When BJ and I were preparing to adopt, we were required to take classes that taught about adoption and parenting. I remember being shocked to hear that one day, my darling child whom I hoped to adopt, might say to me: “I hate you. You’re not my real Mom.”
I was stunned. How could a child that I had longed for, prayed for, and dreamed about say that to me? I really had to think about how I would react to that statement when it came.
As I thought about it and talked to other parents, I realized that children say these things to all parents, adoptive or biological. Whether the words are “You’re not my real Mom” or “I wish you weren’t my Mom” the reasons behind them may be the same.
First, when our children say things like this they are usually hurting and angry. It may be someone else who hurt them or they may be upset with us. Either way, they want someone to feel what they are feeling so they lash out and cause pain.
Second, they know that if they lash out at us (parents, caregivers, stable adults in their lives), we aren’t going anywhere. We are the people who love them, who support them, and who are there for them. That is why they feel safe to say things like this to us.
So the next time your child says, “I wish you weren’t my Mom” realize that they feel safe enough with you to say such things. You are their safe place! You are loved. Please don’t react with anger, hurt, or sarcasm. They need a strong adult to be there for them and love them.
Replying with anger or sarcasm will not help things. Saying things like, “Real Mom’s cook dinner, I guess I don’t have to cook dinner anymore” will only cause more of a wedge in the relationship. We must be the adult in this situation.
If something needs to be said, I have told them, “I’m sorry that is how you feel; nevertheless, I love you.” And I try my best to say it with real sincerity, no sarcasm, anger, or hurt. Remaining calm may allow them to open up to you and share how they are really feeling.
Parenting is hard. It is hard to hear our children lash out and say mean things. However, we must be the adult. Be patient, kind and understanding. Not reacting may allow them to open up and share things they haven’t been able to share before.