raise children to feel loved and to be responsible, loving, and cooperative in a world dominated by conflict, fear, selfies, and self-absorption. Parenting is just too much, right?

Nearly all of us get more training in driving a car—a tiny manual and brief, loosely-supervised practice—than we get for teaching the entire next generation how to become happy and to take over the leadership of the world. Yikes.

Where Are the Parenting Books?

Where to Get Parenting Advice?

Where to Take Parenting Classes?

When that little baby was born, we ALL promised with all our hearts that we would love them and care for them. We would teach them how to grow up happy and confident. We made this promise with all sincerity.

But the days always arrive when their desires WILL come in conflict with what is best for them and others:

  • They want to stay up late, past the time that will allow them to be rested the next day.
  • They want to play instead of doing their work for school and home.
  • They argue and fight with their siblings and others.
  • They will use devices and screens in ways that don’t lead to a sense of worth and responsibility.
  • They will defy us when we’re trying to teach them what is right.
  •  They will become anxious, withdrawn, or depressed.

Parenting almost ALWAYS becomes too much.

We’ve all heard the saying—followed by uncomfortable laughter—that “children don’t come with an instruction manual.” That is not true anymore. 

Now we DO have an instruction manual for loving our children and for teaching them to be loving to others, responsible, cooperative, creative, and confident.

For thirty years, the principles in The Ridiculously Effective Parenting Training have been used in countries and cultures throughout the world, and it CONSISTENTLY WORKS if the PARENT is committed to doing it.

But it involves learning on the part of the parent, and right there is where most parents quit.

We all want a quick fix—who doesn't?—that involves a short list of cute tips for success, but that never, ever works with significant problems.

Heart surgeons don’t become proficient after learning the “Five Easy Tips to Great Heart Surgery,” printed on a card. No, they dedicate themselves to learning how the body works, how it malfunctions, and what they can do about it.

The Parenting Training gives you a real understanding of your child, their pain, and what you need to learn to be able to do something about it. It really works. Don’t stop. Find out what you can do that WILL work with your child. You will find the relief—even the joy—that you are looking for.

Why is Parenting Difficult?

Why is My Child Having Problems?

THOSE are THE questions. Until you can answer them, you will be confused and helpless with your child. And almost no experts can answer them.

We cannot understand our children until we first realize that what we all need more than anything is to feel LOVED. As proven by many studies, love is THE ingredient necessary for happiness, and without it we WILL be in pain. We WILL feel small and helpless, and we HATE that. So do our children.

Our children are in pain because they don’t feel sufficiently loved BY US. Yes, I know you love your children as well as you can, but YOU were not given the KIND of love YOU needed as a child either, so you don’t have it to give.

LOVE is both the reason for our children’s pain and also the answer. But we must understand that NOT just any kind of love will do.

What we all need is UNCONDITIONAL love, or Real Love®, which means to care about another person without any thought for something in return. There is no disappointment or irritation in Real Love®.

You didn’t get that kind of love—with no disappointment or anger—so you don’t have it to give your children. How do I know that you didn’t get unconditional love?

Remember in your childhood how many times:

  • your parents or others rolled their eyes at your mistakes.
  • they criticized your performance, especially with a “tone.”
  •  they told you they were disappointed in you—with their words, their facial expression.
  • you just needed to talk to someone, but there was no one there.

Each of these times we were not unconditionally loved—whether aggressively or by simple neglect—we FELT the message, “I don’t love you.” Really. It was like being poked with a sharp stick. Our children have the same pain.

All of us—including our children—MUST be unconditionally loved and taught how to maintain our feelings of worth, our creativity, and how to identify and be responsible for our feelings.

When children don’t feel unconditionally loved, they try ANY behavior that will earn our approval or protect them from feeling worthless. 

They try to please us, to earn praise. When that wears off, they try whining, complaining, disappearing into screens, anger, fighting, resisting, more pleasing, and on and on.

When everything fails to make them genuinely happy—not just entertained or briefly satisfied—they become emotionally discouraged. They feel small. They become anxious, angry, and depressed.

To be plain: the reason your child has difficult behaviors is that you simply were not loved unconditionally yourself, and now you don’t know how to give that lifegiving ingredient to them.

And yes, you’re doing your best, but your disappointment, irritation, or simple lack of involvement with your child—all of which happen much more often than you might think—are crushingly painful to them, followed by all their problem behaviors that are just reactions to that pain. Do not feel guilty. It all began with the love you did not get yourself.

Take the first step right now. Say out loud these words: “My child is having problems because of MY disappointment, irritation, or lack of involvement, which proves that I simply don’t know HOW to love my child unconditionally.”

Yes, ouch, but now we can talk about truly effective solutions.

How Can I Help My Child?

Is There an Answer?

Oh yes, there IS an answer. But there is no shortcut to learning to be a loving parent, which is easily one of the most difficult jobs on earth.

We must be TAUGHT how to parent, and in the Ridiculously Effective Parenting Training, you will learn how you can completely eliminate disappointment and anger from your life.

And THEN you can learn how to unconditionally love and teach your children. 

THAT is the solution to preventing and treating a child in pain and all the reactive behaviors that follow.

After thirty years of experience, I have learned that love WORKS, but learning to receive and give it requires vulnerability and focused effort on your part. There are no easy or quick solutions, but there IS a solution.

I promise you that children who feel loved simply don’t whine, get angry, or fight with their siblings. They do not become addicted to phones, video games, porn, and social media. They don’t become withdrawn, depressed, or cut themselves. They don’t demonstrate the symptoms of ADHD.

I know this. With sufficient Real Love®, children acquire a vibrant reason to live—a real sense of purpose. They become happy, responsible, and creative. 

Why? Because they have ENOUGH of what they need most—the love of a parent.

Your problems—and your child’s problems—were created over many years. How fortunate that solving these problems can happen much more quickly.

Change takes focus and practice, but loving is certainly not more difficult than the way you and your child are living now.

As you learn to be loving, you will feel so much happier yourself. You will enjoy the privilege of watching your child naturally and freely acquire the self-worth they need to be confident, creative, and happy.

You will experience the peace of a loving home, the confidence of being a loving parent, and the joy of raising children who are loving and responsible. What could possibly be better?

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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