Odd parent out: how it feels when your kid isn't anything like you at all

March 26 | Guest post by Michele Yulo
wishing for a rainbow.
Photo by morgwnmakespeace.

Isn't it interesting how we struggle with our own identities through our children? We want them to be like us. By that, I mean, our vision of who we are — you know, all the good stuff. I know that as my own daughter has grown and developed her unique sense of self, her individuality, her very strong-willed personality, I have always looked for those moments of me in her.

Maybe this is partially due to the fact that she is practically my husband's born-again twin (my husband is already a twin, by the way). She looks so much like him it's eerie sometimes. Once in a very blue moon, others will say, "Oh! I see you in her now!" She'll turn a certain way, or give a little look — sometimes I see it in pictures. She has some olive green in her eyes — they are not completely brown like my husband's and I think, "There I am."

I even went to the baby pictures to find one of me that seemed to resemble her as if to say, "See…we are alike!"

When she was three and began emulating everything my husband (who is a carpenter) did, wore, ate, said, it practically broke my heart. Each day, I hoped she would want to be more like me and less like him. And each day I made that wish, I would ask myself, "Why?" Wasn't I being completely selfish? Or was this simply a mom issue?

It was not an issue for my husband who LOVED that she wanted to be like him. She was his "little buddy" running around with a tool belt on and climbing up and down ladders, hammering a nail with her work boots on. And I could only sit back and watch. My husband and I discussed this one day. I asked him, "What if we'd had a little boy who wanted to be just like me? Would that bother you?" This gave him pause. He wasn't sure about that, he had said. So… maybe it's not just a mom thing.

But I'm not going to lie. My daughter's seeming rejection of me hurt like hell. Regardless, I knew I had to get over myself. I knew that my daughter would be better off if I simply let her be her true self and not force her in any one direction. So that's what I did, and in the process I realized something: I actually don't want her to be exactly like me.

Of course, I believe I have many, many positive things to offer her in terms of being a role model; but, truth be told, I hope she goes in a completely different direction than I did. She has the world stretched out in front of her with opportunities that I never had. She is already an accomplished musician (for six years old), a straight-A student, a lover of tools and building. She may be an engineer, a scientist, president!

But I'm starting to believe that being the odd parent out can be enlightening and liberating because it provides an opportunity for personal growth on many levels. There is no doubt that I think very differently now because of her. And even though I know that as she continues to learn and grow there is a good chance she will be more like me, I also know that it's not about me — and that's a good thing.

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