My kid is an alien

23 August 2011, by Phillip Hodson
All children can be difficult at times, but what if you actively don’t like your own child? By DaddyBeGood’s agony uncle Phillip Hodson.

“For a while, it’s nothing but annoying,” says comic actor James Corden on the topic of fatherhood. Shall we let him into a secret? It can stay annoying.

There is only one good reason for having a child, and that’s because you’re ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for Queen and country. Offspring, as I’ve said before, are expensive and they make you tired.

But what if it’s worse than this? What if you not only get exasperated by the endless tantrums of two-year-olds and the general egomania of small people: what if you actually don’t like your kids, or even hate them?

For instance, I’m guessing US actress Drew Barrymore was not especially popular with her folks when she applied for the unusual legal ruling called ‘emancipation’, permitting her to ‘divorce’ her parents while still an under-ager. I don’t know the ins and outs of the case but her mum and dad were probably thinking: “Thanks, Drew, for making us feel like criminal slavers.”

I’m also suspecting that the real life parents of ‘Billy Elliot’ wondered what had gone wrong in the womb that their bonny boy wanted to pirouette in London rather than re-arrange the noses of boxing opponents.

But it happens. It must be horrible to think your child is a cuckoo in the nest with whom you seem to have zilch in common, and whose company you find stressful. In such extreme cases, all you can do is soldier through, building whatever bridges you can, trying to show ‘positive regard’ (that is, biting your tongue), counting down the days and making sure others can take over if things get desperate or dangerous.

Children do change – though sometimes not quickly enough.

If the relationship is tricky but not intolerable, remember that you are the adult and can make more moves. That is to say, your child is trying to solve these problems in the best way they know how – and they don’t know much. They won’t be fully adult until they’re 25.

If you can stop being indignant long enough, you might be able to call time out and ask them to re-state the problem. Remember what it was like when you were young. I’ve always found it helpful to ask them what they think the solution is (apart from free beer and money).

You see, James, being a parent is not about getting applause.

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