Book Review for I’m Not Mad, I Just Don’t Love You
Written by: Roni Cohen-Sandler and Michelle Silver
How many of you feel totally lost when it comes to dealing with your teenage daughter? How about if she isn’t even a teenager yet? That makes it even more frustrating, doesn’t it? You would expect the rolled eyes, the fight over independence, and the “you don’t know anything” attitude when they are over 13. But it seems they are starting younger.
I was at my wits end when I found this book. I opened it and I remember thinking, “I sure hope I am not wasting my time yet again!”. I had read other books claiming they could help me change my daughter, or tell me I should change. The books that I read either didn’t pertain to us, or the recommendations didn’t work. Explaining to my child that she should act a certain way, or she shouldn’t take that tone with me, or she should respect me and do what I say, did nothing to help the situation. I just felt more frustrated because I couldn’t even follow the directions in a book. Maybe my daughter was right. Maybe I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was.
My daughter would just sit there and, on a good day, stare me down. Any other day she wouldn’t look at me much less acknowledge that I had spoken to her. I would ask her to put her shoes away. She would ignore me. I would ask her to pick up her socks. She would roll her eyes. I would ask her to take her dishes to the sink. She would say in a minute. Many times I had to wonder when exactly a minute became 6 hours. You would think someone would have mentioned that. The more I would remind her to pick her things up and put them away, the more the situation would escalate. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt this way.
When I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. Time and time again their examples would mimic what we had been through. But you know what? Instead of concentrating on what I should or shouldn’t be doing as a parent, or how she should or shouldn’t be acting, this book let me know it was perfectly normal for my child to act this way. This quote from the book: “To emphasize her independence and leave no doubt about her self-sufficiency, your own daughter may sometimes villainize you. It'snot out of spite, but more to push you away and allow her to feel as if she were on her own. Ironically, just as she is demonstrating how grown-up she is, your daughter most resembles a two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum.” Does this describe your child? Sometimes I felt so alienated from my daughter. How about this quote: “Just as your daughter is criticizing you for any and all faults, what she craves for herself is plenty of reassurance and unlimited support.” This book shows you that your child is just figuring out who she is and since she is so comfortable at home and with you, she can “try on” different attitudes until she finds the one that fits her. “Deep down your daughter knows that your love, unlike that of her peers, is unconditional and everlasting. She realizes she can test the boundaries of expressing herself without diminishing the love you feelfor her. You will not expel her from the family, cajole others to gang up on her, or worst of all, abandon her. By taking her feelings out on you, therefore, your daughter has the chance to express herself without becoming a pariah.” This quote helped me the most. I finally realized even though she was acting like she didn’t love me, she really did. She loves me a lot more than she even realizes at this point.
So now don’t you feel so much better? You are not alone in what you are dealing with and your child is normal. Still aggravating to no end on some days, but very normal!! I truly recommend this book to you. Now you can have a conversation with your daughter and not feel like you have to solve all her problems. You can sympathize with her but realize she doesn’t want to hear that everyone feels that way, or how you dealt with it when you went through the very same thing. I do hear, however, that in just a little while she will want to know, but not right now. “When you discard the notion that you are the cause of your daughter's difficulties, you may be relieved of the burden of fixing them. You can then become more objective and free to offer your daughter much needed sympathy, support and encouragement.” Until she does want to hear, hang in there, be the parent she needs you to be, to make her the person she needs to become on her own. And you know what? Along the way you will realize what a special person your daughter is.