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Tough to Love

C.B. Gavant

We all want to love our kids unconditionally. But sometimes one of our children fills our home with such frustration, tension, or rage that we find ourselves wondering if getting along — much less liking him — is really possible.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

“It was a regular Shabbos morning, and we were heading out to a kiddush,” recounts Shevi, a Baltimore mother of four. “Suddenly my ten-year-old realized that he couldn’t find his belt. I offered to help him look for it, but within minutes the situation had escalated to a full-blown meltdown. The rest of the kids were ready to go, and there he was carrying on like a baby. “I’m mortified to admit it, but the first thought that crossed my mind was, Where did this kid come from? Who in his right mind would react this way about a belt? “I snapped at him to grow up, and then came the worst part: I actually heard myself muttering under my breath, ‘I hate you, Tzvi. I wish you weren’t my kid.’ ”   Unconditional Love? We all take for granted certain truisms about raising kids: Parents love their kids unconditionally. The parent-child bond can never be broken. No parent would ever dislike her own child. But then along comes a child who pushes our every button, and we find ourselves wondering if these platitudes are really true. They aren’t always, says Beit Shemesh–based therapistTzipporaPrice, M.Sc., who specializes in parenting issues. “We used to think children were like a blank slate, but now we find that babies are born with a personality. Some babies are a better match to their parents than others. A parent might find herself getting frustrated that the child isn’t receiving what she has to offer.” Beyond personality clash, certain conditions are more difficult to work with — for example, children with ADHD or on the autism spectrum. Children may also have a propensity to a specific character trait that makes them more difficult. “Some children are self-raising,” Tzippora explains, “and then there are the kids who are much more demanding — more irritating, needy, much more of a burden to the parent. Especially if the parent doesn’t understand what she’s working with, she can feel guilt, shame, and more.” 

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