Your Kids Love You – But Do They Like You?

Your Kids Love You, But Do They Like You ed

It’s great that my kids love me. But I want them to like me too! Is that too much to ask?

My six-year old sharpened his pencil onto the seat and floor of the car on the way to school today. Both ends. I couldn’t quite believe it. He didn’t mean any harm, but is that something you do to someone you like? It’s just one more indication that as my kids get older, they seem to like me less.

But that’s just the kind of thing kids do, you might say – it’s benign and unintentional thoughtlessness. It’s nothing to do with whether they like you or not.

Like is a loaded word, anyway. To an adult, it means things like respect (not littering your friend’s car), interest in and compassion for the other person, enjoyment of their company, willingness to go above and beyond to make their lives better.

To a child it means they think you’re cool.

Coolness coolness

I used to be cool. On good days I think I do still have a residue of cool. But my kids will never think I’m cool. Even if I let them use daddy’s sound system and have a cushion disco with their mates (where they dance wildly either jumping from cushion to cushion, barging each other with them or throwing them at the light fittings). When such occasions happen, when I’m dancing along to Uptown Funk and my eight-year-old is kind of mirroring my moves, I think, “Yeah! They like me!”

Then I see the clock and say, “Teatime!”

My coolness evaporates like the IPad dying.

It’s not just my older two that I suspect of not liking me. Although it’s true that with age, children get more critical of everything, with parents first in the firing line, I’m not sure they ever liked me even as toddlers. My three-year-old “likes” me best when he is sitting on the sofa watching back-to-back Paw Patrol and being brought a continuous stream of snacks, while I remain silently in the background ready to pander to his every wish.

But perhaps “like” is an irrelevant emotion between child and parent (but not vice versa; I really really like my children most of the time)? Or if not irrelevant, an inaccurate term for the complex feelings children have towards their up-bringers?

Because, in the most basic sense, that’s what we are – the people bringing them up. We’re not their mates. We care for them more than anyone in the world, we have their best interest at heart and we’d rip out our hearts for their sake. But is that something that makes you “like” someone?

That’s not to say that I don’t fully anticipate and dream of the day when we do become friends. From my late 20s I’ve viewed my mum as more of a friend than a parent, and this seems to be true of many people.

I won’t stop trying to make them like me, ever.  But until then, I’m playing the long game. I’ve got a new tactic, in fact – make their friends like me, and then they might see that I am worth liking. I’ve upped the playdates in an attempt to showcase my coolness to key influencers in their life, throwing out Tangfastics and fart jokes as if I’m like that all the time, in the hope that the next day at school, my target will say to my son, “Hey, your mum is so cool,” or “I wish my mum was like yours.”

It’s a risky game, as the mothers of said peers are unlikely to approve of my behaviour, but I’m willing to risk their censure if their kid can convince mine to like me.

Am I trying too hard?

I’ve no doubt that my boys love me – they often proclaim, “I love you bum bum”, “I love you poo monster”, “Cuddle!” and ” I love you to infinity infinity poofinity and back.”

They hug me when I’m having a little cry, they kiss me better if I hurt myself, they curl their little hands in mine, they won’t wee on anyone else – they definitely love me.

I’ll gladly wait 20 years or as long as it takes for them to like me. Because right now, their love is all I need.



  • Love this Jess. I think the expression “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” begins on day one! Mine can always be won over with snacks!

  • That’s a very good point and you’ve got me pondering. I think my kids like me, but how can I be sure? I remember a friend of mine saying to her teen daughter once: ‘I love you, but sometimes I don’t like you very much’. I’m dreading the day I am forced to borrow that line!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…Freelance work: What a difference a day makesMy Profile

  • Amanda says:

    This is a great post and reminds me of the can you be a mum and a friend topic. I’m sure my boys won’t always like me, but hopefully they’ll always love me. Arthur didn’t like me this morning when I dragged him kicking and screaming from the sofa watching paw patrol to go to pre-school, nor did he like me when I was encouraging him to eat his veggies, but hey ho! As they get older, I’m sure that I’ll want them to like me more: I love how you’re doing fart jokes haha. But first and foremost I want my boys to think of my as a Mum and not a friend – even when they’re adults. My mum tried to be the friend and not the mum and I don’t think it made our relationship better. I didn’t like how she was so try hard with my friends and I would never go to her in a crisis. Instead of her Mumming up and being strong, practical, loving or reassuring, she became the one who’s going through the crisis and then I felt guilty for worrying her. Not sure if that makes sense, and it may just be her personality. But there have been many a time i’ve wanted to say Mum up Mum haha. sorry this comment is waaaaaaaay too long xx

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