Open Topic - Preserving our easy child Relationships


Psycho Gorilla Dad
All of us here have difficult child's (duh), or we wouldn't be here. It helps to talk and discuss with others who share our pains and burdens about those in our life who challenge us.

But what about those in our life who DON'T challenge us? Like many, I have a easy child daughter, and over the last year it's been really hard to pay needed attention to the difficult child drama and yet try and preserve a healthy relationship with her. Lately, she's said to me "Dad, I'm not Aaron....", translated as "don't project your fears and concerns for him onto me and treat me like him".


It's a challenge, every day, for me to keep that from happening. I'd like to hear other stories from people facing the same challenge of dealing with a difficult child yet preserving (as much as possible) a good relationship with a easy child (or wife/husband/SO), or whatever.

It's pretty tough, isn't it? Dealing with someone who seems hellbent on ruling the roost and acting out while at the same time trying to provide a "normal" life and childhood for your easy child?

Looking forward to other's stories....



Active Member
My difficult child son is almost 22 and my easy child son is 27 so my kids are older. However, easy child is married, expecting a baby in August, they own their own home, both work hard, love and respect husband and me and are a joy to be around. easy child son knows what it was like living with his brother. difficult child we currently have no contact with by his own choice...who knows. We have a wonderful relationship with easy child and his wife and their family. We even have a great relationship with difficult child's x-girlfriend who is the mother of his baby - our first grandson. We are helping to raise him.

I do often wonder what went wrong with our relationship with our son. We still love him and want him in our lives but he doesn't want anything to do with us or his son. It is his loss in the end.


New Member
My sons are very much younger than yours, but I know what you are talking about. I try and find alone time for easy child & me. Usually after difficult child goes to sleep, easy child and I will cuddle on the couch and watch Dora or Blues Clues (something that easy child wants). The thing that I have found is that my mind must be programmed into compartmentalizing the two of them (difficult child=bad, mean, hateful, hurtful) (easy child=sweet, victumized by difficult child, innocent). The thing that I have caught myself doing is being easy on easy child when he does something to difficult child, but exploding of difficult child when he does something to easy child. I find that unfair, and I'm now trying to stick to my rules for both of them and not be swayed by my subconcious classification of who they are. I also find that I talk to easy child differently than difficult child. I think it developed because easy child "wants and is starting to be able to" talk with me, and carrying on a conversation. Whereas difficult child, clams up or talks in 1-2 word sentences. difficult child really doesn't carry a conversation, he just states a thought or want. Blunt, end of conversation. I feel I have alot of work to do with both of them.


Well-Known Member
For me, easy child being the older one made it a tad easier because she understood and saw the decline in her brother happen.

She was concerned, as the big sister, about what her brother was going through. When difficult child was at the darkest point, I really did feel like I was neglecting her. She was in middle school and was pretty much left on her own.

But, we got through that time by my making sure she got important one on one. We also talked every night after difficult child was put to bed. We would talk about her day, or read a book or just snuggle in bed for awhile.

For me, being in a family withh a difficult child is a great learning experience. easy child has more tolerance than the average teen for kids who have struggles. I think being difficult child's big sister has been a good thinkg for her - not always easy, not always stress-free, and definately not always fun. But, it has added something to who she is and who she will become.



New Member
My easy child's were a true blessing. I cannot recall ever thinking that they would do the things that my difficult child's did. I might have had very high expectations from them. At times they challenged those expectations. I then would tell them that I knew what they were capable of and that I would not accept less than their best from them. They never challenged me further. I always told all my kids I expect their best from them at all times. I would say that if a C was honestly the best they could do then I was proud of them for doing their best. easy child #1 once brought home a C and I told her that I knew it wasn't her best and that I expected her to put forth a better effort. She graduated HS with a 4.0 and went on to college and a master's degree. difficult child#1 was equally as intelligent as easy child#1 but her mood swings didn't allow her to achieve as high a goal as her sister so for her I was hapy with anything above a D.

I also made a point of having dates with each of my kids. Each one of them had their own personal "Mommy time". There were times that I would have to postpone but I always made it up. I hired babysitters or just had husband watch the others and would take one of them to the movies, the park, for an ice cream or maybe just shopping for something for them. The easy child's remember this the difficult child's do not. With all my kids I tried to steer them toward their strengths.

I think it did help that my easy child was my first born and very responsible and that the younger kids were adopted when she was older. That way when one of the difficult child's were acting out I could send her out or to another room with the rest of the children. I had special activities (art supplies and games and puzzles) reserved for those times and they would play with them if it was dark or inclement outside. Otherwise they would all go out to the yard and play or swim depending on the time of the year. easy child#1 also had her CPR and lifeguard certification. I have told her many many times that I never could have done what I did if it were not for her. That is why I am so willing to watch her children for extended periods or just drop things to help her out. My husband was on the road most of the week and only home on weekends. My easy child#1 was my angel and though many would say that it isn't right to put that kind of responsibility on a young teen she thrived on it. She looked at it as a babysitting job that was pretty much on call. I often paid her and she had many privileges and a new car while still in HS.

When it was time for easy child#1 to go to college she didn't want to go away because there would be no one to help me with the younger kids when difficult child#1 went off. I told her that they were ultimately my responsibility and that I would figure something out. I made her go away to college and told her if she didn't like it after a year we would revisit the subject. I told her I would always appreciate all that she did to help me and that because she had been such a great help her father was able to do his job which paid for her college. To this day I still tell her that I feel so honored to be her mother. When her son was born she was still in college and working toward her PhD. I took care of him everyday and often overnight if she had experiments to run or her husband was out of town. She eventually terminated at a master's but it was her decision and not one that was forced on her by an unplanned pregnancy, (She was married but the BC failed) She wanted to pay me but I told her it was her turn to let me help her. My difficult child's therapist told me that it is a balancing act that she felt I had done with grace. I told her that was because I had help both from God and from friends and most of all from my daughter. -RM


Well-Known Member
My oldest is a easy child. He has done well with his life. He is a 25 year old college grad with a wife and child. He has the "magic" touch and enough charm to win a political campaign. He never had a curfew. I never had to "worry" about him. He made some dumb mistakes, but always owned up to them and worked to rectify whatever he had done. He and I have always been close. We enjoy discussing music, arguing politcis, and talking about the lastest book we've read or idea we've heard about.
My middle son is my difficult child. He has always had issues and has always been difficult.

My youngest is only 18 months younger than difficult child, but about 10 years older emotionally and socially. She has "acted" out a few times, but always returns to easy child status rather quickly. She, too, works hard at whatever she does. She, like, your daughter was a dancer. Unfortunately, at 16, she "retired" from dancing because of genetic cartilidge degeneration in her knees. When she younger, we bonded over dance. She competed every year and performed with local professional companies, so that kept her away from difficult child and his issues frequently. AFter she lost dance, she has worked to redefine herself---because for 15 years, she was a dancer all the time. Now she is in college, works in the insurance field, and plays a little golf????

I think you have to take time for each child. A difficult child's issues can easily take over your life. Often the other two had to fend for themselves because we had to deal with difficult child. I finally stopped putting them last---and certainly makes life better for all of us. I have realized that difficult child will do what difficult child will do----I stay out of his drama as much as I can.


I don't have any easy child's only difficult child's and as much as I love them they are D@MNED good Birth Control!

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
What's a easy child??????

In general, difficult children impact any & all relationships in a family. It's near impossible to balance & maintain healthy connections, while meeting the needs of our challenging children.

Do the best you can - find alone time with easy child when you can.


Well-Known Member
There is, I think, a very common dysfunction that doesn't surface
when you have PCs in a household amok due to one or more difficult children. I
read it very often here and try to gently warn the parents. Often
your successful child feels the need to be perfect to make up for
the problems in the family.

PCs, because they ARE PCs and sensitive caring individuals, very
often hide their feelings about the pain and anger that is normal
when a family has to live with difficult child issues. I have two awesome
adult easy child children (plus three easy child adult step children) and all five of them have been impacted by GFGmom. My outstanding RN
daughter and honcho law enforcement son did not openly share how
they felt until adulthood. There is a group at my daughters
hospital that stumbled onto the subject of difficult child siblings one day
and she found out in her 30's that she was not alone...every one
of these high achieving adults harboured unhappiness from having
a sibling that caused embarrassment and stress. Most of them had
Moms who spent quality one-on-one time with them. Almost all still maintain loving relationships with parents BUT they still resent the inequities that difficult children bring to families.

I don't think there is an answer but stifling emotions is not
the healthy path. DDD


New Member
Quote:"high achieving adults harboured unhappiness from having
a sibling that caused embarrassment and stress. Most of them had
Moms who spent quality one-on-one time with them. Almost all still maintain loving relationships with parents BUT they still resent the inequities that difficult children bring to families."

This is our house to a "T". My 2 grown easy child daughters have been the biggest support and help throughout difficult child's life. They did however voice very loudly their opinions,disappointments and embarassments that difficult child has brought into the family from time to time. NEVER once telling him that they did not love him anyway though,just how sad they were that he would act like that and hurt not only himself but others too. difficult child highly respects his sisters and adores his nieces. Through all of his trails and problems he KNOWS they are always by his side to kcik his :censored2: or support him as needed.

As for my and husband's relationships with the easy child;s, we are on the phone every day at least once a day just to hesr each others voices for a minute. They usually talk to their Dad when there is a serious topic because they don't want to burden me immediately with something while I am dealing with difficult child. We have one night a month that is FAMILY night. EVERYBODY is here.
I do look forward to an "empty nest" but they will all be in nests very close by.....


My difficult child 1 is the middle child. My older son is a easy child and younger dtr was a easy child but now is sort of a difficult child and I know her gfgness comes from having an older difficult child sibling. She felt she had to be perfect and not cause any trouble and she also felt responsible for trying to keep her older sister out of trouble. She now suffers from a dissociative disorder due to abuse by difficult child when they were younger. I wish I would have known what was going on and I also wish I would not have let difficult child take up so much of my time and energy. Younger dtr was so quiet and good that she pretty much got ignored--I was grateful she wasn't causing problems. Well, once difficult child went to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) then younger dtr's problems all surfaced. I felt so disheartened!

Things are better now that difficult child no longer lives here and younger dtr knows I will protect her and that I know the whole truth of what her life was like growing up with difficult child. She is doing well in therapy, not well in school, but hoping that will come. I feel very sad when I remember what a sweet, great little kid she was, and know that she is suffering the repercussions of being difficult child's little sister.

Oh, one more thing--the fights between me and difficult child were very upsetting to younger dtr too--it was very scary for her.



Well-Known Member
I think I have a fairly weird family. Or maybe not. I am a difficult child, my husband isnt, oldest boy wasnt growing up but now we think we just didnt know he was because he was quiet, middle son was not a behavior problem but ADHD and then there is Cory...the bipolar kid from Hades!

Life wasnt easy around our house when they were young. I wasnt diagnosed, the two younger ones were wide open, the oldest one was a couch potato and Im sure husband was ready to tear his hair out. We have made it though.

Now the boys are all best friends and as close as they can be with each other. I do think oldest one resents the things he feels Cory got away with but he doesnt realize that Cory didnt get away with anything. Their relationship has improved with time. We have not had a problem with Jamie at all. He loves both his brothers and while he could kick Corys rear end when he messes up, it doesnt effect how he feels about him.

Now if you ask me about their girlfriends...that is a whole different topic!


New Member
My difficult child is the middle. My easy child's are 18 and 12. I'v had talks with my ps's and have even aplogized for not doing, having time as they have needed. That was the last time difficult child was placed. This time (difficult child is placed again) I'v made it a priorty to not let my difficult child consum my life and time with my easy child's. I think I let them down before but I can't do it this time. I won't let that happen again. I'll ask them if they want to visit him not try to make them. They ( mostly the oldest) tried to be there for him when he came home the first time. It worked for a while but difficult child went his own way and winded up back where he is.
You have to keep the rest of your family together until your difficult child want to be a part of it if they ever want to be a part of it.


Psycho Gorilla Dad
Thanks for everyone's input so far. For me, this is a very important subject because I've lived it twice; once as the brother of a difficult child, and now as the parent of one. My mother was a single mom, who was also taking care of HER mom in the later stages of ALS. I vividly remember all the time my Mom put in to keeping my brother alive and out of jail. He got the private school while I got beat up daily at public school. He got special doctor visits and other things while I was expected to just chug along. I was angry, upset, and didn't like the favoritism I thought I was seeing.

It wasn't until I was a parent that I understood the actual pain my mother was going through. When there's not enough to go around, you ration what you have to the neediest, and hope the others can make it through. It did get a little better after my grandmother mercifully passed away, but only for a while. Then my family history of alcoholism caught up with Mom and we pretty much lost her forever after that.

I look at her situation, and after years of anger and frustration at both her and my brother, I'm finally able to let go because I understand she was doing the very best she could, with what she had, at the time. But it also highlights just how much impact a difficult child sibling can have on the other kids, and I was curious how others on this board are dealing with that situation.

Thanks so much for everyone's responses, and I look forward to reading more if they pop up on this thread.



New Member
Hi Mikey,
As you can see in my "sig" I have a little handful. Actually, of the 7: I have 1 definate easy child... she is blind in one eye; but a heart of gold and really works to help me. the 2 youngest... currently going thru mostly normal typical stuff. Occasionally, I swear some "traits" are showing some signs!ugh! The other 4 are definately "difficult child" all the way!
I work hard to take the kids out on "mom dates" a couple of times a month. Even if it is just to grocery shop alone. husband tries to spend time playing games and taking them out just as often for "dad dates" as well. Sometimes, it seems like it takes forever to get back to the first child for the next date in line. WE spend as much time as we can having little "chats" sitting in the hallway stairs til spring warms up; then we'll move it to the front porch sofa with a cold glass of icetea or some fresh smoothies:)
So far, we manage well giving all the kids time; but our relationship has greatly suffered in the past 4 years due to "difficult child" #1 and a trip to Iraq for husband. It has just been plain rough.
I just keep hoping that in the end - the kids will see that we have done all that we can. I wish that we could havea babysitter and go on some real dates. All of our dates from the time I met husband has been with 5 kids in tow:) LOL! We even had a bridal shower right here on conduct disorders and wedding gifts too! It was great fun and I even "saved" our pretend wedding guest list, gifts and all. Over the years, they have even been a great source of comfort knowing that we've all gone thru so much together.
Since our kids are still going thru all of the difficult child issues and will be for a quite a few more years... I'll look forward to reading these answers with you.


New Member
My memories of growing up with a difficult child brother are painful.
Not only did he drain my mother of all her emotions but all the drug treatments drained the pocketbooks as well.
He was a gifted athelete. There was NOTHING that was going to stand in his way of a football career. My parents and his coaches exhausted every possible treatment to get him straight.
The whole world revovled around him and his problems, there was nothing left for me or my much younger sister.

I was given that same talented athlete in my son. He walked off the field on day and never looked back.

The courage I have found to stand against him and his lifestyle comes from my easy child.
She is the peace maker, she is the good student and an athlete in her own right.

I made the choice to make her "right" choices override difficult child's wrong choices. It has been a long hard 4 yrs, but I know from my own childhood that my easy child deserved a safe happy home.

Her road has been hard. There is only 15 mths age difference between them, so they know most of the same people.

It was not fair to her to live in chaos. She deserves better and I would not allow her brother to take that away.

I resented alot of things my parents did. I understand through my own difficult child that they did what they thought was best.

My college fund was spent on my bro's last drug treatment.

I guess something like that sticks with you, it makes you vow to never do anything like that to your own children.

easy child's deserve safe homes. Maybe safe isn't the right word, they deserve a comfort that home brings. A place where everything is all right. It is hard enough being a teen in todays world, they should be able to come home and find rest and comfort in a loving place.
I couldn't provide that comfort place with difficult child out of control.
It wasn't comfortable with us all walking on eggshells so we wouldn't set off difficult child.

Then there is also the discipline. difficult child lived by his own rules and walked out when he didn't like what we said. I know easy child knows what we are dealing with, but how unfair for her?
She has the normal teen issues. She would be grounded for breaking the curfew or something and then here's her bro that disappears and we can't ground him, that will set him off and he will just run away.

I can say that we have a comfortable home again. difficult child knows nobody has to put up with his rages and he will be gone.
easy child knows that there is a line drawn and he is choosing not to cross it.
He is abiding by the curfews and she is not asking where is he?

It took many years and tears for this to happen.

But bottom line is my easy child deserved more than what she was getting from a shattered mom


Hi Hearthope,
I really identify with your post. I now have a safe home for my younger dtr. It felt good to finally stand up and tell older dtr (difficult child 1) that she had to leave and to know deep inside that I could actually protect younger dtr. She has made great strides in therapy since her sister has not been living here and she knows she will never live here again. She finally feels safe enough to be able to figure out and process what happened to her when she was younger. She loves difficult child 1 and likes to have her over for visits but there is no way she could live with her, nor could I!


New Member
My difficult child is currently at home for one last try.

It started well, but quickly turned into us walking on eggshells again ~ so careful not to anger him.

The change came when easy child called my job in tears, he knew husband and I were working and thought he would bully easy child into taking him somewhere, after he and she had been told she was never to allow him in her car and he was never to ask.

Mad is an understatement I believe. I had 45 minutes to process all we had done for difficult child and all he had taken from us and easy child.

Everything was laid out, things that were never talked about were discussed. He was not allowed to shrug off his behavior toward us or easy child.

Since that discussion, he has acted like a easy child.

I am sure I have changed in my reactions to him, you know enough is enough, but he has changed as well.

We just take it one day at a time, but so far he is paying his fines, being respectful and abiding with the rules.

He even cut the grass yesterday ~ miracles do happen


Active Member
I often worry how my dtr is affected by my difficult child(son). I try to make sure she gets time with me, and to be honest it is easier to find activities for her as I do not have to worry about her behavior. She can play any type of sport, while difficult child cannot handle team sports. It is so hard to try to make an unfair life fair.


Well-Known Member
We've had several discussions with-our easy child on that topic and she says she's not resentful. I highly doubt that! :grin: She has admitted that she is careful not to say or do things sometimes to upset us because she doesn't want to add to the chaos, but she doesn't see it as being a burden. She's a "pleaser" personality anyway. That's both good and bad.
She has such a diff personality from our difficult child there is no way I'd project onto her. She is almost literally perfect, and in fact, one of the reasons it's so difficult to cope with-our difficult child... she gave us an unrealistic set of expecations! She sings where ever she goes, and when we'd take her on vacations when she was very small, complete strangers would comment on how delightful and charming she was. People just love her cheerful attitude. I often tell her I can learn from her upbeat attitude.
Her only minuses are that she is very, very messy, and she is always late. A true artist. (sigh) :whistle:
Strangely enough, our difficult child is usually on time and very time conscious. One of those Aspie attributes, I suspect. :smirk:
It is important to pay attention to every child individually, and this is a good idea for a discussion topic. Thank you, Mikey!