ASK MOM: Guilty mom worries she's lost interest in her own son
By Mary Follin and Erika Guerrero
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THE PROBLEM: I feel like I’m having a weird reaction to my 4 yo son, ever since our daughter was born. Please don’t judge me for this, but I feel so uninterested in doing anything with him. We were all so excited about this baby—including my son—but now, the only thing that makes me happy is doing ‘baby things.’ Believe me, I’m doing everything I can to try and play with my older kid: building Legos with him, reading books, talking to him about his day in preschool, but I’m just not interested in his stuff. Truthfully, it scares me. Do I love him less now that the baby is here? I can’t share this with anyone, since they’ll think I’m a horrible mom, which is pretty much how I’m feeling about myself. Even though I continue to go through the motions, I think my son senses how I feel. How can I reengage with my son in a way that shows him I want to be with him?
MARY SAYS: Many parents have favorite stages of raising their children. Some are at their best when playing wiffle ball or Candyland with elementary age kids, others like philosophizing with teens, and for some, having adult children is where they shine. It sounds as though for you, it’s the baby stage. In fact, I’m guessing you felt this way when your older son was born, too.
I imagine both your children were blessed to feel welcome as soon as they came in!
But your older son is no longer a baby, and your daughter won’t be an infant forever. These two small humans are going to be with you for life, so you’ll want your relationships to grow and change just as your children inevitably will.
Look into your son’s eyes and see the baby who has grown into this little boy. Your baby is still in there, needing his mama’s attention. Do this, and you'll quickly remember how precious your son has always been to you. As a parent of grown kids, I can confidently say you’ll always be able to see the babies in your children’s eyes; that’s simply what mothers do.
You don’t need to love what your son does. All you need to do is love him. You’ll be surprised how interesting he becomes when you look through the lens of your heart, rather than your mind.
ERIKA SAYS: Mama, I'm a mom of one, so I can’t say I entirely understand, but one thing I know for sure is a mother’s love never runs out. I don’t believe you love your son any less than your daughter. You’re still in your baby bliss stage—as you should be—which is most likely a contributing factor. What I think you need here is a reminder of what you love about your son.
Be intentional about spending ‘alone time’ with him. Let Dad do baby-duty while you take a walk with your little man. Try a new activity together to break away from your everyday routine; ask new questions when he gets home from preschool. Get dressed up for a mom-and-son date. I do this with my son about once a month, and he loves it!
Your son's excitement about the arrival of his baby sister can also help. Ask him to help with her care: fetching diapers, making silly faces to cheer her up, and showing her picture books. Bonding with your new little girl is something the two of you can do together, and I’m sure your daughter will enjoy it too!
Lastly, don’t let fear of judgment keep you from confiding in someone you trust; tell a friend you’re struggling. If you don’t feel you can trust anyone in your circle, join a mom’s group or forum for support. I guarantee you’re not the only mom who has had difficulty maintaining a bond with her older children after having a baby.
ASK MOM offers parents two perspectives on today’s child-rearing issues—one from a mom with grown children (Mary), the other from a mom raising a small child (Erika). If you’re looking for creative solutions, or your mom isn’t around to ask, drop in!
If you have a question for Mary and Erika, we’d love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org
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ABOUT MARY FOLLIN
Mary is the author of TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ and ETHYR, winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award and the Gertrude Warner Book Award. She is mom to two grown sons and enjoys sharing her more seasoned perspective with parents of younger children.
ABOUT Erika Guerrero
Erika Guerrero is a freelance hair and makeup artist, Erika K. Beauty, single-mama to one amazing boy, and author of She’s Not Shaken, a blog offering hope and encouragement to women in all walks of life.
ABOUT Suzanne Johnson
Suzanne Johnson, mother of five children and grandmother of eight, is an illustrator, book cover designer, and author of the Realms of Edenocht series.
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