Are you ever disappointed with who your children are?

(75 Posts)
Angloamerican Tue 18-Jun-13 20:21:34

This is a very difficult post to write, so bear with me. I am having a tough time at the moment, in particular with my 5 year old DD. Today it came to a head and I made a spectacular mess of things.

We went to a local "sports sampler" camp at our local rec center. Forty-five minutes a week, a different sport each time. Emphasis is on fun - solely - no competitiveness whatsoever. I thought it'd be fantastic - my DD is a very active child, loves the playground, bike rides, gym class, and frankly we need some outlet for her seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy.

She walked in, sat down in the corner of the room and refused to join in. Cried when anyone tried to jolly her into the group. I tried gentle cajoling ("I'm right here", etc) to no avail. We talked briefly about how important is was to try new things, even if they made us a little scared at first, and how we never know if we'll enjoy something until we try. And I told her repeatedly that it doesn't matter if she doesn't do well (in response to her "I can't do it!" the only thing that matters that she tries. If she tries and hates it, we will never play that sport again, etc. Still refuses to stand up, let alone join in.

To my shame, I lost my temper and basically dragged her out of the room by her arm, told her if she didn't get in and join in we would go straight home and she would stay in her room the rest of the day. Obviously not my finest moment. Needless to say, we left. (In case you're wondering why my reaction was so extreme - it's not the first time that she has refused to join in a group sport setting, and this time was the final straw).

On the way home I really let her have it. I told her how disappointing she was to me, because she didn't even try. I know that this is a terrible thing to say, but in my dark moments, that really is how I feel. I look at my daughter and sometimes I struggle to see that she is kind and loving and very outgoing (people often comment on how social she is, she's very much a "leader" in many ways) and all I see is a stubborn, lazy child. I know that's not fair to her. When I was a child I would have killed for the opportunities she has (such as the sport sampler camp) and it drives me insane that she just turns her nose up at it.

I know the problem is primarily me, but I am really struggling to deal with these feelings. The early part of my life was something of a struggle and I was constantly "out of my comfort zone", and I just had to get on with it. I sometimes wonder if this is why I am so irritated by her refusal to do anything that causes even a modicum of discomfort.

Graceparkhill Tue 18-Jun-13 20:53:18

I am going to be blunt here- if you do want her to do things out of her comfort zone then you will need to support and encourage her not shout and belittle her .
Just my opinion but I honestly think you need to re consider your views and let her be a wee girl with a happy childhood.

heliotrope Tue 18-Jun-13 20:54:47

I've a 5 yo DS who is not a joiner at all - e.g. will not do summer play schemes, swimming lessons etc and has been like this from a young toddler. I'm not disappointed in who he is at all, but sad for him that he finds these things difficult.
I also wish he would join things, there are so many wonderful things for them to do. I'm sure it is partly projection that I would like to do those things in his place, and also it is actually very frustrating because I know he finds it so difficult but if he could just get over the initial discomfort he would enjoy them, so he is missing out and I wish I could find a way to help him over his shyness - this is why I've pushed a little bit, e.g. signing up for the swimming anyway and giving it a few weeks but to no avail.
He's not doing it to be awkward, he just is deeply averse to those situations. At school he's found an environment where he feels secure and trusts the adults and is blossoming - will now join clubs and afterschool activities in that environment only, which is great.
And as others have said 5 is very young to expect them to do these activities, even though many kids take to it so well.

ChewingOnLifesGristle Tue 18-Jun-13 20:54:49

Blimey poor kidsad

Angloamerican Tue 18-Jun-13 20:57:30

Thank you, all of you, for your comments. You have really given me food for thought. I certainly knew that my behaviour today was shameful, but some of the other comments have been really helpful. It's always good to get an outsider's perspective, I struggle to see it when I'm in the moment, as it were.

Pinebarrens Tue 18-Jun-13 20:57:30

i think you need to take a step back & without making you feel bad, have a think about your reaction.

Anger is the emotion you mentioned that you felt, whilst it can be difficult when you're in the thick of it, anger seems extreme in the context of the situation you've described.

she's 5 & was being pushed to join in with strangers & had an angry mummy to deal with too, all sounds very stressful for a small child to deal with.

Hassled Tue 18-Jun-13 20:57:45

Yes, add "she's only 5" to your mantras, but also add "she's not me".

I think that maybe you think she should be more like you - or more like you wish you were? She never will be - she's her own person, and like the rest of us, she's flawed. But I bet for every time she's lazy or unadventurous, there are times she's sweet and thoughtful.

Try and spend some quality time with her - something you both like doing. Try to have a laugh, a bit of fun with her - I don't doubt that you love her, but we don't all always like our children, and that's what you've got to find again.

TheSecondComing Tue 18-Jun-13 20:57:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Procrastinating Tue 18-Jun-13 20:57:59

I'm never disappointed with who my children are, they are individuals rather than copies of me. It is your job to try and understand your daughter rather than turn her into something else. Poor thing.

Personally I think sport is shit, but I hide that very well when I watch my 6 year old son playing tennis (his choice).

StyleManual Tue 18-Jun-13 20:58:55

Goodness, give her a break. Your post made me sad. You say she has an inexhaustible supply of energy, so I don't see how she can be lazy. It sounds like quite an intimidating setting for a 5 year old - trying something new every week. I used to give music lessons to a 5 year old and I was surprised that even with me, who he saw every week and in his own home, he was still scared of trying something new - and that was all based around the same instrument. Gosh, it makes me sad to think that she was worried about trying a new sport and then got told off for feeling that way.

usualsuspect Tue 18-Jun-13 20:59:27

Do you want her to remember how disappointing you found her? How lazy you thought she was?

How she didn't live up to your expectations?

Because she will.

WhereMyMilk Tue 18-Jun-13 21:00:47

Hear hear to Expat.

With every post you make I feel sorrier for your poor DD sad

Go give her a cuddle, apologise and then let her be...

MrsPnut Tue 18-Jun-13 21:01:00

I would probably feel exactly the same way that you are, Anglo. I expect you've done the gentle cajoling, the supporting to take part and now you are at the end of your patience.

I maybe wouldn't have laid into my daughter in the car but I certainly would have felt like it. Children are such ungrateful scrotes sometimes and it only gets worse as they get older - it's natures way of making us let go of them as they approach adulthood.

You've had a bad day with her, it might not have been your finest hour but take a deep breath, regroup and face tomorrow afresh. I'd maybe put the sports camp on hold until next time and try it again later.

yamsareyammy Tue 18-Jun-13 21:01:24

Oh dea, oh dear. Sorry but this is awful
Your poor child.
Yes, the problem is you.
Never in a million years, is she going to be you.
And that is what you are trying to make her be. You.

TheBuskersDog Tue 18-Jun-13 21:01:43

I clicked on this thread expecting it to be from a parent with a teenager that's gone off the rails, a mother driven to the brink of despair by a son who steals or something like that, not a 5 year old that doesn't want to join in a game!

SpooMoo Tue 18-Jun-13 21:03:39

Don't be too hard on yourself - a lot of these comments will be hard to take, but remember: tomorrow is another day!

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Tue 18-Jun-13 21:04:43

It's going to become a vicious circle though isn't it? You go and try a new venture with her, she's a little shy and hesitant, you react in the way that you did today, the next new venture becomes an even bigger obstacle in her eyes.

Do you say 'no' to screen time? I wonder if allowing her to be bored would encourage her to be more active? When my children were little we had no CBBC or CITV to watch so they were limited in when there was stuff they wanted to watch on TV, I was strict with the amount of time they were allowed to watch videos and I found that them being bored encouraged them to go outside and play.

TheSecondComing Tue 18-Jun-13 21:05:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

inneedofrain Tue 18-Jun-13 21:06:41

Op you were out of order here (but I think you know that)

Does your dd have a natural flair for sports? Out of interest what sorts of sports were on offer?

I think everyone needs to find a balance in life yes it's important that dd exercises but it is import that she loves doing it. If she enjoys it it will become life long if she is forced she will retaliate against it at the first opportunity

I think your desire to give her opportunities is getting in the way of her being a kid. Do you do stuff together both physical like bike ridding together and making cards or baking? She needs to find her passions they may be the same as your or totally out of your comfort zone

You made a mess if today but you can turn it round tomorrow what about asking her what she would like to try and see if you can sort it? Ie my should runs a karate class specifically for parents and their kids together (he runs others to) this one is more fun iyswim

Kids see us as there comfort zone and we need to help give them a good sense of self

The thing I am most proud of is my kids I hope one day you will know what I mean

Go and give dd a kiss even if she is asleep

Januarymadness Tue 18-Jun-13 21:07:07

Expat sorry for the hijack. I can't believe its been a year. I only knew you both through your threads but your dd changed me forever. The strength of every one of your family is and was amazing.

Angloamerican Tue 18-Jun-13 21:08:06

spoomoo yes, you're not wrong about the comments. Although many are deserved, they do not make for easy reading. Perhaps that's what I need, though.

To answer some other questions - we have started limiting screen time down to 30 minutes a day (I always liked to keep it to an hour a day but that has been creeping up to two, which I was unhappy about.)

And yes, anger is the root of most of this. I'm angry all the time, and I'm not even sure why half the time. But that's for another post..

LondonBus Tue 18-Jun-13 21:09:58

She's not stubborn and lazy, she's nervous and scared.

Let her watch a couple of sessions before expecting her to join in.

I had a similar moment when DS1 refused to join in with tennis lessons. I told him if he didn't take part I would put the racket I'd recently bought him in the bin, which I did as we were leaving.

It was a nice new racket, and I had to then go back and get it, saying I would give it to some child who would appreciate it.

Looking back, it was my most twattish parenting moment ever.

I think I we have high expectations of our own children, much higher than we would of other peoples children. I have no idea why.

I bet you are a lovley mummy the rest of the time.

Atavistic Tue 18-Jun-13 21:10:40

The problem is not "primarily you", it's all you. You are being a pushy Mum, setting your poor DD for a lifetime of feeling a failure. You are there to protect her and make her feel safe. You are her number one provider of comfort and love. If you continue like this, you will be letting her down. Terribly. Say sorry, and mean it. Your poor little child.

Hugs to Expat.

inneedofrain Tue 18-Jun-13 21:12:46

Sweetie I'm sorry if you feel attacked its not meant if you feel angry most of the time it must be horrid for you. I just want to say this the most awful time I ever had in my life (which has not been a piece of cake) was living with some one that was angry all of the time. Please please consider seeing your g p and asking for some counciling to try and get to the bottom of your anger I promise it will help you and your dd

musickeepsmesane Tue 18-Jun-13 21:14:39

The early part of my life was something of a struggle and I was constantly "out of my comfort zone", and I just had to get on with it. I sometimes wonder if this is why I am so irritated by her refusal to do anything that causes even a modicum of discomfort.

You are repeating your childhood. You knew she wasn't a joiner in yet you took her anyway.
Why would you want you child to feel discomfort.

That being said, it is hard to stand back and allow your 5 year old to make choices. It has been said she is only 5, but she is able to let you know her likes and dislikes. You should apologise and spend time with her expending her energy in ways you both enjoy.
(Also, maybe she doesn't like the size of the rec centre? Too big and echoey?)
I would hate to come on here and put my parenting mistakes out there, very brave of you! Proves you are aware and don't want to repeat your childhood.

Quangle Tue 18-Jun-13 21:18:31

Anglo I had perhaps a similar experience with my 5yo for whom I'd booked swimming lessons for a week. Day 1 she got in and went through the motions. Day 2 she wouldn't even put her costume on! Cue cajoling, bribery, anger ....nothing worked. We had to come home. I was spitting feathers. All that money! But also I'd been excited about her swimming - had done a lot of research to find the right pool and teacher. I really lost it. But I'd invested too much emotional energy in it myself and I was an idiot. She was only 5

So yes you did the wrong thing. But you know that. And yes it's you not her. But you know that too. But don't be too hard on yourself. We're all out of order sometimes. And it seems like you've taken ownership of this problem and want to fix it. Not sure what next step is though. Counselling to help you let go of your own lost childhood? Good luck and don't fret too much. Just go and kiss her and have fun together next time.

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