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Why Parenting Is Hard And 5 Simple Ways To Make It Easier

Parenting is hard. I bet you’ve never heard of it.

Just kidding.

Parenting can be so hard that sometimes we just accept this as truth. But it isn’t. It doesn’t have to be that way. Discover why it feels so hard and how to make it easy and stress-free.

mother is tired and frustrated

Why parenting is hard

When my daughter was born, there were high expectations of our child, not only from us but also from our friends and families.

Before my daughter turned one, I quit my job. I was determined to be the best mother I could be and raise my child based on perfectly researched parenting practices.

I read parenting books after parenting books.

I bought educational toys for my toddler so that I could make the most of her early years to develop her cognitive abilities to the fullest extent.

Then reality struck me.

My child didn’t want anything to do with those toys. She also refused to learn any of the skills I taught her.

What? Not interested in learning?

The idea was incomprehensible to someone who spent decades learning things she never used (that is, me).

As I read, I came across a parenting book that changed everything.

The book wasn’t particularly good, but it was different.

Unlike the other popular parenting books I have read, this one didn’t rely on philosophies or nonexistent research. Instead, it quoted a real study.

Then my reading and research took a sharp turn. 

I began reading peer-reviewed scientific studies on parenting, and my approach completely changed.

Like most parents, I followed the examples set by previous generations.

But then I found out that parenting was hard, partly because I made it harder than it should have been.

How to make parenting easier

Accept that no parent is perfect

No one, no matter how hard they try, can be a perfect parent. Science shows that being a good enough parent is good enough.

Don’t blindly follow traditions in parenting

When my daughter started her terrible twos, I was determined to nip it in the bud. A tantrum-throwing, spoiled child would not be allowed in my care.

I tried every piece of advice for parents, e.g., punishment, time out, taking things away from her, ignoring her, you name it.

Nothing worked…

Because tradition is not always right.

If it were right, there wouldn’t be so many actual parents looking for ways to make it work, and so many parenting books, articles, coaches, and experts who help parents do so.

Traditional wisdom says that tantrums are manipulative behaviors that must be stopped at all costs.

But science tells us that tantrums result from a child’s inability to regulate overwhelming emotions.​1​

The conventional wisdom also says my child needs punishment to learn.

Rather than punishing my child, I connected with her and taught her how to self-regulate so that she could control her tantrums.

I made life so much harder for me and my child when I used traditional methods of discipline initially. But parenting became so much easier when I switched to using science-based principles to help her. 

I didn’t feel depressed, resentful, or attacked when she lost control because I no longer considered her behavior malicious. 

Since I empathized with her, helping her through her tantrums no longer felt torturous or embarrassing. The child simply had not acquired certain skills, and my job was to help her learn, so there was nothing to feel embarrassed about.

My attitude toward parenting improved dramatically once I dropped the punitive mindset and negative view of my daughter.

Following traditions blindly can lead to a lot of assumptions.

When a child shows rude behavior, traditional wisdom tells us we should have firm boundaries, clear consequences, and stern warnings. We assume that they are disrespectful and attacking us.

A fresh look at the bad behavior may reveal that the child talks rudely because he feels so much pain that he does not know how to properly control or express it.

Instead of yelling back at them, we could acknowledge their emotions, express empathy, teach them how to control their negative feelings and discuss how to disagree respectfully after they have calmed down.

The benefit of parenting without getting angry is that it is easier on our emotions. It also allows us to develop a strong connection with our children and be their allies instead of enemies.

Learn about child development

My lack of understanding of child development initially led me to focus on the wrong thing. Learning letters, shapes, colors, and numbers would be important for her development, but it wasn’t.

Secure attachment is the most important characteristic I should help her develop.​2,3​

Attachment security is one of the strongest predictors of a child’s future success and happiness, not spelling or addition.

I should have focused on being warm and responsive and taking her lead in our interactions instead of forcing her to play with the educational toys the way I wanted.

The parenting challenges became simpler once I switched my emphasis from my need for her to learn to her need to connect and form a secure attachment.

Set the right priority

Many of us want our children to grow up healthy, happy, kind, and successful, but how many work on this daily?

It might seem like we’re trying to help our kids succeed when we make them do their homework, but will punishing them make them happy, kind, or healthy?

Whenever I struggle to find a solution, I ask myself, “Which is more important in 20 years: my relationship with my child or homework?”.

When you get frustrated that they won’t practice math even after you beg, plead, and yell, think about what it’ll be like 20 years from now. Is knowing math more important to you than your adult child being happy and having a close connection to parents?

Whatever is more important to us, we should make it our priority today.

That doesn’t mean we will ignore other priorities. After all, being close to parents alone won’t put food on the table. Your child must learn new skills, find a job, and contribute to society.

Prioritizing one aspect of life doesn’t mean you will neglect other parts of their development. 

Everything else becomes much easier when you have a close relationship with your child. Your child will be more likely to listen instead of arguing. The other priorities will be met more easily and in a more pleasant way.​4​

Don’t fall into the either-or parenting trap

When we put ourselves in the either-or parenting trap, we make parenting harder.

Here is an example.

We know that permissive parenting, which consists of warmth, low standards, and no boundaries, harms children. Some parents then, out of fear, go to the other extreme. They become cold and have strict standards.

People often think that either you’re cold and controlling toward your children or you’re permissive, bad parents

I call this “either-or parenting” or “black-and-white parenting”.

In fear of landing in one extreme, we choose the other extreme.

This world is not black or white. There are many shades of gray as well. 

Parental happiness is often about finding the right balance and not going to extremes.

All you need to avoid becoming a permissive parent is to have high standards, set clear rules, and enforce them. There is no need to be cold, harsh, or mean.

Parenting is difficult when you take extreme positions. Being extreme takes a lot of effort.

Finding a balance will make things a lot easier.​5​

For instance, if your difficult child refuses homework, let them suffer the natural consequences. Don’t chase them. Learning, practicing, and submitting homework are their responsibilities, not yours. They will learn this from their natural consequences, but they won’t learn it from arguing with you.

Don’t try to control everything

Trying to be in complete control of your children is one of the most unnecessary extremes that makes parenting unbearably stressful.

In many parents’ minds, having control gives them a sense of security. 

We crave control, but our children also want control over their own lives. 

Autonomy is one of the most powerful motivators in humans.​6​ Every time we try to take it away, our children will fight for it, causing power struggles and conflicts.

Having absolute control is both frustrating to us and harmful to our children because it prevents them from learning to make their own decisions. Children of controlling parents may have lower self-esteem and a higher risk for depression as well as other mental health issues.​7​

Trying to control makes you miserable as a parent and harms your child’s mental health. It also damages the child-parent relationships. It has little to no benefit.

Changing our attitudes toward parenthood can profoundly affect how we feel about how demanding parenting is.

The idea of finding joy in parenthood is not so farfetched. Enjoy parenting and a close relationship with your child by stopping your quest for absolute control. Parenthood can be a blissful experience if we allow it to be so.

Parenting is a difficult job. Most often, mothers feel guilty when they feel they don’t live up to the ideal. There is, however, an easy way to change this. For inspiration, check out An Easy Way to Overcome Mom Guilt Using a Strategic Change and Parenting Quotes.


  1. 1.
    Giesbrecht GF, Miller MR, Müller U. The anger-distress model of temper tantrums: associations with emotional reactivity and emotional competence. Inf Child Develop. Published online 2010:n/a-n/a. doi:10.1002/icd.677
  2. 2.
    Hazan C, Shaver PR. Love and work: An attachment-theoretical perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Published online 1990:270-280. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.59.2.270
  3. 3.
    Sillick TJ, Schutte NS. Emotional intelligence and self-esteem mediate between perceived early parental love and adult happiness. E-Journal of Applied Psychology. 2006;2(2):38.
  4. 4.
    Ryan RM, Powelson CL. Autonomy and Relatedness as Fundamental to Motivation and Education. The Journal of Experimental Education. Published online September 1991:49-66. doi:10.1080/00220973.1991.10806579
  5. 5.
    Deater-Deckard K. Parenting stress and child adjustment: Some old hypotheses and new questions. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. Published online 1998:314-332. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2850.1998.tb00152.x
  6. 6.
    Deci EL, Ryan RM. Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne. Published online 2008:182-185. doi:10.1037/a0012801
  7. 7.
    Schiffrin HH, Liss M, Miles-McLean H, Geary KA, Erchull MJ, Tashner T. Helping or Hovering? The Effects of Helicopter Parenting on College Students’ Well-Being. J Child Fam Stud. Published online February 9, 2013:548-557. doi:10.1007/s10826-013-9716-3


    * All information on is for educational purposes only. Parenting For Brain does not provide medical advice. If you suspect medical problems or need professional advice, please consult a physician. *