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.

ReallyTired Tue 18-Jun-13 21:18:41

I think that being occassionally disappointed in our children is part of motherhood. None of us are perfect and both parents and children make mistakes. It is easy to have unrealistic expectations.

My son is generally a lovely boy, however several years ago he was involved in a really nasty bullying incident aged 7. A group of boys had ganged up on another child and banged the poor kid's head against the wall. The school punished the five boys involved by making them miss the end of term christmas party. As far as I know he has never done anything similar since.

I was deeply disappointed that my son had followed the group like a sheep and didn't think about how his poor victim felt. I felt that I had failed as a mother by not teaching him how to behave. With hindsight I realise that making mistakes is part of growing up and the important thing is to learn from them.

There have also been times when my son has exceeded my expectations as well. He was commended recently for stopping a bullying incident among so younger children as playground buddy.

Children are surprising robust and you will not pychologically scar your child with the occassional parenting mistake.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Tue 18-Jun-13 21:21:05

Don't beat yourself up OP, you have recognised there is a problem and you have time to fix it. It is a brave person that can own up and seek help. You have given us one snap shot of one incident in her life, it isn't the full picture. There is time to sort this and make both of your lives happier.

californiaburrito Tue 18-Jun-13 21:23:43

Anglo What is your relationship with your DD like usually? Do you have something you like do together?

Obviously, today was not one of your better days. I have a lot of not so good days too. I can also relate to having a lot of anger since becoming a mother and I feel like all the shit from my childhood that I had to deal with to become an adult I have to deal with again to become a better mother.

So can I make two suggestions?

Tomorrow, apologise to your DD, you love each other and it's ok to make mistakes sometimes.

And keep trying to get rid of the anger and face up to these difficult feelings.

yamsareyammy Tue 18-Jun-13 21:23:53

"Anger is the root of most of this. I am angry all the time..

I think it is about this post.
I realise that this is a parenting board, and not a different one, but it sounds like it is your anger that is really the issue in your life.

Do you have anger about losing your child? Obviously dont answer that if you dont want to.

ReallyTired Tue 18-Jun-13 21:33:04

Children deserve to be loved unconditionally, however this doesn't mean that we always have to love their behaviour.

Prehaps you need to rethink how you get your daugher active. Maybe you could do a sporting activity as a family.

IsItMeOr Tue 18-Jun-13 21:40:31

Anglo tough times for you, obviously.

As others have said, sounds like you could really do with getting some help with your anger. It must be absolutely exhausting for you to feel angry so much. And yes, of course it won't be great for DD.

I hope you feel able to set up some help for yourself. If you're in England, your GP should be able to refer you.

When you've got something lined up for you, I'd recommend you look at Lovebombing, by Oliver James. It's a brilliantly practical technique to help re-build the bond between parent and child, is written in a very compassionate way and has worked wonders for us and our DS.

You don't need to feel this bad Anglo. I hope you are able to change things soon. xx

Mollydoggerson Tue 18-Jun-13 21:44:33

Love her for who she is, not for who you want her to be.

If you want her to love exercise and be excited about it and try new things, then lead by example, don't force her.

littlecrystal Tue 18-Jun-13 22:11:22

I have not read the responses but my first idea perhaps she is just not into team sports. My DS1 does not enjoy (understand) team sports so we are on the look for individual sports. For example, he does love his swimming lessons.

pickledsiblings Tue 18-Jun-13 22:39:54

How much ground work did you do OP before you took your DD along to sports camp? I have found that my DC are most willing to do something new when they can see the point behind doing it, know when they will be going, where they will be going, who else is likely to be there, what they will be expected to do, what I will be doing whilst they are there, what they are supposed to wear (new trainers?) etc.etc ad infinitum. Basically, lots of conversations leading up to the event and a big 'deconstruct' afterwards.

Notsoyummymummy1 Tue 18-Jun-13 22:49:49

I'm sorry but a five year old was bullied and humiliated by her own mother just for not joining in, how can this be ok? Let this be your wake up call to get help with your anger issues.

MyShoofly Tue 18-Jun-13 22:51:07

your not encouraging her to try new things by making them adversarial emotionally charged events. gentle patience and exposure will be more of a friend to you both. Since you can't physically make her do it (or like it) no good can come from making it a losing power struggle that harms your relationship. his is not about her though, truthfully it's entirely about you.

ghosteditor Tue 18-Jun-13 23:01:09

Anglo I think you're more than aware that the situation got out of hand and that your reaction was extreme, which was why you posted.

All that aside, you sound angry and upset and like you're struggling. Have you thought about seeing a therapist or coach? I have recently had some sessions through work and have found them really helpful with some of my crazy. They have incidentally helped me with dealing with my 18 mo DD.

Practically speaking - can you apologise to your DD and tell her you love her? Maybe try a 'love bombing' style weekend or do something fun together. And show her that you are happy to try things that are hard for you because it's ok to get things wrong while you're learning?

MyShoofly Tue 18-Jun-13 23:03:17

Would like to add that I've been taking my oldest to a gym class once a week and one of the other mums participates with her son who is clearly very shy and non participatory. as far as I can tell she just takes his lead, doesn't push, backs off according to his cues.....2 months in I see that child starting to come out of his shell more, trying new things - she celebrates his baby steps. I think we could all learn a lot from her approach, which is tailored to her child's specific needs.

invicta Tue 18-Jun-13 23:10:38

California - great idea about apologising. It removes the 'blame' from the child to the mother and the child will realise he has done to hung wrong.

Anglo-A - we all have the odd off day. I think I big life lesson I've learnt is not to compare your child to other children ( although I still do this!). There will always be someone who's more popular, sociable, cleverer etc then your child.

invicta Tue 18-Jun-13 23:11:44

Sorry, nothing wrong

hellohellohihi Tue 18-Jun-13 23:22:04

My DD (18mo) is a watcher, initially at least. It usually takes her the best part of an hour to warm up in a toddler class, and sometimes even to a friends house. All the other kids get there and get stuck in but DD will sit on my lap for ages then tentatively dip her toe in (usually 5 mins before we're going home!) and then gets into it.

I remember being pushed away from my mums legs if I was being shy, a kind of 'encouragement' to not be so shy and I really can't work out whether its helped or hindered me. I remember feeling a little betrayed and resistant in these circumstances and for as long as I can remember I've had a horrific fear of speaking in public and still don't relish being centre of attention. Saying that, new situations and meeting people and just joining in don't phase me at all...

Anyway op, I guess I echo some of the other replies: no this wasn't your finest hour and sounds like some perspective is needed, but that the nearest and dearest to us are the ones who push our buttons the most, so it's not the end of the world if you lose your rag on the odd occasion, everyone does. But - if it's a recurring situation then yes you need to address it.

My mum deals with things by shouting and ranting. I feel myself doing the same sometimes and have to reign it in. I've seen how that approach doesn't work, though its hard to live by that when you're seeing red.

I'm sure your daughter doesn't really disappoint you, and it's more that you just had different expectations of the whole event to what the reality was. I think we all have an element of that in planned days out, holidays etc, its never in reality the smiley happy go lucky day we'd imagined.

I don't know much about parenting yet as DD is my first, but I remember hearing somewhere (super nanny maybe??) that you always condone the behaviour rather than the child, so perhaps try that. Also there are always sessions at our local children's centre on positive parenting so maybe something like that would help.

Good luck, I don't think you're awful, I just think you can't see the wood for the trees at the mo

Angloamerican Wed 19-Jun-13 03:43:23

I had a good talk with my daughter and I feel much better about the incident today. That's not to say that this will be a quick fix - it won't - but I think I have a good idea of where to start.

Thanks for all of the responses, both supportive and otherwise. I appreciate them all.

Cosmo89 Wed 19-Jun-13 09:17:00

I can't bear to read all of these posts!
So apologies if someone sensible has come along after p. 1.
The OP shows that she knows it is her problem not her daughters. I think everyone would be lying if they said their attitude to their children wasn't influenced by their own upbringing. For some, like the op, it's much more emotionally charged than others. Stop bashing her already.

Bonsoir Wed 19-Jun-13 09:19:40

OP - your daughter is five years old. Give her a break!

Anglo I think you have agreed that the issue is with you. However, I wanted to let you know you are not alone. I had a truly terrible childhood, and I find myself being disappointed with my children when they don't take advantage of things that were never offered to me. I fully understand that the problem is with me, but I also understand that at times I'm not acting like an adult, I'm acting like a scared child. However, that's a reason, but there are no excuses - I am the adult, and it is my role to support my DCs, and provide a safe, warm, environment for them to grow physically, and emotionally.

I talk to myself to stop myself from being unkind to the DCs when I feel like that (I can recommend 'What to say when you talk to yourself'), and if I am grumpy I always apologise. I am much, much better than I used to be, and I am able to look at my children, and appreciate their amazing qualities.

Pinebarrens Wed 19-Jun-13 10:31:35

that's great Anglo hopefully you'll be able to move forward from here. good luck

ZZZenagain Wed 19-Jun-13 10:40:11

you say she is already a very active child, she cycles, goes to gym class and loves the playground. So I don't think she can be lazy and that you need worry too much about sports. Maybe these sports sampler camps are too intimidating because there are so many people and it is all new. If you do something like that, why not try and get a friend of hers to go along too, so she is not on her own in the new environment?

Maybe she would enjoy more sport but something a bit calmer, smaller group, quieter setting.

My dd is 12 now and looking back, 5 seems so young, it really does. Not every 5 year old is very coordinated and some hate that whole business of picking sides which comes with organised sports. I don't think you need worry too much if she is shy or as you see her stubborn/lazy at 5, she will change.

What I would do is teach your 5 year old to swim and take her to the pool through summer if you can. Get a cheap badminton set and play around in the garden - or one of those poles you stick in the ground which has a ball attached by a rope and let her thwack it with a racquet.

cory Wed 19-Jun-13 18:21:28

I do remember feeling...not perhaps disappointed but certainly surprised and maybe a bit sad when I realised that dc were never going to share my interests, that opportunities that I would have killed for meant nothing to them. Over the years I have come to realise two things:

a) if dc seemed totally uninterested in something that I would have given my eye teeth for, then that probably meant there was something else, completely different, reserved for them that I would never have thought of

b) if I got very hung up on something that I thought they ought to appreciate, that meant I was unfulfilled in that area and needed to do something for myself instead

cory Wed 19-Jun-13 18:23:58

Just to give some examples, ds doesn't care for literature, but he is very interested in modern history and politics- doesn't do it for me, but you can see that it's not a bad interest to have.

Dd really doesn't like sailing, but gets the same happiness from acting instead; who am I to say that is inferior?

My mother still thinks it dreadful that I won't throw out my fishtanks (which I use to breed endangered species for conservation) to make room for a piano (because to her a life without live music isn't worth living.

Mrsrobertduvall Wed 19-Jun-13 18:33:20

My dh was a bit like you op...couldn't understand why ds who is very sporty, didn't want to go to cricket any more. He had a very difficult childhood, with a dad who never took much notice of him, and this has affected dh.

He recognised he needed help...had some therapy and is much more empathic.
Sounds as if you could go with some help. Don't be afraid to ask for it.

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