Can A Mom Really Dislike Her Kid?

What if a mom doesn't like her child? What is she to do? It's hard to imagine a mother not liking her own child because of the child's characteristics -- abnormal, strange, weak -- but apparently, it happens. Keep reading for one mom's very candid confession.


Remember the Babble mom blogger who admitted that she liked one child more than the other a few months ago? It's hard to believe, but she has been outdone by another mom who wrote I've never liked my child in a very candid -- and anonymous -- Redbook article.

Her daughter wasn't what she hoped for

A mom writing under the pseudonym Jennifer Rabiner shared what most moms don't even think. At least I don't believe many moms think like that. Jennifer Rabiner disliked her daughter from birth.

She begins her essay by saying,

"Growing up, I had hoped to someday have a daughter, and I had a clear vision of what she would be like: vivacious, spunky, and whip-smart, socially savvy and self-assured. What I got was the polar opposite. At birth, Sophie was skinny and weak. She nursed poorly, and she cried so hard that she vomited -- daily. As a toddler, she was strange..."

Jennifer explains that she felt guilt for being repelled by her own child. She says that she knew something was "off" with her daughter, Sophie. Jennifer's sister, a developmental psychologist, even mentioned it. Jennifer contacted a specialist because she suspected Sophie's failure to meet developmental milestones was abnormal. However, after Jennifer received the paperwork and reviewed it, she felt like Sophie's issues didn't fit under any of the categories. Jennifer canceled the appointment.

her second daughter was exactly what she envisioned

Although Jennifer often wondered whether it was her issue -- was she missing the maternal instinct? -- she determined it was Sophie with the problem after the birth of Jennifer's second daughter.

Jennifer explained,

"Lilah was exactly the baby I'd envisioned: strong and healthy, with a penetrating gaze. She nursed vigorously and smiled and laughed easily. She talked early and often and, even as a toddler, befriended everyone she met. When I hugged her, she squeezed back hard, and I felt my own heart beating in two bodies at once."

Called out

Eventually, one of Jennifer's friends called her to the carpet, insisting that as Sophie's mother, it was Jennifer's job to always support her, regardless whether she liked Sophie. Shortly thereafter, Jennifer heard of a workshop -- Loving and Honoring the Child You Have, Not the One You Wish You Had.

Hopeful that she'd found a place for answers, Jennifer wrote down a laundry list of Sophie's weaknesses, by her own measure. She was very disappointed because she was "expecting to hear a diagnosis that would finally make sense of Sophie's quirks and lead to an effective treatment." Instead, Jennifer was told she needed to work on bonding with Sophie.

Jennifer's efforts weren't successful and "only made her [Sophie] feel more self-conscious and anxious. And I continued to feel exasperated and annoyed. Why was my own daughter so difficult for me to parent? I gradually got used to the feeling, but I never made peace with it."

A diagnosis, finally

When Sophie was seven years old, she was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Her growth was delayed since birth and, according to the doctor, Sophie was three years behind in speech, motor skills and social maturation.

"My first reaction was relief — a diagnosis! Then hope — help is on the way! Then guilt," Jennifer wrote. "All this time, Sophie was struggling...She was coping with enormous challenges every day without a mother who believed in her. Even worse, I had resented her for letting me down, when it was I who was letting her down. I instantly regretted scads of horrible things I'd said to her over the years and prayed that the damage wasn't irreparable. What a wake-up call."

Jennifer explains that the diagnosis made her kinder and more tender toward Sophie. And the treatments have helped Sophie grow, become more socially outgoing and gain physical capabilities.

"I watch her sometimes, looking for clues of the emotional scarring I fear I've inflicted, but I see none," Jennifer says.

Keep reading for my two cents >>

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Comments on "Mom confesses: "I've never liked my child""

Carrie June 29, 2011 | 1:19 PM

How heart-breaking! Clearly this 'mother' needs therapy. I can understand not liking everything about your own child, but it sounds like she with-held the love and affection necessary for development too. How heart breaking! I work with parents whose children have developmental issues and they too often share feelings like this mother; at least they admit it openly and seek counseling for THEIR issue!

Jen June 29, 2011 | 7:58 AM

I wonder if the mom would have written in if she knew you were going to bash her at the end of the article. It was extremely hard to read this piece. As a mother, it made you sick. But you hit the nail on the head at one point: It was all about her, even after diagnosis. It was never about the daughter. The mom needs help and therapy desperately before she continues to ruin that daughter. She says she hasn't ruined her daughter so far, yes she has. And that child will end up in therapy as an adult because of it.

Shannon June 21, 2011 | 4:06 PM

It seems like just another case of sensationalism in writing about parenting--especially about mothers. It's the flavor-of-the-week to get hits for a website of make people buy a magazine, because it's a comfort to say to yourself, "well, at least I'm not THAT bad" and scapegoat another mother. She was a fool to write it, whether it's all true or not, but people are usually content with short-term celebrity--even if it's infamy. I also think that yes, many if not most parents have enormous expectations of their children. They in fact DO want to create mini-mes or "everything I could have/should have beens." Adoption does help mitigate against this, but it's no perfect inoculation. Being a grown up (of whatever age) helps, I think.

terry June 21, 2011 | 2:03 PM

It is called unconditional love and she is evidently not capable of this type of nurturing. She was "looking for clues of emotional scarring and doesn't see any"??? Really, because nothing in this life leaves us unscathed, especially the intentional acts of neglect. She has inflicted more emotional scars than she will ever realize and she is not as intellectually smart herself (as she would have us to believe) or she would know better. I cannot imagine writing such as this even if it just to fill space (or for the buck).

kathy June 21, 2011 | 12:38 PM

I could not be more horrified. Sophie's problems should have triggered her protective instincts and made her love her MORE in my opinion. I think there is something really wrong with the mother.

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