Do you love your child but not "like" them? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 01:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I hope no one is going to judge me mercilessly for this, but I feel it is hard to express this in typing so give me a little grace here.
Basically, my son is easy for me to love- easy-going, mellow, flexible, endearing. My daughter is- just like me- a roller coaster of emotions, kind of quirky and beligerent at times, immature compared to her peers, and extremely short-tempered...she has great traits too, such as being really creative, caring, sensitive, quick to apologize, etc. But in general, she is MUCH more difficult for me to love on a daily basis than my son is. a LOT of what she does just annoys me, to be honest. I have to remember to hug her, show affection to her, rather than it just happening naturally like it does with my son. I know that in a lot of ways, our personalities clash because we are so similar...I really do see myself in her, but sometimes I just can't help wishing that it were easier to really "like" her and not just love her because she is my child. Does anyone else have anything similar to this in your family? I feel a sense of guilt over the way I feel, even though I know I can't really change it. I do think loving her will teach me to be a better parent/person in the long run....it is always the challenges that refine us, I know.

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#2 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 03:17 AM
 
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I don't have this experience as a parent. As a child, though, I do. My mother has never liked me. She's said that she never "understood" me, even when I was a toddler. I have a pretty minimal relationship with her now, and that's a major reason. It's terrible to know that your own mother does not like you.

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#3 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 05:00 AM
 
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Okay, I can't really speak from experience either, though get back to me in a year or two! But I would imagine that many parents feel this way about their kids from time to time, particularly when there's more than one kid.

I know that there are times when I really don't like my DD very much - when she's whining, throwing tantrums and generally pushing my buttons - though I love her with all of my heart and soul. I think one of the reasons she can push my buttons so easily is that I was very similar to her as a kid - should make it easier for me to be sympathetic maybe, and it does sometimes, but not always.

But I'd be willing to bet that almost all parents of more than one kid will, at the very least, have a phase when they 'prefer' one child over another, or find one child easier to love/get along with. They might not want to admit it, and it's certainly not something you want to make obvious to your DC, but I'll bet it's there.

As long as you continue to make the effort to love her for who she is - not comparing her to her brother, or to other kids - and focus on the qualities you love about her, I think you'll be doing just fine!

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#4 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 05:00 AM
 
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I have friends who go through this and it is a real challenge that, no matter if you want it to be or not, is there. Kudos to you for IDing it, making choices to hug and reach out to her and being aware enough to try and compensate for it

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#5 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 09:28 AM
 
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I would also add, do not assume that this feeling will last forever. It may be the early developmental stages that are tough for you to like, not the whole personality from cradle to grave.

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#6 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 11:56 AM
 
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I have felt like this from time to time when dd is in a difficult stage. My mother also told me she used to feel like this sometimes but it would change between me and my brother. We felt the same way about her from time to time also. I think it is a normal feeling and it is good to recognize it and make an effort to not let it show.
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#7 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by laurabfig View Post
My daughter is- just like me- a roller coaster of emotions, kind of quirky and beligerent at times, immature compared to her peers, and extremely short-tempered...she has great traits too, such as being really creative, caring, sensitive, quick to apologize, etc. But in general, she is MUCH more difficult for me to love on a daily basis than my son is. a LOT of what she does just annoys me, to be honest.
Have you ever taken a look at, "The Highly Sensitive Child?"

http://www.hsperson.com/pages/child.htm

Some of what you are describing may just be a stage of development or it also might be part of her personality & temperament. You may be highly sensitive, too, which might be part of the clash.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#8 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 12:13 PM
 
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I don't have this experience as a parent. As a child, though, I do. My mother has never liked me. She's said that she never "understood" me, even when I was a toddler. I have a pretty minimal relationship with her now, and that's a major reason. It's terrible to know that your own mother does not like you.




I have a pretty minimal relationship with my mom, now, too. She has never connected with me and was impatient with me in every way yet amazingly close with my brother who has always been more of a challenge than I. She has never tried to hide it. It hurts to this day.

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#9 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 12:19 PM
 
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I think we're all just human and just because that kid came out of your/my body doesn't mean that you/I will like them all the time.

They're personalities/phases are based on so many things...some you can control, but a good majority of it is beyond any parenting.
My son has many phases I don't where I don't like him...but I'll lay money down that there were time my dad didn't like my behavior.
...and the phase will pass or I find someway to correct his behavior, if appropriate.

And really, in the end, it sounds like it's the behavior that you don't seem to like; it's not her, per say.

If there is any person out there that has really, honestly liked another person 100% of the time then they are a bonafide SAINT!!!

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#10 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 12:28 PM
 
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I have a pretty minimal relationship with my mom, now, too. She has never connected with me and was impatient with me in every way yet amazingly close with my brother who has always been more of a challenge than I. She has never tried to hide it. It hurts to this day.
Sadly I have had the same experience. It ends up being very hurtful for the child if they grow up knowing their mother does not really like them. Even if the mother tries very hard to hide it the child "knows".

It is different to go through short periods of not liking a child like if you are having a difficult day and the child is being challenging. I have days like this. I think it is common.

If you really have not liked you child for a year plus I would really try to change that (sorry, no idea how). It does not reflect on you as being a bad mama, life is just sometimes complicated.
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#11 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 02:16 PM
 
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But I'd be willing to bet that almost all parents of more than one kid will, at the very least, have a phase when they 'prefer' one child over another, or find one child easier to love/get along with. They might not want to admit it, and it's certainly not something you want to make obvious to your DC, but I'll bet it's there.

As long as you continue to make the effort to love her for who she is - not comparing her to her brother, or to other kids - and focus on the qualities you love about her, I think you'll be doing just fine!

Sure, there are phases parents don't like. That's not what the OP is talking about, though. Even when my son was going through a year of multiple tantrums daily, I didn't have to remind myself to hug him. He was exasperating, yes, but I still wanted to spend time with him and be affectionate, even if I sometimes needed a break from him for a couple of hours.

As I said, I experienced this as a child. My mother did not like me. I don't know why. As an adult, I realize it had absolutely nothing to do with me, but it still hurts.


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I would also add, do not assume that this feeling will last forever. It may be the early developmental stages that are tough for you to like, not the whole personality from cradle to grave.

Look at her siggie, though. It looks like a 7YO daughter and 6YO son. It doesn't sound like a phase as this seems to have been going on for a while.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#12 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 03:40 PM
 
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I can relate. I think it's pretty common for a parent to feel closer to one child than to another. I think that sometimes, the "fit" between a parent's temperament and a child's temperament isn't ideal.

I have three kids. One is super-intense and has had a lot of difficult behaviors and issues. Sometimes, it's very hard to feel close to her-to have those warm, fuzzy feelings. There's just a lot of stress in parenting her. And yes, I've had to remind myself to hug her-not because I don't like to hug her, but there was just so much frustration and conflict that left neither of us feeling "huggy." One of my kids is super-mellow, his temperament is a better fit for me. It's easier for me to feel relaxed and affectionate and close with him. One of my kids is in between, and sometimes it's easy to feel the warm-fuzzies with her and sometimes it's difficult.

I think the important thing is to realize that with your daughter, you have to work at it more. If you're aware that it's an issue, you can work to make your relationship more positive. You can work on focusing on the positive, on the things about your daughter that do make your heart sing (they're there, always). You make it a point to hug until it's a habit. You put in the time and the effort to have fun together. You remind yourself that the stubbornness and emotionality and quirkiness you see in her also have a positive side that can serve her well as she matures and learns to channel them. I would bet that it's not that you really don't like her, I don't think (not trying to minimize, there are times the best way for me to describe it is that I don't like my child very much right now). It's that it's often difficult to get along with her, that raising her doesn't come as easily and naturally-that you have to work at it in a different way, that there's tension that gets in the way of enjoying her. I find that thinking about it in this way-rather than telling myself I don't like her-helps a lot. So much of how we feel is a result of how we think.

This happens, because parents are human. Don't beat yourself up. Do keep trying.
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#13 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sure, there are phases parents don't like. That's not what the OP is talking about, though. Even when my son was going through a year of multiple tantrums daily, I didn't have to remind myself to hug him. He was exasperating, yes, but I still wanted to spend time with him and be affectionate, even if I sometimes needed a break from him for a couple of hours.

As I said, I experienced this as a child. My mother did not like me. I don't know why. As an adult, I realize it had absolutely nothing to do with me, but it still hurts.

Look at her siggie, though. It looks like a 7YO daughter and 6YO son. It doesn't sound like a phase as this seems to have been going on for a while.
I stated in the OP that I didn't need judgment or people making me feel WORSE about my mothering for my posting my honest experience, which is exactly what your comments have made me feel unfortunately (not sure if this was intended or not). I've been in counseling myself in the past, dealing with my own issues re. my parents' shortcomings. I have virtually no relationship with either of them- so believe me, I KNOW it hurts badly every day to feel the absence of a mother or father in your life as an adult even. The pain never goes away, I know. So I will do whatever it takes to continue to have a healthy relationship with my daughter. But I feel you were talking more out of your pain and not really responding to me. Taking your experience as a child and implying I might be like your mother, or that my relationship with my daughter may end up that way, has just made me feel worse and was not helpful.

Since you stated that it has been "going on for a while"- I should say it has only been for about the last year that I have noticed this. So this could be a phase of development- or maybe it will be forever that we have a hard time relating. I agree with previous posters that life is complicated and so are relationships. I'm open to having others help me learn how to love her and interact with her in healthy ways....which is exactly what other posters have done, and I'm VERY thankful for that. There have been a lot of really good supportive suggestions from others, which is what I had hoped to gain from being honest about my feelings in the OP. THANK YOU to those of you who have shown support and given such great suggestions for loving my daughter well. I am deeply appreciative for all the input.

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#14 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Have you ever taken a look at, "The Highly Sensitive Child?"

http://www.hsperson.com/pages/child.htm

Some of what you are describing may just be a stage of development or it also might be part of her personality & temperament. You may be highly sensitive, too, which might be part of the clash.
I just took a look at the webpage. Took the "online quiz" but most of those things don't really describe her...however, the book would be a great read and I may take a look at it anyway. Maybe I'm the highly sensitive one.

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#15 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 06:50 PM
 
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I don't think its all that unusual to have an easier relationship with one child than another; personalities can clash, even with our own children. With my older child, he is very intense and spirited, and as a laid-back, mellow person I find it exhausting... but I also find my intense, spirited husband exhausting, too I agree with pp that its crucial to focus on the behaviors you don't like, rather than attributing them to her as a person. A book that has helped us immensely has been http://www.parentchildhelp.com/Spiri...9/Default.aspx

ETA: Kudos to you for acknowledging your feelings and wanting to do something about it. There's a world of difference between a parent who accepts not "liking" their child, and the a parent who wants to work harder at "liking" them; that fact that you've made yourself vulnerable by starting this thread says a lot


 

 

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#16 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 07:28 PM
 
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I just took a look at the webpage. Took the "online quiz" but most of those things don't really describe her...however, the book would be a great read and I may take a look at it anyway. Maybe I'm the highly sensitive one.
Okay -- here's another one, "Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent and Energetic."

http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Your-S...6295358&sr=8-1

Read the reviews and see if this strikes a chord.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#17 of 42 Old 06-11-2010, 08:33 PM
 
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If you're a reader, you may like Liking the Child You Love: Build A Better Relationship With Your Kids-Even When They're Driving You Crazy. It's a positive book, with a focus on changing how we think about our children and their behaviors. I really liked it, found the advice to be practical (if a little difficult to put into practice at first, this stuff isn't always easy) and helpful. This is the kind of thing that has helped me most when it comes to parenting.
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#18 of 42 Old 06-12-2010, 12:45 AM
 
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Yes, lately I have found it very hard to like my ds1. Really, for the last six months or so.

I went through this w/my dd when she was this age, too. At the time, I thought it had to do with the fact that she was a girl and was worried I was pushing her away. I've often felt like my mother has pushed me away, not because doesn't like me, but because of various issues of her own, and I was afraid I was doing the same thing. But, in retrospect, I think I just don't like this age very well!

OP, since your dd is your oldest, perhaps you're having the same situation?

What I have found helpful is to spend time alone with him, which is kinda counterintuitive, but it does help for us because he's most obnoxious w/his brother and sister. And then I kinda just fake it, and think of the reasons I love him, and try to be patient.

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#19 of 42 Old 06-12-2010, 01:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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A book that has helped us immensely has been http://www.parentchildhelp.com/Spiri...9/Default.aspx
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Originally Posted by LauraLoo View Post
Okay -- here's another one, "Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent and Energetic."

Read the reviews and see if this strikes a chord.
YES! I JUST wrote down this book from another poster's post b/c it was mentioned by someone and sounded like my dd. Going to read this one asap.

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If you're a reader, you may like Liking the Child You Love: Build A Better Relationship With Your Kids-Even When They're Driving You Crazy[/URL]. It's a positive book, with a focus on changing how we think about our children and their behaviors. I really liked it, found the advice to be practical (if a little difficult to put into practice at first, this stuff isn't always easy) and helpful. This is the kind of thing that has helped me most when it comes to parenting.
Thank you- am going to read this one too!

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What I have found helpful is to spend time alone with him, which is kinda counterintuitive, but it does help for us because he's most obnoxious w/his brother and sister. And then I kinda just fake it, and think of the reasons I love him, and try to be patient.
Thanks for sharing this. Sounds like what I do with her too. We actually do better when we have some mommy-daughter time together apart from dad and brother. Maybe I'll prioritize that more too...

Really, mamas, the suggestions have been so helpful. Thanks for all the resources and sharing your stories too.

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#20 of 42 Old 06-12-2010, 01:40 AM
 
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I've gone through stages of this with my kids (long stages, though probably not an entire year- still I think my experience is relevant). Strangely, I meshed well with my daughter, who can be a little difficult and spirited, and not so well with my older son who is usually eager to please and very helpful! WTH is with that?!? Anyway, I decided that it was really a problem when I started to recoil from his hugs and kisses; I just really didn't want contact with him at all! Meanwhile, I loved hugging, cuddling, and just generally interacting with my daughter. It was hard coming back to liking my son. I think it happened partly because of his development, but mostly because I reminded myself daily of all the great aspects of his personality, and turned a blind eye to most of his flaws (of course while still addressing poor behavior as a parent, but without passing judgment or dwelling on it). I'm seeing some of the same behavior of his again that I hated (mannerisms and such from another little boy he knows who drives me nuts), but without the intense dislike of my son. I'm addressing the negative behaviors (because they need to be addressed- not because I want to mold him to be likeable to me), without feeling at all like I dislike him.
So essentially, I would say to focus on what you like about your DD, and let the rest go. Maybe the two of you could find a hobby which you both really enjoy and could do together, or you two could go on regular dates.

Sorry I haven't been too specific, but I HTH.
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#21 of 42 Old 06-12-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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I can relate. My oldest is my one that I have to really work on liking. DD1 is my most challenging child of the 3, SPD, anxiety, and dyslexia all bundled together make for a child that I don't always enjoy being around. I also suggest all the things that have been mentioned, spending time alone with the child, making a point of hugging her, etc... Hugging and kissing the other children comes so naturally but with her, it is all I can do to grit my teeth and handle her, the loving touches don't come so easily. Part of this is her issues (low self esteem related to thing she can't do, but she excels in everything sports related), but I keep her and us busy. The more we are going swimming, snowboarding, dropping her off at gymnastics, and the less downtime we have, the better our relationship is because she isn't grating on my nerves for hours and hours at a time.

We just got in from a 2 week vacation with all 5 of us. I felt like half of it was dealing with her, and then the other 50% was dealing with the two younger children. I was sitting on the plane on the way home next to her, making my usual effort of hugging her and holding her leg when I realized that what her and I really need to a vacation with just the two of us. Going and doing things that she loves to do without babies trailing behind, and bonding with mom. Considering that I have been nursing for over 7 years straight and no end in sight, I don't know when that will actually happen, but I am certainly going to keep it in my mind for when 1y DS weans.

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#22 of 42 Old 06-13-2010, 04:05 PM
 
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Yes, I do know what you mean. I have gone through some pretty long phases like this with my older child, and it makes me feel terrible. It can be especially prominent when my other child (who is temperamentally MUCH easier anyway) is going through a particularly easy stage. Right now he's a bit of a pain, and in some weird way it's a relief to have him being the one driving me crazy!

I consciously remind myself to connect physically with her (which, as others have mentioned, I never have to do with DS). We have "daily cuddle time" and she obviously loves it. I also do try to make time for just the two of us to do something she really enjoys. I write her little love notes and send them in her lunch--little stuff like that. I hate to use the phrase "fake it till you make it" here, but sometimes it applies.

Also, as strange as it is, there is some part of me that cherishes her more because it has often been such a hard fight with her. The fact that it has never been easy means that the relationship has that much more depth, in a way. I don't know if anyone here has ever taught or worked in child care, but sometimes it is the child who challenges you the most whom you remember the most.

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#23 of 42 Old 06-13-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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I have a pretty minimal relationship with my mom, now, too. She has never connected with me and was impatient with me in every way yet amazingly close with my brother who has always been more of a challenge than I. She has never tried to hide it. It hurts to this day.
My mom said over and over that she liked me but I got the distinct impression she didn't really. :

On the other hand, unlike the posters whose moms didn't hide it, at least I know my mom loved me enough to try. So perhaps the fake-it-till-you-make-it posters are on to something.

s to both of you.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#24 of 42 Old 06-13-2010, 04:36 PM
 
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I think our culture tends to conflate us with our children; as a result, we forget that they really are their own people, just like your neighbour is, for example. No one expects you to like all of your neighbours all of the time, and you don't waste a second of worry on it if you find yourself in that situation. You said you've just noticed this in the past year. Chances are something in the dynamic with your daughter has changed. It will change again. I don't think it's abnormal or even uncommon. Just as long as both your children get treated roughly the same, and you're not obviously favouring one over the other on a regular basis.

I remember a time with my daughter, when she was about 7 actually. She had been, well, generally unlikeable for a while (hostile and whiny) and I was trying to ignore it. We were eating lunch one day and she was just being miserable. Before I could even stop myself, I told her that when she behaves like this, I didn't like her very much. But when she behaved in a nicer, friendlier fashion, she was my very favourite person. Which was absolutely true, but not something moms say to their children. However, it stopped her in her tracks. She just looked at me in shock and sat quietly for a while, and when she began talking again she was a much more pleasant little person. That probably was a horrible thing for me to say, but it did have a positive outcome, and it just goes to show you that you are not alone in this.
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#25 of 42 Old 06-13-2010, 04:47 PM
 
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Yes!! But it's only because my daughter is sunny and fun and outgoing and enthusiastic and i'm like like Shrek. if it wasn't for her (and my husband) I'd be living on a swamp eating stewed rats alone.
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#26 of 42 Old 06-13-2010, 11:44 PM
 
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No judgements here. I have a 13yo who is just that way. It is heartbreaking and sometimes personalities just clash. AND if this is your oldest one, remember that she/he is forging a trail, making it easier for the ones to come (but don't let the kid know that...you will just see a roll of the eyes!). Good luck and love yourself!
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#27 of 42 Old 06-14-2010, 10:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Anna's Lovey View Post
if it wasn't for her (and my husband) I'd be living on a swamp eating stewed rats alone.

I just happen to like apples, and I am not afraid of snakes. ~Ani d.
These dolls and toys confuse me so; Confound it all, I love it, though!~J. Skellington
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#28 of 42 Old 06-14-2010, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post
I remember a time with my daughter, when she was about 7 actually. She had been, well, generally unlikeable for a while (hostile and whiny) and I was trying to ignore it. We were eating lunch one day and she was just being miserable. Before I could even stop myself, I told her that when she behaves like this, I didn't like her very much. But when she behaved in a nicer, friendlier fashion, she was my very favourite person. Which was absolutely true, but not something moms say to their children. However, it stopped her in her tracks. She just looked at me in shock and sat quietly for a while, and when she began talking again she was a much more pleasant little person. That probably was a horrible thing for me to say, but it did have a positive outcome, and it just goes to show you that you are not alone in this.
I don't think it was horrible. I think that we do our kids a disservice if we don't let them know when they're being bothersome.
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#29 of 42 Old 06-14-2010, 01:54 PM
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I have had those feelings before too about my oldest, and he is only 3! I think recognizing and working on the feelings shows that you're a great mother, instead of just accepting them.

I know for me, the problem is partly personality and partly that he's my first. I started out my relationship with him by worrying, so it really has exhausted me. He's forced me to change the most of any person I've had in my life. It's been a really good thing for me, but I won't lie. It's been the hardest and most abrupt change in my life. This is through no fault of his own, obviously, but I still feel like I've maybe built up some resentment towards him. I'm considering seeing a counselor about it.

My youngest is all sunshine and smiles. She is 16mo and has been a fat, happy baby. I just can't resist kissing her, and I find myself constantly laughing at her antics. My oldest always seems to have a cloud over his head. We really are too similar! We're both high anxiety and seem to play off each other. I've really had to be creative about finding ways to connect with him. Like PP said, we really desperately need to have alone time together. We usually go out to lunch together or for a walk alone to look for bugs or whatever, and he seems so much easier to like when I do that frequently. I think he gets overwhelmed by the goings on in the house and is more high strung when his sister is around.

It's like any relationship. I feel like it can't just work because I'm his mother, just like my relationship with my DH doesn't just work because he's my spouse. We are all changing every day and it keeps me on my toes, but it is so much more worth it and more rewarding when I put in the extra work.

mama.
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#30 of 42 Old 06-14-2010, 05:18 PM
 
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i just wanted to pipe in as an oldest daughter who isn't always sure if her mom likes her or not. we have very different personalities and i can definitely see how i might grate on her nerves. we like the same things, which makes it easy to do things together, and i think we genuinely enjoy spending time together, but my more effusive qualities (i'm a LOUD talker, a BIG feeler, very opinionated and sensitive) drive her crazy. and the kinds of interactions that make me feel loved and appreciated are the kind that she isn't very good at. i think if we were peers instead of mother and daughter, we'd get along much better, but as it is, i often feel like i'm trying not to annoy her, and wishing she'd tell me how much she loves me.

anyway, it's' not the end of the world to not mesh with your child's personality. make an effort to be the best, most loving parent you can be, and some day she'll understand your relationship. it would be great if all parents and all their children were matched by personality, but it doesn't work that way. i don't resent my mom for a second, because i know she's always done her best for me, and it's not her fault we're not both different people.

the PPs suggestion of lots of one on one time with each other is a good one. the time my mom and i spend together is so important to me... i'd also suggest trying to figure out the way your daughter needs to be shown how much you love and care about her. my mom unfortunately isn't very good at showing love the way i need to be shown love, and it would have made the childhood and teenage years a bit smoother if she'd known that. as an adult, i'm able to see it a bit more objectively, but it did hurt a bit when i was younger.
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