Parenting the good kids and the odd ones out

Parenting the good kids and the odd ones out

A few weeks ago, before all this craziness of moving started, my husband and I attended a home educators’ conference in Cincinnati, and I promised you thoughts.

I think I have a dozen blog posts piled up from the event.

We only attended a handful of conference sessions, but we hit all the sessions we could with Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Trained Mind. She shared some very personal things about her family—things I wouldn’t dream of putting in a blog post—explaining that “older women are supposed to share whatever wisdom they have with younger ones.” I’m a decade or so behind her, and I’m so grateful she did.

Minus the personal details, let me share the gist of the session that I can’t stop thinking about: on parenting the good kid, and the odd kid out.

Susan said, “Every family with three or more kids has one kid that they just can’t figure out.” (I’m curious to hear your thoughts—is this your experience, as a child or as a parent?)

I have four kids, and do I ever relate. 

The odd kid out

The odd kid out isn’t necessarily a social misfit; instead this is the kid who isn’t like her siblings, the one who doesn’t fit neatly into your family system. There are many possible reasons this kid doesn’t groove, among them:

• slower chronological development (either physically or emotionally)
• different ways of processing information
• lack of awareness of social cues
• different priorities

These kids tend to have their struggles early in life: their struggle is to find their place.

The good kid

The good kid, on the other hand, is the one who seems to practically raise himself. This is the kid who doesn’t put a foot out of line, who doesn’t get his name written on the board, who gets his homework done early and puts himself to bed on time.

That all sounds great, so what’s the problem?

• Many good kids operate out of fear.
• They’re afraid people will reject them if they fail, so they never fail.

The good kids tend to struggle in the middle. These are the kids who sail through adolescence drama-free, only to have a massive breakdown in their early thirties.

(I was a good kid.)

Bringing it home

After listening to Susan explain about the good kids and the odd kids out, my husband leaned in to me and said, “can a kid be both?”

My thoughts exactly.

Before we heard Susan speak about her family—and the dynamics at work within it that affect so many other families—we knew we had issues, and that we weren’t really satisfied with how we were approaching it. But we had no language with which to talk about it.

This new perspective has been incredibly helpful as Will and I take a hard look at our family dynamics, see what our individual kids needs from us, and examine Susan’s action points. I’ll share a few in a future post.

(This is the same reason I geek out about personality assessment tools—they give their users a language to talk about what’s going on in their heads, their work, their relationships.)

I’m also grateful that Susan made it clear that “the good kid and the odd kid out both have the same distance to go.” It’s easy for parents to think that the odd kids out are (unpleasantly) challenging and the good kids are pure joy to parent, but that’s just not so. Both these kids have their struggles, but those struggles look very different.

I’m eager to hear about your experience with this. Tell me about growing up as the good kid or the odd kid out, or the sibling to one. Parents: do you see these dynamics at work in your own family? I’d love to hear the details. Feel free to keep your comments anonymous on this one.  

P.S. Your kids need to hear joy in the lifestyle you’ve chosen. And 7 books I read over and over again.

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  1. Stefani says:

    I was the good kid. Every parent’s dream. Although, I don’t think I ever had a break-down (unless you consider leaving life-long Mormonism at 31–it certainly gave my mother a break-down!). What I do still struggle with are feelings of self-worth…makes sense with a fear of failure–yet homeschooling will give you frequent feelings of failure when you children aren’t listening or learning how you *think* they should be. Plus, being the kid who didn’t need much attention means I also struggle with feeling like my mother loves me as much as my siblings.
    I do have an Odd One Out (my middle child). But, after I read 5 Love Languages, he made MUCH more sense–he’s physical touch and I am not. Still a little slower than the others to learn but actually on track with public schoolers… I’m glad that he’s homeschooled so that *someone* can understand him and he can grow to understand himself, too. 🙂

  2. As an only child, I have no experience with most of this, which is probably why I’ve delved deep into studying personalities, love languages, ect for the parenting aspects. We don’t really have an odd man out–maybe because all our children are boys, but my oldest is highly sensitive, and can be very challenging. I’m HSP too, but instead of being able to relate to him, we usually end up butting heads. 🙁 My middle is the ‘good child’, and I’m terrified of him being the neglected middle child–especially because our baby is a preemie and while we’re incredibly blessed by his good health, he has needed extra attention catching him up to his full term peers. For you good children/middle children out there, what do you wish your parents would have known?

    • Anne says:

      As a good child, so to speak, I wish I would’ve been assured of my parents’ unconditional love for me no matter what I did or achieved. I was praised and thought a lot of for my smarts, but it could have been balanced with gentle lessons in humility, gratitude, and unconditionality.

      I can relate to your concern about middle child syndrome. I feel like I can see it happening to my little almost-three-year old. I’m glad your preemie is doing well! All the best. 🙂

      • Yup, I totally get that. We try so hard to tell and show our kids that we love them for who they are, not because of their actions, good or bad. Parenting is such a tightrope walk, made even harder since what works for one, may not work for the next.

      • Anne says:

        So now I just have to say, one of SWB’s tips was to tell the good kid, “I love you,” and NOT, “you’re such a good kid!” #guilty

  3. Molly says:

    I am the oldest of six. Based on the definitions given we had two “good kids” and four “odd kids out” but really at some point we were all odd ones out. And for the reasons mentioned: lack of ability in reading social cues, ADHD (information processing), growth and development. I’m also going to through in genetic disposition. With both Irish tempers and German stubbornness in our blood, you can just imagine the fights that erupted. My parents got to deal with everything from homework fights to teenage rebellions to bipolar tendencies. I do think it is possible for kids to be both the “good kids” and “odd kids out” based on the situations (friendships vs. school vs. general family rules and other dynamics). My lack of academic motivation drove my parents insane, but I was also the kids that followed the rules most of the time even when I moved out. I’ve not had any breakdowns personally, but some of the life choices I’ve made in my adult years have had major backlash with my parents because they were not what was expected. Is it possible or likely that these kid tendencies continue into adulthood?

  4. EricaM says:

    I’m not sure I fit quite neatly into either category. Compared to most, I suppose I would have been the good kid; but I was the baby of the family (with only an older brother), and I was quite honestly rather whiny and had a temper. (I have retained the temper.) On the other hand, I still felt more at ease and comfortable with my family than anywhere else.

    It was around other kids of my own age that I felt utterly out of place. I think part of it was that kids in general can be mean and I was a sensitive child, and that I just couldn’t find myself interested in things the other kids were interested in. I preferred helping younger kids (maybe because I was in charge of the situation?) or hanging around my brother’s friends. I suppose with that combination, my crisis really came in my early 20’s when my mom started having an affair and my parents divorced. With that stable connection gone I had to sort of find a new way to fit. Luckily it didn’t take that long.

  5. Katie says:

    Hmm. I’m definitely the good kid, at least in academic achievement and rule-following and definitely in the fear of failure–but my early thirties are still ahead of me, so I can’t say about the crisis bit. 😉

    But I don’t know who would be the odd one out. My brother, the middle child and only boy? He probably fits that description most closely, ie not academically motivated, struggled to find his place but now working on his doctorate (while I, the academic, have only a bachelor’s). But my sister was the blonde, the ditz, the one who’s still the butt of family jokes. And while I always got good grades and never rebelled in any stereotypical, dramatic way, I wasn’t exactly a joy to rear during adolescence, either.

    And while my siblings were not as academically motivated as I, none of us were in any way delayed or ADHD or anything like that. I, the good child, probably come the closest, since I think if I were a kid these days I’d be diagnosed on the autism spectrum, whereas in the nineties I was just antisocial and weird. And I guess my brother had to go to speech therapy for a couple years because of frequent ear infections in infancy.

    Maybe three children just still isn’t quite enough to categorize, but I do think the “odd child out” theory is just a little vague. At least in my family, we all three were different, with our own unique strengths and weaknesses and places we fit in and places we didn’t. But then, I’m also learning more and more just how healthy our family dynamic was and what good, supportive parents our parents were–so maybe that minimizes some thing, too.

  6. Kristin says:

    I was the good kid and my brother was the odd kid out. In my own kids I see a good kid, and the other two are a bit of of a mix. I got into personality assessment because of your blog and it has really helped me understand why I relate to one kid more easily (they are exactly like me) and less so another one (who is exactly like my husband).

    When we homeschooled, I loved all Susan Wise Bauer’s materials. I would have loved to here her speak. I look forward to your future blog posts.

  7. Alyssa says:

    Has Susan Wise Bauer written any articles or books that address this? I am always interested in the real life challenges of well known homeschool leaders. I have homeschooled for 16 years and recently re-discovered Sally Clarkson talking about how her children are now grown and some of the challenges (OCD etc) they faced that I never would have guessed form reading her books.
    I don’t really like the terms “good” and “odd”- I might say easy-going and challenging instead. But I think the concept is really true and I like what she said about needing to get them to the same point but it takes different paths. That is one of my main reasons for home schooling– to meet their individual needs.
    I was the oldest of 5 and very easy to parent– but had a lot under the surface that i didn’t express.. and I did have serious anxiety and depression around when I was 29-32. I felt the need to be perfect, help everyone else and keep it all together until I couldn’t any more. Of the five of us, 3 were more easy going and 2 got a lot of attention because they we strong willed and in trouble a lot.
    Of my 4 kids, 2 are extroverted and strong willed and 2 are more introverted — I see the tendencies toward anxiety in them and am trying to get them to open up more, and ask for help more etc. We all have challenges– just different ones– I does concern me that the easier ones get enough of the kinds of attention they need.

    • Anne says:

      She’s spoken a little about family dynamics and parenting “tough” kids, but she hasn’t written about it much (at least not as far as I’m aware….) There’s just something about committing family secrets to the permanent record, you know?

      I will say that the mp3 recordings of her talks that are available at her site have been a wealth of information for me. The only reason I even knew to check those out was because I first heard her live. They are here:

      I would especially recommend “homeschooling the real child” and “if I could do it over again.” Lots of personal (and to me, that means supremely practical) information in those.

  8. Bonnie says:

    I was the good child, so it came as quite a shock to me that neither of my boys were interested in filling this role. They took after their dad’s side of the family, and there was nothing in my background that allowed me to deal with them.

    As a child and all through college I was a super-achiever, but after I graduated college and married, all that ambition seemed to dissolve. I am in my 50s now and feel I have in no way accomplished anywhere near what I could (and probably should) have.

    • Anne says:

      Oh, gosh, Bonnie, this isn’t my blog, but your post just jumps out at me. Do you write at a blog? You have an interesting and valid perspective!

      • Bonnie says:

        Wow! Thanks for that validation. No, I don’t have a blog; I’m sure I’ve never even entertained the thought I would have anything to say that anyone would want to read.

    • Lynn Doggett says:

      Bonnie, you have totally described my life. I’m an only child, raised 3 boys and 1 girl and just in the last few years decided to go back to work. It’s tough!

  9. Shannon says:

    I relate to this so much. I was/am the black sheep of my sisters, for sure. (I am the second of 4 girls.) And I think we all were “the good kid” and it was very much out of fear. In hindsight, being the good kid served me well (i.e., I don’t regret not getting into trouble) but to this day it sucks being the black sheep. I can’t figure out why to-this-day my parents don’t like me….

  10. Catie says:

    I’m looking forward to hearing about this! 🙂

    I was NOT the good kid.. ahem.. and I’m the oldest. Not normal, I know! (I’m a huge personality-type geek as well.) but *my* oldest most definitely is. Her desire to do the right thing amazes me sometimes! My middle child is the absolutely the odd one out, so far anyway. Time will tell; Baby #3 is only 8 months. 😉

    My husband is also the oldest and he was a “good kid” but only outwardly, like you mentioned. He held a lot inside then left the day he turned 18. We’ve talked about that very thing in regards to our kids–to take note! Even if they seem compliant, find out where their heart is! 🙂

  11. Anne says:

    First, look at the smiles on those cute kids!

    Second, thanks for sharing the Susan Wise Bauer Wisdom! A dozen more posts on her thoughts? Yippee! 🙂 I like her work, too.

    After those two thoughts, I have so many others, I am not sure where to start. I should probably write my own blog post. I don’t think we had an odd one out, but I was definitely a good girl who did what she was supposed to do for the most part. So did my siblings. The fear and rejection SWB talked about just hit me right between the eyes when I read it, even though it’s something I’ve already realized about myself. I wrote about it in my above comment to Ana, and I would add to Susan’s thoughts: the fear of failure results in not even trying or challenging oneself. I also appreciate that Susan points out that both children have the same distance to go and your point about language.

    Why does the good child not struggle until the middle? That’s interesting. Because that’s when we are figuring things out more for ourselves? Don’t have the structure of school to align ourselves with? Hmmmm…..

  12. Deborah says:

    I was the good kid. To quote my mother, “You were easy. You were just so easy! Then we had your brother.” If you’re thinking “Poor brother,” you’re probably right. What you wrote about failing not being an option resonated with me, but I also felt that way about misbehaving. It just wasn’t an option. My parents were medical missionaries in Africa and I was always extremely aware that a lot was riding on my actions and behavior. Right before we moved to Africa, my mom gave away lot of our toys, including my favorite doll. I remember missing my doll, asking her about it, learning that she’d given it away, and knowing that I wasn’t supposed to express how upset I was to her. I was supposed to be fine with it. So I calmly walked to my bedroom, curled up in a ball, and quietly cried. I was four at the time. Looking back, I don’t think that my mom had any clue that giving away my doll would upset me because I was the good kid who didn’t get upset and took things in stride. And she had no clue that I was upset, because I covered it up well, even at four.

  13. Aubry Smith says:

    Really interesting thoughts. Mine are all still little (almost-5, 3, and 1) so the “good kid” hasn’t quite emerged yet, but we can already tell our 3-year-old is definitely the odd one out. The other 4 of us desire peace and harmony to the fullest, and our 3-year-old LOVES to poke and inspect and get reactions out of anyone. He’s the one I’m at a loss for how to deal with! We are pretty sure he’s an ENTP, so competition and making everything a playful game helps, but boy, he can’t pass up an opportunity to stir the pot!

    I was definitely the “good kid” and I hit my breakdown earlier than the norm (mid-20s, just now emerging, praise the Lord!), but it still definitely happened! Rediscovering the gospel was vital for me–recognizing that even though my outward actions seemed almost-perfect and good to most, inwardly I struggled with pride and setting myself up as my own savior, and being terrified of appearing weak and disappointing others. Good counseling helps, too. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Oh my goodness, I relate to this so much! I have a pot stirrer, and come to think of it had a pretty impressive mid-twenties breakdown to complement my early thirties breakdown, and setting myself up as my own savior… yes, yes, and yes! And yes to good counseling, too.

  14. Anna says:

    This is so interesting. I was definitely the good kid. And it’s definitely caused problems in adulthood, although for me the crisis was forced in my early twenties by extraordinary circumstances and I’ve been trying to recover ever since. Now I feel like the odd one out because I can no longer fit into my old position in the family so there’s usually no room for me at family gatherings. I had a sibling who was definitely the odd one out (there are four of us). Nowadays that sibling would be diagnosed with OCD and SPD and treatment would have helped tremendously, but back then we just did the best we could with what was sometimes a very difficult situation. Thankfully I’ve now carved out a good relationship with that sibling who sought treatment as an adult, and I get along with all my siblings in their own way. The whole group together still does not work for me, but individually it’s OK and I’ve found some peace now in my thirties. My husband is a counselor and he finds my family’s dynamics to be interesting (and annoying) because he grew up with just one sibling so there just isn’t the same level of drama. And for what it’s worth, most people would consider my family to be an extraordinarily good one. We had excellent parents who did a great job. But dysfunction happens in all families.

    • Anne says:

      I’m fascinated by your counselor-husband’s commentary on your own family dynamics! I dearly hope that his expertise has been helpful to you as you continue to process and interact with your family of origin.

  15. Jeannie says:

    I’m the only daughter in a family of 5 kids, and I was definitely the “good” kid, the peacemaker, the one who gets along with everyone and tries to bring all perspectives together. 3 of my 4 brothers are major achievers (all have multiple degrees), while the other has not been able to sustain his ambition or focus. That’s hard to watch. I see how my father, who is almost 80, is very defensive about my odd-one-out brother and resents anyone who questions or tries to push him. As Anna says above, dysfunction happens in all families; I’m just more aware of it now that I’m older.

    You’ve raised a great topic here and I really like your question about whether a kid can be both; I have only 2 kids but my daughter (who’s 15) is most definitely a “good + odd” kid.

  16. Andrea says:

    This is interesting. As a mom of 4 kids I can see that our oldest doesn’t fit in. She’s an emotional roller coaster and always critical or controlling. But she’s also the “good” one who does what she should and teachers adore her.

    And I do love that you brought up the fear aspect. We attempt to parent our kids so that their conformity (or non conformity) to social norms and family values is a decision they make. Not one done from fear or blind obedience. There’s nothing more frightening, as a parent, than seeing kids who are so controlled they’ll allow anyone to tell them what to do.

  17. Laura says:

    So interesting.

    The “good kid” has a breakdown in her early thirties–whoa! Is that documented somewhere? ‘Cause for me it was at 26. 😉

    So far our first (of two) is pretty hard to figure out. At the same time, at age 5, she’s just now starting to behave according to whether or not she thinks I’ll get upset, and it breaks my heart. But the second is too young to clearly be a “god kid” or “odd one out” or something else.

    • Anne says:

      Ha! Mine was at age 31. I really love chatting with other “good girls” about their late twenties/early thirties breakdowns. Is that weird? I hope that’s not terribly, horribly weird. I feel like there’s a giant survivors’ club we all belong to together, and it’s fun to connect with all the other members…. 🙂

      • Ginger says:

        I would definitely be interested in a post or discussion about this very topic. I was definitely a good kid, and I had a really really rough time surrounding turning 30.

        I soak in any thing that SWB has to say. She always has something that makes me think.

  18. Bonnie-Jean says:

    “the good kid and the odd kid out both have the same distance to go.” – Yes!
    As a teacher it would have been so helpful to have had this phrase on hand to give to parents worried about their ‘odd one out’. I was the good kid growing up but as an elementary teacher I dearly loved ‘the odd kid out’. They always brought variety and a different way of seeing things to my classroom. They stopped me from becoming bored with teaching!! Perhaps I’ve always loved kids who are the odd one out because I really wanted to be one of them. To not be so fearful of doing the wrong thing. I always wanted to be Anne Shirley but knew I was more like Diana Berry!

  19. Sarah says:

    I love this topic! I hope to read more about it from you (and will check out SWB’s site). In my own experience, I grew up with three younger brothers. I was a good kid, but it was mostly out of fear (both of my parents and of God). My crisis waited until now, when I’m turning 40. I have found out things about my past and what I was taught and what I believed that have left me rather unmoored and the last few years have been pretty rough. I’m coming out of it and I believe I will be better for it. My oldest younger brother was definitely the black sheep and he lived it to the fullest, although he finally has settled and become a pretty amazing person.

    The sad one is my middle brother, who was absolutely a “good kid.” He was the only one to finish college in a reasonable amount of time, get a job, do all the right things. He’s 30 now and alcoholism is killing him, quite literally. I think he was also the “odd one out.” He wasn’t like my oldest younger brother and I, and he and the youngest brother were such a “matched set” – they’re 18 mo. apart, but were like twins – that the youngest is still trying to find his own identity.

    WIth my own kids, my oldest is the “good kid.” And I do worry about his need to acheive and fear of failure. He is the type who is so responsible, it’s kind of ridiculous. He sometimes seems to think he’s MY parent! This year he’s been in a new private school and there was one class he struggled with and it was a good opportunity to reassure him that our love for him is not based on how well he does in any subject, but just on his being our son. Our youngest is definitely the “odd one out.” He is not like the other two and just marches to his own beat, which is sometimes wonderful, sometimes exasperating! My middle, my daughter, is mostly sunshine and rainbows and is God’s gift to me – I get her in a way I don’t get my boys, although we’re all HSP. But I need to watch her, because she’s not a “good kid” and while her heart is pure gold, she is not really a rule follower.

  20. Scott says:

    Well, I’m a bit late to the punch on this, but we have 4 kids (all girls), and I’d agree with the assessment of the one odd kid. I think that’s our 3rd one, which makes sense according to birth order, probably (trying to separate herself our from the pack). She’s currently 3, and so we’re not sure what will pass (after the three year old phase), or what’s just her personality, but she’s a real stinker sometimes! Incredibly strong-willed and not easy with any change (my wife’s reading the Out of Sync Child on your recommendation, actually – it’s helping!). But she’s also incredibly smart, and can be very thoughtful and intuitively helpful, so this should be an interesting journey.

    • Katy says:

      We have 4 girls also. #3 has always been the odd one out. She is heading into her 13th birthday. She is surprising her sisters with popularity and an active social life! It has always been a challenge with transitions. We are just now really getting the hang of making sure she gets enough sleep and isn’t too busy.

      • Scott says:

        Wow, when you mention transitions, that’s just like our 3 year old. And, she’s doing that thing where she sort of needs a nap, but if she has one, she can’t go to sleep at night, so she’s probably slightly sleep-deprived. oh well, this too shall pass, right?

  21. Chrissy says:

    This post really hit home. I am about to begin homeschooling my children next year and I do have a “good” child and an “odd one out”. Most definitely. My son has social awareness issues and at 8 is really beginning to feel different and left behind by the rest of the kids. I searched the comments for resources about parenting/homeschooling the “odd one out” but I didn’t see many. (But I was scanning.) Do you have any recommendations? I would really love them! Any help/advice would be really lovely.

    • Anne says:

      Here’s the recommendation that struck me most: SWB said that for a child who doesn’t “read” people and follow social cues well, teach those cues directly. Just like you would to a child with autism.

      She gave the specific example of teaching a child when to give a one-second hug (your friend’s mom), when to give a three-second hug (your brother), and when to give a giant five-second bear hug (your dad). She said that teaching that one skill to the odd kid out made a HUGE difference in how people interacted with him, and of course he noticed, and was enthusiastic about learning more about interacting with people well.

  22. Ronna says:

    I was the good kid. I got in trouble the least. I liked to be organized, get things done, I thrived under structure, and I was never a problem. But, she is dead on about fear! I recognize now that a lot of the choices I make come out of fear. I also never felt brave enough to truly be passionate about anything. If I loved to act, I would never say…I want to be an actress. I want to try out for plays; help me. Because that would be crazy. I’ll just sit here and read and be a good kid and not mess up. But, I watched my other sister by vocal about her passions and dreams, make friends quickly, not be afraid to go against the norm or try new things growing up. I think being the good kid also made me really resistant to change, because fear was so ingrained in who I was…and change is scary. I’d rather stay right where I am because I know what I’m doing here and I’m comfortable, but if we go somewhere else or do something different, I could mess up. I think being the good kid has made me a late bloomer in many ways and afraid to do the unexpected, go against the grain, or by vocal about my passions.

    As a college student, being the good kid was even harder because I saw my ideas and opinions on a lot of things grow and change away from the opinions of my parents. This created tension in our relationship that I didn’t know how to handle because I had never really had conflict with my parents. They also became concerned about me or my spiritual life just because my political views, for example, were changing, and I HATED that. My mom would frequently question whether I was “really reading [my] Bible about this and praying about these issues.” I couldn’t stand the thought that my parents felt any kind of concern in that way about me, and it made me feel like I was doing something wrong by learning and forming opinions.

    My sister on the other hand, was always the problem child, and still seems to create the most tension in our family. She and parents never seem to get along; there’s a lot of mistrust, disrespect, and just plain rudeness on both sides. It doesn’t help that she and my dad are very similar and stubborn. Their relationship with each other has always been rocky, and I don’t know if it will ever get better. It’s very sad.

      • Ronna says:

        Oh, and there’s four of us sisters. When it comes to relating to each other, the 3rd one is usually the “odd one out.” She’s moody, sensitive, likes to be by herself a lot, is the easy target for jokes, and just causes the most bickering right now. She’s also 14, sooo… that might just be more about being a teenager.

  23. aimee says:

    You know, I only have 2 kids but I seriously have one of each. My firstborn is truly “the good kid.” He gets very easily overwhelmed when he is disciplined or does something wrong and it’s crazy hard to get him back out of it. I was the good kid too and I struggle so much with watching him start to go through what I did…and it’s all me! We are sometimes so much our parents and how they were to us and some days that just kills me. All I can do is continue to be aware of the times when I am shaming him and calling him out on things that just aren’t worth it.
    His sister is a baffling “other kid.” I’m reading book after book trying to figure out how she ticks and honestly I don’t think I’m going to find an answer. Love Susan Wise Bauer. Oh to be a fly on her walls for just a day and the wisdom I could glean!

  24. Amy says:

    Just seeing this today. So happy to find your blog and am just starting to read your posts. I have been struggling with my four. Love them all, they all have their “good kid” days, but deep down they are three and one. One that I can’t seem to figure out how to parent. I was the “good kid” in my family. The first born girl, big sister to two brothers. I had a life-changing moment when I was seventeen, no fault of my own, but I never told anyone at the time. It wasn’t until I was 44 years old in counseling that I put words to all the problems. I would say my “breakdown” started at 38, and it took that many years for me to seek help. I say all this to say to parents of “good kids”, they have problems too. They are not going to be able to voice them because of the fear of not being perfect. I always wonder if things (things such as projecting my perfection onto my kids) would have been different if I could have voiced things as they happened, but who knows. Anyway, such an interesting topic!

    • Amy says:

      Also, my odd child out is the third of four. Curious to know if this is in line with any other families. I think the third child has to be hard. I always wonder if it is because he boy #3 and feels the need to keep up, or if it is because he was born that way. (with a temper, moodiness, more of a loner, etc.)

  25. Carrie says:

    Yep, yep, and yep. Good kid, married to a good kid. I’m now 34 and in counseling. I’ve lost my parents recently (8 1/2 months apart) and counseling is exactly what I needed to figure out who the heck I am and how to deal with it all.

    And I have an odd kid out even though I only have two kids. 🙂

  26. Jenn says:

    Momma of 4, odd kid is my oldest, good kid is one of the middle kids and I’m a good kid who briefly lost it when I hit 30… Wow. Can’t wait to read the rest of your take-aways from Susan’s talk. Love her! So much wisdom!

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