Why Do I Hate My Father?
By: Corrina Horne
Updated July 27, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Prudence Hatchett, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
When you ask, "Why do I hate my father?" you're recognizing that there is something missing in your relationship with your father, or that something is not quite right. Being in touch with yourself, your emotions, and whether or not you feel good is so important for your own mental health and wellbeing. There are many adult children who struggle with parental relationships; if you believe that you may hate your father, it’s important to ask yourself why. Never feel guilty for asking the question. This recognition is the first step towards resolving the relationship or letting it go. When you know why you feel this way, you can begin to answer the question, "What's next?" Perhaps you don't recognize such a strong feeling when thinking about your father, but have an awareness that your relationship is not what you would like it to be. This article will cover a few of the possible reasons you might feel that way.
1. You Feel No Connection with Him
Many grown children feel completely disconnected from their fathers. Sometimes, the problem takes root because the father gives too much of his time and energy to his career. If your father abandoned you completely, you may hate him even more. It might seem odd that you can feel so apart from him and at the same time feel deep anger and resentment towards him. Although your father wasn't a part of your daily life, you needed him to fulfill the role of father. For whatever reason, he let you down.
We tend to expect mothers to be more emotional and nurturing of their children, and for fathers to be more practical. Traditionally, we also tend to consider fathers the providers, and perhaps the disciplinarians. Regardless of the respective roles your parents played in your life, children have a need to feel connected to both parents. In fact, quite surprisingly, research indicates that the absence of fathers is more damaging to children than the absence of their mothers. This suggests that children have an innate need to connect with their fathers.
Because traditional gender roles dictate how men should behave-i.e. emotionally distant, tough, impenetrable, and detached-some fathers have more difficulty being emotionally connected to anyone-including their children. Even though these expectations for men are usually supported culturally, they can be extremely damaging.
Anyone can become a parent. There is no pre-test. There is no certification required. There is no education, or effective preparation, necessary. Just because someone becomes a parent, does not necessarily, nor automatically, ensure they are well-equipped to serve this critically important role. This is not meant to excuse any father's harmful behavior, but to explain it. Children suffer when their fathers are not able to be emotionally available to them during their most vulnerable, formative years.
2. He Hurt You When You Were Vulnerable
Children depend on their parents in every way, at least for several years of their development. In fact, a child's literal dependence upon their parents is such a critical reality that young children adolescents, and sometimes even high school students, automatically accept responsibility for neglect or abuse suffered at the hands of their parents. As a child, you need your parents to take care of your physical and emotional needs, which you aren't yet equipped to fulfill yourself. You also need to be taken care of with love and compassion. One of a child's most basic needs is to be loved unconditionally. Some fathers have no idea how to do so. If your father hurt you physically or emotionally at the time you most needed him--when you were most vulnerable and trusting of his intentions--it's perfectly understandable that you feel hatred for him today.
Emotionally abusive parents can leave scars that are just as damaging as physical ones, even though emotional abuse is not tangible. No one should ever make the mistake of believing that emotionally abusive parents are not damaging simply because the negative impacts of their abuse cannot be seen with the naked eye. Sadly, there are many people today who struggle in their everyday lives due to unresolved emotional abuse from their parents during childhood years.
3. Others Talked Him Down
Although this reason may seem rare, it does happen, so it's worth looking into. Try to consider your father's characteristics, attitudes, words and behavior as objectively as you can, and think logically about how he treated you. What has he genuinely revealed about himself to you directly, in both word and action? Sometimes, other people have their own reasons for having a poor opinion of our parents. When they are unwise enough to inflict those perceptions onto their children, the children are likely to believe the negative opinions. You may have no reason at all to hate your father if the person putting him down did so out of selfish motives.
4. He Didn't Deal with Your Teen Rebellion Appropriately
Many children go through a period of rebellion during their teenage years. It is a very natural and necessary stage of development, in which all adolescents must figure out who they are, separate from both their parents. Sometimes, it can be easy for parents to take rebellion on a personal level or believe that pushback from their teenagers is a reflection of neglectful or poor parenting; in many cases, this simply is not accurate. As teens learn and grow, it is natural for them to seek more individualism and freedom, even if their methods of doing so are not always the best. A wise parent knows, or learns, how to deal with it appropriately so that everyone can come back together when the rebellion (or "individuation stage") has passed. The parents may learn skills to help them diffuse arguments. They realize your need to be both independent and accepted. If your father didn't have these skills or know how to deal with your rebellion, what could have been a temporary bump in the road might lead to a lifetime of resentment instead.
Sometimes, fathers may believe that authoritarian parenting is the best way to deal with rebellious teenagers. However, many studies have shown that this is simply not the case. In fact, very strict parenting is linked to children who learn how to become sneaky and work around their parents, rather than trust them.
5. He Hurt Someone You Love
Any father who is abusive to a child's mother shouldn't be surprised if their child hates him. The same can be true if they hurt anyone who was important in your life. It can be tempting to punish your father, out of loyalty, love, care and respect for your mother. It can also be very difficult to see a happy mother turned into a sad mother because of a father’s actions or mistreatment. At the same time, loving one person well, does not require hating the one who harmed her. And healthy mothers will want their children to have healthy relationships with their fathers, unless attempting to do so places you in potential physical, mental, or emotional danger. A professional counselor can help you figure out if you should move forward with your relationship with your dad, or let it go.
6. He Didn’t Spend Enough Time with You
Parental bonding is so important to children, especially during the latter’s formative years of growth and development. When a father is regularly absent, not around, or even preoccupied with issues such as bipolar disorders, eating disorders, etc., this puts children in a very difficult spot. Many fathers who work in busy careers, such as art design, politics, business, finance, world politics, etc., may not spend as much time with their children as they should. The lack of time can have harmful impacts on the family unit at large, causing children to blame themselves. As kids get older, they may begin to hate or resent absent fathers for not being around more often.
Healing from Hatred for Your Father
Although the hatred of your father may run extremely deep-and may even span generations-you shouldn't abandon hope for recovery. Many men have found that consistent therapy sessions with a qualified professional can help resolve feelings of pain, confusion, and hatred toward fathers, in favor of acceptance and understanding. Some of these patients will go on to develop stronger relationships with their fathers, some will engage in further therapy sessions with their fathers, and some will simply move forward, armed with the knowledge that they are not alone, and that their wounds will eventually heal; regardless, healing and moving forward from hatred for your father are certainly possible.
Therapy services are helpful for hatred of fathers, largely because therapists are equipped with tools to help you get to the root of your feelings-roots that might be obvious, in the case of people whose fathers abandoned their families, or roots that might be obscure, as may be the case of people whose fathers were seemingly model citizens, who stuck around and provided for their families. Familial relationships are complicated and multilayered, and it is almost impossible to look at them through an unbiased perspective on your own. A therapist can help you peek into your own past and behavioral patterns to determine what exactly requires healing in order to ease the hatred you feel.
Whether you are seeking help specifically for feelings of hatred, or you are seeking mental health help for another reason, a therapist will have experience working with people who have similar feelings toward their fathers.
The Danger of Carrying Around Hatred
As seen above, there are myriad reasons why you may feel hatred towards your father and there’s no shame in choosing to share your story. With that in mind, it’s important to understand the dangers of carrying around hatred.
For one thing, holding onto hatred can negatively impact your own mental health. Regardless of why you hate your father --- whether this has to do with parental alienation, personal disagreements, etc., --- hatred can greatly impact how you live a life.
If you believe that you may be carrying around hatred, to find therapist services, a treatment center, or even to find a support group can be life-changing. Letting go of hatred doesn’t mean that you have to be close to your father, especially if he was emotionally abusive. However, freeing yourself of hatred is something that will only benefit you in the long run, whether you’re in your early 20s or much older.
How Therapy Intervenes in Hatred Toward Fathers
Therapeutic interventions can work to heal all kinds of relationships. While marriage counseling is the most well-known form of relationship therapy, therapists can be invaluable tools in helping families connect, reconnect, or heal from absences. If you feel hatred toward your father, a therapist can help you determine the most likely cause of your feelings, develop coping mechanisms to handle your feelings in a healthy way, and learn how to mend your relationship, if that is a possible or desired step. Therapy delivered by a psychologist in an office setting can be a wonderful tool, as can online therapy; if reconciliation is your goal, your father may be more inclined to discuss ongoing concerns from the comfort of your home or his.
Nervousness About Taking Therapy
There is no denying that positive impacts and results linked to a mental health treatment center and people who find a support center. If you are nervous about the decision to find therapist services, that’s OK. If you determine that moving forward with therapy is something you’re interested in, you can do so at your own pace. There is no rush; furthermore, when you do decide to find therapist services, you can count on a mental health specialist who works with at the rate and speed that you are comfortable with.
Therapy is often seen as a resource for people with mental health disorders, but in reality, therapy can help with all sorts of challenges, including your relationship with your father. Even if your father never sets foot into a therapy office with you-or engages with an online therapist with you-therapy can still help you heal your own ruptured relationship, expectations, and ideals in order to move forward, freed from hatred. Sites such as BetterHelp.com can help you on this journey. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
"Rebecca Solomon is my therapist; she entered my life in a complex time when I was getting divorced and my father was dying at the same time. With all the layers of family, marriage, career, friendships, ebbing, flowing, dying, and being born, Rebecca puts together the whole picture easily and responds to the whole dynamic. Her suggestions have helped me so concretely, both to take action where the action was needed and also to reflect on things that I completely missed seeing. I have grown a lot during this very difficult period and I am thankful that Rebecca is guiding me through this hairy labyrinth. I recommend her wholeheartedly."
"At first at I was a bit nervous not knowing what to expect from this, considering I've never done online counseling (pretty convenient if you ask me) and was overall pretty mixed up in my feelings about what was going to happen as well as excited (because who doesn't want free counseling right?) First Dr. Marote greeted me, then we quickly dove into the details of my current life situation ranging from my current relationship with my girlfriend all the way to how my family's environment and influence on me caused me to take the decision to leave the house, and overall was pretty quick and done with a lot sooner than I had expected. Dr. Marote was insightful reflective and compassionate with every word she had spoken, and especially helpful in regards to not only providing insight into my life but as well as putting things into perspective. In short, I would give Dr. Marote an 11/10 if I could; she is patient, understanding, and knows what she's doing, and well as willing to work with you on how to deal with your problems."
While your reasons for hating your father might not fall perfectly in line with any listed here, these are only a few of the most common reasons for feeling hatred for your father. Sometimes, your reasons for hating your father can be a combination of multiple reasons listed above. Ultimately, only you can come to the reasons behind the feelings that you have towards your father. With that in mind, decisions to find a support group, join a treatment center, or find therapist services can be immensely valuable. Processing your emotions, both positive and negative, play a critical role in the upkeep of your emotional and mental health. Using these as a starting point, you can gain wisdom and insight into your experiences with your father and, with the help of a therapist, cultivate understanding and acceptance of the hatred you have for your father to carve out a brighter future-with or without that relationship intact. Take the first step today.
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