Wednesday, 8 September 2010

When you don't like your child

I love my children, dearly. When I watch them sleeping in their beds, hair mussed up, chests rising and falling, they look like little angels and I can't believe how lucky I am.

Yet most days, particularly most mornings, I don't like one of my children. That's a terrible thing to say. But it's the truth.

My eldest child has been difficult from the day he was born. A baby who didn't stop crying and wouldn't sleep. A toddler who had tantrums worthy of oscars. A pre-schooler who wouldn't join in and would cling incessantly. A school starter who would cry everyday at school drop off, run out of school and throw monstrous tantrums. He's never managed to control his emotions - happy or upset. All of these stages I have found incredibly hard work and sometimes downright bewildering, but I have learned and accepted that he is a sensitive child who takes a while to adapt to things. I've tried to provide the right balance of firmness with understanding and love.

But now he's six and a half. And we're in a whole new world. I take heart talking to other parents that their children are similarly behaved, but what I find most upsetting is how I feel about him.

His moods are relentless. He screams, yells, throws things about, is aggressive, rude, hits, kicks, spits, breaks things and is bone bloody idol. He will do nothing to help himself - unless there is something in it for him. He takes responsibility for nothing. He won't share. Yet he demands that things are shared with him. He never seems to learn from any discipline or punishment or consequence or reward. He refuses to listen if you try to have a reasonable conversation with him, simply covering his ears saying: Blah blah blah. We go through the exact same things over and over and over. He believes the world is out to get him. Mostly he seems unhappy and very, very angry.

I know that as a parent it is my job to help him work through this. To teach him social niceties and how to behave. To help him find out how he fits into the world and how to make the most of his abilities. To help him be happy. But parents are human. And even though I love him, I am finding it particularly hard to like him. And this makes it so much harder to remain the calm, loving, firm parent I want to be.

There are moments when his lovely nature shines through and when it does, I want to grab onto it and hold a mirror up to him and say: 'See, this is what you can be. It's gorgeous and lovely and wonderful!' But it's like holding water in your hands and it slips away all to fast.

I desperately want him to be happy. I want him to know I love him. But mostly I want to like him more often. I fear that the more he behaves in this way, the harder it will be for me to separate him from his actions. That I will start to resent him and in turn he will resent me, and our relationship remains one of me-against-him and him-against-me for a lifetime.

I am fairly certain that my own parents felt the same way about me, as by all accounts I was a particularly vile child. So perhaps it's simply karma that I should have the same experience. Retribution so to speak. But perhaps it's because I know how I felt as a child that I want to help my own son so much. I wished with all my heart that I didn't behave like I did as a child. I remember sulking and fighting with my siblings and wishing that I wasn't, but some how being unable to stop myself. I am almost certain that my son feels the same way. But how do you help a child out of that cycle? Particularly when his behaviour is so maddening that you're hard pressed to remain civil much less find a solution.

Perhaps I am wrong to even write this post. A grossly inappropriate thing to admit. But I just so badly want to like my son. I can't believe I am the only parent who feels like this. And perhaps by just writing it, it's the cathartic release I need to be able to put my feelings behind me and move forward to help my son.  Here's hoping so anyway.

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well done you. Cathartic indeed. Pity the poor kids whose parents don't know or care how they feel or behave.

Is he like this with everyone? Teachers? Friends? Dad? Or just you? My 7 yo is a brainy, helpful, dream schoolgirl but can be utterly vile to us at home, with terrifying anger and screaming that her teachers and friends would not recognise as being her. I figure that if she can learn how to behave at home with us whilst presenting a nice face to the world then, well at least it is a safe environment to do so. Drives me barmy though - very depressing at times. You have my sympathy.

Keep persevering, wondering, loving him, and knowing you are the best person for him and are doing the best job of bringing him up. He's a lucky lad to have you.

xx

Tara said...

Heart wrenching. As a mum it's almost like you're 'supposed' to feel a certain way and you're a failure if you don't. But I guarantee that despite outward appearances many many other parents will have felt this or something similar.
My little girl has been such a challenge. I thought I had this parenting lark sorted but then she came along and was a force of nature and I seemed to be forever sat with my head in my hands wondering what did I do wrong.
For her, giving her one on one time with me helped. She really changed then. But all kids are different.

It's not 'grossly inappropriate' to say these things at all. It's how you're feeling and it's life and like you say, better to be open and honest with yourself x

Home Office Mum said...

anonymous - no, with other people he is fine (which is the only thing that keeps me sane because I know something must be going in). He is like this in front of his dad and in fact anyone once he's comfortable around them, but he saves his most extreme behaviour for me. Thanks for your kind words

Tara - thanks for your support. I think he does need more one on one time, but it's tricky trying to find that time when his brother isn't about.

Iota said...

I applaud your honestly, and I hope it's been cathartic.

I'm not a great one for parenting books, but there's one that might be worth a try. It's called 'Raising your Spirited Child' in the US. Don't know if it's available in the UK.

It's interesting that you say you think you were similar as a child. We all know that our own childhoods and the way we were brought up feed into our own families when we become parents. I can't help wondering if it's significant you mentioned it. Perhaps it's not so much a question of changing the way you feel about him, as breaking some kind of cycle. I just throw that in as food for thought. If there isn't anything in it, please ignore.

Thank you for being so open and honest. I love that about blogging.

nappy valley girl said...

I think the fact that he's not like this with strangers does mean, as you say, that he does know how to behave and something is going in. But it must be extremely trying and you have my hugest sympathy. You say you were like this too as a child - when did you start to grow out of it?

Home Office Mum said...

Iota - I think I mentioned it because I know that I was difficult and assume that he must get that trait from me! I would have thought that made me more understanding of him but it seems to be the opposite

Nappyvalley - I can't remember. My parents would probably say I'm still difficult ;-)

1950s Housewife said...

What an amazing post. You are not alone at all.
I think that your child sounds incredibly challenging. Some of that may be your fault, but I truly believe that some kids are just born frustrated and beligerent and if he was not in your careful hands he would be far, far worse.
My toddler is a grumpy child and we find at least once a week my husband and I have that 'bloody hell, why did we have another one again?' conversation. We love him, he can be so sunny, but for great stretches of time he is just a pain in the arse. There is no other words for it. It makes me sometimes resent how much time we spend on having to fend off his misery rather than paying attention to our fairly well behaved daughter.
You are not alone.
And BTW, I would take this piece off your blog and send it to a few magazines or baby websites. It is really well written.

1950s Housewife said...

What an amazing post. You are not alone at all.
I think that your child sounds incredibly challenging. Some of that may be your fault, but I truly believe that some kids are just born frustrated and beligerent and if he was not in your careful hands he would be far, far worse.
My toddler is a grumpy child and we find at least once a week my husband and I have that 'bloody hell, why did we have another one again?' conversation. We love him, he can be so sunny, but for great stretches of time he is just a pain in the arse. There is no other words for it. It makes me sometimes resent how much time we spend on having to fend off his misery rather than paying attention to our fairly well behaved daughter.
You are not alone.
And BTW, I would take this piece off your blog and send it to a few magazines or baby websites. It is really well written.

Jude said...

I've written posts like this before, and then deleted them in a fit of guilt. My own 6 year old son seems to have quite a lot in common with yours in terms of personality and behaviour (the hands over the ears, with 'blah, blah, blah' is particularly irritating I find). Again, he reserves this behaviour for at home. It is difficult to like them at such times, but surely that's normal? I worry that if he doesn't mature he will become a pretty obnoxious teenager, but like you, I was a difficult child, and did grow out of it, so I feel there is hope.

katyboo1 said...

Huge sympathy to you, Tallulah has been having a hell of a summer with us, the same kind of thing but different. And yes, she has always been this way, and yes I totally get what you are saying. It is hard to like them, even when you love them, and it is downright exhausting. Don't feel guilty at all.
I think that some children are just sensitive to the extreme and find life utterly overwhelming. I sympathise, yet as I explained to Tallulah for the umpteenth time over the holidays, this is the world they are going to have to learn to live in whether they like it or not. It is tough to see them so unhappy with themselves and everyone else, but you are exhibiting flexibility and this is what they have to learn to do too, sadly for them.
I have no answers, we are still fighting our own battles, but you have my support and empathy in spades.x

Paula said...

Hope you don't mind me popping by - I jumped over from Tara's place. I just wanted to say well done for writing this, it's a very brave post. I have an 8yo boy, he's my eldest and he has two younger sisters. We clash a lot and I'm very conscious that I'm making it up as I go. Recently things really came to a head - I had many of the same thoughts as you, feeling like the only times I could really connect with him were when he was asleep. I'm really anti parenting books as a rule, but I see that one of the others comments has recommended one so I'm going to throw this one in too - It's Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph and we've found it really useful to dip in and out of. Reading that from the age of 6 boys really start imprinting on their father and that lots of challenging behaviour can be attributed to not getting the time and attention they need hit home for us. We've made some simple changes, and already seen results - I'm not suggesting it's the same for you, more that the problem might not be as complex as you think. He may have been a 'difficult' baby and toddler but this phase could be something entirely different, and you are not failing. I’ve spent hours trying to talk to my boy and analyse him – all unsuccessful – all he really wanted to do was go and hit a tree with a stick and learn to fish with his daddy….

Good luck, I hope you find some answers soon. Px

PantsWithNames said...

Oh so hard. But so much respect to you for writing it.

My eldest is a little the same, underneath he is the loveliest sweetest most gorgeous little lad, but he can be so utterly vile (especially to his little brother) that I find myself having to remind myself that it is only his behaviour that I don't like not him.

Like the others have said, that he doesn't behave like this with other people is really encouraging and that he will grow out of it eventually. But if you find a quicker way to deal with the issue then please please let me have it too.

Big hugs. xxx

notSupermum said...

That must have been very difficult to admit, let alone write for others to read.

You're not alone, there will be lots of other parents who must feel the same but keep those feelings to themselves. Doesn't make them better than you, but perhaps less brave.

I have two daughters, one of them is a much more difficult child than the other. I call her the High Maintenance Child because that's what she is - she's lovely, but my god she can be really hard work. The other daughter is completely different - very low maintenance if you like - and I suppose our personalities are more compatible. I love them both the same of course, but there are times when the HMC makes me want to scream, she is SO difficult to deal with. Very dramatic, builds everything up into a big deal and is very lazy.

She oftens says I favour her sister because she gets told off more than her, but I've tried to explain that it's because she's better behaved.

I'm sure your son knows you love him, and there's nothing wrong with telling him that you love HIM, but sometimes you don't like his behaviour.

Take care x

Home Office Mum said...

1950s housewife -thanks for you kinds words. And yes, Pain in the Arse is often the only suitable description!

Jude - I have the same fear - that if he's like this now, god help me when he's a teen. I'm living in blind faith that he's having his 'difficult' years now. I can dream right?

Katyboo - good luck with Tallulah - I think she and my son were separated at birth

Paula - thanks for reminding me of the Stephen Biddulph book. I've got it and have read it but haven't relooked at it in a while. And you're right, he needs more time with his dad. So that's exactly what he's gettin this weekend. I saw your blog post too - you really didn't write anything wrongly so no need to second guess your comment :-)

PAntswithnames - I can't believe your son could be anything other than an angel. He is simply too gorgeous.

Notsupermum - My HMC hasn't said anything yet about me loving his brother more, but I am fairly certain it will come. I do try to give equal number of kisses and cuddles though, it's just the tellings off that seem a little skewed!

monzegirl said...

Melissa it's great that you wrote this. Look at the reaction you've had - all supportive. I'm no parenting expert but I think it's ok to admit, even to your son, that you'll always love him but you don't like certain aspects of his character. I also think you should see it as a compliment to your mothering skills that he adores you so much he'd rather be with you than at school/elsewhere - you're too nice! And maybe he acts up, specifically around you, because it's with you that he feels most comfortable. You'll accept him warts and all. Perhaps as he gets older and better able to express himself, he'll be a less aggressive & able to use a count-to-ten strategy or something to control his emotions. Chin up! X

Anonymous said...

Such a brave post and in all honesty, I could have written it myself. I often have these feelings and I hate myself for it. But my son can be v much like yours and every day - and almost every thing - can feel like a battle. He doesn't seem to care about anyone or anything and I honestly don't know what to do. I hope you find a way through this x

FortyNotOut said...

I think you're very brave to have written this and as everyone has already said, tons of people feel this way but never admit it I'm sure.
I hope you can find ways to get through it - sometimes repeating "It's just a phase.. It's just a phase" is not enough! I can identify in as much as I sometimes see other mums who have this "mum gene" that I think I don't have. They can accept so much, sacrifice more than me and still smile serenely. Inwardly I wonder if they're on prozac!
It's just not me - I love my girl more than life itself but find being a parent hard sometimes.
Hopefully knowing that you're not alone in feeling this way will help xx

Anonymous said...

I feel the same as you on a daily basis. Noone in our house likes my 9 year old at all. He was kidnapped when he was 3 and I didn't get him back until he was 6 and he is a completely different creature all together. He's a lying little thief, he is abusive to the cat, he destroys all of his toys and shreds all of his books, he intentionally breaks all of the rules and makes a game out of trying to upset me. He even hits himself when he gets frustrated and tells people I did hit him to "try to send me to jail" when I ask him to do something he doesn't want to do. We use time outs and lost privileges. Everyone always talks about how he's so wonderful and I just want to say "Oh yea? Here you take it."
I almost swear sometimes he's a changeling. There's just something seriously wrong in his eyes. His therapist doesn't even know what to do with him... I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle and that if I don't get rid of him, his actions will rub off on my 1 and a half year old and the new baby that's due in a couple months. I'm at my wits end and I feel horrible for not liking my child and I feel like a total failure that I can't undo what has been done while he was taken.

Home Office Mum said...

thanks to all for your comments. Anonymous - your son was kidnapped?? How horrific. I can only imagine that his behaviour is a direct result of that. He sounds as though he needs lots of help and you as a family need help too. Poor you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your very honest post. I love my daughter but I never feel at ease with her. It's difficult just to enjoy being together even when she's happy, because I never know when she'll "freak out".
It's helpful knowing I am not alone. I love her. I really do, that's what makes it so sad. It's so painful to be with someone I love so much.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I'm supposed to be a child behavioral specialist, but I have very similar issues with my six year old son. Tonight he was especially difficult so I googled, "what to do when you don't like your child". Very sad, I know. It's nice to see others in the same boat.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this..I did a search for a blog about this, as I have been tempted to do one myself. I have a 3 yr old daughter that has been difficult since 3 wks..when the colic started ;)

She never wanted comfort, love, affection. I never knew what it felt like to be needed like a mother until my son was born.

I am starting to believe she does need alone time with me, but its so hard to want to when she is so mean to me and her brother as well. It is never enough what I try to do for her.

I am going to try "mommy time"....she has a special alarm clock with colored light for different things like wake up. i am going to set one for mommy time. I hope it works a little.

Good luck to you all, I truly am there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. My daughter has been difficult since birth and I feel like I'm at the end of my rope. I feel so bad saying this, but sometimes I don't want to be around her. I would love it if my mom took her for a week or two on vacation so I could have a break. I feel so sad about it, but it's the truth. :(

Anonymous said...

I found this post after googling what to do when you don't like your child. Though I was looking for help, after reading all of the comments, I felt that it may be most helpful to share. I have 2 children, my daughter is 16 & my son is 12. I'm also very blessed to have their father here by my side helping me to raise them, b/c Lord knows I couldn't make it without him. Around age 3, my son began showing signs of aggression. He's been more than a handful since then, but we've come a long way. His doctor introduced us to the book 123 Magic. It probably saved our lives. Another book she recommended called Your Defiant Child was very helpful. It's been a long, hard road, but we have to keep on moving for everyone's sake. No matter how bad it gets, just thank God for all of your blessings b/c it could always be worse.

dharmamom said...

I also googled "what to do when you don't like your child."

My youngest son has been a hand full since birth. He was breech and the colic seemed to last 2 years. Once he was to big for swaddling at around 6 months we didn't sleep for another year. He wouldn't ride in the car without screaming until he was over 2. I kept waiting for the signs of autism, but he has mostly developed normally. He is very social and verbal. He interacts with a few friends at school and his family members. Loves his Kindergarden teacher. I think he has some sensory integration problems. He is very sensitive to sound and has trouble sitting still in circle time. Pretty wiggly in general but he is only 5 and a half, so I don't know what to make of it.

He dominates out household with demanding behavior and temper tantrums. It seems like every request is met with resistance and argument. We try to work with his difficult transitions, but living with him is exhausting. When his temper tantrums threaten to damage property I could just loose it. We don't believe in spanking, but he has be spatted a couple of times when he kicked or hit me during a tantrum. Hope I survive the next 13 years.

Thanks to everyone who bravely shared their stories. It helps to know we are not alone in parenting a challenging child. Hang in there.

Love the book "How to raise your spirited child."

Liliana said...

Thanks for the post. I realized I'm not alone. I love my son too, and I will give my live to protect his, but there is not a single day we argue with him, yell at him and tell him he make us upset because he doesn't behave and listen. Is been a challenge also at school because his aggressive behavior.
Right now I'm filling out a form from school, is asking what pleases most about your son, I’m ashamed to say that nothing comes to my mind...

Anonymous said...

Hi I just googled "when you don't like your child" and it really helped to see that I am not alone in feeling this way. My daughter is now 16, I love her but I do not like her as a person. She has been struggling with anorexia nervosa for 5 years, she doesn't like anyone in our family, she has started cutting her arms because she is unhappy at school. She has been to counseling and hospitalized for mental health issues. She is passive aggressive, keeps her feelings inside and shows us she is upset by withholding food and cutting. We don't know how to reach her. She steals from us and lies constantly to us and her teachers. I hope this is all part of the teen years and she will grow out of this. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Yes I googled it, ashamed and upset after another verbal confrontation with my nearly 16 yr old son. Reading through the blogs I have had the same child from birth that most write about, colic oppositional, agressive, food allergies/behavourial problems etc. I have sat in Drs offices and been told the difference between my son developing into a "normal" person or a "juvenile delinquent" is ME. If I give up on him he will have no hope! What a big task and I am often brought to tears or rage or being just plain speachless by his behaviour. He has an older and younger sibling who are not like him at all and we have the usual level of parenting issues with them. When children are young you hang onto the fact that they will grow a brain and now I find myself yelling at him asking him when is he going to grow a brain? Not ideal! I was not a difficult or oppositional child but I was defiant in some ways. As an adult I do like to stand my ground and do have a strong dislike for the injustices in life. Are our children fighting us or the same injustices they see? Maturity is a big ask when I often find myself and see many supposed Adults acting very juvenile. It takes alot of guts insight, introspection to raise children and all I can say is hang on to every glimmer of goodness that comes from the difficult child even if it only comes occasionally because they are the reflections of your love for them. even when they behave badly and maybe you have also find a way to see the glimmers and let them see them too!

Anonymous said...

Am I wrong to say that I don't have any love for my child? I don't really feel that I do...I really want what is best for her but I just can't trust her enough to love her like she deserves to be loved. I am sorry for the feelings since I have had since her birth but I have tried to rectify it but to no avail...the older she got the worst it got! there is no trust, love, respect and I am at my wits end and need help. Its bad and I hope that no one judges me because this is just the truth that I am feeling and telling to perfect strangers...thank you all for reading and I pray that you pray for US some peace and help!

Ursula said...

I can certainly relate. I've been trying to figure out how to like my two adopted children for 8 years. We adopted a sibling group who were 7 and 8 at the time. They are now 15 and 16 and they've been very difficult children. They are hateful and disrespectful and completely lacking reason or the idea of cause and effect. Their personalities are just wierd (although I think they are more normal with others, I think they both save alot of the unpleasantness for me). Their communication skills are awful so I have to figure out everything they are trying to say with a million questions. They always claim to 'not have understood' what I told them to do. They have no learning disabilities but are both Reactive Attachment Disordered. I know they have issues but it's hard to like a person who refuses to do anything to help themselves but is quite happy to be hurtful to me. Anyway, I know what you mean and am trying to make myself like them. But I really don't know how to do it.

Anonymous said...

Home office Mum, your son sounds just like my daughter, she started crying from the moment she was born and that was a sign of the future.She didn't sleep through the night till she was 4 and has mega tantrums. She was diagonsed with Aspergers Syndrome last year and that has explained alot to us. She is 7 now and still having a diagnosis has opened up help for us and made life alot more bearable.

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem with my son he too was fussy as a baby and as he grows it gets bigger and ruder. I feel. So sick with his fits, and I have tryed everything and it doesn't work. I feel so alone and maddened. Its incredible. I thankyou for your blog it does help to know we arnt alone.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was once told my a couselor that the reason my son acted out in front of me was because he was secure in my love. He knew I would love him no matter what so he felt safe to act as he pleased with no love lost. It helps but. . . My oldest boy would act out for years after his father and I split. But he would never act out in front of him. One day I asked him if he acted like this on visits with his dad, he said "No, dad would never want to see me again" So actually I felt better knowing he felt safe to show himself to me.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. Reading this brought me great relief to know I am not the only parent who feels this way about her child. I love my son to the ends of the earth but some days I just want to lock myself in my room to get a away from him. Ryan will be six in December. He is argumentative about everything. Literally. Everything. And extremely defiant. He seems to want to say no or dislike everything to get a fight out of me. He was hitting and kicking me and picking at and hitting his older brother daily. He has no regard for any kind of authority. He will be agressive and say rude things to our family, my friends, babysitters, teachers...anyone. No kind of discipline has ever seemed to have an effect and if I did find something that worked it was for a very short amount of time. Lately it's increasingly tough to discipline when he's so aggressive and has the size to throw around with it. Three months ago he was the height of a 7 year old and the weight of a nine year old, slightly chubby but more solid and very strong. As a toddler he was asked to leave daycare because he was too impulsive and other parents complained (rightly so) as their children would come home and tell them how Ryan had hit them that day. I took the summer off and spent the it working hard with him to stop the physical aggression and we tried daycare again in the fall. Second time around he did better but with an assistant keeping an eye on him. By the end of the year he was doing a lot better. After that we went to kindergarten. Another nightmare. He was too much for the teacher (who was great) and was reduced to half days. I had to quit my job as the phone calls from school caused me to leave work at least three days a week. It's always felt like a two steps forward, five steps back kind of deal. My older son is 7 and has been referred for testing for autism spectrum disorder. Ryan's behaviour has been more difficult to manage than Loukas' ever has been. My mom also tells me he is just like me as a child. It's been a tough road with many ups and even more downs but my love for him never changes but my like for him can vary from day to day. On a better note, Ryan can be extremely helpful and empathetic at times. He is very talented and has a natural ability for artistic things and sports. He is a handsome little boy with a good sense of humour a sweet little lisp and the cutest chuckle around. I find he does extremely well when he has more one on one time with me. Also, the best book I ever read is a book called Logical Consequences by Rudolph Dreikers. This book is written for these children and is not harsh in anyway. You will understand your child immensely after reading it and you both will benefit. My copy is due for another reading as we have taken a few steps back, again. Unfortunately, they are no longer in print and can only be found used. It gave me the ability to see him in a different light again. I relate to your story completely and can imagine we feel similar guilt, frustration and unconditional love. I always try to remind myself that I was paired up with this child because he has something to offer me, his presence has meaning in my life.

Anonymous said...

I'm also curious what sign your children were born under? Ryan is a Saggitarius. My best friends daughter is as well and is quite similar in her behaviors, less the aggression.

Home Office Mum said...

I want to apologise to everyone who has left comments on this blog post. I don't seem to get alerts to new comments and so haven't seen them as they've come in but some of the stories you have shared are amazing.

To answer the most recent comment, my son is an aquarius, but I have no idea what that means.

It's weird - came back to this post tonight as I had an awful, awful screaming match with my son this evening. i said things I regret saying, but he had just pushed me to the brink. What saddens me is that it is a year since I wrote this blog post but I could have written the exact same post today. Not a thing has changed.

I have actually signed my son up for some sessions for a life coach who focuses on children to see if that will help. Because I'm all our of ideas.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like something that could easily be solved with the appropriate use of a switch.

Anonymous said...

I am ashamed that I came by your post by googling "how to like your child"... A lot of what has already been said applies to me too: I love my first born (daughter, now nearly 6) dearly, I threw myself into being a mother, she was my world in the beginning, but from day 1 she was screaming for no reason, wouldn't let me cuddle her, was acting repulsed whenever I approached her, would never smile, was always grumpy, even when ill holding her was not an option, I had to stand by with much pain in my heart watching her cry/ yell/ calm herself down. I never knew what being wanted as a mother meant until my son (now 3 a half) was born... As a consequence, I can't seem to escape behaving differently with them: he brings out the best in me, she brings out the worst in me, every time. I am usually a very much liked person, so it must be her issues, rather than me, although as a mother I take it as my responsibility to try and break this pattern. I can't help feeling if we had been say classmates, my daughter and I would be the biggest enemies... What's worse is I take it as divine retribution/ someone placing a bad omen on me that my daughter should be the exact same kind of person as a my mother, whom again I love dearly, but because we're so fundamentally different, could never get along for more than 2 days. And now history repeats itself, only in the opposite way.

Shelly said...

I read a blog of yours when I searched for "When you don't like your child" online. I was overjoyed to know I am not the only one who feels this way.

I am from Minnesota, USA. I have been struggling with my son since he was one. We have a daughter that is 18 months older than our son, and she is just a joy in every way. He was a wonderful baby, very enjoyable and happy until he learned to talk and get around-he then wanted to be independent, yet clingy. Since that point, it seems that he is identical to your son. I am happy to know that I am not the only person on the earth to ever feel this way, and I would like to know how to change it. Obviously, I am not going to be able to change my 9 year old, so I must be the one to initiate the change.

He is lazy, rude, tries to push my buttons as many times as possible throughout the day, he hits, screams, cries, throws tantrums like a two-year-old, and doesn't think he should have to do anything except play, watch TV, and do what he wants. We homeschool our children, which is very frustrating, because I have no time away from him. He has a fit every time I say it is time to do our lessons. He is irrational, disruptive, and in your face. I cannot even use the restroom without him coming in and talking right in my face about something-good or bad. He can be very sweet and caring at times, and I try to focus on those times, but it is hard because they are so far and few between.

We seem to butt heads immediately in the morning and it gets worse throughout the day. I find he is breaking my spirit in general and is destroying our relationship. We have times where we get along and when I notice this is happening, he is behaving like other children-listening, obeying, being helpful, etc. It is refreshing when this happens, but is usually a 2-3 day ordeal and then is over for another couple months or so. Thank you so much for posting this and being the first brave soul to say so. For all of you other mothers that posted as well, know that you aren't alone, and just talking about this so openly will hopefully help all of us. Good luck to everyone!

Anonymous said...

I read many of these comments thinking,this sounds just like my son.I have an eight year old son who acts like he hates me on a daily basis.I could say the sky is blue and he will argue about it.This has been going on since he was about teo years old.His anger is so bad that he has actually kicked holes in doors in my house.He is defiant about everything.We have been to 3 different chld psychiatrists who say there is absolutely nothing wrong with him.He was on medication for about five years that did nothing.I have an older son who is thirteen and a wonderful,carefree child.Doesnt give my husband or I any problems.In my heart, I really do love my eldest more than my youngest.How can you love someone who drives you to tears daily?I feel so depressed over the lack of relationship my son and I have.He wants nothing to do with me.I try to give him a hug and he wont come near me.I cant even touch him without him pulling away.There are many days, and Im ashamed to admit this,that I just wish he would go away.That this would make my life better.Some days I regret having him.Honestly if I had known then what I know now,I would not have had a second child.Children are supposed to bring light to oyur life, not darkness.

Anonymous said...

As everyone else...I found this blog by googling "not liking my child".

I have three kids. My oldest bio son is 17 and I adopted a sibling group. Adopted son is now 13 and adopted daughter is not 12. We had the adopted sibling group since they were 2 and 1.

From day one, my adopted son hated females. We wondered if he carried the scares from the abuse of his bio mom.

Through out the years...he's hit teachers, principles, classmates. HATES his sister and REALLY HATES me. My husband is the only one he really seems to like.

Now that he's in middle school...he's had numerous detentions, in school suspension 4 times...and suspended from school once....all due to stealing and fighting.

He is in therapy. He sees a psychiatrist once a month and a horse therapist weekly. His horse therapist doesn't even know what to do anymore.

I am ashamed of admitting this....but I don't like him. My life has been torn so upside down. My husband and I now fight over the stupidest things.

My other two kids are soooo easy going and such a joy to be around. They bring out the best in me.

I guess I had to really get this off my chest.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, as a family therapist I know all the theories, but the reality of admiting that I don´t even like my 11 year son was almost to much to bear. I am so greatful to be able to read and share with other mums. I have come to the conclusion that my son feels I love him when I yell at him. However many times I promise that I will be calm, and controlled, he provokes until I lose it. Only with me and nobody else. I know the theory but the reality of living with this day in day out for years is truly exhausting. Is boarding school the answer? I think being able to tell my husband about my feelings tonight, have opened the flood gates. Hopefully I can start to be able to see more clearly. XX

Anonymous said...

Hi. It seems as though there are a lot of you out there going through the same thing and this is reassuring. However as a mum of a 6 yr old who has made life incredibly difficult since the age of 18 month, i was hoping for a magical cure to transform him! I have tried so many different methods but it always resorts back to shouting n screaming. Then a feeling of guilt. Friends and family say its a middle child thing which drives me crazy. Until u live with it no one can fully understand how depressing this situation is
When he is good he is lovely but most of the time we tread on egg shells around him. Tonight for example has resulted in my husband saying we can't go on like this even if it means my son living with his grand mother. We are now not speaking to each other. I can't stand it either but nothing seems to work. My other kids get the brunt of it and no one ends up happy. If i am truly honest i often wonder if life would be better not being here. X

Home Office Mum said...

anonymous - just saw your comment. Life would definitely not be better for any of your children without you being here. I want to let you know that two years on from writing this post, my son is now lovely. He still has his moments, but he has blossomed into an amazing boy who I love with every fibre of my being. I don't know whether it was him growing up or me being more willing to accept him for who he was, or a combination, but it is so much better. I do hope it gets better for you too.

Anonymous said...

Hello. Thanks for your comments n hope i didn't worry you. It is just such a tense time its hard to keep focused but i am not going to do anything drastic. Sitting down to a glass of wine having got an angry boy to bed (another night of the same). I am practising calmness but he certainly pushes me to the limit. Lets hope in a few years i can write on your blog some positive comments!

Anonymous said...

Hi. Thanks for your reply. I won't do anything silly. I just have to get through this and come out the other side. X

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for sharing your stories. It is reassuring to know I am not alone. I really appreciate the update, it gives me hope that my 6 yr old might change or at least my attitude towards him can. I see improvements all the time but its hard to appreciate the little victories in such a overwhelming war. I really loved the comment that I was paired with this child for a reason. I will work to remember that next time I feel defeated. Parenting is not for the weak and it is refreshing to see such honest strength.

Anonymous said...

Seems I'm not alone in googling 'what to do when you don't like your child'. I read through the posts, sometimes taking comfort, sometimes feeling the bottom drop out of my stomach. My 10-year old daughter is a handful. She is a huge strain on our family as she has a negative attitude about everything. It seems everything we try backfires and becomes a game for her. We are concerned about mental health issues and constantly worry about our older daughter who has to live in such a tense environment. Perhaps the most difficult part is nighttime when the guilt hits. Why do I feel this way? What could I have done differently? Why can't I just love her? Sigh...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for admitting this. As sad as it may be, I too am glad to know I am not the only who who Googled for help. It has been hard to admit, but I have struggled with my oldest daughter since my second child was born. Maybe that is because it was then that I realized how incredibly difficult my oldest was. I now have a third child, and again, my oldest is my challenge. She is extremely strong-willed, defiant, argumentative, and aggressive not only at home, but also at church and preschool. I am so embarrassed by her behavior and feel that it is a reflection of my parenting. But when I look at the ease of raising my two other children, the feelings of guilt with my oldest child turn to blaming her for being innately difficult. Watching her with other children her age, I can see she is different. She is also very intelligent and academically far ahead of her peers. I have considered having her evaluated for something, anything, not to give her an excuse, but to help me be more understanding of why she is the way she is.

someone out there said...

I cried when i read your post. My daughter and I are like oil and water. She says that she acts this way because of me. I have tried counseling, therapy, we even did some time medication for mood disorders. I hate my home life when she is at home. There are rare days that she is wonderful. Our home is constantly in turmoil. I think all the time that I am the most terrible person for feeling like I do not like my child. She is beautiful, smart, talented and is thought to be an angel by everyone else, but at home she is a totally different. It is like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honestly xxx Obviously your post was much needed when you look at the response it has generated. There are days when I wish I could turn back time & not have had my eldest child. I wonder how different our family dynamics would be. Yet I have other days when I just want to hold him tight & never let go. Truth be told, I have fewer of the 'never let go' kind of days. My son is 8 & the eldest of 4. He knows how to push ny buttons that's for sure! I just worry about how my reaction to his behavior effects my other children & my marriage (to his father). I just live in hope that 'this too shall past' and do the best I can. Thank you again for sharing xxx VT

Anonymous said...

I have an 11 year old son who is vile to me and his dad and most of all his brother.Reading these stories have made me feel less alone-tonight he lost his memory stick he uses for school and as a result he Had the most frightening melt down , screaming the house down which made my husband lose it and chase my son around the house-I had to jump between them and made my husband leave the room-I was shaking, my husband was shaking my poor 6 year old was crying and shaking but the 11 year old just said "make sure you get me another memory stick tomorrow" -he lacks any kind of empathy , rude to everybody (behaves at school) JUST does not seem to care how his behaviour affects his family- physically assaults me and his little brother and I am heartbroken-thanks for listening

Anonymous said...

Finding this blog is a blessing. I was feeling so alone. My heart breaks and I am so sad so often by my Childs unhappiness and anger. We have 3 other children who are happy and kind. My daughter is 10, she is so wonderful in so many ways but the ways she is difficult is just so difficult. I spend too much time in my room crying in secret because of the guilt I feel for not kmowing how to make her happy. She makes every family vacation, outing or function awful with her behavior and treatment of the rest of us no matter what it is. I feel so hopeless. I could never imagine a family function without her presence yet her presence makes every function pure hell. Just in decorating the tree the other night she caused fights and yelled and treated everyone awful and basically made this family memory like all others chaotic and hard. Thank you for this I feel much less alone and able to express feeling I have kept to myself out of guilt. I feel like a complete failure w. Her no matter what I do or try doesn't work. And I fear as she grows she will only hate me and resent me. I'm comforted in k owing im not alone.

Anonymous said...

So you had nothing to do with raising them? What kind of world have we made when mother's say such things of their children and are supported by others. I have something to say about you mothers of today, your kids never came first, second or third with you, your jobs, material things, and status came first, second and third, your children taking a fourth seat, and then you wonder what happened and you probably still don't get it. You say you think your parents thought you vile, I agree.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for writing this, it is very timely after the last 48hrs inmy house. My daugther is a highly sensitive child (4 years old) and I am struggling at the moment with it, I have days where all the "right" words come out and other days where I just want to exit stage left. To hear someone else say what I am thinking is very comforting - it is normal - Hooray! I would love to know how things are several years down the line. As mothers we put on the brave face and appear like all is well - where as in fact many of us are struggling silently with the same issues and dilemas. If we shared we would all be better people/mothers and stronger - however the fear of appearing to fail or be seen as a mad mother and not coping is stronger. We are not failures for having these struggles but as you say human. The world needs our children - they will be the "caring" proffesions, the leaders who lead not by the loudest voice but by the way they encourage, see the other side and empathise. Deep in my heart I dopn't want my daughter to toughen up and just get on with it - I want the world to do the adapting and changing and embrace her and her sensitive companions - after all they have valid, important feelings and views! However while in the grips of their big feelings it is very hard to see this better picture and that there will be happiness beyond the tears.

Anonymous said...

Ok where to begin... My son is a very happy child but plays too much to the point to where i just cant handle it anymore and being "not in control" of a situation is what really stresses me out, especially when it comes to my own 6 year old boy. For instance tonight after reading him a book he diliberatley put his foot in my face up my nose and said SMELL MY FEET HAHAHAHAH, i slammed the book shut and left the room. I'll bend down to pick something up and out of nowhere this crazy kid is running 50 miles an hour to jump on my back from across the house. Or he will put his butt in my face and fart, or run outside naked shaking his junk. Its like everything is a joke to him. I dont think he has an ounce of respect for me. He is going through alot though and im hoping its the reason he feels like he has to get my attention in everyway. His grandpa just passed away, his dad has retinita pigmintosa which is going to cause him to go blind within 10 years, his father and i just went through a divorce about 5 yrs ago and i recently re-married and have a now 5 month old at the house. But it cant be lack of attention because i am always doing stuff with him like swim, play baseball, hike, go to the park.. Ect but he is constantly on my back, mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom! And in the last month or so he's been going through this licking fase where he licks everything and i have tried everything in the book to get it to stop but it hasnt worked, i have ignored, said its ok honey, gotten angry, and the list goes on.maybe i thought he has a serious problem because i would look and see him lick something without my knowing i saw. BUT now iv noticed he says he licked something and he hadnt really done it! So i said ok just stop telling me honey its ok that you do it i just dont want to know about it but now literally every 2 min he say "mom, i touched this and then licked my hand" then yesterday i looked at him and he blatently licked his palm slowly all the way to his finger.... I wanted to give him a knuckle sandwich! I do think parenting is hardest job in the world especially because we woman have lots of emotions and ponder on the little stuff lime will i raise him right? Will he bhave problems?? I pray for each and eberyone of you!