A Parent is Only as Happy as Their Unhappiest Child

“A Parent is Only as Happy as Their Unhappiest Child”

a lady sat down on a step looking miserable

I have heard this statement quite a few times recently and it’s really struck a chord.  In fact it feels like it reverberates around my head numerous times a day at the moment.

You see over the last few weeks our eldest has become more angry and more anxious than usual.  He always had a tendency to be a bit of a worrier (a bit like his mother) but it’s taken on a whole new dimension of late.  As well as this his temper has become much shorter than usual too and angry outbursts more frequent.  Both are signs that he is not so happy go lucky as usual and this plays on my mind.  I desperately want to help him.

As I dropped him off at school on Friday and headed off to playgroup with the twins I was conscious that the girls weren’t getting the most cheery Mummy they could have.  I also  knew it was because I was worried about their big brother.  I realised that a little bit of me was in the classroom with him.  I was ruminating; trying to analyse his feelings, look for ways to help him.  I was replaying the morning’s conversations in my mind again and again.  His angst about swimming lessons, ski school (we’re not going to the Alps for another 7 months!) and being late to school to name but a few of his concerns verbalised already that day.  Things that may not seem like such a big deal to an adult but that had become blown up into huge things by my boy.

And so the joy of my Friday off work had faded a little.  I was mirroring his unhappiness and felt incredibly sorry for him as I watched him, through the window, sitting down to his school work.  I knew I wanted to be 100% present with the girls that day but I was distracted.  Still mulling over my boy’s woes.

And I guess this is what the statement above means.  We have a tendency to take on the emotions of those nearest and dearest to us – especially those of our children.  It’s natural and in fact, to an extent, to be welcomed.

Showing empathy for our children helps build connection and so I tried not beat myself up about being slower to get into the ‘Friday feeling’ with the girls that day.

However, we still had fun in the end.  You see, yes I want to be empathetic, yes I want to help our eldest as best I can, but I also need to remember that there are two other little ones who need me too.

Sharing your attention among all your children can be very tricky.  If you have more than one child how do you manage?

Does the mood of one of your children sometimes effect you and the whole family?

If you have any tips about this I’d love to hear them.

Bringing up Georgia
Two Tiny Hands



  1. September 19, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    Oh Hayley, I do empathise with you. I get exactly the same thing, but with Milly more frequently than Xander. She goes over and over (and over and over…) issues with classmates, friends and lessons at school, and I end up getting frustrated with my inability to help and snapping at them both. I’m afraid I don’t have any advice, just virtual hugs. I do hope that things at work aren’t too dreadful this week. If you’d like to get together, for distraction, for tea and sympathy or just to catch up you know where I am xxx

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 20, 2017 / 4:17 pm

      Thanks so much Claire, that is so kind of you. Would LOVE to catch up soon xx

  2. September 20, 2017 / 10:17 am

    Great post and it is difficult to share your attention if you have more than 1 child. We found that if our eldest were going through some emotional phase and we gave her slightly more attention, the youngest one felt left out. Emotions are contagious and it can spill over and affect everyone. What we do is to take the positive out of the situation by still helping her to deal with whatever she goes through but not to place too much focus on the actual problem. This helps as the youngest doesn’t really pick up on the negative emotions.#fortheloveofBLOG

  3. September 20, 2017 / 10:29 am

    This can be a difficult one especially if you have more than 1 child. We found that when our eldest went through an emotional phase and we gave her more attention, our youngest felt left out and also seeked the same attention. Emotions are contagious and it can affect everyone. What we do now is, we take the positive out of the actual problem by still helping her through whatever she is dealing with. By doing this, the youngest does not pick up on the negative emotions.#fortheloveofBLOG

  4. September 20, 2017 / 11:00 am

    I only have one child, but I know if one of us isn’t very happy it has a knock on effect. It must be hard with more than one. #fortheloveofblog

  5. September 20, 2017 / 12:22 pm

    I only have one child, but my mood is definitely dependent on hers – grump child = grump mummy! #fortheloveofBLOG

  6. September 20, 2017 / 4:04 pm

    This is so true! It is usually my eldest that causes me the most upset. But since starting school she is so much happier. And so am I. #fortheloveofBLOG

  7. September 20, 2017 / 8:26 pm

    Yes big time! When my toddler wakes up in a foul mood it always brings me along with it. Also if I drop her off at nursery and she’s tearful, sad and clingy I just feel terrible the rest of the morning and I worry. It’s hard to let go, but as you say I have another child to look after as well. Xx #fortheloveofblog

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:58 pm

      It’s so hard isn’t it?! Thanks for the lovely comment xx

  8. September 20, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    This is so true and can be the same with any member of the family, I think its just the natural caring instinct kicking in #forthjeloveofblog

  9. September 20, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    I’ve only got the one but his mood definitely affects husb and I. #fortheloveofBLOG

  10. September 20, 2017 / 10:35 pm

    I have also heard that phrase recently and it’s spot on. I know from firsthand experience having had a child suffering from M.E. for the past year and therefore her mental health has suffered a great deal as a result. And it’s all consuming for the whole family so you really are only has happy as your unhappiest child, and that can be a very unhappy place unfortunately for some. #fortheloveofBLOG

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:58 pm

      That sounds very difficult – take care xx

  11. aliduke79hotmailcom
    September 21, 2017 / 12:27 pm

    It can be hard to be emotionally present for all of our children at the same time. I try to listen to them and help them where I can. My kids moods do affect my mood.

  12. September 21, 2017 / 12:36 pm

    I have a worrier, too, but I wouldn’t really say he was ‘unhappy’ just gets anxious about specific things, it’s not easy being a parent and juggling their emotions with your own! #fortheloveofBLOG

  13. September 21, 2017 / 9:50 pm

    It’s so tough to give everyone what they need, isn’t it? We’ve just reached the stage where every time Amelia comes for a cuddle, Wills makes a bee-line for me and muscles in on her lap space. It’s hard to explain to a 3yo that he doesn’t really understand, but also tough to put his needs aside and give Amelia what she needs… Parenting eh?! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:57 pm

      So tricky…. thanks so much for commenting xx

  14. September 22, 2017 / 1:03 am

    Feel you pain and have been there and in fact took my daughter out of school when her mental wellbeing was clearly at risk. The YoungMinds website is a helpful resource and we really must look out for the emotional wellbeing of our children as there are so many very scary examples of how badly things can go awry.

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:57 pm

      Ah thanks so much for your kind words Kitty. I love the Young MInds website for the work I do at my school too xx

  15. September 22, 2017 / 11:51 am

    This can be difficult. I find it hard not to inflict my own mood and feelings onto the kids but it doesn’t always work. #fortheloveofblog

  16. talkingmums1
    September 22, 2017 / 1:05 pm

    Yes, I think it goes for adults too. If one person in the house is less than happy it has a knock on effect. If my daughter goes to school upset or anxious, school pick up time can’t come quick enough! x

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:56 pm

      Awww I know exactly what you mean xx

  17. September 22, 2017 / 6:29 pm

    I have not heard of that phrase before but I am a strong believer that you cannot please everyone at the same time. Being a parent you stretch yourself out and if stretched too far you can hurt yourself too. I must admit though, when Ben is having a tough day it does impact on my mood though! #thesatsesh

  18. September 23, 2017 / 7:47 am

    I’ve only got the one but her emotional state definitely has a strong impact on me (especially when we’re both tired!) I like to think I’m usually pretty in tune with her and can help her manage her feelings, but she’s only 2.5 – I imagine it gets harder as they get older and more independent. I like your take on it, thanks for sharing. #thesatsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:55 pm

      Thank you and yes tiredness certainly has a big impact on our household too! xx

  19. September 23, 2017 / 9:05 am

    Yes I totally get this. If my boy is upset then I feel his pain and just want to help him. He’s such a worrier too bless him. That quote is very true xx #thesatsesh

  20. September 23, 2017 / 9:30 am

    Yes it’s amazing the effect it can have on us when we’re worrying about one of our children. Hearing the my eldest had a bad day at school will ruin my day in an instant! #thesatsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:55 pm

      I know exactly what you mean xx

  21. September 24, 2017 / 5:30 am

    I worry about this a lot. How do I do justice to both my daughters’ feelings? Especially when they express them differently, they have different needs and require differing types of attention. Certainly is a challenge, but hey, we do the best we can. Best of luck to you. #thesatsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:51 pm

      Thank you and you’re right we do our best xx

  22. September 24, 2017 / 11:43 am

    I also struggle with this. My son has struggled with anxiety for the past 4 years and in the last six months has seemed to improve dramatically which is great! However, in it’s place as appeared a sullen and stroppy teenager who does his very best to set every day off to a really rubbish start! It’s very difficult to put on a happy face for my daughter! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:50 pm

      Goodness that does sound tough. I’m pleased the anxiety has improved though xx

  23. September 24, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    #thesatsesh so what did you do? I need a happy ending, I’m 90% Disney remember…is he ok? you ok??? Hope little dude is happier now lovely, let me know if I can do anything.

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:49 pm

      Awwww thanks hon – that’s so kind of you. It’s ongoing really….. I just use mindfulness to be totally present with the conversations with him but also to be enjoying the time with the girls when he’s at school and trying not to let my mind wander too much…. it may sound a bit lame but it’s helping. He’ll be right I’m sure – just will take TLC and time xxxxxx

  24. September 25, 2017 / 11:42 am

    Popping back from #FamilyFun

  25. September 25, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    I only have the one child so I can’t really comment but I know what you mean about a person’s mood affecting others. If Molly is in a bad mood and acting out, it puts me in a bad mood too. Though that happens a lot with Me, I tend to soak up people’s emotions all the time. I could be perfectly happy but if I am around someone who is angry/sad whatever, I start feeling that way too. Hugs to you. #fortheloveofBlog

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:47 pm

      Thanks lovely xx

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 25, 2017 / 8:47 pm

      Yes definitely Helena. Thanks for commenting xx

  26. September 25, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    It’s a constant challenge. We have three children, including twins, who are both ADHD/ASD. We frequently all end up in a low mood on account of any one child having an unpredictable outburst of uncontrollable behaviour. It can set the rest of the family against each other as the parents disagree on how to deal with it and the other kids continue to compete for attention as if nothing has happened. I don’t think people who have two kids realise what a difference it makes when you are literally outnumbered and therefore unable to simply focus on one each! I’m afraid I haven’t found the answers yet, all we can do is keeping trying our best and enjoy the good times when we get the chance. #FamilyFunLinky

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 26, 2017 / 10:27 pm

      Thank you so much for this reflective comment. I can only imagine what it’s like with the twins’ extra challenges too. I do know exactly what you mean about being outnumbered and everyone vying for attention – it can be exhausting at times but yes you’re right about enjoying the good times when we can xx

  27. September 27, 2017 / 9:35 pm

    It’s difficult isn’t it. I have a similar thing with my daughter and her shyness. It really troubles me, I am just worried for her in fact I have just written a post about it (that usually helps lol). But when we are out and about and I see her shyness taking it over it plays on my mind for a while after and probably takes over a little when I am with the children when it shouldn’t. Like you say we take on their worries and they become our own. I don’t know how we can ever change that, perhaps it’s part of the deal? Sorry that’s not overly helpful it is? 🙈 Thanks for joining us at #familyfun

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 28, 2017 / 9:49 pm

      Awwww thanks for the reflective comment and it was helpful! Take care xx

  28. September 28, 2017 / 11:09 pm

    I have no advice at all, but I would love an answer too! We clearly have this same scenario… I guess/hope it is common. I always try my best to rise above and make the littles or the Mrs. feel good, and at the same time, I have to let them brood sometimes if that is what they are needing. I want to honor their feeling without become a downer. It’s so complicated. Great topic. Please send solutions???? #thesatsesh xoxo

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