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?