What are your thoughts on "incompatible" parent-child pairs?

What are your thoughts on "incompatible" parent-child pairs?

Joined: July 23rd, 2008, 6:49 am

April 11th, 2012, 9:28 pm #1

I'm just curious to get your opinion if you have a child that you feel at logger heads with. I don't mean the typical discipline struggles necessarily, which can be of a temporary nature as the child goes through a particular stage, but a situation in which you worry about your relationship with that child.

I had a good friend a few years back who was a lovely person in so many ways and a very dear, respected friend to me. But she had a problem in her relationship with her oldest daughter and it started when the girl was barely out of babyhood. I knew her from before this child was even born. I followed her over the years though we recently lost touch (the daughter is now in college - I have half a mind to contact my friend just to see how it ever turned out). But they had issues from toddlerhood through gradeschool and of course, adolescence, which is when we lost touch. I think my friend could not relate to my infertility angst especially as she was in the thick of a bad relationship with her daughter at the same time I was in the thick of longing for children. My friend had other children and had a nice relationship with them, no problems.

I witnessed in my own family some of this and it was never resolved. It makes sense that parents, being people, and children, being people, would not always be a match made in heaven. But then I think, shouldn't parental love be able to trump personality clashes? Is there anything written on this? How can you be the best parent you can be to try to prevent a personality clash from being destructive to all concerned?





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Joined: September 30th, 2007, 7:22 pm

April 12th, 2012, 1:27 am #2

I'll keep this short because it's a long family saga. But my uncle's wife had (has) an awful relationship with their daughter. The daughter (my cousin) is in her 20s now and the relationship went from bad to horrible. It started at birth. An aunt of mine remembers the mom crying and saying "why does my baby hate me?" As my cousin grew, I have to admit she wasn't the most likeable child. Very bratty and knew just what to say to upset you or push your buttons. At times she just seemed downright mean. That said, the mom is a real b*tch. She's selfish and comes from a scheming, vindictive family. Everyone is always busy disowning eachother. My cousin turned out to be a smart, funny, loving, hardworking, successful young lady. We are all extremely proud of her. I attribute a lot of this to my uncle's good parenting and also to my mother, dsf and others who took her and her sister under their wing. The mother has done a lot of sh*tty things to her girls. And as a result, their relationships are shot. So in answer to your questions, my belief is that it's all a combination of forces that can or don't work together. Here you have a mother who sensed something in her child from birth (she didn't have it with her second daughter.) And you have a little kid who wasn't always likeable and they were like oil and water. But I believe if the mom were a good mother, caring and affectionate, someone who plowed through the issues, she could have had a good relationship with her daughter. Is that at all helpful?

I assume you're asking in regards to issues you might be having. Just remember that it's perfectly normal to not relate to your kid all the time, especially when they start behaving like little toddler aliens. We can love them but, dare I say, we may not always like them!



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Joined: January 19th, 2007, 7:18 pm

April 12th, 2012, 1:44 am #3

I'm just curious to get your opinion if you have a child that you feel at logger heads with. I don't mean the typical discipline struggles necessarily, which can be of a temporary nature as the child goes through a particular stage, but a situation in which you worry about your relationship with that child.

I had a good friend a few years back who was a lovely person in so many ways and a very dear, respected friend to me. But she had a problem in her relationship with her oldest daughter and it started when the girl was barely out of babyhood. I knew her from before this child was even born. I followed her over the years though we recently lost touch (the daughter is now in college - I have half a mind to contact my friend just to see how it ever turned out). But they had issues from toddlerhood through gradeschool and of course, adolescence, which is when we lost touch. I think my friend could not relate to my infertility angst especially as she was in the thick of a bad relationship with her daughter at the same time I was in the thick of longing for children. My friend had other children and had a nice relationship with them, no problems.

I witnessed in my own family some of this and it was never resolved. It makes sense that parents, being people, and children, being people, would not always be a match made in heaven. But then I think, shouldn't parental love be able to trump personality clashes? Is there anything written on this? How can you be the best parent you can be to try to prevent a personality clash from being destructive to all concerned?




I have no advice, but I know of 2 people IRL who report this experience.

My fairly close friend has 3 adult children (no fertility treatment) & she has said that from a young age, her youngest, a boy, evidenced a great dislike for her.

I think these things are complicated. My friend loves her children & I believe she made that abundantly clear. There are big boundary issues present, though. She puts up with being treated very poorly by her children. I feel confident in stating that she is not cold or unloving, but beyond that, I'm not sure what the dynamic in the house was. I do know of the boundary issues b/c they still occur & she talks to me about them. I also think that there was a lack of a united front between the parents. That son is 20 now & things are still very rocky. My friend believes her son has BPD, FWIW. Not diagnosed but she has more than average knowledge on the issue through her profession, although she's not a mental health professional.

It's hard for me to venture a guess as to how things might've been with clearer boundaries & less tolerance for being walked on. It's pretty bad, so I'm not talking about garden variety choosing your battles based on your kid's personality thing. And there is a family history of some mental health problems.

But yes, she has reported that from a young age, her son disliked her. Like age 2 or so.

I have an acquaintance who has said the same thing. Her child is still relatively young, though, so who knows how things will go.



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Joined: September 13th, 2008, 5:13 pm

April 12th, 2012, 2:29 am #4

I'm just curious to get your opinion if you have a child that you feel at logger heads with. I don't mean the typical discipline struggles necessarily, which can be of a temporary nature as the child goes through a particular stage, but a situation in which you worry about your relationship with that child.

I had a good friend a few years back who was a lovely person in so many ways and a very dear, respected friend to me. But she had a problem in her relationship with her oldest daughter and it started when the girl was barely out of babyhood. I knew her from before this child was even born. I followed her over the years though we recently lost touch (the daughter is now in college - I have half a mind to contact my friend just to see how it ever turned out). But they had issues from toddlerhood through gradeschool and of course, adolescence, which is when we lost touch. I think my friend could not relate to my infertility angst especially as she was in the thick of a bad relationship with her daughter at the same time I was in the thick of longing for children. My friend had other children and had a nice relationship with them, no problems.

I witnessed in my own family some of this and it was never resolved. It makes sense that parents, being people, and children, being people, would not always be a match made in heaven. But then I think, shouldn't parental love be able to trump personality clashes? Is there anything written on this? How can you be the best parent you can be to try to prevent a personality clash from being destructive to all concerned?




My mother and my younger sister were an incompatible parent-child pair (not that we thrived together so well). My sister seemed to come out of the womb with a keen sense of histrionics and entitlement. Sissy behaved as though she were a princess left at a woodcutter's cottage, and she was always peeking out the curtain to see whether the king's men were on their way to rescue her. That rubbed my sensible shoes mother all the wrong way. Sissy would be nicey-nice to strangers, but picked on me relentlessly, and our fighting was just one more bane of her existence. Not surprisingly, Sissy was interested in theater and music, and while I think she was fairly good, her somewhat outsized estimation of her talent bred some contemptuousness in my mother, who had studied music seriously, and perhaps this tried Mama's patience as she didn't want to be seen as discouraging my sister, even if she might have actually liked to.

I'm not sure love can really overcome personality clashes, but I think humor, of which my mother was notoriously bereft, and a gentle sense of correction would have only helped our situation. As it was, my mother just withdrew from both of us, never able to adjust to the time parenting took away from the things she enjoyed most, reading and playing the piano. I've wondered whether Bob and I are headed down a similar road. He just doesn't seem to have much use for me; he wants what he wants when he wants it, and sometimes I just feel like the servant appointed to address his needs till he can get away from us. There's a book written about everything now, so I'm sure there's one about this, but I don't know what it is.

Take care,

Maggie (in VA)
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Joined: July 23rd, 2008, 6:49 am

April 12th, 2012, 2:37 am #5

I'll keep this short because it's a long family saga. But my uncle's wife had (has) an awful relationship with their daughter. The daughter (my cousin) is in her 20s now and the relationship went from bad to horrible. It started at birth. An aunt of mine remembers the mom crying and saying "why does my baby hate me?" As my cousin grew, I have to admit she wasn't the most likeable child. Very bratty and knew just what to say to upset you or push your buttons. At times she just seemed downright mean. That said, the mom is a real b*tch. She's selfish and comes from a scheming, vindictive family. Everyone is always busy disowning eachother. My cousin turned out to be a smart, funny, loving, hardworking, successful young lady. We are all extremely proud of her. I attribute a lot of this to my uncle's good parenting and also to my mother, dsf and others who took her and her sister under their wing. The mother has done a lot of sh*tty things to her girls. And as a result, their relationships are shot. So in answer to your questions, my belief is that it's all a combination of forces that can or don't work together. Here you have a mother who sensed something in her child from birth (she didn't have it with her second daughter.) And you have a little kid who wasn't always likeable and they were like oil and water. But I believe if the mom were a good mother, caring and affectionate, someone who plowed through the issues, she could have had a good relationship with her daughter. Is that at all helpful?

I assume you're asking in regards to issues you might be having. Just remember that it's perfectly normal to not relate to your kid all the time, especially when they start behaving like little toddler aliens. We can love them but, dare I say, we may not always like them!



I was mainly curious about the subject because I started thinking of all the people I know, my own family included, who have this situation. The example you gave implies that the mother is at fault, but I wasn't talking about that kind of scenario, which is more understandable. I was thinking more of a situation where the parents are not at fault or at least, are not at glaring fault -- are very loving, but there's just a difficulty relating or a child decides to be rejecting, and that is more complex and harder to understand.

In my situation, one boy (BA) very much prefers his father and that hurts my feelings and it started in infancy. My sister has pointed out that she observed that I was his preferred caregiver until around 8 months of age, but I really hit my limit with him at that point, I guess, and he must have sensed that I wasn't going to be able to keep giving him as much as he demanded. He has always been extremely, extremely needy day AND night, and impossible to console and I just got burned out trying to deal with two high needs babies simultaneously (but HG has always been responsive to me and consolable so at least I didn't feel hopeless in my efforts). DH stepped in for BA and that was that. Believe me, HG is VERY high needs as well and DH and my sister both say they find him much harder to deal with than BA, but it's the opposite for me. That tells me that I basically have been demoralized by BA's tendency to tantrum night and day without being consolable, pushing me away when I try to hold and comfort etc. He does the same thing to DH at times but DH hangs in there with him and he senses that, I suppose. Also DH does things I would never ever do, like takes him out of his crib in the middle of the night when he's screaming and goes to the living room and turns on the tv to get him to be quiet. Then they watch tv for a half hour or 45 min. I mean, I'd never do that, never even think to do something like that, as a means of dealing with his nighttime issues.

When DH is not around, we are fine. Both boys are affectionate, sit and cuddle with me, give me kisses, etc. I'm very affectionate with them and adore them to pieces, and I expected that as their mommy, I would be their Number One. Well, I'm not and it's unclear to me if I ever was. When DH comes in the room, I'm the scullery maid. It reminds me of that Bob Dylan song "She (substitute "he") Acts Like We Never Have Met."

Anyway it got me wondering if I'm always going to be second fiddle, and how did that situation develop when I've truly given my ALL to them. I have a close relationship with HG even if I'm not his fav, and he's very demonstrative, but often feel that with BA, it's more of a case where "she'll do in a pinch."

In my family, there was animosity between great grandmother and grandmother, between grandmother and mother, and between my mother and my sister. Really, really bad stuff that destroyed the family. Then I see it happening with some of my friends. Sometimes there is a "reason" but other times, it really does seem like the kid just decided to not like their mother or father and I don't get that. I don't want that to happen to me because I wasn't paying attention early on, I guess is what I'm saying. But then, what can you really do?
Last edited by biogal on April 12th, 2012, 3:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: July 23rd, 2008, 6:49 am

April 12th, 2012, 3:18 am #6

My mother and my younger sister were an incompatible parent-child pair (not that we thrived together so well). My sister seemed to come out of the womb with a keen sense of histrionics and entitlement. Sissy behaved as though she were a princess left at a woodcutter's cottage, and she was always peeking out the curtain to see whether the king's men were on their way to rescue her. That rubbed my sensible shoes mother all the wrong way. Sissy would be nicey-nice to strangers, but picked on me relentlessly, and our fighting was just one more bane of her existence. Not surprisingly, Sissy was interested in theater and music, and while I think she was fairly good, her somewhat outsized estimation of her talent bred some contemptuousness in my mother, who had studied music seriously, and perhaps this tried Mama's patience as she didn't want to be seen as discouraging my sister, even if she might have actually liked to.

I'm not sure love can really overcome personality clashes, but I think humor, of which my mother was notoriously bereft, and a gentle sense of correction would have only helped our situation. As it was, my mother just withdrew from both of us, never able to adjust to the time parenting took away from the things she enjoyed most, reading and playing the piano. I've wondered whether Bob and I are headed down a similar road. He just doesn't seem to have much use for me; he wants what he wants when he wants it, and sometimes I just feel like the servant appointed to address his needs till he can get away from us. There's a book written about everything now, so I'm sure there's one about this, but I don't know what it is.

Take care,

Maggie (in VA)
Thanks for sharing that about your family - very interesting. In my family cases, I think that there were explicable reasons for the discord but there were underlying personality differences that only exacerbated the situation.

I can't remember where I read this, and I wish I could because it's fascinating to me, but the author was saying that the quality of a person's parenting is inextricably attached to the personality and responses of the child. In other words, it's not so simple as to say that someone was a great mother or someone was a bad mother, but rather, the mother-child pair have a dynamic going on that largely determines the mother's "mothering." I try extremely hard, with God as my witness, to give love and attention equally but there is no getting around the very real fact that when someone is responsive to your loving acts and expressions, then more of those acts and expressions spring forward spontaneously, and conversely, when someone is unresponsive or rejecting, your efforts become a well intentioned exercise but don't spring up as freely.

I often feel that no one has any use for me except when it comes to meals and clean clothes! Oh well. Maybe that's what mothering is.
Last edited by biogal on April 12th, 2012, 3:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: July 23rd, 2008, 6:49 am

April 12th, 2012, 3:25 am #7

I have no advice, but I know of 2 people IRL who report this experience.

My fairly close friend has 3 adult children (no fertility treatment) & she has said that from a young age, her youngest, a boy, evidenced a great dislike for her.

I think these things are complicated. My friend loves her children & I believe she made that abundantly clear. There are big boundary issues present, though. She puts up with being treated very poorly by her children. I feel confident in stating that she is not cold or unloving, but beyond that, I'm not sure what the dynamic in the house was. I do know of the boundary issues b/c they still occur & she talks to me about them. I also think that there was a lack of a united front between the parents. That son is 20 now & things are still very rocky. My friend believes her son has BPD, FWIW. Not diagnosed but she has more than average knowledge on the issue through her profession, although she's not a mental health professional.

It's hard for me to venture a guess as to how things might've been with clearer boundaries & less tolerance for being walked on. It's pretty bad, so I'm not talking about garden variety choosing your battles based on your kid's personality thing. And there is a family history of some mental health problems.

But yes, she has reported that from a young age, her son disliked her. Like age 2 or so.

I have an acquaintance who has said the same thing. Her child is still relatively young, though, so who knows how things will go.



You're right - it can be so complicated because there are so many things that come into play.

In our family, it's not such a mystery why there was discord (and my original question was addressing scenarios where there was no obvious parental misstep). My older sister, who did not get along with my mother and I blame my mother for that, said that she figured out by age three that she had no use for my mother. My mother was strident and abusive both emotionally and physically, and also mentally ill and alcoholic. Things were really, really bad. My mother considered my sister distant and intimidating merely by virtue of her stoic silence all through adolescence (my sister never acted out or anything like that, she was simply "all business" where my mother was concerned and that freaked my mother out). I, on the other hand, was like a wet, starving puppy dog, always clamoring for my mother's love and attention, always trying to break through the wall of her depression, forcing myself onto her lap even when I knew I was not wanted there. Eventually I was able to say "f@ck you, I"m outa here" and mean it but I spent a good 15 years trying to get some mother love out of her. But what a difference in the dynamics between my sister's response to her and my own response to her (neither of us were favored over the other so we were starting from the same place). My sister had her sized up by age three; it took me to age 14 or 15.

Anyway, I just find it very interesting.

Last edited by biogal on April 12th, 2012, 3:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: August 28th, 2007, 1:04 pm

April 12th, 2012, 4:13 am #8

I'm just curious to get your opinion if you have a child that you feel at logger heads with. I don't mean the typical discipline struggles necessarily, which can be of a temporary nature as the child goes through a particular stage, but a situation in which you worry about your relationship with that child.

I had a good friend a few years back who was a lovely person in so many ways and a very dear, respected friend to me. But she had a problem in her relationship with her oldest daughter and it started when the girl was barely out of babyhood. I knew her from before this child was even born. I followed her over the years though we recently lost touch (the daughter is now in college - I have half a mind to contact my friend just to see how it ever turned out). But they had issues from toddlerhood through gradeschool and of course, adolescence, which is when we lost touch. I think my friend could not relate to my infertility angst especially as she was in the thick of a bad relationship with her daughter at the same time I was in the thick of longing for children. My friend had other children and had a nice relationship with them, no problems.

I witnessed in my own family some of this and it was never resolved. It makes sense that parents, being people, and children, being people, would not always be a match made in heaven. But then I think, shouldn't parental love be able to trump personality clashes? Is there anything written on this? How can you be the best parent you can be to try to prevent a personality clash from being destructive to all concerned?




I was just talking to DH about this tonight. I told him I felt like my mother, that for the first time I understood why she was a screamy banshee, why she punished us all the time. I guess it's different in some ways, though. I feel like my sister and I were "good" children, but my mom was very high strung, type A, perfectionist, and wanted us to be little mirror images of her. Well, we weren't. And we paid the price. (We actually started a secret club between the two of us as a coping mechanism called "Mean Mother Club." We were the only members for a long time, but we then let our neighbor join. Her mother was worse than ours, lol!)

Anyway, we were a lot like you and your sister. My older sister never got along with my mother. I swear, it was from day one. For as long as I remember, my sister always told me I was the favorite. And my mother confirmed it many times. (She could still be awful to me, too, though.) My sister was a very nice child, but the two always fought. I was the peace maker, and very rarely stood up to DM. Their relationship deteriorated in sis's teen years. They fought constantly, until my sister moved out as soon as it was legal. They didn't speak for years, but DM came to her rescue many times to help her escape abusive relationships. I have to say, my DM has redeemed herself as a wonderful grandmother, but to this day, she and my sister have a very strained relationship.

Anyhoo, this is a long-winded way of saying that I was worrying about a situation like this arising with my middle son and me. He's 2.7 and has been acting like a monster. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the new baby (he's 4 mos now), but I'm at my wits end. He screams, kicks, spits, throws himself to the ground, beats on his special needs older brother, squeezes the baby's head.....UGH!!! I sent him to his room more times than I could count today. I actually threatened to put him in the basement, I'm so ashamed to admit that, but he was just having fun in his room! I feel like a horrible mother, and I'm so afraid of ruining our relationship. I guess the difference in this scenario is that he loves me and I know he does. The glimmers are there when he says "I love you momma. Momma love Zach?" And when he comes up to me and gives me snuggles and kisses. But he's so very, very naughty, and I'm having a hard time being a patient mother, and seeing my mother in me is scaring the crap out of me! I know my sister and I weren't like my DS is being to me. I mean, I know he's still so little, but if we acted like he does and my mom was his mom...I can't even imagine how my mother would punish him. I don't want us to be incompatible and I don't want to become my mom. As awesome as a grandmother as she is now, and even though I love her to death now and know she did the best she could. I still don't want to be her, you know?

All this blather boils down to the fact that yes, I believe in some instances parents are incompatible with their children. I just hope it's not the case for you or me. We wanted our kids too much!

Hugs,
Meg

ETA, I know you said that you were wondering more about situations in which the parent(s) weren't at fault. My mom did have major flaws, but I swear there was something there from the start between my mom and sister. From infancy, I mean, a disconnect of some kind. I think with a lot of attention paid to why it existed and work on her part to disguise it if she couldn't overcome it, their relationship could've been salvaged. But that never happened...
Last edited by NateDog03 on April 12th, 2012, 4:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: July 23rd, 2008, 6:49 am

April 12th, 2012, 4:58 am #9

Your family story is just the sort of scenario I'm thinking of, where the parents may have flaws as we all do, but were overall basically good people, yet a disconnect occurred between them and their children.

I try extremely hard every single day and thank God for a loving, supportive and mostly non-critical husband, but every day I feel like a bit of a failure for losing my patience or for not knowing how to handle a situation, and I worry that my failures are going to come back on me someday. thanks for weighing in. It makes me feel less alone.

Btw, I laughed at the basement comment! You should give yourself credit for being a wonderful mother if that's truly the worst thing you thought of doing under the circumstances!



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Joined: April 14th, 2003, 10:59 pm

April 12th, 2012, 7:13 am #10

I'm just curious to get your opinion if you have a child that you feel at logger heads with. I don't mean the typical discipline struggles necessarily, which can be of a temporary nature as the child goes through a particular stage, but a situation in which you worry about your relationship with that child.

I had a good friend a few years back who was a lovely person in so many ways and a very dear, respected friend to me. But she had a problem in her relationship with her oldest daughter and it started when the girl was barely out of babyhood. I knew her from before this child was even born. I followed her over the years though we recently lost touch (the daughter is now in college - I have half a mind to contact my friend just to see how it ever turned out). But they had issues from toddlerhood through gradeschool and of course, adolescence, which is when we lost touch. I think my friend could not relate to my infertility angst especially as she was in the thick of a bad relationship with her daughter at the same time I was in the thick of longing for children. My friend had other children and had a nice relationship with them, no problems.

I witnessed in my own family some of this and it was never resolved. It makes sense that parents, being people, and children, being people, would not always be a match made in heaven. But then I think, shouldn't parental love be able to trump personality clashes? Is there anything written on this? How can you be the best parent you can be to try to prevent a personality clash from being destructive to all concerned?




I feel like I had that relationship with my mom. From my very earliest memories (2 is actually my first memory--I have an amazing memory from very early on)I never, ever felt safe. I felt like she always thought I was bad, even though I wasn't--I was just very different than her.

And my dad was in the military and was gone a great deal of the time.

I realize that I did not grow up in an "abusive" home (although my many therapists through the years have begged to differ--and in fact several have diagnosed me with being sexually abused. I wasn't but according to my long-time shrink, "I present that way.") And I know my mom did the best she could. After a lifetime of battle, in the past five years, I have let everything go and I try my very best to not let myself get provoked and I think she tries as well.

But the thing that is a bit ironic--she is ds's favorite. He adores her and she loves him beyond reason. I have cried watching him just chat and chat and tease and play games with her. So perhaps our redemption has come through this wonderful child...

But sadly, we had a toxic relationship when I was growing up and for a long, long time into adulthood. My siblings did not, and it caused me a lot of lasting damage.

I think if you even recognize it, then half the problem is solved.
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