Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Whatcha Got Wednesday: February 10, 2016 Edition
Q: I have two children, ages 6 and 8. I love my children very much, but I don't really like them most days. What is wrong with me? I feel like a failure as a mother!
A: First, let me say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. The only thing you have working against you is also the same thing you have going for you: you were born! Each of us--born sinners that we are--are also created in Christ's image. We love because He loves us so much so he gave his own Son for us! As parents, how many of us would be able to do such a thing? Most of us can barely fathom the thought of them sleeping over at a friend's house! As John Rosemond puts it, "We are but sinners raising sinners." While we are shooting for sainthood, obtaining wisdom in this life is full of struggle and frustration.
No doubt you love your children, and I would even go so far as to say you'd give your life for them! For most parents, that is a given, even in cases where the definition of "love" is a bit skewed. But it would be absurd to suggest that you don't relate more to one child over another and that this itself will change as they grow. It's just simple logic and personality understanding. So it makes sense that you won't necessarily "like" your children all the time. My own children and I had this very conversation once.
WHAT!?!?!? YOU TOLD YOUR KIDS YOU DON'T LIKE THEM!!!???
Yes . . . calm down . . . wait for it . . . .
My daughter asked one random afternoon driving down the road (because the big questions are never set up like an after-school special) who I loved more, her or her brother? Both were in the car, by the way; it instantly became like rapid fire as they both tried offering their best and obviously self-absorbed answer to the question in play. Ya feel me? I told her that I loved them both the same; a mother's love can't be measured, but if it could, each of their cups would be full. I was sure to include that they were two very different people . . . very reminiscent of the book I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse (I taught both of my children kindergarten and first grade, so of course I use every opportunity to interject a book reference--I can't help myself!) Like most conversations of this nature, she pressed on and on, to which I calmly and very matter-of-factly added, "But sometimes I like you different." She immediately responded with, "Like right now, you like him more cause I'm bugging you?" Bingo, little girl.
Of course, my experience with this emotional struggle is quite different from other families I've worked with. I've known parents who have tried to fight every battle for their children from day one, never held them accountable, consistency was out the window, and the resulting self-induced behavioral challenges were too numerous to mention. I've had these parents sitting before me weeping when they had finally reached the point of breaking because of the "love" they thought they were giving the child. I asked, "I bet most days you dread picking him up from childcare after work?" The mother sobbed and simply said, "Yes." She was quick to defend her love but had to admit that she didn't "like" what her son was becoming and could hardly stand to be around him. As sad as this is, it is very common.
I don't know the depth of your situation, but if you find that you relate more to the latter scenario, step back and assess your situation. Are you stuck in a season of serving your children because you believe that "that's what good mothers do"--yet you now realize that you're raising a narcissist? If you're there, I want you to know that getting back on track is not impossible. I would love to talk with you more.
Bottom line: truly loving your children comes in your parenting attitude and how well you lead your children. When we can love them in this way, chances are we are gonna like them on most days too!