Why Don’t I Like My Kids?

angry parentLike any relationship, the one you have with your children is complex, requires work and is constantly changing. The love starts with a fury at birth and continues to grow from there. The love is innate and as close to perfect as love can be. However, it is natural, and even necessary to the health of the bond, for there to be valleys in between the peaks. Children are people, too. More importantly, they are their own people very separate from you. Sometimes they are unlikable. You cannot write the script anymore than you can predict the future. In a perfect world, we tell our kids what to do, they listen and then promptly go to bed.

The reality is very different. Parents have moods, kids have moods. Parents have stresses, kids have stresses. Parents are not always right and kids are not always wrong. There will be times when all of the individual struggles combine to cause chaos. At these times, you might not care very much for your offspring. This is O.K. Don’t feel guilty, don’t overcompensate, and don’t overcorrect.

— Find time to spend one on one with the child in question.
— Find time to spend time by yourself. Just as it is important to find time with him or her away from all the external influences, it is important to separate from them.
— Break out a journal. List all of your child’s wonderful qualities. List all of the ways they remind you of you. Then, list the reasons they are driving you crazy. You may be surprised at the consistencies across the lists.
— Remember you can only do your best as a parent. The nature v. nurture argument is a silly one, to me. Both are part of how a person will grow and develop. As hard as you try, you will not be able to completely change that which you would love to change. Stubborn will be stubborn. Surly will be surly. On the bright side, funny will be funny, loving will be loving, etc. With kids, like with anything, the good must be taken with the bad.
— Don’t get sucked into drama. Even if you are particularly disliking your child, do not sink to their level and remain the grown up at all times, except when they are asleep and then you can vent away.

Kids are smart. After getting yelled at for doing something dangerous the other day, my three year old picked up a toy guitar, sat on the steps and started tearfully singing a new song. “Nobody likes me. Nobody likes me at all and I am all alone.” Clearly, his intent was to make my husband and me feel bad. Instead, we found it hysterical and ignored him until his singing voice was hoarse. It is critical to a child’s well-being for them to know they are loved unconditionally. No where does it say they have to feel liked unconditionally. Being loved is every child’s right. Being liked is earned. When my kids say, “You don’t like me,” I say, “Be more likable.” I am saying goodbye to guilt.

If your dislike for your children is constant, is harmful to your kids and is causing a disruption to your life, please consider speaking with a family therapist. A little dislike is normal. More may be the sign of a deeper issue.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.