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My Toddler Doesn't Love Me

toddler love

My son is very expressive — verbally — and has been more than generous with the phrase, “I love you.” Of course, hearing those three little words coming from the adorable lips of my son brings me immediate joy, every time I hear it, without fail.

A few weeks ago, however, after telling my son that I love him, something entirely different happened. My sweet little boy paused before responding, looked deep into my eyes, and said, “I don’t love you, Mom.”

Gutpunch.

In the sharp seconds of silence after he spoke, I had an immediate realization that a lot was riding on my response. My child had made a conscious decision to change the routine, and I could see the eagerness in his face as he wondered what I would say.

Seconds that felt more like minutes passed as I grappled with the right reaction. Should admit that it hurt my feelings? Do I tell him that he should never say that to the people he loves? Or, should I just brush it off, and pretend it didn’t phase me?

I decided not to indulge him on this occasion. I simply reached down, hugged him, and said, “Well, I love you a whole bunch!”

Tantrums and boundary-testing have been a big part of our days, lately, and I know that my kid was trying to push an emotional button by telling me he doesn’t love me.

Honestly, the fact that a 2-year-old is intelligent enough to test those waters sort of terrifies me. I could see a teenager telling me that he hated me in a moment of passion, but my toddler — really?

I know that my son loves me, but honestly, I just can’t help hoping those words don’t escape his beautiful, ornery lips again…ever.

Has your child ever told you that he or she doesn’t love you? How did you respond?

Read more of Crissy’s writing at Dear Crissy.
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