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Hard Kids Have Good Moms Too

I was walking through Kroger around Mother’s Day when I saw it:  a mug on display featuring the hand illustrated note “Good Kids have Good Moms.”

I wasn’t really trying to get punched in the emotional gut while picking up our weekly gallon of milk, but that’s what happened. I felt a bit embarrassed for a moment. My own child had been sent to the preschool director’s office for misbehaving too many times that week. What kind of mom did he have?

There’s no mug for our situation. No cutesy doodled encouragement telling us “Strong-Willed Kids Still Have Good Hearts” or “Hard Kids Have Good Moms Too” or “You’re NOT Raising a Sociopath, Mama.”

I think about my own kids and the reasons they are hard sometimes. My oldest son has been overcoming apraxia with speech therapy at least twice a week since he was a very young toddler. My middle child is terrified by thunder, so he’s sleep deprived after every stormy night. My soon-to-be-youngest child will have an entire new world of challenges to navigate as an internationally adopted toddler

I see joy and life and love in their little faces. But on a hard day, a stranger would just see a whiny brat.  

To the moms of hard kids, there’s no mug for you. So let me write you a little love note instead.

Hard kids have good hearts. Hard kids are supremely loved. Hard kids are smart, funny, kind, generous. Hard kids are world-changers. Hard kids have bright futures. Hard kids don’t back down from a challenge. Hard kids are uniquely qualified to befriend other hard kids. Hard kids are a perfect garden for empathy. Hard kids aren’t “bad.” There’s nothing wrong with them. They aren’t less valued or less important or less welcome. They aren’t a burden or an annoyance to the world around them. And there’s nothing wrong with you either. Hard kids make you grow as a person. Hard kids bring you to the end of yourself and show you how strong you are. Hard kids learn their own strength and courage by watching you. Hard kids are good kids too. Hard kids have good moms too. 

One more time for the people in the back:  HARD KIDS HAVE GOOD MOMS TOO.

So go give those spirited kids a big hug. You may not get a mug, but you get to raise an incredible child. And let’s be honest:  there’s a chance that mug was going to get accidentally destroyed anyway.

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32 Responses to Hard Kids Have Good Moms Too

  1. Christina Pretty August 7, 2018 at 4:12 pm #

    Thank you! I needed that!

  2. Grace August 7, 2018 at 10:54 pm #

    LOVE this post!! I have a hard kid too, and I’m God gave me this “challenging” child to teach me about hope. You are so right…hard kids are world changers!

  3. Soifa August 8, 2018 at 2:19 am #

    This is so beautiful my hard kid is 10 years old and I wouldn’t wanna change him for anything in this world!

  4. Lauren @alifelivedwell_ August 8, 2018 at 11:15 am #

    Love this post! It’s such hard, but rewarding, work raising these sweet kiddos.

  5. Lisa August 11, 2018 at 11:15 am #

    Thank you Whitney! I have a strong willed 10 year old and have 4 kids total. If you are ever in Chattanooga please come for coffee!! Bless you for your encouragement. I’m getting ready to homeschool my 10 year old and 12 year old.

  6. Jane August 13, 2018 at 8:17 pm #

    Thank you for this post!! One of my kiddos is very challenging. I have cried many tears over this. You’re post is spot on. Hard kids have good hearts and good parents

  7. Becky Julson August 15, 2018 at 4:25 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this, you said it perfectly!

  8. Whitney Reed August 19, 2018 at 5:01 pm #

    Needed this. Thank you for the encouragement!

  9. Rachel September 11, 2018 at 10:56 pm #

    This is the best thing I’ve read all day. So true and affirming. Thank you for writing it!

  10. Ranjeetha September 12, 2018 at 4:13 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I have three hard kids who are absolutely my world. I would do anything for them. They are straight forward , brilliant and rebels.

    This post made me cry with sadness and joy . Sadness because it is a tough gig but with Joy because i’ll one day look back and know that o have done a superb job.

  11. Tisha November 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm #

    We have struggled getting through 3 and now 4. It’s been tough and I needed to hear this even being a former teacher. I needed the reminder myself that I used to give parents all the time! Thank you!

  12. Mary November 5, 2018 at 2:04 pm #

    Thank you for this! Made me cry. Years and years of being blamed and shamed by others, including therapists, strangers, and even my spouse. We need this reminder so so much that we are good moms bc we are trying trying so much. My “easy” kids don’t require the parenting skills that my “hard” kid does.

  13. Gaye Lynn Rast November 6, 2018 at 1:59 pm #

    I can’t LOVE this enough!! Thank you! I shared on a local county page i help manage- Discovering Dyslexia; Waco/McLennan County. I hope it speaks to them as it does me. Life is hard however our children are worth the fight everyday! Thank you! Godspeed.

  14. Misty November 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm #

    THank you, thank you, thank you.
    Mine is my 3rd child – 13yo, just grew taller than me this year.

    He’s sensitive, kind, good with small kids – has trouble working in groups and TOTALLY LOST IT in a team meeting yesterday. (We have a closer-than-family friend in the hospital and are worrying about her and her kids, a relative just died… and all the little things as usual…)

    We homeschool our 6 kids – he’s the one who absolutely has to be home. He’s doing better than a few years ago, but I can’t imagine how it would have been in school. As it stands, he is learning to cope and – before he graduates – I think he’ll have the skills he needs and the academics to match his abilities. And no labels (like ODD) to tie his feet…

  15. Kebbie November 7, 2018 at 1:41 am #

    I am weeping. Toughest mom you’ld ever meet, right here.. reduced to ugly crying. This was prize winning good… to the right mom of a hard kid…. or 4. You nailed it!

  16. Kelly November 7, 2018 at 10:43 am #

    Thank you so much for putting into words what so many of us feel. As a mom of three, two girls and a boy, my oldest and youngest are “hard kids.” It can be depressing at times to think that others don’t see what I see in my kids, and most never will. They have me though and hopefully they know how truly loved they are. My kids are amazing, even if they are difficult or stubborn at times. They make me a better person and mama!

  17. Cynthia November 7, 2018 at 3:42 pm #

    Thank you for writing this. It made me cry. My twin boys are both spirited!! 😘

  18. Lisa November 8, 2018 at 1:59 am #

    love this & perfect timing, I needed that. my son is my world & one day he will be a world changer for the good because of his great big heart!

  19. Julie November 8, 2018 at 6:41 am #

    I’m Mom to a beautiful, spectacular, funny, smart, strong, crazy, Internationally adopted, genetically challenged, CAS, ASD, SPD, APD boy. You nailed it!

  20. Binaifer November 8, 2018 at 11:17 pm #

    Thank you for this amazing post. It was spot on for the situation I am in. I have a strong willed, free spirited child, who wishes to do everything on her own. Pre school has labelled her as a trouble maker and that’s giving me nightmares but her love for people is unconditional and she takes it on her to make people laugh. It drains me completely when I hear people say I’ve spoilt her but I’m standing by her through it all. Hard kids need a lot of guts to be the way they are. I’m just smiling to read that hard kids have very good parents too

  21. Amy November 28, 2018 at 8:07 pm #

    Thank you so much. I often feel like people think I am not parenting my hard child correctly. This brought a tear to my eye. It was very needed. Thank you so much!

  22. Denise December 1, 2018 at 8:43 am #

    I know so this blog is about the “hard” little ones. I had a difficult child. Wow, was ge difficult, and I had to deal with him alone. (His father died when he was 6 years old after a four year battle with cancer.) I struggled with school issues, home issues, church issues for many years with help of a “village”, but, in the long run, the buck stopped here. My son has grown to be the most loving and kind guy, who recently graduated college! He texts me often, out of the blue, to tell me he loves me. He tells me that he “just called to hear my voice”. Yes, the struggle was hard! But I would do it again! Any day!

  23. Chris December 26, 2018 at 2:43 pm #

    Thank you for this. This is good for our “hard” kids to hear too. They inspire us.

  24. Judy Thomsen March 26, 2019 at 2:54 pm #

    As a high school teacher I fully agree with you! There is no set pattern that fits the parents of good kids or hard kids. Kids are kids, and like us, just trying to find their way. They need boundaries and structure, but not all adjust positively to our myriad of ways we discipline them. Sometimes it just sucks being the parent, or the ‘mean’ teacher, but that doesn’t mean we suck! But the times at graduation when the ‘hard kid’ comes to you with the flowers and a hug thanking you for ‘putting up with me’, helps you persevere. I’ve embraced the parents of these hard kids and felt the relief of the years of challenges lifted as they hug me tight. Nope we don’t do it for others, for the mug, but it’s nice when we can see our efforts turn into something good.
    But there is the hard kid that you ‘raise’ the same as those ‘good’ kids and they drop out, or call you an f%$in B%#h. The drug addicts that you finally get in rehab only to go back to that hard life-style 6 months later. The fact that you care, that it tears your heart out, that you pray for them, and that it’s you they call, is proof that you are not only a good mom, you are a great mom!
    I had the most amazing boy whose mom left his dad/kids, dad remarries and leaves his stepmom/same kids. So this awesome boy was raised by his step-mom, both parents left him! Sometimes kids just turn out good, and sometimes they don’t. But don’t take it personal or stop being their mom, because both good and hard kids need their moms. Reach out to a teacher and maybe you can work together in raising your ‘hard’ kid. I sure do hope so.

  25. Karina March 29, 2019 at 9:34 pm #

    Thank you for the words of encouragement ! Beautifully said 🙂

  26. Yolly Membrere April 24, 2019 at 8:37 am #

    Thank you for speaking for us moms who have hard kids.My son has ADHD with speech delay, honestly,its so tiring and exhausting dealing with my boy everyday,but I know my son is smart,funny,caring and sweet ,he was just being judged by others because of being hard headed most of the time when he doesnt get what he wants because he cannot express his self through words/sentences. Some parents in his school approached me as if Im not disciplining my kid at home. They think my kid is like that because I’m a bad mom,that hurts a lot for me,they dont know my struggles at home just to discipline and teach my son. (Getting emotional now..)

    Anyways,thank you so much for this letter.

  27. Cyndi Mawhiney April 25, 2019 at 11:32 am #

    Thank you for this article. I referenced it in our preschool blog at I’ve had so many moms already tell me how much they needed this. Thanks again.

  28. Morgan November 1, 2019 at 11:39 am #

    Such a good reminder, and timely. I teach a parenting strong-willed kids course and I’ll be sure to drive this point home!

  29. Anna November 2, 2019 at 8:59 am #

    Thank you for this. 😢

  30. Kim November 8, 2019 at 6:20 am #

    My oldest son also has apraxia of speech. I have 4 children. If you haven’t listened to Birds on a Wire podcast, I highly recommend it. There is also a book on temperament called I Said This, You Heard That by Kathleen Edelman. I keep waiting for the kid’s version to make it easier to identify what temperament your child is. But anyway, I digress. It is an awesome book and will help you identify your child’s temperament and how to best communicate with them to bring out the best in them.

  31. Larry December 7, 2019 at 6:59 pm #

    I love this and am sharing with all of my “strong willed kid” friends. This is perfectly written and speaks to my soul and brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for this.

  32. Carla May 3, 2021 at 7:30 pm #

    Except they are less welcome. All the time.

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