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When You Have Problematic Feelings toward your Children

Doreen has two daughters: Noa and Shir.

Doreen’s connection with Noa, the eldest, is more complex and has much more emotional baggage.

Noa resembles Doreen. She reminds her of all the characteristics she doesn’t like in herself.

Doreen feels that she is stuck in her connection with Noa, and her dream is that the connection will flow freely.

She wants to flow with Noa, to connect, to conduct ordinary conversations and not all the time to have to be in control and find herself incapable of maneuvering out of what has often become a bad situation.

Doreen has ambivalent feelings toward Noa. She’s at ease with the good feelings. The real difficulty is with the problematic ones.

As parents, we assume that harsh feelings toward our children aren’t legitimate.

We get angry and then feel guilt.

We are disappointed and sometimes even hate the children and then we hate ourselves for hating our children and we’re disappointed in ourselves. We feel that we’re not worthy parents.

And we don’t tell this to anyone. God forbid that someone would hear that our children awaken such feelings.

What we miss is the understanding that sharing – with someone understanding and full of empathy -- is likely to free us from these feelings. The legitimization of harsh and negative feelings that we have toward our children is really the key toward freeing ourselves from them.

Harsh feelings, like secrets, in their essence are like snowballs. They begin small but with time they grow and grow. Feelings of the absence of connection with a child are difficult feelings and therefore most of us hide them and turn them into secrets.

As long as we hide and push them away – they sustain themselves. The moment that we clear the air and share – they evaporate.

And not only do they evaporate, they stop weighing down the relationship.

When we aren’t connected with our children, they feel this. They experience and feel this, even if we don’t say so explicitly. And we also feel this. Inside. We know we are faking and we know that they know.

The moment we undergo a process of liberation from these feelings, a process of clarification and of healing, the connection changes. The difficulty stops coming between us and our children – simply because it no longer is there.

Doreen received homework from me to work on, but she also had to find time.

Time for her to be with herself and to invite the strong feelings that she has toward Noa. To become used to them, to feel them, to recognize them and give them legitimacy. The more that she would admit to these feelings and give them legitimacy (instead of pushing them away: to give them space), they would act on her less and instead of ruling her and her relationship with Noa, when Doreen would understand them more, she would be able to control them.

The moment we deal with feelings of anger, disappointment, lack of connection and even hatred, the ability to free ourselves from them is greater than when we “drag” them along with us alone.

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