When we become parents there is an expectation that we will love and cherish our children unconditionally. Consequently, the possibility of not liking your child is quite a taboo subject. However, it is quite common for parents to go through periods of not feeling connected or loving towards their children.
There are a wide range of reasons why parents might not like their child, such as:
- Parental mental health issues
- Developmental delays
- Behavioural issues
- Chronic health problems
- Child not meeting the expectations of the parent
- Personality clashes
Whatever the reason, parents in these situations are often wracked by guilt over it.
But let’s face it. Our children are individuals – just because they are our flesh and blood, does not mean they are guaranteed to be compatible with us.
We get to choose our friends and our partners, but we don’t get to choose our children!
Chances are they will like foods we don’t, listen to music we hate, backchat, argue and be disrespectful at times (or often).
It is ok to not feel the love all the time.
As modern parents we give a lot to our children, emotionally, physically and fiscally. We are tired and stressed as providers so when the person we are providing for isn’t meeting our expectations, for whatever reason, it is natural to feel resentment. It can also make us feel inadequate as a parent.
However, our children need our love and support to grow into secure, confident, well-rounded humans. So if those feelings of dislike for your child persist past a “stage”, whether that be terrible twos or terrifying teens, it might be time to seek some support.
You could try:
- Making sure you get enough “downtime” to relieve any emotional stress
- Spending one-on-one time with your child to help rebuild your connection
- Focusing on your child’s strengths rather than things you perceive as negative aspects
- Speaking to a counsellor or family therapist
Actively working on your relationship with your child is the same as working on any relationship – it can take time and commitment. The first step is acknowledging your feelings and accepting your child for who they are. It may take some work but just because you don’t like your child now, doesn’t mean you can’t in the future.
There is some great expert advice on what to do when you don’t like your child here.