Overheard outside my local café recently:
“I have three kids and I hate all of them.”
Can someone please explain to me why this jack@$$ gets to have the privilege of being a parent when so many lovely people I know (including myself) don’t?
It’s Whiny Wednesday. This week’s topic:
People Who Don’t Appreciate Their Children
What’s got you spitting nails this week?
This really, really angers me – never is the feeling of being hard done by more apparent for me than when I see someone screaming at their child or when they try and tell me how ‘hard’ or ‘difficult’ it is to bring up children.
Perhaps they might like to walk a day in our shoes and then they could learn some bloody appreciation for what they have been gifted.
Janet T says
I have a relative who always asks “Do you want them?” referring to her children. I realize she is trying to be funny to cover up her embarrassment over their poor behavior, but what I really want to say in response is “No, I don’t want the problems you’ve created with your lack of supervision and inadequate parenting”. I don’t say it, but I’m thinking it every time because it’s true! One day those words will probably fly right out of my mouth.
These type of comments are very hard to hear. And when I see poorly behaved children I always like to believe I would have done a better job. Some parents, yes, do a terrible job because they don’t put in the time or put their needs far above there children. But then I think about how unbelievably exhausting it must be to deal with children with significant behavioral issues and I can see why some parents give up. And I know my fantasy of being a great parent comes from being the person who gets to swoop in and help only when needed or when I feel like it, and that I can bow out when the going gets rough. Lately, I’m feeling glad I don’t have to deal with these kind of issues 24/7, grateful that I have a lot more control over the peace I can create in my life, and more sympathetic to certain parents.
Jane P says
Well said Maria – its helpful to try to see below the surface – I’m sure parenting is not as “dreamy” as I have imagined all these years. In my dreams – I had smart kids and they were well behaved because I put the work in (that is not always enough – not for special needs children). I use this “reality” thinking to help me to address the balance when I’m overwhelmed with sadness and remember – I have definitely been robbed of motherhood but it wouldn’t have all been wonderful all of the time. A counsellor once said to me “you rarely get what you ordered”! Several years later this has become quite helpful to think of.
Despite all this good thinking – I did walk away from a conversation at work yesterday – my first cry in the ladies loo for several weeks. A pregnant woman complaining about her diabetis because of the pregnancy (my heart chuffing bleeds). I was angry when I walked away and wanted to hurl a sentance at them to shut em up. By the time I reached the ladies I realised I was trying to surpress the pain and sadness with anger – I let the sadness wash over me and let out a cry for my baby that I will never hold. The sadness ebbed away – i walked back to my desk – she had left and the conversation returned to work.
I am always a little speechless when I hear people say they hate their children. I am always tempted to say, “At least you were able to have them. There are a lot of women who can’t have children who want them.” I guess it is a case of people who will never have to walk a mile in our shoes and will never know that pain.
I read an article recently, I can’t recall where now, that talked about when people were able to get things easily, they never learned to appreciate it but when it was a struggle to get things, they appreciated the value of it a lot more because of the struggle it took to get it. I think this is very true. There have been a lot of struggles in my own life that have taught me this very lesson and I have learned to appreciate a heck of a lot of things because of those struggles.
This, too, is a major trigger for me. Seeing parents in public ignoring their children, yelling at them, etc (usually because they are on their phone and not paying attention to the child) makes me dread leaving the house some days. They have no idea what precious gift they have right in front of them.
I have far too many friends and family who have also told me repeatedly that they want to give me their children. I typically walk away without a reaction because if I laugh, they think it’s a joke and it isn’t. A very good friend of mine told me that had her first been as horrible of a baby as her second, she would have only had one. Then went on to tell me that her second cried all the time and she was ready to give him to me because then I’d appreciate not being able to have children because I’d see what it’s ‘really’ like. A few weeks later she was “late” and thought she might be pregnant again. She told me that if she was, she was giving me that baby because she couldn’t handle any more. She wasn’t that time, but did go on to have a third later. Needless to say, these constant comments affected our friendship and we are no longer close. I still do not understand why she thought saying any of those things were appropriate. I would give anything to have a sleepless night because of a crying baby.
Parenting is not instant gratification. You can have a cuddly, adorable baby one moment, and have a crying, screaming baby the next. I try not to fool myself by saying I would be so glad every minute of every day if I had a child because I know even the best parents have their moments. However, when you see your child as a successful, viable member of society, then you have constant gratification. If these people really mean what they say, then they would only have one child. Having said that, My husband practices family law and there are those people who really don’t want their children, and have more than one! So I can’t understand why they are able to have several children and women like us can’t even have one. It’s just not right.
No, there is no “fairness” in this. It is entirely random. 🙁
I hate that too! And when my sister starts complaining about her kids I tell her that at least she got to have kids. I don’t sugar coat with my family. My husband and one of his brothers will never get to have kids. So I’m all in their face when they start complaining. But my sister is the worst about it. There is a lot going on in her life right now that is bad…but not her kids. And I let her know it.
To be honest, I made my peace with this a long time ago. If anything makes me recognise, and accept, that life isn’t fair, it is this. Some people have children and may not have wanted them in the first place, or find that they don’t enjoy being parents, or have particularly challenging children (for whatever reason) that make their lives difficult and full of stress. My in-laws are proud of their sons, but they still worry and stress about them (more so as they age) – even though the sons are all successful and middle-aged! So I’m not sure they have “constant gratification” either. Then there are those of us who wanted to be parents, but couldn’t be. Life isn’t fair for any of us. But then, life isn’t fair.
I do agree with the others though that people who say “do you want mine?” and think it is funny need to be told it isn’t funny!
It’s funny what a difference context and being truly listened to and understood can make.
My one friend and I have a long running joke that I “get to keep” her daughter from age 15-16 (she is now 10). Since my friend actually listens when I am struggling and always shows sympathy and love for me wherever I’m at on my journey and also actively invites me to play a positive role in her children’s lives and shares her parenting struggles honestly rather than complaining it’s not hurtful at all. Her daughter loves the joke (we’ve explained when she was younger that it’s not for real), and loves knowing that there are many adults in her life who care for her.
However, I also work with children from very troubled homes-and to hear their parents complain about their kids always sets me on edge and brings out judgemental, cranky “I could do better” me.
I think we need to realize that it’s a statement that 99% of people mean something else when they say it and to try and read between the lines for what people are actually saying and if called for challenge them to use other words that better reflect what they mean.
I think it is great that your friend has been able to treat your longstanding friendship with the respect and commitment it deserves. I usually don’t get offended when a friend says something like this (minus the use of the word “hate”) in frustration or jokingly, especially if I understand the context. It actually sometimes helps to put in perspective the fact that not everything is always 100% greener on the other side. (Though I will take most of their dry patches). I watched a documentary tonight about parents of autistic children. I am aware of the significant spectrum and I have kids with aspergers in my life and have had them in classes as well. Some of the families that they highlighted, however, have kids with pretty severe autism. My heart goes out to parents with children that have severe disabilities.