Symptoms: We all long for those tender bonding moments with our children. Who doesn’t feel just delighted when a three year-old crawls up onto your lap and kisses you on the cheek or when your thirteen year old squeals with joy and says you’re “the best” when you find the money to send her to softball camp with her two best friends? Ahh, such a good feeling . . .
But it doesn’t last. Just one day later, you are going about your business when your three year-old gets upset and throws his dinosaur at your nose— at point-blank range. Squinting through the reflex tears, you take the dinosaur away. After which you hear, “You are the worst mommy in the world. I wish you weren’t my mommy.” And then when you tell your thirteen year-old that you will not buy her an iPhone, your ears start ringing with “I hate you. You’re selfish, and you never think about me. You have no idea of what my life is like. All the other moms understand. I’m never talking to you again.”
All parents experience these relatively “minor” examples of when children don’t reciprocate love and when they act in unkind, uncaring, and unappreciative ways. However, for some parents, the rejection that they experience from their children is much more extreme. A child may be coping with a mental health challenge, a drug addiction, bullying, or some author cause of pain that prevents that child from ever reciprocating her parent’s love.
Whether the child’s rejection is temporary or permanent, what does a parent do when love isn’t reciprocated and when a child openly rejects the parent’s love?
Sometimes, it gets pretty ugly. Most of us have done one of the following:
Your prescription for dealing with rejection from your child:
A Booster Shot: To think even more about the benefits of the “negative” emotions, consider watching Inside Out with your child of any age and having a discussion about why the “Sadness,” “Anger,” and “Disgust” were important.
To your joy and health in parenting-
The Parenting Doctors.
Dr. Daniel van Ingen is author of Anxiety Disorders Made Simple: Treatment Approaches to Overcome Fear & Build Resiliency and the upcoming book You Are Your Child's Best Psychologist: 7 Keys to Excellence in Parenting,
Dr. Sarah van Ingen is co-author of the upcoming book Teaching Mathematics Meaningfully: Solutions for Reaching Struggling Learners.