Stumped

Have you ever struggled to help your child?

My youngest son shared that he had a bad day, and when I probed to figure out why it was bad, it made the situation worse. Instead of getting to the bottom of what made his day bad, he decided that his day wasn’t just bad, but everything was bad, and that he just couldn’t explain all his feelings. I could see my inquiries weren’t having the intended effect.

I attempted again to find out what was behind his feelings. He just got more upset, and after we talked in circles — me inquiring, him unable to explain — he said,”Mom, can we just stop? I’m all talked out.” I sighed, partly relieved since I wasn’t making progress and getting frustrated myself, and partly bummed because I pride myself on helping my kids work through their feelings. I was stumped. “Well, let me know if you want to talk again. I want to help if I can,” I said and that was the end of it.

My son never asked to revisit the topic, he wasn’t as upset as he’d previously been, so maybe whatever was bothering him passed. Or maybe talking helped (even if it was just s little that would make me feel better). My son knows I’m there and want to help, which I feel good about, but boy did I feel pretty helpless (and somewhat worthless) when I couldn’t help him.

It’s frustrating when you don’t have all the answers, or know how to help your child. After thinking about what had happened, I realized that instead of trying to solve the problem, it might be even more valuable to my son if I just listen and acknowledge his feelings, and in the moment, that might be enough. When I don’t have the answers I hope it is.

Have you ever been stumped with your child? How did you handle the situation? And what did you take from it?

2 thoughts on “Stumped

  1. Yes. I’m noticing a keen difference between boys and girls too, but it’s equally different. My boy prefers less talk, get it out of his head, find a distraction, don’t dwell on it after the fact. It makes ME uneasy that he can just shove it under the carpet but all I, the parent, can do is offer to help, listen, support, what he decides to do with that is up to him. He’s 13 now but he’s been like this for a long time.

    I’m not good at that…😉

    The girl is younger, and she cries or melts down, let’s it out…just as maddening but what can I do but be the same as to her brother?

    I have no answers, only this: I hear you.

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