We Get It, You Hate Your Kids


Writes someone on the Daily Fail, “I know it’s taboo, but sometimes I hate my own son.” Really? Taboo? It seems like nowadays you can’t open a magazine without someone smugly declaring what a letdown parenthood is.

Writes the mother in question,

I really do, sometimes, detest my son….To dislike your own child, no matter how fleetingly, is a ­monstrous thing – and not something women ever want to admit to. There are times when I resent his every demand, times when I wish I could hand him over to someone else and times – thanks to the sheer frustration of dealing with his tantrums – when I believe I have nothing whatsoever left to give him, let alone my husband, family, friends and, God forbid, myself.

Both the reluctance to admit this and the defiance with which people do seem relatively modern phenomena: my great-grandmothers reportedly all went around periodically talking about how little they liked being mothers, regretting having kids, and loudly naming favorites (respectively.) I don’t get the impression any of them felt remotely guilty. (Although The Monster Within: The Hidden Side Of Motherhood claims the pressures to do it all make the anger more common.) People can and will feel however they want about parenting; obviously, they have different experiences. And it’s no secret that we live in a world of mixed messages: on the one hand, there’s obviously the cult of celebrity motherhood and attachment parenting and online communities full of dedicated moms ready to shout you down. But at this point, the backlash seems almost as prevalent — certainly as visible. Ayelet Waldman may have caused a stir a few years ago when she wrote about loving her husband more than her kid (not to mention their “torrid” sex life) but in the years since, we’ve seen a regular bonanza of reluctant fathers, discontented moms and parents who are disappointed in their child’s sex. Not to mention her own big-seller, Bad Mother. And the thing is, none of these people is really a bad parent: they are all involved, devoted and apparently able to provide for their children. They are the same population who helicopter-parents, rebelling against that world.

“Taboo?” Still? While one might hope that these authors’ kids don’t stumble upon the oeuvre, one could argue it’s done its job: does anyone think parenthood is all roses and sunshine? Every parent on TV, from Modern Family to Real Housewives, is disenchanted, exhausted and ambivalent. “How do women without help do it?” was one of the more damning lines from SATC2. As someone planning on having kids soon, I feel far more aware of the inconveniences, sacrifices and indignities than the bliss, which these days seems the purview of Hollywood (offscreen if not on.)

So when, in a typically irrational rant, Liz Jones declares that “there is this enormous lie among modern working mums that the children come first, that life is all about the darling ­scribblings that are glued to the fridge,” one can only point to the son-hater featured on the same page. All these articles, though, seem to assume such a universality of experience: whether it’s that everyone’s not admitting to rage — or conversely, that all mothers should find it blissful. To someone like me, preparing to enter the fray, it’s this more than anything that’s intimidating.

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