'I Have No Bond With My Daughter – I Have The Ick'

"I've had another baby since and our bond was instant and it makes me feel so much worse".
Japanese mother hugging daughter
Aflo Images via Getty Images
Japanese mother hugging daughter
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No motherhood experience is the same, some mums feel immediate connection with their unborn child as soon as they find out they’re pregnant, others find it difficult even after they’re born.

Of course with ever-changing hormones postpartum, it can be difficult to come to terms with extreme feelings and emotions unless you get help and have family support.

But what do you do when even eight years post birth, you still don’t feel a connection to your child? One mum has opened up about her feelings towards her eight-year-old daughter since giving birth.

In the raw and honest Mumsnet post she wrote: “I have no bond to my daughter. I have no idea what to do. It makes me feel sick to feel this way but I just have no bond with her at all.

“I’ve spent years in therapy about it, I’ve tried every trick going. I’ve tried forcing myself to do all of the interests that she has but it’s just not there. I had awful PND (postnatal depression) when she was born and was in an abusive relationship that I know she effected our bond but it’s been 8 years and it’s still not there.

“I’ve had another baby since and our bond was instant and it makes me feel so much worse. I love her to pieces and I would die for her but I don’t like her much.

“I feel like I have the ick. Everything she does just irritates me. I’v tried medication, counselling, cbt but nothing is working. What the hell do I do? I don’t want her to be sat in a therapists office in 20 years time crying about her piece of sh*t mother.”

Some parents related but others felt bad for the daughter, one person said: “What does your therapist recommend? You absolutely must sort this out as she has already been through so much at such a young age.

“I really feel for her now she has a younger sibling who is more loved (and whose father, presumably, you are still with?)

“Do you think you identify her with her abusive dad subconsciously? What was your relationship with your own mother like?”

HuffPost UK spoke to a counsellor to get an insight into the situation. BACP registered counsellor Georgina Sturmer says that there is a real sense of courage and honesty in noticing when things aren’t right in relationships with our children.

Although the mum is struggling, Georgina says it can be common to find it difficult to form a connection with your child.

She said: “This can be common especially if our own circumstances and relationships have been challenging, for example with her history of depression and an experience of an abusive relationship. At another level, it can also be difficult to feel a sense of a bond if our child’s personality or interests seem polar opposites of our own.

“Sometimes it’s worth trying to understand why we find ourselves pushing other people away. In this instance, the poster finds herself finding her child’s actions annoying or irritating. Strange as it may sound, sometimes we push other people away due to a deeper set of fears or worries. Maybe we are worried that if we allow ourselves to get too close, the other person - or in this case, our child - will reject us.”

Georgina also says if someone has experienced postnatal depression, then it is possible for unresolved feelings to continue to be triggered in different ways by different events, even when out of the postnatal period.

The counsellor also offered three tips for those struggling with connecting with their child.

How to tackle these feelings

Acknowledging the difference between ‘liking’ and ‘loving’ the people in our lives

This might sound like semantics, but we can absolutely feel a sense of care and affection towards someone, while still perhaps disliking the things that they do or say. This dichotomy is more common than you’d think when it comes to parenting, especially if we struggle with our child’s behaviour when they are growing up.

Understanding what our children need from us

Parents don’t need to be perfect, we need to be ‘good enough’ in order for our children to feel secure and stable as they are growing up. This means offering them consistency and a sense of safety. And when we get things wrong as parents – which we invariably do – to show that we are able to apologise and compromise and repair any rupture.

Reacting versus responding

The poster has mentioned that they have been in therapy, and this work may have touched on their own relationships and responses. When we are feeling vulnerable, we often find ourselves ‘reacting’ to situations. This might lead to outbursts of anger or frustration, or in this instance it seems like it’s a strong sense of irritation. But as a parent, it’s important to find ways to soothe ourselves, so that we can ‘respond’ in a more measured and adult fashion.