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The Disappointed Parent

The Disappointed Parent

What does your child see in your eyes when she comes down the stairs in the morning?


Sometimes we need to look in the mirror to see what's in front of us. We are faced with a challenging situation and we look everywhere but at ourselves.

Lily is eight years old. She has soft blond curls and a beautiful smile. She makes friends easily in school. She can also be messy, disheveled, and has trouble following directions.

Lily's mother, Karen, is exasperated.

"Mornings are impossible!" she says to me. "By the time Lily leaves for school, I am at the end of my rope. We've had too many power struggles, over everything from her outfit to what she's going to eat for breakfast. Her homework is all over the place. I just end up yelling at her and losing it with the rest of my children. As Lily gets on the bus we are both in tears. When she comes home, it starts all over again. I have to tell you the truth, there are days that I just don't like my own daughter...and I feel terrible about it. We are like oil and water. What can I do to change this situation? How can I make this better?"

I know Karen. She is well groomed and immaculate. She loves everything ‘perfect' and in order.


Sometimes the athletic father is given the son who can't hit a ball. And we are disappointed.


But life is not always perfect. Sometimes, the neat mother is given the messy daughter. The athletic father is given the son who can't hit a ball.

And we are disappointed. We struggle with our children and find ourselves in a battlefield. We never realize that we are fighting ourselves; our lost dreams that we've held onto for so long.

"What do you think Lily sees when she sees your face?" I asked Karen. "When she comes down the stairs in the morning, what's the look in your eyes?"

"Here's the truth," Karen replied. "When I was growing up, I was the girl who always got the main part in the play. I was the one who always looked great and brought home straight A's. I met my husband in college and he was the most awesome guy. I always thought that I'd get married, have children and we'd have this perfect family. White picket fence and all, you know the scene.

"But Lily, she just doesn't fit in to the picture. PTA's are upsetting. She always looks a mess. She not coordinated. It's just not what I imagined".

"And maybe she sees that in your eyes," I said. "Maybe she feels your disappointment in who she is. Perhaps the place to start is within. I am not saying that you shouldn't work with her and try to teach her to be orderly and neat. But first, look in the mirror and see your reflection. See what she sees each time you glance at her. You have this expectation of life, even of your mornings, that it will be easy and carefree, just as you've grown used to. Along comes this child who breaks the mold. You are exasperated. Can she not be sensing this?"

Communicating Joy

I recall having one of those tough mornings when my children were toddlers. After tantrums and tears, I decided that it would be best to take the children out of the house. We'd all cool off a little. A change of atmosphere and some fresh air can work wonders for both parent and child.

As I watched my children running and playing outdoors, my then four year old son climbed onto my lap. "Mommy, are you angry?" he asked.

"Of course not, sweetie," I answered. "I'm so happy to be outside with you. And don't you see the smile on my face?"

"So why are your eyebrows angry?"

We are constantly communicating with our children. Look how children read our faces. Even our eyebrows transmit a message. Beyond words, our attitude and expressions reveal our innermost thoughts.


Do we impart joy as we parent or do our children hear a deep sigh as they enter the room?


We need to ask ourselves how we convey our feelings toward our children. Do we impart joy as we parent or do our children hear a deep sigh as they enter the room?

You can serve the tastiest dinner, but if it's slammed down on the table or given resentfully, the food is tasteless.

The look on our face as we sit down to read a book to our toddler, the lackluster ‘yes' we give as we respond to helping with math homework, the way we drive our children to school in the morning, all tell our children how feel as we interact with them.

And as our children grow, we need to honestly examine our attitudes. Do we scrutinize their achievements through our own hopes and dreams or do we accept each child for who he is?

When we make every effort to communicate joy, love, gratitude and acceptance in our homes, our children respond to our open hearts. We can then try to help each child reach his great potential and find the blessing that lies within his soul.

May 16, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 19

(16) monica, November 11, 2013 5:25 AM

our daughter changing all the time boyfriends

we have 22 year old daughter. from 10thgrade she has this BF stuff going on. we explain her all and tried all different ways and she ruin her grades but never gave BF one after another. each of them dump her and she find new one asap. all of them substandard . she come from very well off family and need to study but each time she give promise and break promise. what to do?

(15) Anonymous, December 1, 2012 10:32 PM

advice needed

I need advice for a friend, you know when youre young you do things rashly , years ago she kissed a guy at school and the principal got footage of it and when her mother found out she was disappointed . But after time her mother forgot the whole matter but the problem lies with her father, after the incident her father never really was on speaking terms with her. He is more distant and judgemental and this happened 3 years ago. Our parents are the most important people in our lifes , will she and her father ever have that closeness again?

(14) sy, December 6, 2011 12:22 AM

My disappoint father

hi ,i am 21 year old already but yet my father is still disappoint with me. I petty much a average guy with a average GPA currently serving Nation service for my country.With only $400 allowance per month. So i need to depend on my father to survive. What ever i do or say he petty much hate it.but i don't blame him because the feeling is mutual. I too hated anything he do or say .I hate him being all bossy always telling me what to do, as though he is right but the true is he not. I try telling him nicely for many time already but he don't listen to what i has to say. Question : How to communicate with a father that don't listen to what his children has to say ?

Diane, July 14, 2012 7:50 PM

Most likely your father is disappointed because he doesn't understand that he is carrying a disapointment attitude. It's an attitude and its his, he owns it, you however do not own a disappointment attitude at all and have learned to accept what is and roll with it, a great chararacteristic to have. Appreciate with gratitude that your father is in fact teaching something wonderful about yourself, and pray for his enlightenment that he learns from you that a different attitude makes all the difference.

(13) Elena, August 23, 2010 7:25 AM

My husband is a really great father, but is really hard on our oldest son when he crys.

I printed it, but I know my husband won't read it. Junior, our first son (Junior is 6 and his little brother Israel is 3) had come in the house after playing outside with the neighborhood kids, he had a fat lip and said that he had crashed into one of the girls, I asked him if he had "crashed like this?", making a kissey face. Initially he had smiled and was about to laugh, we all laughed, then he burst into tears. I explained to him that it was just a good natured joke, I know if we were alone he would have laughed too, he said it embarrassed him. As he was drying his tears and regaining his composure, my husband looked at him with disgust and so sincerely said, "What a disappointment you are, Junior." My heart broke. A statement like that is incredibly powerful. The worst thing is that I couldn't even say that he didn't mean it. My husband didn't apologize and felt quite justified, saying that he's felt that way for a long time, and that I, "make him soft, he's afraid to see what he'll grow into." My sensitive son with the nervous stomach proceeded to throw up his dinner and continue to cry. I cleaned him up and asked him kindly to compose himself, we went to my room and I said that I was sorry that his dad said that and explained to him that sometimes kids are different than their parents and that's OK but sometimes the parents don't know how to handle it, and that I wish his dad knew how to handle it better, and he said he knew that. I just want to raise them to be who they are. Junior is funny and bright, he makes friends easy, he attends a very academically challenging language immersion school and does great, he's a talented soccer player and plays in a league with children a 1 to 2 years older than him. He's so earthy and open and warm. It breaks my heart to see his father look at him like that. I know this stems from his abuse as a child, he feels like Junior has no reasons to cry. I feel betrayed by his feelings toward our son. I'm afraid for their future.

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