“I love him, but I just can’t seem to like him right now.”
If you are in a low spot with one of your children right now, this quote probably rings true for you. It is very difficult to face the fact that sometimes we don’t like our own children, our very own flesh and blood. This can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy and even resentment about the level of conflict in our relationship. You may know in your head that your love for him is always there, but it can get buried under so much pain and hurt that you can’t sense its presence. If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone. While you may not be able to immediately remedy the cause of the rift, you can make some changes in your own thinking that can help you revive your positive feelings for your child.
- Remember that it is most likely temporary. It may seem that your relationship with your child has fallen into a deep, black hole. You may wonder if you will ever get out. No matter how deep that hole is, it is not a permanent state. Things can and will get better.
- Make a list of the things that you have enjoyed doing with him in the past. Have you enjoyed skiing together? Hiking? Tag sale-ing? Try to recall the most pleasurable activities you have engaged in with this child and write them down. Maybe it is something really insignificant like looking at a catalog or watching a favorite TV program together. Thinking about these times can help, but trying to do them more often can help even more.
- Watch home movies of good times. You may have a hard time accessing compassion and affection for this child. Seeing those feelings in action can help you remember what it was like. Watching the movies with the child in question (if he will) can have the same effect on him.
- Look at his baby book. When you do, you will see the love in your eyes and the adoration in his. It will help you remember that special bond you shared in infancy with your child.
- Imagine his future. While only God knows how our children will end up, “future forcasting” is a mental exercise that can help you rekindle those feelings of attachment and connection with your child. Imagine your relationship with him as an adult. Think about what it might be like, what he might be doing and how you will be interacting in a more positive manner.
- Pray. I may have listed it last, but it is not because it is the least effective. In fact, the opposite is true. Prayer is powerful. Not because it changes our circumstances, but because it changes us. By talking to God and asking to hear and know His will, we can come to see our circumstances through His eyes. Often it is the most trying situations that bring the most radical and powerful changes. Waiting on Him and trusting His timing can help us get past the hurt we may feel regarding our child.
It is very important that you take steps to remedy your feelings for your child. Family relationships are often like dominoes – a change by one member can have a positive and lasting effect on the others. You may find that a change in your feelings can have an effect on the overall health of your relationship with your child.