'I Hate My Child': Is The Feeling Normal And What To Do About It?

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Parenting isn’t always about hugs, kisses, and smiles and may sometimes take a toll on you. The pressure of parenting may, at times, be so overwhelming that you may end up wondering why I hate my child?

Then, the next moment, you may be engulfed in feelings of guilt and resentment. Though parents are known for their unwavering devotion and self-sacrifice, things can get complicated when children start to grow up, develop their own beliefs and ideas, and exercise their will.

Again, when your child disobeys you, you may have a fleeting thought of loathing. However, that never means you have given up your efforts for your child’s well-being or straying from the commitment of protecting them.

Hence, it does not make you a bad parent but proves that you are a human. In this post, we discuss why parents sometimes experience a feeling of dislike or hatred for their child and how to manage it.

In This Article

‘I Hate My Child’: How Normal Is This Feeling?

Feeling of dislike or hatred for children is normal at times
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Parents think the feeling of dislike or hatred for their children is not normal. Societal norms may not allow such feelings, and they are not openly acknowledged. Your friends might frown upon you, and your family might judge you. Rest assured that such feelings are normal at times. You can detest your child sometimes.

When your child is mischievous and doesn’t listen, you may show patience and perseverance. You may even try to change them with your love. However, when their behavior gets out of hand and causes trouble to everyone, it could get on your nerves, and you might dislike them for a brief moment.

If you are battling with such feelings, do not worry. It is quite normal and may not stay for long.

So, why do some parents have such feelings? Read the next section to find out.

Reasons You Dislike Your Child

Your child can be ungrateful and takes your love for granted
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Going on a guilt trip for having negative feelings towards your child will steal your peace of mind and further deteriorate your relationship with your child.

Sharing a similar experience, an anonymous single mother of three from the UK says, “I’ve struggled this week being a parent. The kids argue. The kids won’t sleep. The kids won’t eat. It’s 3 a.m., and I’ve dealt with a screaming baby all night. I regret being a mother sometimes.

My children deserve better and a mother who is excited and interested in their projects and school life. But I’m tired. I’m tired of trying every day. Of work. Of house cleaning. Of pretending I know what I’m doing as I don’t (i).”

To resolve this, you need to know what triggers such unpleasant feelings towards your child. Here are some possible reasons.

  • Your child is ungrateful and takes your love and care for granted.
  • They use foul language and threaten to run away when you try to discipline them.
  • Your child throws a tantrum if you disagree with them.
  • They do not respect elders and make fun of them.
  • They are irresponsible and do not care about your feelings.
  • They demand expensive things and start making shrewd comments if you deny them.

Sometimes, the reasons could be associated with the parent (1).

  • Depression in mothers is said to be associated with less positive parenting.
  • Additional risk factors of depression such as poverty, exposure to violence, marital conflict, psychiatric disorders, and absence of the father can also cause negative feelings towards children.

Whatever the reason behind the negative feelings, you can address them and work on having a loving relationship with your child. The next section talks about what you can do to reduce negative feelings towards your child.

What To Do When You Dislike Your Child

1. Acknowledge these feelings

Change cannot happen until you are honest with yourself
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The first step in banishing such feelings is by acknowledging them and not feeling ashamed. This can help you stop thinking you are a bad parent and start working towards resolving these feelings. Change cannot happen until you are honest with yourself and accept that either you or your child won’t always like each other.

2. Share your feelings with a trusted person

Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or a family member can help you get a fresh perspective about the whole situation. You can confide in them and release all those negative feelings. This will give you peace of mind and the assurance that you are not alone in this.  If you are worried that they will start looking at you with disgust, you can consult a therapist. They can also help you manage your struggle with self-critical thoughts.

3. Get to know your child

Whenever they act stubborn, try to find out the reason
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No child is bad by nature. The circumstances and situations make them naughty and stubborn. Once you know why your child acts in a certain way, you might not feel hatred towards them. Start observing your child more closely; whenever they act stubborn, try to find out the reason. Is it due to some stress they are going through? Try not to refute their explanations and excuses at once without knowing the background.

4. Keep your expectations in check

Sometimes, parental pressure can also cause children to misbehave. If you constantly nag your child to keep up with your expectations, they might flip out. Accept your child for who they are. Do not take their regular behavior as an affront to you.

If your child excels at painting and shows an averseness towards outdoor sports, pressuring them to enroll in the school football team may make them stubborn. Give them space to be themself, but keep a check on them to keep them away from bad habits and influences.

5. Identify and appreciate the good in them

Point out their good nature and appreciate them.
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Your child could be mischievous, but they will have some good qualities too. Identify such qualities and try to encourage them. Point out their good nature and appreciate them. Resist the urge to deprecate them even if you are angry.

6. Do not punish or shout at them

Handling disrespectful children can be overwhelming, but do not lose your cool and shout or punish them, as this might make them even more rebellious. If you scorn them, they might turn hostile. Instead, talk to them in a soft yet firm tone. This will reduce the chance of getting into an argument. Also, make sure that you never condemn their actions or vilify them in front of others.

protip_icon Quick tip
Avoid criticizing the child as much as you can. Instead, focus on noticing their good deeds and appreciating them. Constructive criticism can help in the long run.

7. Seek help

Raising a child can be a tiresome job. You need to attend to their needs and take care of their physical and emotional well-being. In other words, the responsibility of shaping your child’s personality is in your hands. This can put a lot of pressure on you and cause frustration. If you find that you tend to degrade or disparage your child when you are low, get help. During such difficult times, do not hesitate to seek help from experienced family members or friends. If you feel things are getting out of hand, you can also seek professional help.

protip_icon Quick tip
Send the child to daycare to get some hours for yourself. You can also check if the YMCA has a free daycare service available.

8. Hate the sin, but not the sinner

If your child throws non-stop tantrums, it can surely get on your nerves. However, remember that it is the child’s behavior that you loathe and not the child. This realization will help you deal with your troubled child with love and compassion.

9. Do something together

Amidst all the chaos, there will be times when you can connect with each other. Identify those times and try to do something you both enjoy. If both of you love watching football together, then catch up on a game together. Such activities together will go a long way in reducing the enmity between you and your child.

10. Stay positive

Though extremely difficult, dealing with such situations with a positive attitude may yield better results. Try using a soft tone and control your facial expressions when you are frustrated about your child being disrespectful or mischievous. Children pick up negative emotions faster and copy them in the same way. So, be a coach and a role model rather than a critic. You may try to encourage positive behavior in your child so that they know you love and care for them. Make your interactions less serious and more playful. Also, be more accepting and less worrying about your child’s present or future.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is it called when a parent doesn’t like their child?

When a person hates children or has a fear of children, it is called pedophobia (2). They may show an unnatural animosity towards children. However, no fixed term describes a parent who doesn’t like their child.

2. How do I stop being mean to my child?

Control your anger before you talk to your child. If you revile them while being angry, it might hurt them deeply. While talking to them, be calm and composed. Choose the right words to convey any issue and avoid using words or phrases that can hurt, insult, or intimidate the child. Above all, refrain from physical force or punishments.

3. How to control my anger with my child?

When you get angry, take deep breaths and time out to focus on controlling your emotions. If you feel you may hit your child, go to another room and try to reason your urge to yell, scream, hit, or threaten a child. Find out why you are angry and speak to your partner, family member, or confidant to vent your emotions. If nothing seems to help, seek professional help to control your anger from spoiling your relationship with your child.

‘I hate my child’ is a strong statement and may stir up quite a discussion. However, feelings of mild loathing or resentment towards your child are normal. It does not imply that you abhor or despise them, but you may not want to be around them at that moment. It may drain you when your child is disrespectful, says bad words, or throws extreme tantrums. However, do not show your contempt and abhorrence openly. Instead, try to remain calm, understand that they are children, and reason out their behavior while finding a solution. At the end of the day, they are your children. So spend more time with them, approach them with love, and you will see a change.

Infographic: Reasons You Dislike Your Child And What To Do About It

“Am I a terrible parent?” This may be the question niggling at your mind when you feel resentment toward your child. But before beating yourself up about it and succumbing to unnecessary self-loathing, understand the rationale behind your feelings. Moreover, this infographic can help you effectively deal with your dislike of your child.

resentment towards your Child and ways to handle it (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Hatred for your child, at times, is normal and temporary.
  • The feeling may arise due to their constant tantrums, lack of respect, marital issues, or health factors.
  • Try to understand your child and spend some quality time together.
i hate my child_illustration

Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team

Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with your kids? Learn what it means when you hate your kids and how to cope.

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Associations Between Depression in Parents and Parenting, Child Health, and Child Psychological Functioning; National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
  2. Pedophobia (Fear of Children); Cleveland Clinic
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