Monday, November 23, 2015

Part One: Some Call Them "Whiners", The Challenge

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Some people that I know, probably some people that you know, don't really seem to understand the challenging temperament of my challenging child. My daughter is infamous for her personality. Some people that I know think of her as spoiled, a Momma's Girl, a whiner, a grump, a general malcontent. I try to give these folks latitude for their opinions because they simply don't understand the struggle; in fact, some of these people are, themselves, of this temperament. Some of them are fairly negative, pessimistic people. Maybe they are projecting a bit. My observation is that there is far more to this challenging temperament than generally understood.

The point is that many people have a difficult time finding compassion in their hearts for that person who is extra sensitive, extra large emotions, and extra complex in their way of moving through the world. Here on my blog I have spent years trying to figure out just the right verbiage for referring to my daughter's temperament and I have, over time, decided to use the word challenging. I'd change that word in a moment if I discovered a better term. 


The reason I use that word is because it describes both my interaction with her, her interaction with the world around her, and her interaction within herself. The word challenging takes into consideration the fact that she is as challenged as I am. 

I'm not going to kid you, a challenging child (or adult) is truly challenging whether you understand their inner life or not. But understanding the inner struggles, needs, and personal beliefs will help interpret the best way to help this person both work through the rough times and figure out how to move forward. Understanding might also allow you, the one who is struggling with challenging person in your life, figure out how to approach your beloved or essential person.

I have spent years, literal years, flying by the seat of my pants, using my instincts to figure out exactly what my daughter needed from me to manage those gigantic emotions that she was drowning in. I had no resources, no books or websites, no idea what was going on or what to do for her. All I knew was that her emotions were gigantic, she could not be comforted when in distress, and being solution-focused was annoying to her.

The only thing more upsetting to her during her most difficult periods was her perception that I would have the temerity to suggest that I might have a way out, a mediating idea, a solution. Her perception is that the highly impassioned periods of her life are overwhelmingly unsolvable and generally unique to her, poor thing. A complicating piece of the puzzle of these periods of high turmoil is her certainty that the problems of her life are far too large to handle in the usual way and that her emotions are too large to contain.

This four-part series will explore and attempt to explain this temperament type. Take my word for it, if you know a challenging someone or if you yourself have a challenging temperament, you will want to stick around. In the meantime, please stop using the word whiner!

Join me next time when I talk a bit more about what it means to be Challenging. In a third blog post I plan on talking about what works if you are a challenging person or if you have a challenging person in your life. And the final post will take it one step further.

Figuring this temperament out has been an important goal in my life. Not only is my own beloved daughter of this temperament but others in my family as well. If you are of this temperament or if you love someone of this temperament, stay with me. I hope you will share your thoughts on this series of posts as well. I'm not a scientist, but I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this and I'd love to hear your thoughts, struggles, and insights as well.

You might also enjoy:

Part Two: Some Call Them Whiners, Drawing a Picture
Challenging Teen, Redux
A Letter to the Parents of a "Difficult" Child
My Thirteen Tips for Parenting Your Strong-Willed Teen

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