Is it a moral failing not to love your child?

…Or is it an mental anomaly that happens?

I read this article today and it struck me how angry this woman’s problem makes people. I understand that anger is a reaction to the insecurity we all feel when something we feel should be an incontrovertible truth turns out not to be. However, I wonder if heaping anger and abuse on this woman isn’t ultimately counter-productive, driving something that may be much more common than we think farther under the surface.

What do you think? What is the best course of action for a woman who finds she doesn’t love her own child, no matter how she tries? Do you think someone can force themselves to love their own child? Does it brand someone as a bad person? Do you think society’s current pressure on people to produce their own biological children, when maybe most people don’t have the stones for the job, produce these kinds of problems?

I certainly think it may be a moral failing to publicly announce to the world that you don’t love your daughter, right in front of her. That’s a bit of a slap in the face, don’t you think?

Otherwise, I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around her problem. Assuming the article is accurate (which I will do for the purposes of this thread), it’s a sad and difficult situation, and I think she does have a real psychological problem. But quite frankly, I don’t understand it at all. You could hand me any baby and I’d treat it as mine if you told me to; I can’t get the feelings she describes.

Which I guess is why I’m seeing it as a psych thing; not attaching to your child for the first few weeks or months is not terribly uncommon, especially with PPD sufferers; but ever? Surely that’s some kind of PPD that changed into an aversion or something?

I don’t get it. I love many children that aren’t my own. All I have to think of is when I was a child, and the hate I felt from a step parent and how it shaped me into the hatefull piece of garbage that I am.

That’s all the motivation I need.

Children need love.

I am not a man of education nor am I anything even remotely approaching a decent human being, but when you ruin a childs life, you turn them into the hatefull beings that kill and steal the beauty and life from those you all hold dear.

Such is the way of hate.

If you don’t love your child, give them up, give them a home where they might find love, where they might find a purpose that will help them develop into a being that, even if you can’t help them, someone else’s love will see the love in their heart. Where they may devolope into a decent human being.

Such is the way of love.

My vote is heck no as far as a moral failing.

Now, if she wouldnt bother to care of the child, like say any random child she was handed and told to take care of, then I would find some kind of fault with her. But that would be a basic intellectual failing rather than an emotional or biologic one.

In a sort of reverse situation. I have nothing but respect for parents, who while they might still “love” their child in some way, are still able to testify against them in court, because they realise what a danger they are to society in some situations.

I can’t think of much that would be more troubling or sad!

Perhaps she confuses like with love. I love my children and would put my life on the line for them but they are boys, 5 and 8, and many days I don’t like them much and don’t enjoy them. I figure that will pass!

After reading that article, frankly, I have some sympathy for the mother (who sounds like she has been dealing with undiagnosed depression for a number of years, and does seem to be at least trying to do her best), and a HUGE amount of sympathy for the daughter.

As for the reporter and editor who apparently thought it was a good idea to print this story with REAL NAMES and a PHOTO fercryingoutloud, they ought to be horsewhipped. Really. I mean, lets not let crushing the developing psyche of a prepubescent child get in the way of a good story, will we. Whatever happened to “names changed to protect the innocent?”


Yeah, I think that is a really terrible thing to do to that little girl. Even if she doesn’t “feel it”, that doesn’t mean she has to show it to the child who is likely being harmed by this kind of treatment. There’s no excuse for treating the kid so callously - like ignoring the kid’s pleas for a hug or making the kid call her by her first name instead of “mom”. That makes the mom sound rather immature and mean-spirited.
I don’t even know the kid, and I want to give her a hug or something.

That girl is going to grow up feeling like there is something wrong with her, that her mom doesn’t treat her as well as she treats her other daughter.
Looking at how she now feels bonded to her new daughter that she has with her current partner who she is evidently happy with, I kind of wonder if she is using the “unloved” daughter as a scapegoat for the fact that her relationship with the father didn’t work out.

BTW Related Thread

I had a friend whose mother beat him with her high heels and a 2x4 when I was a little boy, and so I was able to figure out that the whole blood bond thing could probably stand to take a break versus real live worth as a human.

Overall if you’re being a straightforward and decent person to the child and doing your best for it, then it isn’t a moral failing. If anything, you might do better for objectively viewing the kid and choosing your style of parenting based on that.

This lady doesn’t appear to fit this though. She disliked her daughter before she had anything like a personality and says that she is unfair to the girl. That’s not “not love”, that’s full on disliking the kid.

So, no, it’s not a failing to not love your child, but it is one to dislike and be unfair to a child undeservingly.

I “worked” with a report once on a piddly story. There were good reasons for certain names and locations to be left out the story. We asked that they be. The guy easily agreed. We were doing him a favor, not the other way around. Putting names and locations in the story added nothing to it.

Jerk put them in anyway.

Last time I had anything to do with a reporter :mad:

Yes, I believe so.

I think this was a heartbreaking story and I can’t imagine the life ahead of young Catherine with the world knowing how her mother feels about her. That said, I feel horribly bad for Shelley, but think she’s been unbelievably remiss for not taking much more extreme measures to help with what they’ve both been going through. Talking to a professional once, when the child was four, doesn’t quite cut it. And I say this as someone whose own mother has been more than emotionally abusive, isn’t a parent themselves and relies on the mental health community for assistance that often isn’t there. I don’t fault her for how she feels, but I do believe she hasn’t exhausted all her options.

No, probably not. But I think you can reach some sort of compassionate outlook, otherwise you’re little more than sociopathic towards certain other humans, whether or not they are related to you.

Absolutely. On the one hand, I think it’s incredibly brave to put yourself out there in a way that few (if any) would, in the possible interest of helping others. There has to be many mothers who have gone through this, perhaps with even more devastating results, who’d benefit from this knowledge and could build off of it in a way that would assist them and their offspring. On the other hand, the stigma of her and her children will undoubtedly last too long a time and the end result is a more sad one than what we’re reading here.

Probably, but correlation does not necessarily imply causation and, in the greater scheme of this thing, I feel might be irrelevant. This is one instance where the final product (a mother who doesn’t love her child) is the most important aspect. It’s just too great of a concern in its infancy (since we haven’t heard much about it thus far) to worry beyond that. If we get more data, perhaps it can be expounded upon from there. :frowning:

People are complex, and while I don’t understand why someone could not love their own, my thoughts are that a person has a resonsibility to do something about it.

From the article, quoting a psychologist

Of course this is understated as receiving love is not optional for the child’s development.

I don’t think it is a moral failing not to love your child. I agree with previous posters that it IS a moral failing to let that fact, along with the child’s name and photo, be published for all the world to see, for the mother as well as the reporter and the newspaper.

Her description of the way she felt when her baby was handed to her sounds like many descriptions of post partum depression I have read.

My own experience following the birth of my children (all 4 of them) can only be described as euphoria. In each case, the 2 or 3 hours following the birth have been almost impossibly wonderful. It felt absolutely biological. I am sure there is some hormonal physical process taking place. It is heartbreaking to think of it not taking place.

I feel terribly sorry for this woman, though more so for her daughter. I think she should’ve sought more help, though the problem with depression (not to mention mental health systems) is how difficult it makes it to seek help. Though I am horrified by her going public with her daughter’s identity, I am hopeful that going public with her problem will help the family get the help they need, as well as help other families.

I think any adult with any sort of important role in a child’s life has a duty to give that child all the love and affection they can possibly muster or fake. I am not particularly enamored of any of my nieces or nephews. Except for the youngest (too soon to tell) they all seem saddled with biological personality traits that annoy me. I am still the most affectionate aunt I can possibly be and hope that the message the receive is how happy I am to see them and how sad I am to see them go.

But do you feel like you could do that, day in and day out, all the time, 24 hours a day, when the baby is keeping you awake and vomiting on you and you are changing 4,000 diapers a day and now he’s screaming because you took away that little button he could have choked on?

I have loved my son fiercely from the moment I saw his little face, and I have often joked in the past year that that’s the only thing that saves him sometimes.
I wonder if “Just pretend!” isn’t inadequate advice for this problem. Is this all we have to offer, whether we are professional therapists or just people, because we never talk about this publicly? Don’t we NEED a high profile, non judgmental dialogue about this? It seems to be more common than we would like to admit.

Just a thought on this particular case–I’m kind of doubting it. In this woman’s case, she says right out that she got pregnant unexpectedly and too young. Her mother expressed doubts about her readiness for motherhood. What societal pressures were operating on her a)get pregnant, b)keep the pregnancy and c)not give the child up for adoption? A single 22-yo is far more likely to encounter concern and doubt about her child-rearing capabilities than otherwise, even if she’s on the older end of the spectrum for disastrously young single motherhood.

*In general, *it’s a slightly different question. On the one hand, societal pressure to have children has never been less. In fact there are now significant and fairly new pressures to stay young and responsibility-free, delay marriage, and limit the number of children one has. Terms like “childfree” are common, and everyone knows quite a few couples who have decided not to have children at all and don’t mind saying so. Obviously not everyone accepts this as normal, but it’s certainly a lot more mainstream than it ever has been, ever.

OTOH we are human and it seems pretty obvious to most folks that reproduction is one of the primary life goals of any ordinary person. That’s biology for you. So of course society expects one to have children, and I suppose plenty of people do so without thinking much about whether they really want to and are ready for it. Now, that strikes me as totally bizarre, given our current society–I’d think that people would give the question some pretty serious thought before taking the plunge–but apparently not everyone agrees with me.

Whether these lessened, but still existent, pressures result in mothers who inexplicably do not feel love for their children, I don’t know. IME maternal love is pretty powerful physiological stuff, and it tends to work even under some really terrible circumstances. I’m inclined to think that cases like this are not very common and have their source in some issue like PPD, etc.

I find it odd that you would say that “maybe most people don’t have the stones for the job.” Plain old biology would seem to dictate that most people can handle having children, even if it’s not a first choice–otherwise there would be a lot fewer of us. Humans have been raising other humans in dire situations for a long time now. We’re not always very good at it, but IMO the wonder is that we get along as well as we do.

Is anyone here or elsewhere only offering the advice of “just pretend?” The psychologist quoted in the article said

The “fake it till you make it” while undergoing counseling is fairly common advice for a number of problems where people are in difficult situations which cannot be easily walked away from.

A difficult option would be to temporarily give the baby up while working on the issue, so people who able to fake it until they are capable of making it could be better served by faking it as they work through the problem.

What is not being said here is to simply fake it without any other type of help, which is what you are claiming is happening.

Children need Love, if that parent can’t provide it the should seek someone who can, which may include giving the child in adoption. The ‘moral’ failing is continuing to raise a child in a loveless environment once this is realized.

Agreed. Extrapolating,

is it a moral failing not to love your parent? Whether it’s logical or not depends on the specifics, but the question is about morality. Since it’s easy to come up with situations where loving the parent in question would be the unexpected case (I didn’t say “not to love a loving, caring parent who’s raised you and always been there for you,” did I?), then I have to conclude that no, it’s not a moral failing not to love your parent. Leaving them in the street, on the other hand, is very much a moral failing.

Is it a moral failing not to love your spouse? Again, did you choose the spouse, did you ever love them, did…
Is it a moral failing to demean your spouse? Yes.
They are two other examples of situations where two people are expected to love each other. But “expected” does not equal “required.”

I had a friend who had post-partum depression so bad that she couldn’t bond with her child. I remember how horrible it appeared, but there wasn’t as much known about the problem at that time.

She eventually did come around, though I lost track of her and have no idea if they were able to maintain the bond.

Hope I’m not hijacking. I just watched The Business of Being Born last night, where they claim that natural birth results in release of oxytocin at the right moments to create a bond between mother and child that is absent in c-section. Here’s a randomly googled article. I wonder if unloving mothers are more common from c-section.

I can’t access the article linked in the OP so I don’t know how relevant this is (if it at all).