'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 throws 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.

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

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.

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

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. 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

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. A therapist can also be helpful if you continue to struggle with self-critical thoughts. 

3. Get to know your child

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?

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.

If your child excels at painting and doesn’t show interest in 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

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.

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. Instead, talk to them in a soft yet firm tone. This will reduce the chance of getting into an argument.

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. 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.

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 hate 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.

‘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 hate 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, 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.

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.

References:

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.
Associations Between Depression in Parents and Parenting, Child Health, and Child Psychological Functioning; National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
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Natalie Jay Campbell

(MSW, LCSW)
Natalie Jay is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in San Diego County with a specialty in depression, anxiety, trauma, couple therapy, and addiction. She has a Bachelors degree in Psychological & Brain Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis and a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work from San Diego State University. Natalie has worked for county non-profit agencies as... more

sanjana lagudu

Sanjana did her graduation in Pharmacy and post graduation in management. It was during her first job, she recognized her skills in writing and began working as a freelance writer. Later, she completely moved into content writing and began working as a full-time content writer. Sanjana's articles in MomJunction cover topics related to new parenting and relationships. A fitness enthusiast... more