Sometimes I Feel Like I Hate My Kids: Am I A Bad Parent?
By: Corrina Horne
Updated January 13, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Avia James
If you're reading this article, then it is likely that you've been experiencing negative thoughts when it comes to parenting and your family. Although most would be too afraid to admit it, many parents have had a moment when the thought, 'I hate my kids,' has crossed their minds. It might have been in a quickly-passing moment, like when you were overwhelmed, and your teenagers were disrespectful. Or for some, thinking "I hate my kids" or "I hate my life" may be a constant obsession that makes you feel like an unfit parent.
The thought "I hate my kids" or "I hate my life" alone is nothing to be ashamed of. And it doesn't mean that you're a terrible parent. In some ways, it makes sense. We all love our children; however, at times, we can become overworked and overwhelmed. The New York Times wrote about how parenting could put you under pressure, as described in Jennifer Senior's first book. This is to help you realize that apart from politics, society, and other life events overwhelming you, parenting could make you feel hatred for your children.
This is especially true when raising children where we spend days upon days, and years upon years taking care of someone who is dependent on us but is also often demanding and challenging. Naturally, this could breed some negative feelings. The key to overcome the thought is by first admitting that you feel "I hate my life" sometimes -- and then, figuring out why. Also, coming up with a solution for dealing with this negative thought when it arises.
Admitting That There's A Problem
When our children are born, they don't come with a manual. Even Dr. Spock's famous child-rearing guides can't address all of the endless possibilities of things that parents will encounter as we try to mold our children into healthy, confident, well-rounded adults. When we first hold our little ones, we are on cloud nine and have so many hopes and dreams for our future as a family.
But life rarely goes as planned. Stressors come up, divorces happen, people get ill, and sometimes death occurs. Even day-to-day life events can become a source of fear, anxiety, and anger. The thought, "I hate my kids" as horrible as it might sound, is likely a product of these emotions. If you look deeper, you'll probably find that you don't actually hate your children but instead dislike their behavior or your current family situation. The important thing here is to figure out precisely what is creating the emotional disdain you feel at times when it comes to your children. This is the first step toward freedom.
Meeting Endless Needs
Child care could become burdensome. Children have needs that they can't always fulfill on their own. Even the most independent child needs your love, support, and assistance to develop into a healthy adult. You know this, so you put extreme pressure on yourself to meet all their needs perfectly. Helping them is essential, but constant perfection is unattainable. This can lead to irritation directed at yourself and your child as well as being overwhelmed.
One way to combat this kind of frustration is to make an effort to really get to know your child and his or her independent peculiar individual needs. This is where learning about the five love languages can help tremendously. Maybe your defiant child just needs more reassurance (words of affirmation) or hugs (physical touch). Could it be that your teenager doesn't appreciate your acts of service (cooking and cleaning) because they see and feel love differently? Getting a better understanding of what your child needs from you can ease conflict, make life easier on everyone in the home, increasing your moment to moment happiness and thereby, improving your family life.
Dealing With Demands
When children want something, they can be very persistent in pushing you to give it to them. You may feel like a failure if you see them as being deprived. Or, you may find their excessive demands extremely irritating. The truth is that, at some point, the demands could overwhelm your emotion. The reason is that they haven't developed mature judgment about what is important and what isn't, you can find yourself resenting their need of your time, energy, and finances. That resentment can build into a feeling of hate if it goes on long enough.
This is where setting boundaries and expectations can go a long way. Take Mary, a single mother of three. Although she always had a close relationship with her middle child, Ava, feelings of resentment started to build when the eleven-year-old developed an ungrateful attitude. Once enjoyable shopping trips morphed into dreaded days out when the preteen started to regularly expect gifts/treats and pout when she was told no. It wasn't long before Mary hated taking her daughter anywhere. Sometimes she felt like she hated her. But this wasn't true. Mary didn't hate Ava; she despised her attitude and behavior.
To fix the problem, Mary set boundaries. Ava isn't allowed to ask for anything at the store anymore. There are still times when Mary gets her daughter a treat, but it isn't expected and is definitely more appreciated. Because both mother and daughter know what to expect, the dread around shopping has dissipated, and trips are enjoyable again. Again, setting boundaries and expectations will do much good for you and your child when dealing with the never-ending demands.
Juggling Responsibility and Your Own Needs
The weight of responsibility as a parent can seem unbearable at times. When your child is hurt or upset, you help them feel better. You keep them as safe and protected as they need to be.
Because we put our children first, we often put off something you would like to do or give up on your most cherished dreams, at least until your children are grown. It isn't unusual to feel you hate your children when you have to set aside your own desires and aspirations to put them first. This can subconsciously lead to bitterness. You may not be able to tell when subtle bitterness creeps in, and you begin to show it. To fight resentful feelings, try to balance your family's needs/wants with your own. It may seem hard at first because balancing things in life is not always easy. However, the long term benefit will help your parenting and lifestyle look flawless.
Have you always wanted to go back to school, but don't think you can afford it or find the time? Maybe you could take one class a semester from an online university. Make time for hobbies you enjoyed before having children like bowling or Pilates, or even just getting drinks or a nice meal out with old friends. Find a way to work activities you love back into your schedule. Finding 'me' time can be difficult, but it is absolutely crucial to your mental health. Say no to depression and anxiety by finding the balance.
Look At It as Learning
Children are young, and they have so much to learn! When they arrive in the world, everything is new to them. Sometimes, it brings you joy to see them happily discovering the world around them. Their inexperience can feel like a burden when you have to tell or show them something over and over. You may be well aware that it isn't their fault that they have so much to learn. At the same time, you have to deal with all the mistakes that are a part of learning.
This was definitely the case with Ava, who had to learn the importance of a grateful heart. Thinking of every challenge as a learning experience for you both can change a negative outlook to a more positive one. This leads to a final way to combat negative thoughts like 'I feel like I hate my kids': positive affirmations. Every good parenting blog will most likely share this with you.
Positive Affirmations for Parents
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Instead of focusing on the parent that you are, focus on the parent you want to be. Focus on the type of parent you want your children to have. It is a powerful life hack for dealing with wrong thoughts. Dwelling on the past will get you nowhere, but setting intent for the future is a step in the right direction. This is where positive affirmations can come into play. The options are endless and personal, but the following are a great place to start.
- I am confident and growing in my role as a parent.
- I act in a way that shows respect for my children.
- I love being a parent and how much joy the role gives me.
- I have excellent communication skills, and I am a good listener.
- I take the time I need to care for my own needs so that I can be a great parent.
- My children's health is a priority for me.
- Our home is a place of peace and patience.
- We are making fond memories of the activities we enjoy in our home.
- All of my children feel safe and honored by me.
- I am the mom/dad my children will always be grateful for.
It's time to turn away from the negative thoughts and possible hurts from parenting. When you begin to say these words of affirmation to yourself daily, your mind will begin to realign, and you will find peace and regain moment to moment happiness.
Feeling hatred toward your children can set many parents on edge, making them feel as though they have somehow failed or are unfit to be parents. Shiny social media photos, photos on several magazines' cover story and the plethora of parenting books on the market urging sanguine parenting can compound these feelings. You might feel as though you are the only person on the planet who struggles with parenting. Fortunately-and, sometimes, unfortunately-that is certainly not the case. Virtually every parent struggles with the ups and downs of day-to-day parenting. Most can acknowledge, with time and trust, that being a mother or father is an enormous responsibility that can occasionally prompt feelings of resentment, despair, and even hatred. Sometimes, you might not feel that parent-child love. Despite all the wonderful, fulfilling things parenthood brings us, sometimes, we just need to vent. And during these moments, you may find that venting to a friend or family member doesn't quite cut it. For when this happens, BetterHelp is there. A completely anonymous platform, BetterHelp allows you to connect with a network of licensed professionals with years of supporting parents be the best parents they can be (both for their own sakes, and for their kids). Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing a range of parenting issues.
"Absolutely brilliant! He helped me out of a pretty dark place and was nothing but helpful! For men who are looking for a counselor who understands what it is like to be a man in today's world with a family, with kids and responsibilities, job, etc, I was extremely impressed with his ability to get down to it and understand what I was talking about. He's great at getting to the root of the issue too. No need to slog through 8,000 words to find out what point he's trying to make. He has a knack for asking exactly the right question in about 2-3 sentences. If you're looking for a counselor who isn't the typical counselor, he's your guy!"
"Rebekah was extremely helpful and understanding in our sessions. She was always sure to try and help me realize the underlying issues I was dealing with. Also, she was very proactive about recommending me outside resources to help me along my journey. I found as a fellow mother she was relatable in a way that felt genuine and nonjudgmental. I am grateful for the time I spent interacting with her and would recommend her to friends and family looking for counseling."
Even though some people will never admit it, as parents, we all have those moments where we think, "I feel like I hate my kids!" What happens after these thoughts are what really matters. An unbiased, professional ear can ensure that you move forward in the healthiest way possible. Parenting is difficult, but it should never make you feel like you can't take care of yourself. All you need are the right tools to help you get back your moment to moment happiness. Take the first step today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it normal to resent your child?
Some moments of resentment toward your child are a part of emotions in parenting. Parenting is no mean business, and it consumes a lot from you. At a point, you feel like your world is revolving around your children, and at another moment, you are totally fed up with everything. It is not the case of resenting your child but resenting all other things except your child. Your resentment may be due to the excessive demands, inappropriate child behavior, pausing, or totally putting a stop to your own goals and happiness to the care of them and so much more. This is not to say that you resent your child. It only appears to be so, and every parent must have had that feeling at certain points of the parenting journey. Many people just choose to be silent about the feeling.
Is it normal to hate your teenager?
'Hate' is a rather strong word, and so it may be difficult for a parent to hate. All you feel for your teenager is love. However, there could be some issues that will make you ask if you hate him/her. The truth is that hatred is not for your teenager but for peculiar attitudes or behavior from your teenager. It is normal to experience frustration, disappointment, or anger with your teenager. In all of these feelings, it is important to always remember that the teenager you seem to hate now was once a child you dearly loved. This will help you to face the cause of hatred and not take out your feelings on your teenager.
What do teenagers want from their parents?
Teenagers are in a critical stage of their development to adulthood. It is a period when they are trying to find a delicate balance between who they are and who they are becoming. They are getting to understand themselves better, and they may not always be the child you knew. The good news is that the teenage years may be a sweet spot of parenting if only you are able to tell what your own teenager needs. On a general note, they want what they have always wanted- love, acceptance, support, attention, and encouragement. They need all of these in a modified way plus a bit of freedom to be who they are. They want attention but not the overly protective one. They want acceptance and want you to trust their judgment as they learn to make decisions. They want love in such a way that they won't feel caged by you. They want to be shown love even when you are correcting them. Above all, good teenage parenting requires an understanding of your teenager's peculiarity.
What happens when a mother doesn't bond with her child?
Mother and child bonding is highly necessary and critical to the well being of a child. Although it may not be the same for every mother. Any deviation from proper bonding is a problem. The resultant effect could be disastrous. When a mother is unable to bond with her child, the child may begin to question himself or herself for the mother's inability to connect. And for the child, not having this bond may result in problems with behavior and dealing with negative situations and emotions.
Why are parents so hard on the oldest child?
Research and real life experiences have shown that parents are usually so hard on the oldest child. Here are some reasons. The oldest child is the first child with whom parents are learning the art of parenting. Hence, you have their undivided attention, so you'd have lots of rules and regulations to obey. With more rules come more expectations which must be strictly followed. Many parents become less strict by the time other children come. Therefore, the strict training given to the oldest child may come in handy to help the younger children. These and many other theories reveal why parents could be really hard on the oldest child.
What is mommy burnout?
It is the exhaustion felt from the stress of parenting. It is emotional as well as physical. Mommy burnout could make you feel tired irrespective of your sleep duration. You may begin to resent your child, feel like a failure as a parent, etc. It is not good for a mommy's health at all. When you do not have your moment to moment happiness, it affects you emotionally and your physical health by extension. It is very important to recognize when you are having a burnout and attend to it so as to nip it in the bud. In dealing with this parenting exhaustion, here are some things you could do. The first is to stay connected with your community and friendships. You need all the support you can get. Another thing is to try to stay off social media to help you do the things you'd love to do. It doesn't mean you should stay off totally, but you might need to limit the time. More communication with your partner may help relieve some stress. And for single parents, don't be shy to ask and receive help. It is very important to deal with the chronic stress that comes with parenting.
How do I destress my child?
Some ways to help destress your child include spending time talking and play with him/her. Try to prevent bombarding them with schedules and strict routines. You should also ensure that sleep is not toyed with. A nap in the afternoon and a good night's sleep will do your child a world of good. You can also train your child to listen to the way his/her body feels. When they can tell you those moments they don't feel too good, it could allow you to help them rest and prevent further stress. You might want to teach them how to deal with mistakes because they are a normal part of life. As a parent, too, it is important to learn to manage your own stress, so you don't transfer the stress to your child.
How do I break my child's bad habits?
Children don't develop bad habits in one day. The bad habits grow over a period of time, and breaking such habits will not happen overnight. Bad habits could be thumb-sucking or nail-biting or addiction to screen and lots more. Some tips are here to help you break the habits. The first thing is to recognize that it is a bad habit. The next thing is to look for reasons for the habit. After this, you may choose to talk to your child about it but avoid nagging. Now, you should get a substitute for the habit. It is more like replacing a bad habit with a positive habit or value. You can also set some gentle reminders to help. Motivation and reward systems may be employed to stimulate them to do better.
The ad, if it gets too serious about being handled by you, it is necessary that you talk to a counselor or therapist to save your child from the habits and the possible consequences.
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