Mother & daughters love?
This is a discussion on Mother & daughters love? within the General News anti misandry forums, part of the General category; The angst of some mother/daughter relationships. August 22, 2007 I can’t love the unloveable Parents are supposed to dote on ...
- 22nd-August-2007 #1
Mother & daughters love?
The angst of some mother/daughter relationships.
August 22, 2007
I can’t love the unloveable
Parents are supposed to dote on their children equally. An anonymous reader wonders how she can do this when she doesn’t even like her teenage daughter
During a blazing row with my teenage daughter (I should add that all our rows are blazing; we don’t do minor tiffs), she shouted: “You love Daniel more than me.”
Daniel is her young brother. All siblings accuse their parents of favouritism at one time or another, and I know I am supposed to say: “I love you both equally.”
But, at this heated moment, it feels like one of the biggest lies in parental love. Her accusations of my loving him more than I love her are not too wide of the mark. I give her a withering look while secretly thinking: “Maybe I do love him more, because he isn’t stroppy, lazy, whingeing, selfish, irritable and irritating.”
Of course, she’s a teenager, and how much more loveable is a non-teenager? But if I’m honest with myself, she has always felt like hard work.
A show-off since she could talk, my daughter has always been a blabbering noise machine next to her measured, thoughtful brother. She is a hypochondriac, whereas he is a “just a scratch” type of child. She is not happy unless the conversation or action revolves around her. She is obsessive about things that don’t matter, and slapdash and careless about the things that do matter. Her endless chatter and tendency to talk over people reminds me of my mother, who does the same thing.
And not all the characteristics that nature has given, or that nurture has taught, has skipped a generation. She has inherited – or perhaps learnt – from me a tendency towards anxiety that has held me back in life, as I fear it will hold her back. She is brazen in the inherent physical laziness that I despise and try to exercise out of myself. She is, and always has been, in miniature, a yappier version of much that I dislike about myself, and much that I dislike in other people’s kids. I can see why people blame the parents. I certainly do.
My son is better company and always has been. All the books say that favouritism messes kids up, but what they don’t tell you is how can you avoid showing it when one child is so preferable to the other? I can’t say this to friends or my husband. Admitting to favourites is as good as giving the less favoured child licence to, in later years, plead emotional deprivation and lack of self-esteem, and to hate me well into the post-teen years, when she is meant to transform back into a decent human being.
But doesn’t she know it anyway? Can’t she feel the limp-armed lack of conviction in the postrow hug? How am I, as one friend said of the teenage years, meant to “love the unloveable” – a phrase that reduced me to tears? Is it because the teenage years seem to distil all the awfulness that has been slowly building up between us, even during the bit that’s supposed to be fun? How can I start to love the unloveable when I’m not even able to like the unlikeable?
And the whole “love you, don’t like your behaviour” line feels like a parental version of that terribly painful lie in unrequited grown-up love: “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” To the child, the notion of being loved without being liked feels, quite rightly, like a con. On a day-to-day basis, it is the like, not the love, that is important. And I like my son more.
He asks me to take him to the cinema. It’s a dumb kids’ film, but I know I will get such pleasure watching him crease up. He’s the kind of kid who laughs with his whole body, and it’s infectious.
My daughter asks me to take her to a concert. There’s a band we both like, but I don’t think I will enjoy myself. I may want to dance, and this will mortify her, then make me feel self-conscious. I take my best friend instead and have a great, if ever so slightly guilt-ridden, time.
My son and I have to go shopping for clothes. We both hate it and take a swift “if it fits, we’ll get it” approach. Afterwards, we go to a café and he orders egg, chips and tea with three sugars. He wolfs it down with the unselfconscious greed of a growing, hollow-legged, whippet, then asks for pudding. This amuses me, rather than causes concern for his health.
My daughter and I go shopping for clothes and I have to steel myself for the expected rows, mainly instigated by me. It’s too short, it’s too expensive, it’s cheap and trashy. I am unstoppable in my negativity. We stop at a café. She orders a sugary bun and, although she is slim, I have to resist the urge to say: “Why not have some fresh fruit first?” because I’ve read something about sugar rushes affecting mood and think that, if she eats bananas instead of cake, it will fix our unhappy relationship.
I speak to a professional counsellor. She plots my answers to questions about my relationship with my daughter on some measurable scale, so she can see if I’ve improved after she’s counselled me.
The zigzag pattern of the scale reminds me of the electronic print-out of the contractions that I was having when I was in labour with her, when anticipation of her arrival filled me with delight instead of dread.
The counsellor suggests that I try to build more “fun” into my relationship with her, so we can bring our feelings of mutual antagonism down to the sub-clinical level. This stumps me. What do we both enjoy? What did we ever both enjoy? I think the answer is meant to be “each other’s company” but it just hasn’t happened yet, and it depresses me to think that it may never happen. I long for some spontaneous moment of shared pleasure, laughing at something or someone, hugging her if or when she does something to the best of her ability, instead of the contemptuous “whatever” attitude that informs her every action.
Meanwhile, I will continue to be counselled until I can learn to love the unloveable. I know that it’s no fun for her either – and that she is not the only monster in the house.
Last edited by pjanus; 22nd-August-2007 at 07:46 PM.
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