Home Parenting When the going gets tough – 9 important parenting lessons I learned

When the going gets tough – 9 important parenting lessons I learned

by Vidya Sury August 21, 2013 25 comments
when the going gets tough

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is something we hear all the time. However, in life, more specifically, as parents, we often find ourselves face-to-face with less-than-ideal situations. More often than not, we hardly get time to discuss things and have to react spontaneously, hoping it is the right response.

If we are lucky, six out of ten times, we are. If not, well, we live and learn. Interaction with others helps a great deal since children are very adept at presenting us with unique situations. When we talk to other parents and our relatives, we get to hear about live case studies and how they were resolved (or not).

And we all learn from one another, even if it is what not to do! One thing we all agree upon is diffusing the situation with a joke or two, bringing on the smiles and moving on. Nothing like humor to lighten life up.

We enjoy raving and ranting together. I am particularly fond of two moms who always have nice things to say about their kids and I think, oh, so like my own mom. The idea is, if we don’t praise our children as we raise them, who will?

My Grandmother taught me a lot about attitude.

When the going gets tough, I’ve learned

Not to mix up issues

I always practice this. I do not allow an isolated incident to mess up my entire day. Practicing the habit of not mixing up issues is an important coping skill. After all, just because a particular dish did not come out the way it was expected to doesn’t stop us from cooking the next meal!

Hard times are like a washing machine. They twist, turn, and knock us around. But in the end, we come out cleaner, brighter, and better than before.

when the going gets tough 
Wooden Scrabble Pieces on White Surface

To keep the faith

No matter how bad things seem to be, things will get better. This too shall pass. What goes down must come up. Oh, I know how tough this one can be, even for us as adults! But sometimes, we just have to keep on keeping on. And when you are convinced of this, you can convince your child. Practice pep talk. You’ll be surprised how easily it comes to you.

To wait and watch

Sometimes, we cannot control things. Worrying does not work and it won’t change the outcome. Teaching this to our children makes them mentally stronger. Flying off the handle at the slightest sign of the unexpected not only sets a lousy example, it is also bad for your health. A common example is being stuck in a traffic jam.

Parenting is challenging, to say the least, because who knows what tomorrow may bring; however, I am happy to say that in our family, we lean quite heavily on humor, laughter, compassion, and a lot of empathy as coping strategies. We have learned to be patient and listen (and often take a few deep breaths, sometimes several) before opening our mouths.

Here are some coping strategies we depend on and have found successful, most of the time. Not saying we always succeeded; after all, we did not receive the instruction manual when we became parents, but I’d say we’ve managed quite decently. We have come out stronger for it.

Look at the funny side

Seeing the funny side of a tense situation brings relief from stress. Humor is a wonderful way to change one’s perception of things and gives you a feeling of having a hold of the situation. Children are experts at this – take the example of them at play. When someone has a fall, the whole group laughs and after a few seconds, they are back at their game as if nothing happened. When faced with a serious issue, this works and reduces that feeling of vulnerability while increasing confidence.

Avoid mixing up issues

When something nasty happens there is a general tendency to let it color everything with the same hue of negativity. For example, if something unpleasant happens on the way to school, it should not affect the entire day. Letting thoughts of that event cloud the mind simply stops the child from enjoying what is in store as the day progresses. This is a life skill worth developing and can be practiced at home.

Stop wallowing in it

Tough times really don’t last. But dwelling on them for longer than they deserve can make them seem bigger than they are. The best way to avoid this is to divert the mind. We tackle this by quickly getting out a board game, usually snakes and ladders, watching a comedy channel or simply locking up and going up to the terrace. The distraction serves to take the mind away from what’s bothering it and puts things in a new light, encouraging seeking a solution rather than turning the problem over and over.

Sharing is caring

Literally. Sharing minimizes the problem. There is no shame in asking for help. Sometimes, all it takes is a listening ear to make things better, and the knowledge that someone cares enough. My son was a chatterbox until he was in the seventh grade. But even so, he would never bring school problems home. Thank God for social interaction! When they talk about difficult situations, it is cathartic and avoids emotional baggage.

Learn from the event and move on

Life is full of lessons, especially from difficult situations. It is good to be an optimist at these times, see what you can learn from a negative incident, and move on. It just takes a shift in perception and practice, both for parents and children. Reframe the situation with your child to see the bright side. Some people see this as the classic sour grapes. Why not be optimistic and feel there is something better in store?

Avoid thinking the worst

So it is fine to be realistic, but making it a habit of conjecturing the worst possible is quite disgusting. Why create anxiety where none is called for? When the school shuffled sections two years ago, my son was upset. He imagined all sorts of things – that he would have no friends, he might not get along with everyone, and so on. In his point of view, they were valid worries. We gently reminded him he was still in the same school, some of his classmates would still be the same and he could meet his friends during lunch time.

This is not an exhaustive list – I am sure you’ll add to it. I must mention here that the language we use makes a big difference. I try my best not to express myself negatively. I never tell my son he’s going to be late for school. I just tell him to hurry up. Don’t think we don’t feel like yelling – but that’s the challenge we’ve always overcome. If we don’t encourage our children, who will? When we do, they become better at handling their tough times. The reward? They will remember it forever.

Tough times are like physical exercise. You may not like it when you are doing it, but tomorrow you will be stronger because of it. Unknown

How do you cope when the going gets tough?

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Philip V Ariel August 22, 2013 at 12:23 am

Hi Vidya,
This is really an encouraging and very timely post.
Thanks, The higlighted quotes are very uplifting.
Keep Inform
Best regards
Philip V Ariel recently posted…Now Egg To Lowers Blood Pressure!!!

Sandi Amorim August 22, 2013 at 5:21 am

Looking at the funny side has saved my sanity too many times to count dear Vidya, and it’s still my favourite coping skill 🙂
Sandi Amorim recently posted…Set Yourself in Motion

Kajal Kapur August 22, 2013 at 6:25 am

I agree that as a parent one does not always have the answer, and its just not possible to be right all the time. In fact, I believe there is no formula to parenting. I was not raised like my sibling was and it was obviously different. The only common ground could be how in various situations we bring peace sometimes by humor, sometimes by compassion, sometimes by understanding and sometimes by compromise. Thanks 🙂
Kajal Kapur recently posted…Uncertainty…and the road ahead

Corinne Rodrigues August 22, 2013 at 10:39 am

Somehow I think parents have it much more difficult these days. Children seem to be exposed to so many more difficult situations – our lives seems uncomplicated in comparison. I’m sure it takes a lot of inner strength and clarity of mind and principles for parents to cope with their own problems and teach children to do the same.

Suzy August 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm

This too shall pass is one of my favourite quotes – something so comforting about it. I admit I am guilty of worrying – mostly about my children. And each time they tell me not to worry my answer to them is “As your mom, it’s my job to worry. If I don’t worry I’m not doing my job properly”. Somehow that itself releases the worry!
Suzy recently posted…Food for the soul

Kaarina Dillabough August 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm

To quote a line from a song: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Cheers! Kaarina
Kaarina Dillabough recently posted…What Are Your Employees Doing When You’re Not Around?

Tina Downey August 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I will admit that I do have a hard time coping when stuff gets rough. I suffer from depression, and that makes it all the harder to be positive. I do try to put on a “normal, everything is fine” face around my kids, but I can’t always manage it…
Tina @ Life is Good
Tina Downey recently posted…Why I’m No Longer Going to Colonize Mars

Carolyn Hughes August 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I totally agree with your comment Vidya that you shouldn’t let an isolated incident ruin your whole day. And even if it is genuinely a really bad day, it doesn’t have to ruin the whole week either.
We all have tough times but there are always good times around the corner and we have to hang on to that!
Hope this week has been good to you Vidya 🙂
Carolyn Hughes recently posted…I love you.

Vishnu August 23, 2013 at 3:33 am

Learning, growing and becoming better from incidences which challenge me is what I’ve done Vidya. Challenging experiences have a way of coming into my life to remind me what I should be working on next!

When I survive a tough going, I learn patience & endurance and gain strength and insight.

Vidya Sury August 23, 2013 at 8:29 am

Beautifully said, Vishnu. That’s the best way to enjoy what life throws at us. Allowing ourselves to be dragged down is a waste of energy, better spent bouncing back up.
Thank you for commenting! 🙂
Vidya Sury recently posted…Leaving A Legacy

Sue - The Spin Cycle August 23, 2013 at 7:56 am

How have I not been here, in your space on the web yet? Seen you in passing…but alas…

Anyway. So glad to be here TONIGHT! Interesting that this is your topic of choice because the going is rough in my neck of the woods right now. Work overload. Dying friend. Argh.

So what do I do? I pray. I’m not here to convert anyone to any being, deity, or theology, but it’s what I do. And it works for me. It doesn’t automatically fix anything…but it helps. A lot.

So nice to “meet” you, Vidya! Thanks for the food for thought.
Sue – The Spin Cycle recently posted…The Beach Party

Vidya Sury August 23, 2013 at 8:28 am

Sue, one of my favorite go-to strategies is prayer too. And I swear it works. (so maybe I shouldn’t say swear and prayer in the same breath…but hey!)

I am very glad you’re here. And I am sorry to hear about your friend. My prayers are with you.

I’ve visited your blog before (thanks to Vanita) and love the way you write! 🙂

Happy to “meet” you too!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Walking On Sunshine

REKHA August 23, 2013 at 9:57 am

Very True. This too shall pass and one annoying incident or disappointment or failure should not pull you down. Like the donkey which tries and tries to get out of the pit and finally succeeds, once must not stop at all. Move on and keep trying is the mantra. A very noteworthy post indeed.
REKHA recently posted…Angels on Earth

Gita sharma August 23, 2013 at 10:08 am

Its great to begin the day with reading your writings.I agree its right not to spoil ones day with little happenings it happens and all move on by thinking about an unpleasent happening we relive that situation that many times IS not once enough.Though I have no children I treat my students and their children as family and ofcourse each is unique and so are the issues I have slowly learnt to get out of the situation and think statistically.

Rachna August 23, 2013 at 10:10 am

I loved the tips you’ve shared. And I also feel that parenting is much tougher now. Or perhaps, I as a parent have too many things on my plate. I try to be patient. Doesn’t always work but I try. And reasoning it out with them helps too. Sometimes, we make rules for everyone like no yelling or talk to each other respectfully. And kids can also pull us up if we slip up.
Rachna recently posted…Smells of nostalgia of an Indian childhood

Fran Sorin August 23, 2013 at 10:14 am


Good thoughts to wake up to this morning. I love what you said about ‘not mixing up issues’. I have never heard it said that way before.

My strategy is to ‘take a deep breath’ and remind myself that this too shall pass ~xxoo
Fran Sorin recently posted…Igniting Your Creativity So That You Can Silently Forgive – 7 Tips

Betsy/Zen Mama August 23, 2013 at 6:35 pm

We have a new mom at our school who said, “You’re just going to love my child.” I thought, “How nice is that!” Usually we hear what’s wrong, not about what’s right.
Your post reminds us about good attitudes. I just love your grandmother’s advice. I, too, have learned that humor is everything. Sometimes, I’m a little serious and I think I need to remind myself that often. So thanks for being my reminder today!
Betsy/Zen Mama recently posted…Become The Hero Of Your Own Story

Afshan August 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Inspiring as always
Just the headings make me feel light !
Good tips there Vidya and those quotes Rock

Vidya Sury August 26, 2013 at 8:39 am

Thank you, Afshan!
Vidya Sury recently posted…When the going gets tough

Kim August 24, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Very sage advice! I love the advice about isolating the incident. I find that kids (and adults) say “the whole day was awful” when it may have just been a bad moment. There is a lot of good in each day. We must train ourselves and our children to see it.

Vidya Sury August 26, 2013 at 8:38 am

Right, Kim! Thanks for your comment. I feel sad when I see the cycle beginning with the incident followed by sympathy (not empathy) for it, then wallowing in it and sometimes dragging others down with it. This is a tough skill to master but a must-do!
Vidya Sury recently posted…When the going gets tough

My Inner Chick August 25, 2013 at 11:06 pm

you. are. a. prayer.

love you more than strawberry ice-cream w/ whip cream. Xx
My Inner Chick recently posted…Facebook, Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

Vidya Sury August 26, 2013 at 8:37 am

Hugs, Kim! I am glad. Can you believe I am not fond of strawberry flavor? 😀 I love you more than vanilla and butterscotch (my favorites!0
Vidya Sury recently posted…When the going gets tough

G Angela August 26, 2013 at 1:40 pm

you reminded me of a book I read long time back called Tough times don’t last, but tough people rise above the adversity staying positive and come out of tough situations.

I have always drawn strength trusting in God, and prayer has been a great weapon in moments of despair, and as rightly put looking at the funny side does help, staying positive and being grateful at all times will keep us from losing our balance.
G Angela recently posted…EID MUBARAK

Vidya Sury August 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Angela, I always believe in prayer as an effective solution to most problems. If nothing else, it gives me strength to handle tough times. Thank you for your inspiring comment! 🙂
Vidya Sury recently posted…Keeping My Balance Finding Inspiration in Unlikely Places


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