Not a Kid Person?

On my last post at Baby Center, I wrote about stumbling-blocks to family peace during the hot, aimless days of summer. One of my seven points was this:

You’re not really a kid person. There’s no shame in that. I’m not either, and it has caused me no small amount of tears, especially in the early years. But I’ve at least learned not to blame the kids for my own personality problems. You don’t have to be a natural with children, but you do need to learn to allow them be kids!

A commenter had an interesting reaction to that :


Well, since the commenter found my observation so “interesting”, maybe I should expand on that a little bit. I hadn’t thought very hard about that point when I wrote it, but after reading this person’s reaction, I realized that I was wrong about something. (I know! Stop the presses!)

There is some shame in not being a kid person. As a matter of fact, I think it is a serious personality problem that should be worked out in intensive therapy, if necessary. If you don’t like children, narcissism is likely the reason.

Children are people, raw, unrefined, and unedited. They haven’t yet learned how to regulate their emotions, temper their speech, or mask their true thoughts. Those uncomfortable realities about human nature–the ones we try to ignore in ourselves and others–are never far from the surface when there are children around. If they’re not showing their own weaknesses at any given moment, they’re probably revealing yours.

Not being a kid person means being unable to put your grown-up, serious self aside for 10 minutes to pretend you’re a unicorn at a 2 year old’s tea party for Strawberry Shortcake’s birthday. It means resenting the need to turn off the television when something racy comes on (probably because that would be an admission of your own sin in watching that stuff when there are no children around). It means being unwilling to answer a boy’s incessant questions because you’re bored with the discussion, and think your boredom is more important than his curiosity. It means being unable to step outside your adult head and think about things from the less worldly viewpoint of the innocent.

Children need. They need time. They need understanding. They need immediate action. They need to be taught. They need unconditional love. They need forgiveness. They need you to put aside whatever you are doing or thinking or feeling to take care of them now. They can’t do things for themselves, and, even worse, they can’t do much for you. Children are “the least of these”. To understand and care for them properly, you have to deny yourself. All. Day. Long.

To be a “kid” person is to shed pretension and treat the smallest members of society—tiny people who carry no influence, can’t flatter you, and can’t reciprocate your gifts to them–as the most important. I never considered myself to be a “kid person”, either, but the truth is, I was just a selfish person. Kids aren’t difficult. It’s the grown-up who can’t bring herself to care for them that has the problem.

So yeah, I think disliking children is a character flaw. Even worse, I think it’s a spiritual problem. Don’t you?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ani Lacy
    Twitter: anilacy
    August 17, 2011, 4:02 pm

    Yes! I wasn’t a kid person before I had my own, & looking back I can see that it was 100% narcissism, at least for me. I didn’t want them to get me sticky by touching me, or NEED me for anything. The biggest struggle I had when I was pregnant was learning to be considerate of his needs too. I used to lay in bed bawling because someone was living inside of MY body keeping ME awake at nights. You’re also right that it is a major issue that needs to be dealt with. I thought it was okay, but after I became a mom I started to see how self-centered I really was. Not to say that all people who don’t have kids are like this, but I certainly was. Great post Cindy!

  • Mary Jo August 17, 2011, 4:39 pm

    Great post, Cindy and a timely rebuke! Although I have always been a “kid person” I find myself sucked more and more into the internet and spending less time with the kiddos. *Turning it off now and going to play a game!*

  • Eryn {mamahall}
    Twitter: mamahall
    August 17, 2011, 6:32 pm

    i agree. that is all. : )

  • Sonita @
    Twitter: therubynotebook
    August 17, 2011, 9:12 pm

    Putting it out there as always! Awesome post and I totally, unequivocally, 100% agree! (Am I allowed to agree with you? Is that against the rules? Bwahaha)

    I adore babies and children, always have. Now, me, I am not fond of teenagers…what does THAT say about ME???

    • Cindy August 17, 2011, 9:21 pm

      Teenagers. Hmmm. Maybe you’re shy? I’m always scared teenagers are going to make me feel silly. They are sooooo much smarter than I am. LOL

  • treen August 18, 2011, 12:49 am

    I just found your blog the other day (I don’t remember how) and wow, you don’t pull the punches, do you! I like. Say it like it is.

    And this post is so applicable right now, given the number of “let’s ban children” articles I’ve come across recently. I’m stunned at how truly selfish people can be.

  • The Husband August 18, 2011, 7:54 am

    Never thought about it in those terms, but on review, I think you’re right. Not liking children points to a flaw in self, although I would offer an alternative (but short lived) explanation; fear.

    I grew up as an only child, and generally, separated from other children due to living in isolated areas, and moving around before I could form any decent friendships.

    I swore blind I’d never have kids (and now I have four; what was it Paul McCartney said life was?), and at the time, it was partly because I wasn’t comfortable with children. It’s very much like my current opinion involving keeping pet lemurs; I have no idea what it would entail, and I therefore shy away from the concept.

    If you don’t have kids and don’t think you like them, it’s possible that the reason is lack of understanding. Have some; believe me when I tell you that those feelings pass.

    If you have ’em and still don’t like them, Cindy’s probably right; let go of yourself.

    • Cindy August 18, 2011, 4:22 pm

      Well, I think an unwillingness to face your fears is a character flaw, too. ;0)

  • Luke Holzmann August 18, 2011, 8:46 am

    I’m not super fond of spending extended time with really little kids/babies. And, yes, it’s because I’d rather it be about me. You’re spot on there.


    • Cindy August 18, 2011, 10:24 am

      At least you’re honest about it! 😉

  • republicanmother August 18, 2011, 4:08 pm

    Once again, Jesus is the example – he wasn’t too busy for kids, either. While I enjoy aspects of every age – it’s hard for me to be “on” all the time. Its so true that SAHM is a great way to deny yourself and follow Him.

  • ConnieFoggles August 21, 2011, 11:52 pm

    I love your description of what it means to be a kid person and it really has me thinking. Children do need and as mothers we are to give and expect nothing in return.

  • Tara @ Feels Like Home
    Twitter: TaraZiegmont
    August 27, 2011, 3:47 pm

    I have a bunch of points.
    1. I think you’re too hard on yourself.
    2. I think you should stop reading the comments over there. 🙂
    3. I think this is a wonderful post. I completely agree with everything you said about kids and people who dislike them or can’t figure out what to do with them. Very well said.

  • Pam September 10, 2011, 10:39 pm

    Wonderful insight.

  • Blessedma26 December 11, 2011, 2:04 am

    I’m a little weirded out… mostly just because it’s almost like you are in my head! I haven’t read anything you’ve written that I don’t feel like I could have written myself (except the part about child #5… my turned out to be #5 AND #6!)

    I have been pondering this same thing lately. (sing with me….) “Jesus loved the little children….” do you? When I’m dealing with my own kids in the comfort and routine of our daily lives, or if I have a chance to interact with another child – friend’s children or just the random kid at the store – I ask myself, how does Jesus feel about this little one? Am I treating them as such?

    keep up the good work… I’m sure whatever else you come up with will be fine by me 😉 hehe

  • Heather Haywood February 29, 2012, 7:00 pm

    I hope you are talking about mothers having a duty toward their own children. We cannot expect the rest of society to bend over backwards to support the selfish, although surely beautiful, decisions of others to have children. That is their goal, their dream, and their work to do to keep it alive and happy. I think society judges people wrongly who bear no general ill-will against children, yet simply have no desire for children of their own and no desire to care for the children of others. I think people should care for their own children without being perpetually surprised upon daily discovering others have no desire to sacrifice themselves for children, not having not made the same commitment to love them as their parents.

  • Heather April 3, 2012, 5:51 pm

    Dude, I’ve been pondering this same thought a lot. And then the pondering, it leads to wondering when I will act, and then talking to my husband about it, who keeps me accountable (which is great in theory…) and then, well – a few days ago I wrote in my journal that I hoped all the crying, snotty, selfish, angry mess I was that day wasn’t just my dysfunctional way of growing up. And I think the big lesson I’m learning about kids is that I thought I’d have them when I was all growed up, but we’re growing up together instead. Anyways, thanks for this post, it’s ushering in my next baby step 🙂

  • Anonymous August 3, 2012, 3:26 pm

    Thank you…great read.

  • Vish October 26, 2012, 8:13 pm

    “There is some shame in not being a kid person. As a matter of fact, I think it is a serious personality problem that should be worked out in intensive therapy, if necessary. If you don’t like children, narcissism is likely the reason”.

    Before you came to that conclusion, which I argue encourages discrimination against people who don’t have the same desire to procreate, did you consider that we live in an already overpopulated world on the brink of its capacity and one that’s rapidly running out of resources? Given the enormous time and cost involved in raising a child (which involves a lot of unfair sacrifice), not to mention the carbon footprint (particularly in the West, due to our way of life – cars, fridges, washing machines, disposable nappes, etc), we should be viewing people who don’t want kids as forward-thinking rather than abnormal. For example, not too long ago, a woman who wanted to work outside of the home was considered “abnormal” – I can see some similarities between that kind of discrimination and the one against people who choose not to have children.

    I do agree with you that narcissism could be part of it, but rather than implying that there must be something wrong with you, which calls for intensive therepy, I hope you can see that not everybody has to follow the same path in life (e.g. have kids) and that this is not necessarily bad or abnormal – it could become increasingly common in the future. We used to procreate to keep the human race going, we used to have several kids so that we’d have people to look after us in our old age (before things like pensions and retirement homes were around), we used to breed out of necessity and also because we didn’t have the medicine/technology to prevent it. We no longer live in such times, and some people have realised that and are perhaps simply more socially evolved. Just because you can’t understand or agree with it, you shouldn’t attach labels like narcissm, which carry considerable stigma and are discriminatory.

    Live and let live!

    • Cindy October 26, 2012, 8:37 pm

      Are you saying that we no longer need to reproduce? Is there some other way the human race is replacing itself now? Or that kids are unnecessary to the world because…why? Just curious. I don’t usually even answer comments on old posts. Seems to me the height of narcissism is to assume that the next generation is less necessary than your own.

    • Emily October 27, 2012, 3:10 pm

      Have you ever been in a nursing home? While there are some good people working there who go out of their way for residents, to most of the overworked, underpaid CNA’s you are just a paycheck and not a very good one. THEY DON’T CARE!!!! I do in-home care for dementia patients and my sister works in a nursing home. She is one of the good ones who really does love the residents and does everything she can. She works at one of the good homes (most are not) and she STILL writes people up and has to go to the director of the facility before anything happens. She has come in to work in the afternoon and found that NONE of the residents had their dentures in! The morning shift had fed them all smoothies instead because it was easier and less cleanup! She has found four residents at the beginning of her shift who needed complete bed changes because the night shift didn’t want to do laundry so they made their rounds AND LEFT THEM IN THEIR OWN MESS!!! All you have to do is google nursing home abuse to find thousands of stories like that. The residents who have family come in and visit them are the only ones who do well. The rest just sit there until they die. There might be staff members who really do care for them, but those people simply do not have enough hours in the day. The average CNA has a work load of 15-25 residents! And also most pensions are not in really great shape right now. I don’t know about you but I am not counting on Social Security being able to support me when I retire.

      • Cindy October 27, 2012, 3:28 pm

        I used to work in rest homes before I came home to stay, and I can vouch for all of that. The ones who care are few and far between, and they burn out quickly under the strain of trying to provide good care when the system and their co-workers are working against them.

        You know which residents didn’t have bedsores and dirty dentures? The ones with family that cared enough to drop by randomly and see how their parents were being treated. Even then, they were lonely and sad. Volunteers are nice, but they’re ineffective as advocates. Paid staff go home after eight hours and leave you in the next shift’s care, and the next shift might not have anybody that cares at all! Working in rest homes was the most depressing thing I’ve ever done, and it wasn’t because I dislike old people. I love them. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the staff saw them as nuisances holding up the next smoke break. Some places are better than others, but all of the ones I worked in were like that to some degree.

        I hope to have enough kids so the burden of watching out for old Mom isn’t as heavy for them as it now is on my mother, who is caring for her mom in her last years by herself. Thank God she is a loving daughter and isn’t willing to put her mother in one of those places. And I won’t be, either. (Skilled care is, of course, a horse of a different color.)

        • Emily October 28, 2012, 8:32 pm

          My dad always says, “If one papa can take care of six kids, six kids can take care of one papa!”

  • Renee March 18, 2013, 12:27 pm

    I used to enjoy being around kids until my sister had them. Her parenting style is so intense it makes me nervous. She hovers the entire time someone else is near her kid and offers up tons of criticism. No Christmas present is good enough, no bedtime story is read well enough, every demand her child makes must be fulfilled or you are a selfish, cruel person. The final straw for me was my sister telling me she feels sorry for her kids having to be around me. Haven’t been back for a visit since. My enjoyment of children is severely diminished. I’m hoping some good experiences with my friends who have kids will help me get over feeling like I am a unwelcome presence in a child’s life.