8
   

Is there any secret to learning to love a child that you don’t?

 
 
Teddley
 
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2022 11:10 am


My ex wife and I have a son, named Sean. He is 13 years old. The anonymity here makes me feel like I can be honest and say that I don’t like him. I never have. I can’t even say I feel/felt any amount of love for him. I have always acted like a loving father when I am with him and I see him regularly and do fun activities he likes. Afterwards I just feel so ******* depressed and drained.

For so long I always thought that this meant I was just not a kid person and that maybe someday it would get better and I would grow to love him. I’ve heard that sometimes men don’t love their kids at first, but in all this time I still don’t.

A couple years ago I married this amazing woman. She also has a son, Connor, who I have bonded with and am planning on adopting. Yesterday he called me dad for the first time ever and I’m just all over the place emotionally. I feel so happy because I truly love him as my own and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. I also feel horrible because I now know I absolutely don’t feel anything like this for Sean. If he was gone I don’t think I would miss him. I think I would fall apart if anything happened to Connor.

It’s feels like there must be something wrong with me, right? That’s not how it’s normally supposed to be. It would at least make more sense if it was the opposite and I loved Sean, but didn’t love Connor. Like I would also be a bad person for loving a bio kid more than an adopted one, but at least there would be some reason that makes sense.
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2022 12:03 pm
@Teddley,
My guess is your feelings to your oldest are intertwined with your feelings about your ex. It's to your credit you have tried to make it work with your son. Maybe if the two boys got together you could see him as his own young man. Therapy might help you as well.
Teddley
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2022 12:18 pm
@engineer,
I don’t think so. My ex and I actually get along really well and are still friends. Plus I’ve felt this way ever since he was born and we didn’t divorce until he was around 8 years old.

The boys do hang out together sometimes when Sean comes over to stay at our house. They get along okay too.
Mame
 
  3  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2022 12:47 pm
@Teddley,
Sometimes you just don't hit it off with certain people. I don't think that's a blame situation - there's just no explaining it. For example, I have one sister that has always irritated the hell out of me - her voice, her habits, her outlook... drives me nuts, so I avoid her at all costs. Sometimes there just isn't any rhyme or reason and if I were you, I wouldn't worry about it. It is what it is. Just continue doing your best and just accept it for what it is.
0 Replies
 
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2022 06:23 pm
Open your heart, give them a chance.
Teddley
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2022 07:22 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
Can you elaborate, please?
CalamityJane
 
  3  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2022 10:54 pm
@Teddley,
You have these detachment feelings toward Sean and I don't think it will change anytime soon, but regardless, please don't let him ever feel that he's second fiddle to Connor.

It was hard enough for Sean to get through the divorce, it would be emotionally crushing to him to feel that his own father, his flesh and blood, favors his stepson. You'd pre-program him for years of therapy and that's not necessary.

Being an adult and a father also means to hide your feelings and pretend to be a good father. I know you've tried and it's commendable, but please keep it up!

Good luck!
Teddley
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2022 11:17 pm
@CalamityJane,
Yeah, I didn’t plan on changing anything. I know it’s part of the responsibility of being a parent. Just though I’d ask about in case something could help make it easier. It does get exhausting sometimes. Hopefully things will be better when he goes away for college.
0 Replies
 
neptuneblue
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2022 11:55 pm
@Teddley,
Nunja worry, things will work out all in it's own.

If you think you're hiding anything from anybody, you are sadly mistaken. Sean definitely knows things feel off - he sees your forced, fake smile, your tensed shoulders, the fake laughter and uneasiness between you. He just doesn't know why.

He probably spends every other weekend with you and your new family. He sees how easily you interact with Connor, the relaxed and genuine style you have with your new step-son. Sean isn't stupid, he's just young.

And so, time will pass and the weekends with Sean will become more strained and uncomfortable for the two of you. You'll justify that with spending more time with Connor to make yourself feel better and to just relax.

You won't miss the skipped every other weekend visits when Sean has other commitments or obligations that fall on your visitation weekend. He'll tell you "Dad, this is important, can I come another time?" and you'll say, "No problem, see you soon."

And then every other weekend becomes every other month. Until he's about 16 and decides not to pretend to want to spend time with you and - just doesn't even bother trying.

And you'll be ok with that.

You'll get the obligatory invitation to his graduation, but miss his first prom experience, teaching him how to tie a tie and choosing a boutonniere. You'll miss his first kiss and introductions to his friends and school accomplishments. He won't bother inviting you, he knows you don't want to be there.

He'll live his life without you and be none the wiser you don't love him.

Other than, he already knows. Even at the tender age of 13.

So, go live your life. Sean will be just fine without you. Or the reminderence that he's not Connor.

Teddley
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2022 08:07 am
@neptuneblue,
Maybe I’m just good at faking it because it really doesn’t seem like he’s noticed to me. I think Connor in a way has actually helped because now I use how I act with him as a sort of benchmark with how to with Sean. Also my ex and I have split custody, so he currently lives here 3 to 4 days a week.

I guess time will tell though


neptuneblue
 
  2  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2022 09:47 am
@Teddley,
Teddley wrote:
Maybe I’m just good at faking it because it really doesn’t seem like he’s noticed to me.


You are good at faking it. Probably too good. Because you haven't picked up on Sean's behavior, he acts exactly like you. All smiles on the outside yet on the inside, quietly in pain.

He knows. He's seen first hand how you are with Connor versus him. He doesn't say anything - well, because you don't say anything. And this isn't a carte blanche time to tell him that you don't like him or even love him. That secret better go to your grave. NEVER tell him that. EVER.

Yes, time will tell. In the next few years he'll develop an independence from you. He'll spend less time with you and more time with friends.

The whole situation reminds me of the song "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. You won't know the damage you've caused until he's a grown man. You know, like you said, when he goes off to college.

Teddley
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2022 10:06 am
@neptuneblue,
That’s pretty hopeful, thanks.
0 Replies
 
Real Music
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2022 10:48 am
@Teddley,
Quote:
My ex wife and I have a son, named Sean. He is 13 years old. The anonymity here makes me feel like I can be honest and say that I don’t like him. I never have. I can’t even say I feel/felt any amount of love for him.

1. Do you have any particular reason for feeling this way about Sean?
2. A cause, a reason, or an explanation for why you feel this way about Sean?
3. Maybe, you are not aware of any particular reason.
4. Maybe, you do have actual reasons for feeling this way.
5. I don't know.
6. I am asking just to get more clarification.



Quote:
A couple years ago I married this amazing woman. She also has a son, Connor, who I have bonded with and am planning on adopting. Yesterday he called me dad for the first time ever and I’m just all over the place emotionally. I feel so happy because I truly love him as my own and I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

1. Do you have any particular reason for feeling this way about Connor?
2. A cause, a reason, or an explanation for why you feel this way about Connor?
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2022 12:30 pm
@Real Music,
I am kind of agreement with Real Music - it does seem odd that you would not feel love for your child - I know people who do not like their child (typically because their child just as you are kind of saying just seem different than you) but I have not heard of not loving your child unless you have had some sort of trauma in your past that causes you to have difficulty in loving or being close to someone.

But that is not the case obviously as you feel love for Connor. Not being an expert in this field - if you really want to find out why - I would suggest reaching out to a therapist that would specialize in this area - maybe there is something there in your past that you do not realize is impacting this relationship. It would be a shame for your child and yourself to miss out of a good opportunity to be close and having a caring loving relationship because of something you have repressed.

I don't think you intend anything bad but this has to be heart wrenching for your son. I agree with neptune - your son has to sense something is missing and especially as you develop closer bonds with your future adopted son. This could have long lasting implications on your son's mental well being. I think you owe it to him as a responsible father to at least try to talk with someone and see if there is something there you do not realize.
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2022 01:27 pm
@Teddley,
Love isn't a duty – even when it is your own child. Providing a trusted environment, showing care and concern, imparting knowledge and the wisdom of your experience are all parental duties which are not dependent on parental love, but are usually seen as indicative of love. I don't believe that any child is abstractly "unlovable", but neither do I believe that any parent is naturally, organically, gentically compelled to love its child. Some combinations of personalities simply don't yield the necessary chemistry. In your case, you have tried to overcome the perceived absence of love with a conscious attempt at providing a loving environment when you are together. And, regarding your relationship with Sean, that is really the most you can do.
Quote:
That’s not how it’s normally supposed to be.

It happens that way sometimes.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2022 01:33 pm
@hightor,
It is simply natural to love your child. I figure I leave it to the experts try reading a little here

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-human-experience/201510/8-reasons-parents-fail-love-their-kids

The one thing I agree - is you cannot force your love. And I don't view it as a duty - just it is natural to love your child - instinctive.

Quite honestly - I do not think any more less of someone because of it especially in this case where he is an active parent and not neglectful, but it is sad. Sad because you could have so much more - both of you. You see how it is with Connor wouldn't it be wonderful if you felt that with your son as well?

I am not suggesting to force the feeling, but if you do want to see if it is because of something hidden in your past isn't worth seeing if that is the case?

This whole situation just seems so sad. And especially sad if you it does not seem worth the effort to explore it is not anything else. Isn't an innocent child worth it?
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2022 01:52 pm
@Linkat,
Quote:
It is simply natural to love your child.

And, fortunately, that instinct is awakened when most people become parents.
0 Replies
 
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2022 01:55 pm
@Linkat,
Good article, but doesn't really seem to apply here as the OP is able to love his second wife's child but not his own.

I don't know why we people always have to assign attributes to something that just is - "it's sad". It's not necessarily sad - it is what it is. If the son doesn't feel sad, and the parent doesn't either, then it isn't sad. It's a fact of life. It doesn't mean there can't be more down the road - it just isn't there at the moment in the way he/they expect.

There are obviously efforts made on the part of both of them to establish and maintain some kind of relationship, but you can't force what isn't felt.

It may indeed be helpful for the OP to speak to someone in a professional capacity about this for his own sake, if not for his son's... even to find out that this may very well be normal for some. That might provide some relief to the OP. He obviously CAN and DOES have the capacity to love, so that's not crux of it.
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Fri 8 Apr, 2022 03:04 pm
@Mame,
Quote:
but doesn't really seem to apply here as the OP is able to love his second wife's child but not his own.


Yeah that was my thought on my initial post to him - but in that same vain - there could be some underlying reason why he does not with this one particular child. Like I said - it is worth it to him and the child to investigate it? I see no harm in and - and potentially only an upside as the poster does seem to want to rectify his feelings if at all possible. Otherwise why would he pose the question
Quote:
s there any secret to learning to love a child that you don’t?


It is sad - why? Because he may have so much more. It is sad because it is likely that the child may grow up sad that his dad does not love him - kids are smart - I find it highly unlikely that the child does not realize there is something less here. And what I read on here (maybe I am reading between the lines) but I read that the poster feels sad that he does not feel more. Why else would he ask how he can overcome this lack of feeling?

And your last paragraph is really what I am getting at - for both the poster and the child - it is worth it to investigate - especially as the poster is concerned and seems to want to rectify this. At the very least he can explore and alleviate any guilt.

Read my first post which states exactly what you are saying

Quote:
He obviously CAN and DOES have the capacity to love, so that's not crux of it.


But there can be some underlying reason he does not feel love for his child - that he has repressed. It is completely possible it may not be - my suggestion is that he would feel better and be better to handle this if he were to speak to someone much more versed than we all are here throwing out opinions.
0 Replies
 
 

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