Dominique King Lean in with Love

Parents need to look beyond child’s troubling behavior

Dominique King Lean in with LoveCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Dec. 8, 2022) — Q. I love my daughter, but as it stands, I do not like her.

Farah has never been a friendly child. Her older sister is the complete opposite. She is more like me and her dad and an overall easy kid.

Farah, at 14, has perfected her ability to make any situation uncomfortable and dreadful. Sometimes, I sincerely believe she gets enjoyment from making people miserable. I feel guilty when I say it, but if nothing changes, I look forward to her leaving the nest. – Kyla

A. Welcome to the club of moms who secretly think one of their kids is a sociopath, narcissist and spawn of Satan. Kyla, joking aside, this is more common than you think among parents.

What I do want to bring to your attention is that Farah has created the same line between your daughters as you have. Have you ever considered that Farah has not perfected her ability to make people miserable but is trying to get attention and separate her identity from her sister?

Farah may be searching for an equal amount of attention she perceives her older sister gets. I’d like to point out that attention is absent of “bad” or “good.” Those two adjectives mean nothing to a child who wants to be seen. As parents, we often describe the child that falls in line with values, behaviors and beliefs more similar to ours as the “easy” or “good” one. But we must get out of our comfort zones and open up the lines of what makes our kids “easy.”

I’m not excusing Farah’s behavior. I suggest that the why is much deeper than because she “likes to.”

First examine yourself

I would consider first examining yourself. What about your daughter is a reflection of your behaviors? If one has taken all your best traits, it’s safe to say the not-so-great ones are floating around, too. Has Farah amplified the qualities she’s seen you and your husband exhibit when you don’t get your way? When you’re angry or manipulative? Has she learned how to reflect behavior that gets an immediate response?

Another tip is to take the time to center Farah. Highlight and praise what makes her different and unique. Show her she doesn’t have to be this cookie-cutter version of you and her dad to be loved and accepted. Taking away the need for her to go to the extreme will build a sense of safety in her being OK with an identity that she knows will still be valued in her home.

Remove the labels – whether you are saying them out loud or not. I guarantee it shows in your interactions with them. This could harm their relationship and build up resentment between them as sisters.

It’s tricky navigating these parental waters. We are not obligated to love or even like every aspect of our children’s behavior.

One last recommendation would be to seek out professional therapy not just for Farah but for the entire family. Kyla, the more you make Farah leaving home the goal, you lose the opportunity to build a healthy and loving relationship with her.

Be well; you are worthy.

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Dominique King
Dominique King

Dominique King is a blogger who centers around marriage, family, fitness and personal growth. Her insightful and practical approach to advice gives everyday couples, parents and individuals a space to get answers to their questions.