When Children Say “I Have Got The Wrong Parents”

Could anyone feel that they have the wrong parents? This article was initially seen from Tim Elmore who understands the younger generation and deals with a lot of their challenges. His book 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid have been one of the best books on parenting I have personally read.

Is that a yes, no or maybe? So what would make children make that comment or feel that way enough to say “I have got the wrong parents?”


A 23 year old after seeing his counsellor for eight sessions actually said in his own words, not his therapist’s description, that it was his conclusion that he thinks he has the wrong parents. Somehow, even though he was not adopted, he felt his personal temperament just did not match those of his mom and dad. Their personalities did not mesh with his and now he is attempting to overcome it.

While similar DNA exists inside parents and children, we live in an imperfect world of disease, insecurities, deformities and brokenness—and sometimes, the personalities of mom or dad and their daughter or son just clash. Parents can give birth to a child with a temperament that doesn’t fit their leadership style. It causes mom or dad to feel guilty, to over-compensate or to give up. Sadly, both children and adults become victims. At a loss for what to do, both can assume the guilt for being wrong. Usually, both the parent and offspring feel it, but neither knows how to talk about it.

The question then becomes

  • From a biological perspective, it begs the question: “How could a child with the same genes as her parents seem so foreign in her ways?”
  • From a sociological perspective, it begs the question: “How can kids growing up in the same environment turn out so differently?”

Three Suggestions to avoid falling into the trap of frustration where the parents feel they got the wrong kid, or the child feels so misunderstood that he or she feels they got the wrong parents.parents


  1. Play Chess Not Checkers

Parents raise children in the same household with very different outcomes, in one case a father has wondered if he failed with his daughters as adolescents and regrets not investing enough in them in their teen years—investing in them emotionally while his relationship with his son seemed near perfect. What does parenting have to do with chess? Kids are like chess pieces, not checkers pieces. The game of checkers is simple, because all the pieces look and move alike. In chess, however, to have any hope of winning the game, we must know what each piece can do and how each piece moves. So it is with leading children, every child is truly different. Growing up in the same home, the children might have similar traits but they are not all alike, and they must raised based on their personality and strengths. Learn to read your kid before you lead your kid.

  1. Be a Sun, Not a Moon

We all know the sun and moon both give us light, one during the day and one at night. The difference the moon only reflects the light of the sun while the sun is the source of light. I believe this is our responsibility as adult leaders and parents. We are to act, not react. We must be the source of light and leadership for our children and young people. Far too often, parents have led their children as if they were adults, giving them too many choices and options when they are still too young to make wise decisions. We must assume responsibility for the health and development of the relationship between a parent and a child and give the leadership and guidance as required.

Parents must set the example. We must model the way.


  1. Be a Gardener, Not a god

We all know what a good gardener does and nurtures the plants by watering them, adding fertilizer, pulling weeds and ensuring the plants get adequate sunshine. Our job as parents entails that we emotionally nourish our students, remove harmful distractions and expose them to mentors who could be more in tune with them. We are to simply create a healthy environment. Healthy things naturally grow. We are a gardener—not a god. We can’t control our child’s attitudes or as young adults all of their actions. The “control myth” leads only to parental guilt and shame. Parenting is actually a dance, you and your children are dancing and both people must take steps to stay aligned and dance collaboratively. However, someone must take the lead and this is your role as a parent.

Culled from Tim Elmore 

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