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Your Child, Your Self

Connecting with a kid who's your polar opposite is easier than you think.
Polar Opposites

My 7-year-old daughter is the spitting image of me. Blue eyes, curly brown hair, fair skin. But that's where our similarities end. Maddie thinks a meal isn't complete without meat, but I'm a vegetarian. She's naturally drawn to people, whereas I'm a bit of a recluse. Her flashy outfits totally overshadow my muted neutrals. I often say that if she didn't have my impossible-to-tame ringlets, I'd swear she wasn't mine. (And when she struts around in a pink shirt and orange pants, I'm not exactly begging for mother-daughter recognition.)

In truth, though I'm generally delighted to be the mom of such a spitfire, our differences sometimes frustrate me. I never assumed or expected my daughter would be my clone, but I hardly envisioned a polar opposite either. It turns out, I'm not alone. "Parents often overestimate the amount of influence they'll have in terms of shaping their kid's personality," says Victoria Manion Fleming, PhD, a marriage and family therapist at North Shore Wellness Services in Northbrook, Illinois. "It can be a tremendous shock to realize our children aren't how -- or who -- we expected them to be."