If there is one thing that seems imperative, it is not to say things as a writer (or as a person) that might hurt our children or cause them undue pain and last March, when one mom wrote a horrible piece talking about how she loved her son more than her daughter, the blogosphere erupted. With good reason.
It was a very cruel and unnecessary piece by a blogger who used her daughter's real picture and name. There was not much to it except this shocking confession. It was not even clear from her first essay that it was something she wanted to work on. And yet, now a new writer has made the same confession in Redbook and I totally applaud her.
Not only did she hide all identifying details (as any mom who cares what her children think should), she also confessed it was pure torture to like one child more than the other. And it should be.
It is simply not true that moms of two love one child more than other. Sure, it ebbs and flows and which child you LIKE may shift and change (hourly sometimes), I have no doubt in my mind that when push comes to shove, both of my children hold an equal share of my heart's real estate.
Writer Jennifer Rabiner (a pseudonym) saw things in her daughter that made her hard to love.
That is as it should be. If it's not, it is not normal and you should seek help. This mother did that. In order to protect her child's feelings, she hid her identity, but more than that, she talked about it in a productive way. Rather than just spilling forth a bunch of verbal diarrhea, she sought help for her problem.
As parents we have a responsibility to recognize things in ourselves that hinder us from being good parents and we have to make adjustments accordingly. If you find yourself fantasizing about hurting your child, by all means, don't keep that to yourself. Tell anyone you can find and have them help you get help.
What you should NOT do is write an essay designed not to help your child, but to "confess." Confession is not the point. HELP is. As parents we owe it to our kids to be humble, to understand that no matter how much we want to, we don't know everything. We need to ask for help when we need it and admit when we are struggling.
As it turned out, "Rabiner's" daughter had a health issue that could be treated. She said:
I instantly regretted scads of horrible things I'd said to her over the years and prayed that the damage wasn't irreparable. What a wake-up call. As the diagnosis sank in, I found myself feeling more tender, more motherly toward Sophie.
In time, she healed. And it all happened because she knew something was not right and she asked for help. Call it mama's instinct. Call it whatever you want. But sometimes admitting the truth can help fix the problem.
Do you think she was right to talk about this?