Shocking and vulnerable admission for sure but I bet you can relate!
There have been moments/times I haven’t liked my kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to death.. but there have been days where it has felt like it would be easier to die for them, than navigate one more hour of attitude and tantrums… sometimes it can feel like sheer torture, especially running on little sleep!
My amazing friend once said to me, “when you have kids you absolutely will love them, but there is no guarantee you will like them”. It’s just unrealistic to believe we will love everything about our children and can really set us up for disappointment and major guilt! Along with this guilt, I found I experienced shame and fear, all feelings I felt were not acceptable to talk about… thank you social norms!! But seriously though, who in the world do you know and love everything about!? I’d venture to say your answer is a big fat no one!
It’s so important to know that we are not alone in this! Fully grasping this truth enabled me to give myself more grace and in turn pass it on to my children.
These precious little beings challenge us to the core. Some of them are little button pushing, boundary destroying, fingers in the oozing wound type creatures.. though I’m sure it’s not on purpose per-say. They have a good tendency to bring up past traumas from our lives, triggering “fight or flight” responses. Ideally what needs to happen is to sit yourself down and understand the ‘what and why” you’re reacting this way. Yes this means some deep soul-searching. A post from The Mother Co suggests this:
“If exploring these issues seems too overwhelming to do on your own, seek help from a professional who can help you pinpoint where you are stuck. You don’t necessarily have to dig around endlessly in the past; it’s more about learning to honor and recognize your own feelings, which then helps you address what your own child is feeling (versus always reacting to what he is doing).”
This is so true! If your able to understand what is triggering you, than your able to acknowledge it and realize that your reaction is not all because of your child. A good therapist will help you cut through all the noise in your head and get to the deep-rooted issues but you have to be willing to work with them.
Maybe you feel as I did before I had any experience with therapy?
I was always worried that seeking help meant that there was really something wrong with me. I found this thought petrifying! What if I ended up in a loony bin, or deemed an unfit person or mother… My greatest fear is loosing my kids, so it was very easy to find myself isolated and alone. I personally didn’t seek help for this particular issue but that of a different one. However, even-though it was not geared toward this topic; because of the counselling, personal reflection and healing, I was able to discover what my traumas are, understand how they were affecting my relationship with my kids and ultimately helped us heal and be freer from this cycle.
I’m here to tell you its OK to not like everything about your kids. The trick is to work with this little person and keep up a healthy relationship while not loosing our minds in the process. Also acting in a way that is respectful of who they are while maintaining our own boundaries.
I have 6 children and they each are so different from one another! They each need different love responses from me, different interactions, different interests, different needs… it’s overwhelming at times!!!!
Then lets add the expectation of “social norms” on top of mommy guilt and struggles…. GAH!
I tell ya, add those things together and you have one dangerous, identity eating, mix. Society says these kids should act a certain way or else there is something wrong with them.. pick your label.. Thinking I had to change these beautiful little (sometimes infuriating) people into something society would embrace was/is a very daunting and repressive task; and sadly it is outright war on the unique spirit of that child! I eventually came to realize that it’s not my job to mold them into something “likable” for society.
What do I feel is my job as a mom? Well.. that’s a whole other post but the very short version is I feel its my job to work along side them to equip them with skills and understanding of self (I tried to expand on this more but it just got to long and I want the post to remain on topic).
When I set out to write this post, I decided to search to see if any others had written on the topic. I was very surprised and a bit relieved to find that there had been, though a very few! Not only that but some of them went through the same processes and realizations that I have gone through!!
I really enjoyed this post from empoweringparents.com by Debbie Pincus. Following are some excellent points from her post. I know I sure found them true of my journey.
“Get to know your child better: Get to know who your child is and what he needs; find out what really makes him tick, rather than who you want him to be. Your child can read it if you are disappointed in him; his acting out and negative feelings towards you may even increase because of it.”
As I said, I found this particularly true .. Not my job to mold this little being into something “I” or “society” wants. Who is this individual and how can we help them become their own well-rounded person?!
“Anger creates reactivity: Remember that your anger and resentment about feeling disappointed in your child creates more judgments and reactivity. Stop reacting and start responding more thoughtfully and positively. Power struggles often happen when you try to change someone else into who you think they should be. Just let go of the rope in that tug-of-war you’re in with your child. Don’t always try to get the last word or prove you’re right. Admit to your mistakes and struggles.”
*I added the italics.* Yes and Amen sista!!!! Another tip to add here is to raise your voice an octave. Higher voice comes across as “happier”.. your child will respond to this.
“Maximize the positives and minimize the negatives: You can start focusing on what’s right––not wrong––with your child today and begin building on what is good. Having a positive mindset leads to more positives. Build your relationship by letting your child know what you appreciate about him daily. Ask him to help you in things he’s strong in, so you build on his strengths. Spend time together without discussing the problem.”
Yes!! No one likes to have their imperfections pointed out all the time. Yet as parents we feel its our duty to point out every mistake and flaw in hopes to correct it. However, this usually has the opposite effect. Consider for a moment if you were in a marriage where your partner was constantly doing this to you. Unless it was a mutual agreement intended to keep each other accountable, I’d venture to say that the relationship would not last long! I also encourage people to say “yes” more often, you can find it here.
Another point by The Mother Co I thought was relevant:
“Sometimes the intense mood and behavior are related to changes that are temporarily rocking their world (new baby, new social dynamics at school), but sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint a root cause. Kids may feel anxious as they’re maturing and becoming more independent from you; they may feel angry that they are no longer a baby but not yet a big kid, and they can’t find a foothold for their identity. Often, kids will act cranky and defiant when they’re undergoing significant cognitive development, which of course you can’t see. If your child’s behavior isn’t connected to a recent change in her external world, watch as she takes a big leap forward cognitively, emotionally or socially just after the difficult phase has passed. Then the next time you’re going through a similar phase, you can remind yourself that it probably means she’s gearing up for an internal growth spurt.”
This one I found particularly true with my children. Growth spurts and hitting certain ages seem more challenging than others. In our family it seems that every three years or so there is a difficult transition time, starting at around age 3.
Here is an excellent article by Erik Erikson in regards to stages of Social-Emotional Development which I found very eye-opening!
I just want to say to you dear parent that you are not alone! Seek out help within your area. Decide to not stay stuck in this another day. Changing the atmosphere in our homes one step at a time, paired with personal healing are not overnight fixes but are key to improving our family dynamics.
You got this!
Here’s a few other articles…
This post from ScaryMommy is shear rawness. I so appreciate her honesty!!
Mom life Today http://momlifetoday.com/2012/04/help-i-dont-like-my-child/
A company dedicated to connecting people with excellent qualified counselors in your area http://theravive.com/