Posted by: fatherof11 | April 21, 2008

“I don’t like my child”

A common comment we have heard from parents who are struggling with an older adopted child is that “we have not bonded.” It may be phrased in a different way, “I don’t like/love my child.” However, the meaning is generally the same. Today, I want to look at that topic and see if I cannot help answer this question.

To start our discussion, let’s look first at a passage in 1 Corinthians:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… (1Co 13:4-8a NASB)

One of the things that is interesting about this passage is how it defines love. Though it is not always obvious in the English translations, in the Greek the descriptions of love are verbs. Love is defined not by how it feels about its object but by how it behaves toward it. This is contrary to our cultural definition which defines love as a feeling. This is not to say that feelings are irrelevant, but that love is primarily measured by what it does, not by how it feels.

Then we are confronted by this passage:

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

(Mat 5:44-48 NASB)

What does this passage teach us (amount other things)? We are to love our enemies. Yet enemies are those we hate. How can we both hate and love someone at the same time? How can this be? John Frame says this:

“So, although Proverbs 10:12 contrasts love and hate (and certainly they should be contrasted in most contexts!), the two are not always or in every respect incompatible. If love is a disposition to seek the good of someone else, and hate is opposition to the values and plans of someone else, then it is certainly possible to both love and to hate the same person. For example, it is possible to hate some vicious despot (Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milosovic) in the sense of opposing his plans calling upon God to judge him, and indeed being emotionally disgusted by his character and actions, while at the same time desiring his conversion. We should always keep that qualification in mind when we pray the imprecatory psalms, which call down judgments on the enemies of God and of the psalmist.” John Frame, The Doctrine of God, Pg 461

So is it allowed that we hate our child? I think the biblical answer is yes in the sense that we can be opposed to their values and plans. In particular, we can be strongly opposed to their rebellion against the Almighty and Most Perfect God.

However, we are still required to love them, even though they are our and God’s enemies. And this is possible, when we understand the biblical concept of love. That is, if as Dr. Frame says, we define love as “seeking the good of someone else.” Even though we dislike them, we can still be patient and kind and not be jealous. We can not brag or be arrogant, we can not act unbecomingly. We can not seek our own, or be provoked. We can not take into account a wrong suffered or rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoice with the truth; bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things. We can show them a love that never fails. We can show them the love of God in Christ.

Is this easy? Certainly it is not. Only through the power of God working in us, will we be able to do so.




  1. […] 3) Recognize that loving this child does not mean we have to like them, especially in the beginning of the relationship. (I Corin. 10:4-7) Liking someone is an emotional […]

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