Love and Hate in the Time of Parenting

I had to write this in honor of Mother’s Day coming up.

With all of the love love love, think positive self-help mantras out there; I am going to flip it for you.

To help all you parents out there learn why and how it is vital to embrace your intense feelings of hatred at times, for your kids. Don’t feel guilty. This is not to give yourself a free pass, or a rationalization, but rather to let you know why in fact it is a vital part of teaching your children how to tolerate ambivalent feelings. Part of being a human being and part of relationships.

I promise you, this is not coming only from the Mom perspective of how I feel at times when I am in the biggest fight with my kids. It comes from the training I have gotten as an analyst, when I was told by one of my best teachers: “Good enough is not only ‘good enough’, it is vital to help kids tolerate disappointment, and learn to hold onto us in their minds in the face of their own anger and hatred.

Now we are talking primitive feelings here, right? But name me an intense relationship that doesn’t involve love and hate, and I will say that is not intimate. Or deeply involved.

Learn to love your hate. I am always drawn to other irreverent moms like myself, who are willing to be upfront about their angry feelings, and the emotional intensity that can come up in parenting.

Most importantly though, we do need to model for our kids, that, in the face of their tantrums, or anger as we don’t give them what they want, that we can hold onto their love for us and we remember how great they are even when they are behaving so badly. That gives them a way to soothe themselves and hold on to soothing feelings to help them develop that tool to prevent fixing it with drugs, alcohol, food, etc.

Simple. Direct. Don’t be afraid. It passes. Teach your kid it is not the end of the world and you know they still love you, as you do them even when you or they ‘feel’ the hatred.

I know we don’t like to use that word.

But hey, we are all human. If you can feel it, you don’t have to act on it.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Visit me at:

One Response to “Love and Hate in the Time of Parenting”

  1. Isa Marrs on 12 May 2008 at 5:18 pm

    I love your comments on “pick your battles”. As a feeding therapist I am constantly telling parents how important this is. As well as when you do pick a battle do not give in.

Trackback this Post | Feed on comments to this Post

Leave your Comment