From this week’s Dear Prudence(the advice column on slate.com), there’s a woman who writes about how her sister felt like her parents never liked her, and this was confirmed when the father died and left stuff to all the kids except for this one sister.
In your experiences, how common is this? And why just one kid? I mean, I could see if it was just that you hate or resent the idea of kids, but why would you love all your kids but one? I mean, if you love your children, you love your children, right?
My grandmother claims she strongly disliked/resented my mother (her third child) while pregnant with her last (12th) child and that it cleared up as soon as she had the baby. It’s entered family lore as the standard illustration of how wacky hormones can be.
Well, there’s all those kids that got dropped off at hospitals in Nebraska.
Dunno if I got whooshed, but isn’t that less about hating your child and more about not being able to take care of them/feeling overwhelmed?
Manda JO–that’s the kind of thing I find interesting. Why your mother and not the other kids? Was it a personality thing, or just completely random?
I think it had to do with the fact that my mom was the most helpful of the older group and basically took over a lot of the things my grandmother was too ill to do herself and my grandmother hated feeling weak and useless–my grandmother is NEVER weak or useless. But her resentment/anger/loathing was all out of proportion and she knew it at the time. They just kind of rode it out. There was no permanent damage to the relationship.
There is the case of David Pelzer, who was apparently subjected to massive abuse by his mother, while his brothers were unaffected.
If you really love your kid, you cannot be “overwhelmed” enough to abandon them.
What if you’re really young and have no idea what you’re going to do, or even how to go about taking care of them?
But you can be too poor/uneducated/disabled/mentally-ill to be able to care for them and therefore come to the conclusion that they’d be better off with someone who can.
Or they can be so disabled/mentally ill that you come to the conclusion that they’d be better off with someone else with more or different resources. If someone has a kid that is severely mentally ill–as in irrationally aggressive, suicidal, homicidal, bipolar, addictive and self-destructive behavior, the whole suite, IME they keep loving that child, but other emotions can get tangled up inside of that love after years and years–not hate, perhaps, but frustration and resentment and hopelessness all mixed together are not uncommon, and when they are all at a fevered pitch it isn’t that far from the far simpler “hate”.
I cried through that entire book and the two sequels.
My friend Susan admitted to hating her baby when he was newborn. To be honest, he was an extremely difficult baby to love, as he was constantly screaming bloody murder for no apparent reason, and couldn’t be calmed or comforted no matter what you tried. I lived with them as the kids’ “governess”, and helped her raise her older daughter from 6 months of age, as well as her youngest daughter from birth, and I can attest that this was no ordinary baby crying. He would be SCREAMING, with tears just POURING down his bloated, beet-red face for hours upon hours. No diaper pins were sticking him, no dirty diaper, not colicky, not hungry - wouldn’t take a bottle, couldn’t be rocked or bounced or cuddled or driven around in the car seat or pushed in a pram. Nothing but nothing helped this poor baby.
It turns out he apparently inherited his father’s manic-depression, and also suffers from Tourette Syndrome. We all love him to pieces now, but no one would have questioned why even a mother wouldn’t love a baby that was that miserable all the time.
All of these are reasons I chose to simply not be a parent, a choice I’m convinced more people should consider.
Yeah. Or some people maybe just don’t want to be parents, period. I’m thinking more of people who have stable lives/families, and seem to like their kids in general and parenting, but for some reason hate one kid. Like Shayna or Manda JO’s examples. Someone who abandons their kids–okay, that’s horrible, but I understand that more than someone who treats two of their kids well, loves them and so on, but just doesn’t get along with one in particular for some reason.
Shayna mentioned that one kid being a difficult baby. I’ve read that a lot of kids who end up getting abused are more difficult–is that maybe why they just end up getting scapegoated, while the others kids go scot free?
Unfortunately they can.
My mom never wanted kids. She adopted me and had my sister because my dad wanted kids and that was the price she paid for a pretty cushy life. She apparently knew that going into their marriage.
My mom always said to us that if she had it to do over again she’d never have had kids because they take your life and your money and your time. My dad told me at Thanksgiving this year that he wished my mom loved me. That was pretty odd, but it honestly wasn’t something I always kind of knew anyhow.
I’m dealing with this now and it’s all good; because really good psychoanalysis is the best!
Anyhow, yes; my mom still resents us. Not surprisingly, neither my sister nor I have ever had kids and we don’t want any. My mom is honestly a weird, angry person but on the other hand she is one awesome person in any crisis because she is a force of nature and a total control freak. Her charity work for the hungry and homeless and mentally ill is fantastic. I think the thing is, she can have feelings for others who are needy because she is in control of doling out the noblesse oblige.
Seriously, I don’t mean this to sound nasty because it isn’t; it’s just the way things are.
Maybe not quite the same thing, but I knew a woman who admitted she never had any feelings for her kids, one way or the other. They were nice kids, she said, and she didn’t hate them or resent them, she just thought of them as two small people who happened to live in the same house.
When she and her husband divorce, she asked him to take the kids. Not surprisingly they both ended up pretty screwed up.
And, more on point, there are probably more parents than you’d ever guess who resent one or more of their kids because they were an “accident” or because of some lingering doubtrs about paternity.
Kids are people and some people are easy to hate, so I’d guess that yeah, there are parents who hate one, some, or all of their kids.
If I were judging by the way she cries when he leaves, I’d say my MIL loves my husband. But if I were judging by the way she treats him and talks to him, I’d say she despises him.
I worked with someone who seemed, at least, to genuinely resent her kids - I don’t know if it was ever a “hate” thing, but it could have been. She was very social, before she had kids. She described her boyfriend as “hopeless” with them, so she wouldn’t let him look after them, and resented the kids because she could no longer maintain a semblance of the social life she’d had before. She treated work as her respite from the family.
Certainly she never should have had the kids and if she’d had the choice again I assume that she wouldn’t have, but I couldn’t really tell how bad the family situation was.
I’m pretty sure my Mom hated me at times.
She had been a very bright, responsible, academically successful kid. She got pregnant with me when she was 17, and it wasn’t her fault. She was a single parent on welfare while she obtained a BS in Mechanical Engineering from a state university. Her marriages didn’t work out, and sometimes it was because of my existence (not my fault, per se, but definitely due to my existence.) She was capable of some very loving gestures, but oftentimes she would get so frustrated and so violently angry that the words ‘‘I hate you’’ came rather easily to her. And the older I got, the worse it got, to the point that she rather regularly threatened to throw me out of the house (and sent me away to my grandparents’ more than once on the rationale that, ‘‘If I have to spend one more second with her, I’m going to hurt her and she’s going to end up in the hospital.’’ That would usually get them over to our house quick.)
While there was clearly an element of mental illness to my Mom’s behavior, there was also an element of genuine grief, a life she was robbed of. I don’t believe my Mom’s feelings were pure hatred–I have some very loving memories from her as well, times where she clearly sacrificed her needs for mine. She tried so many times to change the way she related to me. But I think that’s part of where the resentment came from – she had to always sacrifice her needs for mine. She was just a kid with a kid, and her life would have been very, very different if I hadn’t been born. We both knew it, and I think that led to a kind of hatred.
This is a very depressing thread.