We need to address a very sensitive issue that is actually more common than most of us realize. After reading other blog comments, social network comments, several forums, listening to friends and also from personal experiences, I have found desperate parents who end up admitting that due to how their sons or daughters regularly behave, they find it difficult to like their kids.
This tough and sincere affirmation, we must remember, probably stems from the deepest pain, frustration, and anger. Parents may ask, “How is it possible that I don’t like my child? Why do I favor a child over another? Why am I having feelings of regret, or not wanting my child anymore? How have I reached this point?”
As any parent would know, thinking these types of thoughts brings up feelings of guilt, worry, embarrassment, and confusion, among many others. But all of this has a solution – if we work maturely and try and figure out what’s going on, we can transform these bad feelings.
These feelings may first pop up when our expectations as a parent have been thwarted. The character or behavior of our kids isn’t what we wanted, isn’t “normal”, or is completely off from what we imagined, and parents may feel angry. The frustration of not having the child we dreamed of gives us a sense of injustice, intensifying these emotions. The more we question ourselves, the more we project these emotions onto our kids, which could lead ultimately to rejection.
There are several reasons for this. The main reasons I have found are:
1. Unrealistic parental expectations that clashes with the reality of their child’s character and behavior.
2. Children who act rudely and answer badly to the parent all of the time.
3. Children who have become “tyrants” and demand incessantly without giving anything in return.
4. Children who do not accept maternal or paternal authority, who challenge their parents to the limit.
5. Parents that were not prepared to have children.
6. Personal dissatisfaction between the parents as a couple.
7. Problems such as divorce, infidelity, or emotional difficulties like postpartum depression.
8. Children who remind the parent of someone they don’t like.
Even though it may be easy to blame children first, we are the adults and it’s our duty to change a situation that could be getting out of hand.
As they develop, children go through different phases during which they need to claim their selfhood, their personality, their independence from parents, and create relationships with new people. Some children live these phases with greater intensity, either by temperament, educational style, or established bonds with the parents. There are children who fight against everything, they lie, they do not listen, they want everything, they get frustrated easily and they do not accept “no” for an answer. It’s in these cases when parents can start asking questions and doubting their children.
First of all we must analyze why and how we have reached this point. Assess if really everything that our son or daughter does and says disgusts and frustrates us. Make a list of what unnerves you so much and why you think your child behaves as they do. We must empathize and put ourselves in their place to find a way to understand their point of view. This analysis of the situation will allow us to be more objective and concrete with what is happening.
Then you should assess and analyze yourself. Are you happy with yourself as a person? Are you satisfied with your life, job, partner? You might have to revise your expectations of your kids and probably lower them a little. Don't forget to differentiate between loving and unconditionally accepting everything the child does. This way you will be able to realize that even if you “don't like you kid", that doesn’t mean you don’t love them. Slowly, you’ll also learn to identify that what bothers you are the child’s actions, not the child themself.
Find activities that you can share with your child and spend pleasant moments together. Watching a television show, going out for an ice cream or playing a sport that you both enjoy will help alleviate the feeling that "everything is wrong".
It’s also very important to speak to, listen to, and ask the child more in depth questions about their behavior. Maybe there’s a problem at school with other kids, or unspoken jealousy among siblings. Encourage your child to express how they feel, and also make sure to express to them the emotions you are feeling when they are behaving badly.
These are some simple suggestions and first steps you can take to assess your family situation, but in case you feel too overwhelmed to handle this on your own, consult with a professional to help you overcome it – and remember, there is nothing demeaning or wrong about asking for professional help. We all need it sometimes!
Author: Itziar Madera, Educational Specialist at Lipa Learning
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