When we become parents, we have a vague sense of what the role of a parent is, but we never know what goes into true parenting until we are facing it head-on. One of the first things we learn is that becoming a parent is easier than living with the responsibilities, whether you have your own biological child or you adopt.
And especially, being a good parent is never easy – in fact, it is a daily struggle. For those that would come back with, “Oh, it is easy for me because my child is always an angel,” good for you. Now, please shut up.
What to do when you dislike your child?
First, look at the bright side. Your child might never listen to your words and may tend to be willful, and even at times spiteful, but at least they’re not tearing you up all the time fighting a sickness as you watch helplessly.
Second, never look at your child as though they can think the way you do. It’s understandable that their vocabularies are quite impressive as a 28-month-old, and the way they say things makes you think they totally understand you, 100 percent. But even though they like to repeat things you’ve taught them, like “I love you Mommy,” abstract concepts like love can only be fully understood after age 6, and moreover, their brains don’t completely develop until around age 25.
Third, if one of the reasons you dislike your child is because he/she does not listen to you, try to change your method.
Never use more than 10 words to describe something that you need them to listen to and understand. Children, in general, have very short attention spans. Their brains are still developing and will grow in different directions, based on what experiences they have, and what type of stimulation they are subjected to.
Get down to your child’s eye level, even though it is cumbersome, make sure you maintain eye contact and use 10 or fewer words to explain whatever you want them to hear. You will definitely see some differences, sooner or later.
Lastly, cuddle. It is known after a certain age, they will not appreciate your touch, but as humans, we all need physical affection to feel love.
If you have younger children, try to plant as many kisses as you can on their little cheeks and hands, every day. Read them a book on your lap. Build piles of bubbles on their hands and heads in the bath. Give them massages at bedtime.
I play “Little Person Walk” with my children. I wiggle my index and middle fingers like legs walking along my child’s arms and legs, bouncing like a trampoline on their belly, playing piano on their fingers, and taking a nap in their soft hair. It is a fun little bedtime game with physical touch that squeezes out lots of giggles from your little ones and shows your goofy side, in case your children might think you are always behaving too “grown-up”.
If you have bigger children who flinch and say“Ew” at your cuddles, try a different method, like a tap on the back, a gentle squeeze of the shoulder, a fist pump, or a high five – you can probably find many ways to make light physical contact.
I love my son/daughter, but I don’t like him/her.
We all have preferences among our friends and close coworkers, bosses and neighbours, as to who we would rather hang out with. Why should it seem so odd that it is the same way when it comes to our own family members?
We all have different personalities, and it really affects the relationship if a family member happens to have a personality or tendency that you just cannot stand. But they’re your family and your children – you still have to take care of them and give them abundant love.
If you stop working on your feelings toward your children, they will feel the vibe around you – they can actually feel your negative emotion from the slightest tones and gestures. In the end, it will be hard for both of you.
Do not look at your child as your own, but as a person. Accept that your child has his/her own mind – and that they will act and talk the way they wish. It won’t be easy if those things make you feel distant and upset.
Express your feelings right away when your child talks and acts in a hurtful way – do not wait until it scars you.
Remind yourself and your child, you guys are on the same team for life, and even if your styles of playing the game might be different, you must agree on certain terms to play harmoniously. Adjusting and negotiating are key.
Is it OK to dislike your child?
I swear to God, people have actually asked this question. If you are asking for some sort of permission, no, there is no such thing. But even with your own parents, husband, and siblings, you sometimes grow so disappointed that you experience hatred, and some of us might have estranged parents and siblings or have gone through a divorce.
Your child is normally closer to you than anyone else around you, but it is only natural to have some negative feelings, since we spend so much time together as different personalities, with different expectations.
In conclusion, while it is normal to have some unkind thoughts toward our children at times, we have to keep working on the relationship, so any crack that appears between you does not grow bigger, but heals quickly so it does not leave long term scars.
My kid makes me hate my life.
It is possible that you are struggling for prolonged hours with child care, unable to fulfill your own needs and desires, besides having an unhappy relationship with your children, on top of which, there is no time left to heal your wounded heart.
First of all, let’s not blame anybody for your unhappiness. We are human, and we are complicatedly wired animals. Some might feel their happiness fulfilled by little joys like chatting with friends, while others might never feel satisfied, even with a million dollars in their bank account.
When you feel utterly exhausted and empty, and you feel like there is nothing left for you in this world, and no one cares about you, and your children whom you love dearly only seem to hurt you repeatedly with their actions and words, drop everything for a minute and sit down with a cup of coffee or tea, or – if the time suits you why not a glass of wine.
I want to give you a hug and a pat on the back for what you’re up against. You’re a great mom, but your children will never notice it if you feel down all the time. Like they tell you in the airline safety demonstration, you have to secure your own oxygen first, in order to safely help your children.
I know that is way harder than it sounds. When we see our children in need, we tend to jump to give them whatever is necessary, before fulfilling our own needs. But going back to the oxygen reference, if you lose consciousness, you will not be there to help your children. Just for a moment, imagine your kids lost in a chaotic airplane, with you out cold, unable to regain consciousness. At least if you are alert, you can secure that oxygen mask on your kids and keep them safe, or even carry them in your arms to a safe place.
Here are a few factors to consider for you to bring your life to a much brighter and pleasant place.
Are you taking care of your health?
You should be able to put something nutritional in your mouth and get even just 10 minutes of exercise each day. It is okay to invest a little extra time to cook something healthy every once in a while, based on your own cravings instead of your children’s, without feeling guilty. Show your children you matter, and that you know how to take care of yourself.
Are you checking your stress level?
You should pause and think each day about your sleep quality and quantity, your mood, and whether your temper is rearing its ugly head more often than usual – not to mention your appetite and regular bowel movements. There are so many ways you can spot signs of your stress level rising.
It means again, it is time for you to invest a little extra time in taking care of yourself. When you start to feel your mood going sour, you should make a go-to plan to lower that rising stress level.
Some moms make their girl’s night out each week a must-have; some might need some quiet time for themselves in their own room, with a movie, a book, or some music, etc. Some go for a drive, while others need a long chatty phone call. You do what you do. All that matters is that you have to feel good to take better care of your child – and remember, children are good at detecting your stress, and it affects their mood too.
Recharge your batteries
We are not superheroines, and we need to recharge our energy frequently. As soon as you start to feel drained to the point that it’s affecting your mood and performance, drop everything else and go to bed as soon as your kids are asleep.
Get some healthier groceries, even if you have to allocate part of next week’s budget to this week.
Do something relaxing and fun, like catching up on some TV shows you haven’t had a chance to check on for a while.
Get more frequent healthy snacks if you tend to be the go, go, go, mom, from the moment you wake up, with barely enough time to put anything in your mouth.
Keep up on your exercise, even if you have to invest in some small exercise tools to help you to work out at home – if you cannot afford the time or budget to commute to the gym.
Signs you resent your child
“Why can’t you be more like-?”
We all have an ideal child in our head, I’m not sure who yours is, but I would love to see some characteristics of Judith from The Walking Dead in my own daughter – that mature, thoughtful manner of speech and loving gestures toward others, that make me want to give her a Daughter of the Year award.
But each of our children is a random cocktail of ourselves and our partners. Sorry to say this, but sometimes those old proverbs could not be more true, like “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” And trust me, in spite of whatever you remember of yourself as a child (usually as quite an adorable, lovable child), once you face it (as you kind of are with your kids, wink, wink) you might want to run in the opposite direction.
If I had not had you, I would be…
You would be a childless old woman, dying alone in the hospital, with medical workers, or, at best, close relatives to keep you company at the end of your life. Wow, did I just say that? Ouch. But somewhat true.
You might have a better career and extra money in your bank account, but you would never experience the love that can only be felt towards someone you literally created and brought into this world, or watch that helpless dependent human grow into an adult, navigating this tough world with the tools you taught them, and the wisdom you planted in them, and – most importantly – with the love you poured into them.
How dare you…
So you created a human – but who that baby grows up to be is under no guarantee. Seriously, this might be hard to imagine and somewhat hard to grasp, especially as a first-time mom, but hear me out.
We start out thinking all we need to do is give love and the best care possible to our children, and they will naturally become happy, polite, and loving human beings. Wrong.
You can do everything in your power to lead your child to be an amazing adult, but there are a lot of variances that could make them stray from your expectations, such as their health – whether it is mental or physical, personality (this is the tendencies they were born with – we have no power to change it, and no choice but to work with it), environment, traumatic incidents, and the people around them.
Even if our children act against our expectations, even if they seem to tear down all your hard work, it is not always clear-cut whether anyone, in particular, is to blame, because who we now decide to be is based on so many factors that have surrounded us, since even before we were born.
I don’t like spending time with my child
How were your parents? Were they the type of parents that spent a lot of time playing and hanging out with you? Not to judge, but simply to say you have to know yourself, before framing your struggle in these terms.
If you do not have a lot of memories of spending time with your parents, you might not know how to spend time with your own children, and might actually feel uncomfortable, even awkward at times. It might be harder for you than for other parents, who seemed so naturally at ease with their children, but you still have time to learn.
Take your time, and select one activity a week – you can increase the frequency once you warm up to the idea that you’re making beautiful memories for your children to look back on, and potentially raising your children to have an easier time with their own children.
Some might say, “My parents never had time for me, but I’m loving every single minute with my children,” or vice versa. And that is great. Not everyone has the same approach in terms of parenting, and everyone’s circumstances are different. All that matters is we try to figure out what the root of the challenge is, to make it as small a hurdle as possible for you and your family to overcome, on the road to happiness.
Books and resources
How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen by Joanna Faber
This book is an essential manual on communication strategies for parents with
terrible two-year-olds to somewhat civilized seven-year-olds.
The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson
This book shows you how to cultivate healthy emotional and intellectual development, so that your children can lead balanced, meaningful, and connected lives.
The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary D. Chapman, Ross Campbell
This book helps you to find your child’s love language and guides you on how and what to do to resonate with your child’s emotions and behaviour.