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Mixed-Up Mom


Dear Life Coach,

I am a single mother with a 10-year-old daughter. When the nurse brought her to me at birth, I felt certain that there was a mix-up with another baby, as she bore no resemblance to me, but the nurse assured me that there was no error. Unfortunately, my daughter has grown the same; I am petite, while she is wide and plump. She has broad, round facial features, while mine are narrow.{{more}} She has a dark complexion and black hair, while I have light-brown complexion and brown hair. Now she is completely different from me in every way; she likes everything that I do not – food, clothing etc and her behaviour and attitudes are nothing like mine. (By the way she also does not look like her father, from whom I have ‘separated’). I sometimes feel that I should have given her up at birth. Now, I wonder if I should still give her up before things get worse. The point is that my daughter constantly agitates me: her looks, her behaviour, and the things she likes, and this makes me feel like a horrible person.

Mixed-up Mom (MM)

Dear MM,

You are feeling distressed about disliking the child you have brought into the world.

Your Situation:

A number of factors are at work here: genetic transmission, maternity DNA testing, conditioning, accepting the hand you have been dealt, subtle/nonverbal rejection, adoption/foster/kinship care, among others. These I will address briefly.

Genetic Transmission

According to biological theorists, we have molecules in our bodies known as DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid), on which there are genes that are responsible for passing on physical and other characteristics from parents to offspring e.g. complexion, eye colour etc.

Sometimes a particular characteristic is not passed on from parent(s) to child because those genes are recessive (inactive). However, those characteristics may re-appear years later in a grandchild, great grandchild, or great great grandchild when these genes again become dominant (active). This means that the particular characteristic would not have been seen in the present family line before.

Both parents contribute genes to their offspring, and the genes from either parent may be dominant or recessive. As a result, children are sometimes disowned by family members because they look different from the parents (e.g. when someone with light complexion has a child with dark complexion), when in fact they do belong to the parent(s).

Maternity DNA Testing

Due to our technologically advanced age, today it is possible to have maternal DNA testing done to determine if a woman is the mother of a child.


Our perception of what is beautiful is a learned behaviour, much like our taste for certain foods. We learn what is beautiful early in our development from our caregivers, the media, our culture, etc. So, what is beautiful to you may not be beautiful to someone else. We may also dislike someone because they remind us of someone else that we already dislike.

Subtle/Nonverbal Rejection

Since you dislike your daughter and are constantly agitated by her (just for her being herself), it is highly likely that she is able to sense that you dislike her, and in turn feels rejected and unloved. These feelings will only intensify for both of you as she gets older.

Adoption/Foster/Kinship Care

Individuals who are unable to care for their children have the option to give up their children for adoption, and foster/kinship care.

What to Do:

Accept the Hand you have been Dealt

When we have children we do not get to choose the characteristics they have. We are expected to accept and work with the hand we have been dealt (much like when we are dealt a hand while playing cards or dominoes) and groom our children for life to the best of our ability. God is sovereign and has fashioned each child in the way He wants them to be, and placed them with parents as gifts to be nurtured and treasured. So, accept your daughter as the unique person that she is and make a decision to love her.

Talk with Family Members

Talk casually with family members on both sides of your daughter’s family line (if possible) to determine whether your daughter has characteristics from other extended family members (or ancestors). It may be comforting to know that she resembles other family members, even if she does not resemble you.

Maternity DNA Testing

If you wish to confirm that your daughter is your biological child, you may consider maternity DNA testing. However, given the age of your daughter it is highly unlikely that determining maternity will create a solution. If you are not a match, you may be relieved, but you will still need to resolve the mismatched DNA – finding your biological daughter, finding the parents of the daughter you raised, etc. If you are a match, you will still need to find a way of accepting your present daughter as she is. So, this decision requires careful consideration.

Pastoral/Secular Counseling

You have struggled with this issue for 10 years, it therefore seems important for you to seek counselling and prayer to help you resolve it.

Adoption/Foster/Kinship Care

If after careful consideration, counselling, and discussion with other family members you still feel that you cannot live with your daughter, you may want to consider having her stay with another family member. Foster care or adoption should only be considered as a very last resort.

Life Coach


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