When this mom feels confused about her feelings toward her 5 year old son and the PTSD she has around parenting him, she asks Reddit:
I (32F) wonder if I even love my own son (5M) because he looks like his father (35M) and he was extremely abusive towards me, and I finally left him last year.
We had a kid together, and he looks just like his dad now that I've left him whenever I look at my son I see him and it brings back traumatic memories.
I honestly don't even like being around my own son because of this, and just dislike the fact that I have to raise someone who looks like someone who has caused me so much hurt and pain. Honestly I don't know if I even love my own son or not.
When I decided to talk to my mom (66F) about this she actually called me a horrible mother, and that I shouldn't using my trauma to treat my own son like that whenever I tried to explain myself I felt like she wouldn't listen, and she still called me a bad mother. AITA?
I know he's an innocent kid and he didn't do anything wrong, and I know he looks up to me, but how can I love someone who looks the man who has caused me trauma?
I know I love the child, but I don't think I love him the way a mother should love their kid. When I'm feeding and clothing him, I have this feeling of visceral pain.
Yta- as the kid who looked like his abusive father and grew up with his single mother, I know that look of disdain and hatred from my own mother and nothing ever hurt me more than when she told me that all she ever sees is him when she looks at me because I tried my whole life to make sure I wasn’t that guy and in the end it didn’t matter.
It sucked because I tried to get good grades, tried to be the best athlete, I tried to do everything in my power to hear the words “I’m proud of you” and I never got that, all I got was “You remind me so much of your father” when he only has the same eyes as me.
I understand it’s hard for you, but I promise you the kid did nothing wrong he just wants a mother who loves him the way he loves you.
NTA. You are not horrible. You have your feelings, they are natural (even if not "Politically Correct") and most important - you are aware of them and admit them. That takes courage.
However, your son is innocent, and he shouldn't suffer because of his abusive father. I strongly urge you to go to therapy to help deal with your feelings and separate your son from your husband in your mind. It will take work, but it can be done.
Hey OP, I was you. My son was 5 and I felt the same. I grew up with an emotionally distant parent though,so I knew this would cause damage. I was the only one that could fix it.
I hugged him a MINIMUM of 3x a day and said "I love you" even if I wasn't sure I did in that moment. In my head i would think "this is my son, an individual child that deserves his mother's love. He's half me" I read a book to him every night before bed. Every night, no matter what.
I also started treating him like someone I just met and started asking him a lot of questions about himself and his day. What was your favorite class? What was the funniest thing that happened today? What's your favorite cartoon? I started telling him one joke a day, and he started coming home with some himself.
I sat with him while he did Legos or coloring or whatever he was into. I rebuilt the relationship, forced myself to look at him not as his father, but a person who is half me, and 100% my son living with me who would grow up to be who I helped him to be and God dammit he would be a good man, because I will not be an emotionally distant parent. I gave myself 30 days, and if I was still not there I would go get help.
It took time, but it worked. He freaking blossomed. He is nothing like his father. You can fix this, you wouldn't have asked if you didn't know you love him.
I’m gonna give you some sympathy because I get it. My daughter’s father, he is a terrible man. He was abusive and he was an addict until about a year ago. The only difference between us is that I left when I was 3 months pregnant BUT..
I suffered after she was born. I saw him. I saw my ex in her face sometimes. I had PPD, I didn’t bond for the first 2-3 years of her life and you can see that made a difference for us. I got therapy when she was 6 months old but it still took me a while to be her mom.
It sucks. It is hard. But you would be doing yourself and your son a disservice in not getting help. I never hated my daughter, I hated that I could see him in her. That’s what you need to work on, seeing that difference. Your son is his own person and you need to learn how to see him separately.
It’s been said, but therapy. For you and him. Even he. You think you’re better, keep going. 12 years in and I still go once a month just for the trauma at this point. YTA if you don’t do something.
NTA for feeling this. Very much TA for continuing to feel this and not resolving the problem as soon as you realized it.
I'm tagging you so I hope you can read this among the plethora of comments. I hope it gives you a little peace of mind. Sorry for being blunt.
I'm very sorry for what you had to go through. No one should have to go through such a situation, so let's be thankful you were brave and strong enough to get yourself out.
But let's track back a little. Although you may be too shaken to focus on it now, you must remember that there might be a reason your son is with you. of course, we don't know the circumstances, but you have gotten him out of a hellhole, and it's time you move on from the situation.
The first thing you need to do is get intensive therapy. Not only for the sake of yourself, BUT your child. You may believe you're handling it fine and struggling, but we, and even you, don't know if you've inflicted any psychological (accidental) pressure on your son.
You may not have noticed, but it's possible he may have noticed a shift in behavior, and not to sound this blunt, but OP, you're ALL he has. This is why it's not just you that needs therapy, but him as well.
As for the part of why you can't seem to love him, you do. It might take some time to embrace it, but it's something very much possible.
You say you feel traumatized because of how much he resembles your ex, but he is just a clean slate reminiscent of your ex. He lacks/might lack the understanding, the knowledge and the circumstances that shape him into a man similar to your ex.
If you don't resolve this issue in therapy, you might push him to a point where he actually morphs into someone who cannot healthily process their feelings, which MIGHT result in him becoming what you fear.
It will take a long time to adjust. It will be painful. But don't give up on your son. If you feel he's exactly like your ex, just remember that he looks like your ex. He's half YOU, half your ex.
Teach him compassion, love, respect, kindness. Teach him how to treat anyone, not just women, but everyone, with love and respect. You may not love his appearance, and he may look like a carbon copy of his dad when he grows up, but you can shape his personality and make him the man you wished your ex was.
Don't let your fears conquer your mind. You've already conquered most of them; it's time you conquer yours.