What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Kid


I love you but I don't like youIf this headline sparked some recognition in you, congratulations, you’re an honest mom. If it didn’t, maybe your kid just isn’t old enough yet—give it time.

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: I love my kids with the borderline-insane intensity that unifies us as mothers. Even when they are at their absolute worst—causing me to be at my absolute worst—my love for them is unwavering.

Despite that unconditional love, I do not always LIKE my kids. Sometimes they are whiny, sometimes they are rude, sometimes they are defiant, and sometimes they are just super irritating. There are times when they are the last people I want to hang out with.

Okay, so I own those feelings. Now, what to do to make motherhood more tolerable at those trying times?

First off, try celebrating the fact that your child is a human being—and therefore imperfect. Who would want a bland, always-compliant robot kid? (Well, maybe for a day or two, but then it would get weird.)

Second, cut your kid a bit of slack. He’s trying to make sense of both the outside world and his own churning mind and emotions, and that is hard work—aren’t you often trying to do the same thing, even as an adult?

Then take a look at why certain attitudes or behaviors get under your skin more than others. Could it be that the times your kid vexes you the most are the times she reminds you of a certain someone you see in the mirror? Hmmm…

If things are getting heated, give yourself a timeout. If you can physically step away for a minute, do it. If you can’t (driving the car, for example), just disengage, focus your eyes on something else and take a few deep breaths. When you come back, your kid may still be awful, but your reactions won’t be.

Now, if you’ve tried all that and found it insightful but not exactly gratifying, pick up the phone and call/text another mom. Nothing feels better than hearing a fellow parent cop to the same feelings you’re experiencing. Even better if it’s a parent who has made it out the other side of a tiresome stage or age; she can remind you that when it comes to kids, both the good and the bad, it’s always temporary.

Editor’s note: This article originally published on August 13, 2018.


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