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Mom Explains Why She Loves But Doesn't Like Her Kids

Photo: Katherine Hanlon via Unsplash / Ground Picture via Shutterstock
thinking woman and kids playing

Parenting is never an easy task. Which is why, when raising a family, there are moments — even extended moments — when parents might struggle to connect with their children.

A mom wrote into the r/parenting subreddit to share a profound part of her experience caring for her kids, one who’s 18 months old and one who’s in the first grade.

The mom explained why she always loves but doesn’t always like her kids.

“Being a parent is breaking me,” she revealed, expressing a well of deep-seated frustration. Her current experience of motherhood was wearing her down, to the point where she felt unsure of what avenues there were left for her to take.

She explained that her 18-month-old won’t sleep through the night, so she’s up anywhere from three to six times a night trying to get her baby to go back down. “Yes, we’ve tried everything,” she wrote. “Yes, [the] baby is healthy and growing fine otherwise. [My] husband tries to help, but [the] baby just screams if he tries to rock them.”

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Not only is the mom sleep-deprived, she’s trying to navigate her older child’s behavior, who she noted “has pushed every button over the last few weeks.” She detailed some of her child’s actions, saying that they’ve been “lying to me and their teacher, arguing about everything, sneaking toys into school.”

Photo: Ksenia Chernaya / Pexels 

The mom acknowledged that she's seeking support for her child, though securing that support was proving harder than she expected it to be.

“I know I need to get them into therapy, but finding an affordable play therapist who's accepting kids their age is a lot harder than it seems,” she said. “Everyone is a waitlist. We've already had a meeting with the teacher and counselor, [but] didn't really feel like we came up with a solution.”

“I just feel like I can’t catch a break,” the weary mom reported. “I don't like my kids these days. I'll always love them, but they're making it really hard.”

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Parents can love their kids without loving their kids’ behavior.

While that feeling is complex, it doesn’t make them bad parents. Dr. Patricia O’Gorman explains that parents aren’t always going to like the ways their kids act. In fact, Dr. O’Gorman maintains that not liking various aspects of your kids' behavior is a totally normal part of parenting.

“Whether this is a two-year-old in a full-fledged tantrum in the produce aisle, or your five-year-old who will only eat pepperoni pizza for dinner, or your 14-year-old giving you the finger, the reality is that you’re not always going to like your kids' actions,” she stated. “Loving your kids is part of your attachment to them,” Dr. O’Gorman continued. “Not liking your kids' actions is different than not loving them.”

One way to navigate the inevitable rise and fall of any child’s more challenging moods and actions is to set limits.

Dr. O'Gorman shared ther belief that "With your kids, ‘No,’ can be a complete sentence.” As she sees it, “Part of setting the limits is trying to figure out how you may inadvertently, even unconsciously, be encouraging the behaviors that are pushing you to the breaking point.”

But she also believes that parents can break free from those breaking points, by releasing the belief that they have to be everything, at all times, for their children. Dr. O’Gorman explains that a crucial part of taking care of yourself as a parent is to “pull in as many reinforcements as you can.”

Photo: Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels 

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“Parenting used to be the responsibility of the village,” she said. “ It’s now become the task of frequently only one person. You can change this!”

She recommends really reaching for outside support, which can come in the form of conversations with other parents, or starting a babysitting cooperative, to help lighten the intense daily weight of child-rearing. Helping kids process big emotions isn’t easy, especially when you also feel emotionally triggered by their big emotions.

“If they’re having a bad time, ask them if they need support,” Dr. O’Gorman concluded. “But don’t be afraid to ask yourself if you need support. Being a good parent means learning to self-parent.”

No feeling is permanent, not even a feeling as challenging as disliking your kids.

Parents can’t expect themselves to be perfect, which includes letting themselves feel the full range of their own emotions when times are hard. Parenting is an imperfect act, yet there are distinct gifts to be found in that lack of perfection, starting with giving yourself grace to feel.

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Dr. O’Gorman is a parent, trauma psychologist, author of nine books on self-parenting, and resilience, and a speaker. Learn more on www.PatriciaOGorman.com.

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers parenting, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.