Tag Archives: Mothering

Difficult: Mothering Challenging Adult Children through Conflict and Change, Book Review

Author Judith R. Smith had me at the first glance of the callout quotes:

“You can divorce a difficult spouse. It’s much harder to give up on a difficult child.”


“When a child is diagnosed with serious mental illness, they do not die – but they are changed.”

How do we continue mothering, when our children are long past the age when we thought we’d be graduating from the phase of hands-on support? What do we do, what do we feel, what do we fear when our stepping aside could spark poverty, homelessness, even violence for our children?

In this thorough, empathetic account of this important previously-swept-aside issue, Judith R. Smith combines eight years of research and grimly honest stories from mothers  of children who have SMI (serious mental illness), addiction, and other issues we never expected to face in our kids.

We learn about the problems presented by not only our own family challenges, but also cultural expectations about motherhood and system failures of support. We feel less alone when hearing the stories and reading the facts. Then, Smith takes us through steps including attitude change, getting support, practicing self-care, and ways to stay safe and possibly even help our grown, difficult, children.

There has never been a book like this. If you’re a mother still inside the journey no one wants to speak about, get this book. You’ll be glad you did.

Available February 2022, Rowman and Littlefield