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I Loved My Children, But I Didn't Always Like Them

Liz Weaver (00:00):

In today's video. We have Dr. Adam Saenz, dr. Adam Saenz earned his PhD in school psychology from Texas A and M University. He is a United States department of education doctoral fellow. He completed his pre doctoral clinical training under a fellowship appointment to Harvard medical school. And he has a post-doctorate in clinical psychology from the Albert medical school of Brown University. Dr. Saenz also earned a doctorate of ministry and pastoral counseling from graduate theological foundation with residency at Christ church college of Oxford university. He is the author of the best selling book, the power of a teacher and relationships that work his most recent release. The EEQ intervention, raising a self-aware generation through social and emotional learning will be released in January of 2020. He currently serves as the executive director of the Oakwood collaborative, the counseling and assessment clinic. He founded in 2003, and he consults with school systems internationally in the area of emotional intelligence, self care, and the dynamics of relationship based learning. In addition to his clinical work, he serves as a high school track and field coach. He has a member of the association for applied sports psychology and is a lifetime member of the Texas track and field coaches association. He and his wife of 24 years, Kim have four children in this video. He talks about how we can recognize our emotions and to control them and how important that is as a parent let's watch.


Dr Adam Saenz (01:38):

Hi, I'm going to talk about how we can recognize our emotions and how we can control them. And I learned a lot about both of those in my clinical training as a licensed psychologist and in my practice. But, and I just honestly don't think it, it became real to me or it became more real to me. When I became a parent specifically I think the after we had our second child, I have four children, three biological and one adopted it became real after the the birth of our second child as we were raising children. And then again, after we adopted so let me explain kind of what I mean by that. My children have different aspects of my wife's and my personality and with my children that that share my personality style life is just, it's great.


Dr Adam Saenz (02:31):

You know we, we get along, everything's fine. I liked them in a way because they value what I value. They're drawn to the things that I'm drawn to, but I didn't realize that you know, not, not all my children share my personality, they don't, they don't share, they don't value the things that I value. They may not be as driven as I am, or they may value new experiences more than I do. They may like change more than I do. And it took me a while as a parent to realize and to be honest with the fact that I, I loved my children, but I didn't always like them, especially the ones whose personalities were so different than mine. And I wrestled with that. I struggled with that. I thought, I mean, surely no parent worth their salt ever struggles with, with not liking their child.


Dr Adam Saenz (03:18):

You know, I just thought, man, I'm, I'm flawed. There's something wrong with me. But the challenge with being in that place where you just really don't like your child's personality, not because it's wrong, but because it's different than yours the challenge when you, when, when you repressed out or when I repressed that feeling was that I carried guilt around that and I felt like I just wasn't free and authentic with, with that child the way I should have been. So freedom for me came when I finally got to a point where I was willing to admit to myself and willing to admit to my, even my wife that gosh, you know, sometimes I just don't always enjoy being around them because our personalities are so different. So I think we, the lesson for me was about learning how to recognize my emotion.


Dr Adam Saenz (04:08):

I couldn't recognize my emotion until first. I was willing to admit that I had them until I was willing to admit that I felt you know, like I just didn't know. It was like certain of my kids because of their personalities. It was a hard thing to face, but once I faced the reality and said, well, that's where you're at. You need to own that and embrace that. Then I could begin to deal with the emotion. So that was one level w you know, after our, my wife and I had biological children, we began to see their personalities were different than mine in some ways. And those differences resulted in me having feelings of not always liking them. And so I had to own that, admit that, and just be honest about it. And once I did that, I could, you know deal with it.


Dr Adam Saenz (04:52):

It took on another level when we adopted our child, our daughter she was 10 at the time that we adopted her and she came to us with some pretty severe emotional needs that were more challenging than anything my wife or I had ever experienced. And certainly she presented needs that none of our biological children had, and just the emotional toll that it took on us especially in those early years was overwhelming. And not sure I really did. I struggle with guilt of, I don't always like this child, but I struggled with, with honest thoughts of, did we make a mistake in adopting you? Are we qualified to adopt you? Maybe we should have led another family with more skills than us adopt you. I had feelings of regret, wondering if we'd done the right thing. And again, I felt, I felt so guilty about that.


Dr Adam Saenz (05:45):

You know, I thought surely we're supposed to be filled with joy, and this is supposed to be a great thing. And adoption is always good. And, you know, we're supposed to be happy about this, and these struggles are small. I just didn't feel, it always resonate with me now, we're, we're nine years into it. And have absolutely no doubt that we did the right thing and, and are, are very pleased with where we're at in, in parenting our adopted child as special needs. But again, it was one of those things where I just had to be honest with myself and say Adam, just be real. You you're, you're struggling with feelings of regret, and you're struggling with feelings of failure, be honest about that. Don't deny it. And don't, don't try and put on a happy face and don't act like you're the martyr just be real with him.


Dr Adam Saenz (06:29):

And again, I learned a lot in my clinical training as a psychologist, but it wasn't until I as a parent began to experience these really unsettling emotions that I just thought a good parent wouldn't experience that I had to come to grips personally with difficult feelings as a parent. And, and, and it wasn't until I could admit them that I could recognize it and eventually moved through it. So admitting it that I had those feelings and being real with myself and with my wife and with, with people in our group our immediate circle was an important first step. And then that allowed me to get to the second step, which is how do we control the emotions once we finally own them and admit them, acknowledge them, what do we do? And what I've learned as a parent is that the best way for me to, to to control or to regulate my emotions effectively was to express them in a way that wasn't harmful either to my children or anyone in the family.


Dr Adam Saenz (07:29):

And what I mean by that is I realized that it was okay for me to feel like you know, I just don't like my child right now, or it's okay for me to, to feel like I'm just wondering if we did the right thing when we adopted this child, that those feelings are okay, but it's not okay for me to say to my children. I don't like you right now because you're different than me go away. I don't like your adopted child because this isn't what I expect, but this isn't what I just don't think that kind of expression of emotion is healthy or adaptive. And it's not anything my children need to be here hearing. So what I learned to regulate my emotions and to control my emotions again, once I finally got real about them was just to find a safe place to talk to about them.


Dr Adam Saenz (08:07):

So my wife became a safe place. She and I just agreed that we would give each other permission to feel what we feel and to express it to each other and not the children, but to each other without judgment. And then we also got involved in some support groups for adoptive parents. And I was just so relieved to find out that I was not the only parent that adopted a child with special needs, who struggled with feelings of guilt and shame and feeling like a failure and wondering whether they had done the right thing. And so that, that support group for dr. Parents became a very safe place for me, a place where I felt like I could be myself warts and all and unpleasant feelings and all imperfections as a parent and all even as a psychologist and just feel okay with that and not feel like I had to be the smartest guy in the room or the best parent in the room or share all my victories.



How to be an integrated parent

Dr Adam Saenz (08:58):

It was safe to share my failures as well. So that was a big piece of me learning how to be an integrated parent, to be an honest parent, to be an authentic a parent. And as I grew in my ability, to be honest with my emotions, honest about my emotions, no matter how ugly they seemed or how wrong or inappropriate they may seem just to acknowledge that they're there. And then number two, to find a safe place to talk about them that didn't do damage to my children or anyone else that didn't shame anyone or blame anyone or condemn anyone. Once I found a safe outlet for that, I was able to regulate my emotions and express them in a way that was appropriate. And the beauty of that is that once I finally learned to be authentic and real with myself about what I was feeling, and once I found a safe place to express my feelings and talk about them openly, then I just felt lighter.


Dr Adam Saenz (09:50):

And I felt cleaner in a way, going back to my children, feeling like I hit a reset button, you know, and I just had a a new measure of grace for them and understanding and compassion and love. And it's, it was just incredibly valuable to me as a parent to, to learn that personally, it's not something that you read about and, or I read about in a textbook and knew it in theory, but it wasn't until I lived it and practiced it, that it, that it took life from me. So again, I would say you know, to, to fellow parents, you know, out there that are, that are struggling number one, whatever your emotions are just own. It just be real with it. Don't, don't sugarcoat it, don't gloss. It. Don't try to perfume it or, or just what it is, what it is.


Dr Adam Saenz (10:33):

And, and it's okay for you to feel whatever you feel. And then the second thing is to control those emotions effectively just find a safe place to express them, find a safe person to talk about them. And if you don't have a safe person, find a journal that you can write those feelings out unfiltered just as they come, true thoughts. And then after you write it all out, you can burn it. And nobody has to know but it was a good place for you to get it out. So I think those are the two things we often think about your feelings and find a safe place to express them. And I think it'll go a long way in keeping you charged and, and where you need to be to, to love your kids effectively.



Make sure to watch the full documentary on childhood emotions. You'll learn how to help your child manage their own emotions. You'll learn about your own emotions and how they affect your child. And you'll learn simple ways of helping children improve behavior.

Get more info at



I struggled with the guilt of, I don't always like this child

Key Takeaways:

First admit you have the emotion
Learn to recognize the emotion
Find a safe place to express that emotion

I Loved My Children, But I Didn't Always Like Them - Dr Adam Saenz

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