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To not be sure if I love my child or not

(100 Posts)
Kettlesingsatnight Tue 01-Dec-15 21:18:43

That's an incredibly bald post and obviously I need to clarify it. Please don't leap in and judge until the end.

For some reason, this is something I have been thinking of a lot over the last few days (not completely sure what's prompted it, I suspect a lot of Christmas stuff and my perception of what 'ordinary' families do at this time of year) but the pressing reality is I don't think I do love my child. He has a condition that makes him hard in many ways to love because it demands so much from me yet gives so little in return.

And yet I ask - does it matter? In some ways I think not as my actions are so loving (I rather self righteously decided a while ago I would do the right thing by him no matter what) and I have given up and sacrificed so much, of which I can't even fully outline here.

I also suspect it doesn't matter because it makes being a parent to him easier. I expect nothing and I give everything and I don't feel resentful that it's this way as it just is.

So - not so much AIBU as I am but can't help it - is anyone else in the same position? As I realise this is taboo but it's also very freeing to say so anonymously. I care for my son inmensely but I don't actually love him.

ScarlettDarling Tue 01-Dec-15 21:24:38

Actually, from what you've said, I suspect that you do love your son. Perhaps you don't particularly like him, perhaps you find it hard to be with him, perhaps you don't enjoy being around him, but in all honesty, if you didn't love him, I don't think you'd be able to care for him as you do.

Loving isn't always cuddly, cute and easy. Sometimes it's exactly the opposite. When you say you care for your son immensely, how is that different to loving him?

Leelu6 Tue 01-Dec-15 21:25:58

YANBU. Sounds like quite a selfless form of caring - giving so much but without an expectation of it being returned/appreciated.

QuizteamBleakley Tue 01-Dec-15 21:28:09

Isn't love a relative term? If someone swept in and said that they were going to take DS away from you - forever - how would you feel?

Is it just the two of you vs the world?

SpaggyBollocks Tue 01-Dec-15 21:29:09

I think making personal sacrifices and expecting nothing back is part of love. isn't it?

Bettercallsaul1 Tue 01-Dec-15 21:31:08

If you are doing everything you can for your son in these terribly difficult circumstances - and you clearly are - and you care for him "immensely", then you do love him, OP. You are just too exhausted and beaten down to realise it. Love does not necessarily equal happiness or pleasure - sometimes it's a gruelling struggle. But that is undoubtedly love too - perhaps the purest, most selfless kind. I hope things get better for you in time, so you can enjoy the rewards of love as well as the pains.

Kettlesingsatnight Tue 01-Dec-15 21:32:25

Quiz, as awful as it sounds I have imagined that, which is not the same as saying I want it to happen; of course I don't. But the reality is I don't think I'd be devastated which is just awful. I would feel sad for him that he didn't live a longer or happier life but for me, I think a little part of me would feel free.

That is honest and is also quite horrible, yet very concealed somewhere.

Fugghetaboutit Tue 01-Dec-15 21:33:26

I expect nothing and I give everything and I don't feel resentful that it's this way as it just is.

To me, that is pretty loving.

Chilledmonkeybrains Tue 01-Dec-15 21:33:54

You're thinking about labels too much - you care for him and about him and have made sacrifices for him. That's what matters.

backtowork2015 Tue 01-Dec-15 21:34:59

I think you do love him but acknowledge that it's a difficult relationship.
The alternative is you're caring for him out of a sense of duty alone rather than a wish to nurture and protect him. That's bound to breed resentment in the absence of love, and you say you don't resent him.
I'm not being judgemental, I hope I don't sound it

Kettlesingsatnight Tue 01-Dec-15 21:36:58

I don't think you do sound judgemental, but when I compare relationships with others - how I would / have feel / felt when they have passed away - I can't imagine feeling that here.

That's the real test for me: if he died, would I be beside myself with grief and no - I don't think that I would be.

I read once that love is an active 'doing' word. Meaning that love is about what you do, how you treat a person or thing, not how you feel inside. This was in relation to long relationships, choosing to carry on loving, rather than walking away based on (possibly temporary) emotions. Based on this definition you absolutely love your child. Nobody is easy to love all the time, so I bet almost every parent can relate to your post, even if they only have the odd hour of finding parenthood as tough.

Branleuse Tue 01-Dec-15 21:38:01

I actually think it doesnt matter, and I think youre overthinking it.

Love can come and go, and the love for your child will be strong at times and not at others. Sometimes it might go completely for a while if you have depressive episodes, but love is a verb, and you show your love by caring for him as you do, and by being present.

I think with some children with certain special needs, it can be hard because it doesnt feel naturally reciprocal, in the same way that it might with a completely NT child, but there is more than one kind of love, and it sounds like youre just finding it pretty hard and thankless at the moment x

EnthusiasmDisturbed Tue 01-Dec-15 21:38:22

what I am getting from your post is about wanting a little bit of something back whatever that is and for you to have a little bit of you back

is that such a bad thing

NannyOggsHedgehogs Tue 01-Dec-15 21:38:39

It sounds like you don't like him, in that his personality is not that of someone you would choose to spend time with.

That's very different to love.

Presuming from what you've said that he has some additional needs, is it possible you might be depressed from the strain of caring for him? Feeling dissociated from life is a common symptom

Kettlesingsatnight Tue 01-Dec-15 21:40:44

In some ways I do like him.

And I feel that in a way not loving him allows me to be more rational and clear headed and makes me a better form of support for him.

And as you've all said my actions are loving.

Just the same I do feel some guilt there.

Bettercallsaul1 Tue 01-Dec-15 21:42:02

Don't be ashamed of these thoughts, OP - they are a safety valve. Many, many parents feel like this sometimes in far less difficult circumstances. You are carrying a heavy burden, by yourself, and it is no wonder you feel this way at times. It sounds as if you are doing a heroic job.

But often people lose a loved one and feel a sense of relief mixed with the grief, if the loved one is suffering, needs intense exhausting care or if there are difficult elements in the relationship.

Kettlesingsatnight Tue 01-Dec-15 21:43:29

True, although I think that would be unusual in a young and physically healthy person.

Foslady Tue 01-Dec-15 21:44:31

From your OP, I think you love him but not love his condition which has confused your feelings about your relationship. If it was a marriage giving everything with nothing back in return would have a detrimental effect on the relationship, it's harder to be this honest with a blood tie.

FWIW I think you are an amazing mum thanks

backtowork2015 Tue 01-Dec-15 21:45:12

Are his needs such that he won't lead an independent life ever?
It must feel a great weight on you that he may be dependent on you for life. A thought about how life could be different is not a crime

Foslady Tue 01-Dec-15 21:46:08

Re reading what I have written it's very clumsy but I hope you understand what I mean

moopymoodle Tue 01-Dec-15 21:46:39

I think it sounds that you do love him. But maybe find it hard to bond due to circumstances. Perfectly natural really.

Your expecting too much of yourself. No mother feels magically in love with her child beyond the age of 5, some never do at all. Babies and toddlers are easy to like as we expect very little. Older children we expect more hence a toddler misbehaving can sometimes be cute... when my 6 year old does I have to do my best not to get angry!!!

Kettlesingsatnight Tue 01-Dec-15 21:48:21

Strangely, since I accepted that I don't have to love him, I just have to do right by him, I don't ever feel resentful or frustrated or angry or upset - all used to be common feelings. I think because love is a two way thing, and DS can't really love me - or maybe he does but not in any recognisable sense - and so I felt like this love was going nowhere.

Now I'm less emotionally invested which ironically has enabled me to be so much better with him. The only objective is making DS as happy and comfortable as possible. I can't always do that but whatever I can do is a good thing. I'm explaining this very badly! And thank you all for being nice flowers

Branleuse Tue 01-Dec-15 21:49:43

it sounds like youre doing brilliantly in tough circumstances x

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