Although parents don't like to say this aloud, it's a fact that they sometimes don't like their children. It can be a particular child, or a particular child at particular times. However it happens, parents usually feel ashamed for having such negative feelings about their own offspring.

And yet, it makes sense that parents may find unlikable traits in their youngsters; kids are not solely the products of parental input but are, to a large extent, ready-made packages of personality delivered at birth. That's precisely why the Talmud advises parents to "educate a child according to his way" – his way, his inborn, G‑d-given way. Find parenting techniques that will work well with his personality, the way he was born.

And of course, the way he was born can be anything at all: easy-going, flexible, happy, generous, delightful, moody, needy, demanding, aggressive, sneaky, selfish, etc., etc. It is totally feasible that the child has inherited traits of family members that you don't like! It is, therefore, entirely feasible that you may not like the child, or at least, may not like her sometimes.

But what can you do about it? How do you parent a child who, frankly, turns you off? Rabbi Dessler, in his book, Strive for Truth, tells us that the more love you show a person, the more love you will feel for them. This means that even if you don't like or love the person, you will eventually have warm feelings for them just because you are exercising your "love muscle." By talking nicely, giving treats and compliments, showing warmth and patience, and all the rest, you can eventually feel positively about the recipient of all your love overtures.

You don't have to worry about the fact that this is all phony at first. G‑d doesn't expect you to like unlikable kids. There are good reasons why you can't like the child right now. However, the more you give to the child, the more likable the child will become over time. Over time. Don't expect overnight results. However, if you can hang in there, giving tons of positive attention and limiting your negative attention for months on end, you should notice that the unlikable child starts becoming more likable. Then you can continue showing lots of love but it will be so much easier to do than before. Although you can't necessarily change the child's entire personality, you may be able to remove some of those rough edges.

This may be one of the greatest gifts you can give the youngster. Your child will be able to go from strength to strength in life because you were able to set your feelings aside in order to give her what she needed. So, you see, a good parent doesn't necessarily have to like her child!