The 3 Most Powerful Words To Say When Your Child Is Struggling

by Corley Magnusson
Tijana87 / Getty

Nothing hurts a mother more than seeing her child struggle.

This pain has come up to greet me time and time again while raising my children.

I felt it as I ached to hear my son’s voice when my best efforts to coax words and noises from his lips were met with silence when he was young.

The pain brought tears to my eyes on my way home from get togethers with friends and family after hearing the contrast between my son’s silence and the other kids’ chatter.

It found me when he was diagnosed with apraxia of speech and each time the possibility of a new “diagnosis” is spoken by his doctor.

A mother would do anything to take difficulties like these away from her child.

The pain of watching your child struggle hurts deeply.

When these showed up in our life, I felt like I’d somehow failed as a parent. The truth that things were unfolding differently for my child than I’d expected was too painful to bear, so I sought to control it. I did this by looking to myself — for something I’d done, hadn’t done or didn’t do well enough that could have caused it, and I vowed to push myself to do better.

Early on, I combed my past and spent countless nights lying awake, examining each moment of my son’s pregnancy, birth and his early days as a baby, trying to pinpoint exactly where I’d failed him, causing his challenges.

The lie of my failure has told me many stories:

It said that my body failed my son in pregnancy.

It said I failed by not seeing these issues or seeking treatment sooner.

And it lied to me daily, telling me I was failing in each moment that my child struggled.

These lies hung over my head constantly, in every moment of my day.

So how do you free yourself from this cloud?

When you are in this position with your child struggling, what is the first thing you do?

The first step to help your struggling child is to forgive yourself.

The three most powerful words that will change your life with your child, lifting the cloud and shadow that hangs over every one of your moments together are these:

I forgive myself.

Yes. Just like they tell you on the plane to put your gas mask on before your child’s, you need to care for yourself first so you can best help your child.

Forgive yourself. Not buy the app, book, or the magical supplement. By all means do those things and everything else you feel called to do. But first and foremost, forgive yourself, releasing all that clouds your heart. This is what has given me the most freedom, leaving space for me to enjoy myself and time with my son again.

Forgiving myself has allowed me to reconnect with myself and with each of my kids, just as they show up on any particular day. When I was able to release my longing for something different and the blame I held toward myself, then I could breathe, smile, and see the beauty in the people and circumstances around me.

Jack Kornfield says, “In the end, forgiveness simply means never putting another person out of our heart.”

I hope with forgiveness, you find space in your heart for yourself and so much more.