Relationship Connection: How do I stop hating my child?

How do I stop hating my child?
Photo by J. Miller | stock.xchng


I notice that I’m having a hard time liking one of my children. We are so opposite from each other and clash all of the time. It’s taking a toll on me, and probably him as well. I’m tired of the fighting and I’m tired of hating my own child. Any ideas on what I can do?


I’m sorry to hear about the pain you both must be experiencing on a daily basis. As Hain Ginott so eloquently said in his book Between Parent and Child, “no parent wakes up in the morning determined to make their child miserable.” I appreciate your sincere plea for help so you can have peace in your home.

Since we don’t get to choose our children’s personalities and temperaments, it’s almost certain that we’re going to have some mismatched moments (or, several, as in your case). Please remember that your child isn’t the only one who will be “raised” in the family. Parents should do just as much emotional and relational growing as they learn patience, tolerance, and compassion.

It will be good to better understand your child’s temperament and personality. Since you’ve hit a gridlock with him, I recommend that you take some time to get to know him better. Perhaps this will make it easier to know how to reach him, and ultimately set you both up for success.

There are a few resources I’m fond of that will help you understand you and your son’s personalities and temperaments. Carol Tuttle wrote a great book called “It’s Just My Nature” that outlines four significant personality types. Her down-to-earth explanations about temperament and personality have helped thousands understand themselves and loved ones. When you understand how to better celebrate your differences, perhaps you can have more tolerance and compassion for the things that drive you crazy.

I also think it’s good to slow down and see what he really needs. The Haim Ginott book I referenced earlier in this column is an excellent resource to help you learn how to access his real needs. Sometimes children have such difficulty knowing how to ask for what they need that they become offensive in their asking. If we aren’t careful, we might miss a need that we would gladly meet if we better understood it.

Even though everything in you wants to be away from him, I would seek out the moments where you don’t mind being close to him and maximize those times. For example, perhaps it’s easier to connect with him in the mornings when he’s eating breakfast. You don’t need to sit around and discuss your relationship. Instead, just focus on being with him. That will certainly help you feel a little closer to him. You might even pull out your old photo albums of him when he was a baby and reflect on your memories and feelings about him when you first met each other.

Your exasperation is completely understandable. I’m glad you’re not giving up on the relationship with your son. As you learn about your distinct personalities and temperaments and then look for openings where you can naturally connect with him, I’m certain you’ll start to discover ways to improve your relationship.

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  • somethingelse August 10, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Great response. I went thru some periods of not liking my child all that much (he’s 22 now, and we’re pretty good friends)… they were REALLY REALLY hard. I don’t think he liked me all that much then, either. We had recently escaped a potentially dangerous relationship (my new husband got increasingly abusive) and I was pretty messed up and angry. I took a lot of that out on my son, and he was equally angry and took it out on me. Fortunately, even tho I didn’t like him much, I knew deep in my heart that I loved him more than anything, and that the only reason we would treat each other the way we were was because we both felt safe and ultimately loved. He was about 9 at that time, and there was a lot of turmoil in our lives – we moved to a new city, new friends, new schools, new jobs… and had left behind everything familiar. In retrospect, it’s easy to see why it was so hard… but it sure did feel like the end of the world was coming when we were deep in the thick of it. It didn’t get any easier as he became a teenager, either… but there were moments that were just so great, and those gave me hope and faith.

    If you can keep in your heart that he’s a good son, and you’re a good mother, and sometimes its ok if you don’t quite see eye to eye – maybe even talk about it (my son & i talked a LOT, especially as he got older… it’s what bridged the gaps over time) – things will come around. Let him get angry and express what’s upsetting him – don’t take it personally, don’t get angry in return… just listen. You’ll hear, eventually, what is missing for him… and then you can work at filling that up!

  • Not a Mormon August 11, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    turn yourself in for a mental examination.

    not liking the behaviors of your child, getting upset, being at your wits end are one thing; but “hating” your child? That’s disgusting and unnatural altogether.

    The st george news has a moral and legal obligation to turn this parent over to DCFS for the well-being of the child in question. When this parent ends up murdering the child, it will be on your heads if you don’t do anything about it.

  • debbie welter August 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Reply to Not a Mormon: do you not understand that hate can only happen where there is great love? “getting upset” may well describe someone’s feelings that they may describe as “hate”. as much as i hate my son at times, the kind of wish i could punch him hate him, i love him, and for NAM to not understand that to me suggests you do not have a child.

  • Not a Mormon August 26, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    So I hate Hitler, Stalin, Bin Laden, and other crazies because I “greatly love” them? Ridiculous logic.

    Hate is the absence of love. Being upset, frustrated, and angry because you love someone and want the relationship to work out / want them to learn to grow up with the correct social skills is not hate. Hate means you’ve given up and despise the person/thing. That is a total absence of love.

  • Penny Watkins September 27, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Not a Morman’s comments confuse me. What doe not being a Morman have to do with the topic. You are so wrong about hate. You can’t hate someone you don’t love. Hate is total indifferance to the person or situation. Ask any mother and they will tell you they have had times when they hated their childrens behavior. There are times in any relationships when there are very strong differances. I think it is admirable that this Mom could be honest about her feeling so she can get some ideas. You however are judgemental and have no right to be. If you have some positive ideas to give this mother great. If not keep you critical opinions to yourself. I was taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone then DON’T SAY IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Holly September 28, 2011 at 8:31 am

      NotaMormon enjoys the reaction he gets so don’t give him one.

  • -Mike- September 29, 2011 at 12:42 am

    I have to completely agree with Not a Mormon’s comments (Except for the DCFS and murder parts). And for the record, not being a Mormon doesn’t have anything to do with this topic… it’s his or her name, that’s it.

    Religious beliefs aside, for any parent to say they “hate” their child is upsetting. There are many, many words to describe your emotions at any given time, and to say that you’re “hating” your child is stating very clearly that you have no love for them. You can hate what they do, you can hate how they dress, and you can hate their friends, but there is no way to justify hating your child. How about something like, “I’m tired of being upset with my own child”? Seems a little more grounded, right?

    The whole comment about only being able to hate when there is “great love” is absolutely ridiculous. When someone commits a hate-crime, are they doing it because they love them? Hardly. Come on, people, grab a dictionary. LIke NaM said, choose a different word… ANY other word. Thesaurus, anyone?

    Like Penny said, “There are times in any relationships when there are very strong differances[sic]”… however, this isn’t hate. This is disagreeing. There is a difference, and I hope that’s not news to any of you.

    If I ever get to the point where I hate my children, I’m going straight to the therapist. Hate isn’t something that just happens… it takes time to build, just like love. I can understand that mothers especially have strong attachments to their children, so when there is a problem it can be very emotional, but this is one of those “think before you speak” moments, and I sure hope she didn’t tell her kid how she felt.

    If she really DOES hate her child , even once in a while (my stomach turns just thinking about it), then it’s time to get help… and not from an internet posting.

  • Mandy October 17, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Yes you hate your child , because you have narcissistic personality disorder !! Your probably grandious ,and the child is just not good enough for you !!! tour child will grow up with serious issues,& depression !!! Google children of narcissistic mothers !!! to get your answers you freak !!!!!!!!!!!

    • frustrated mom November 24, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. I have a son that is 13, since he was small, I have done everything in my power to help him. He has ADHD and NOS mood disorders. I have been to countless doctors and therapists and explored every avenue of assistance I can for him. The problem is, he has no desire to make the right decisions or better himself. He is able to do better as I have seen small glimpses of it, but the fact is if it isn’t easy, he refuses. Two years ago he was involved in minor horseplay. He was charged with battery and convicted. It didn’t matter how much I fought to protect my child from being a part of the system (btw they convicted him because he tapped the other student on the shoulder. …no lie. I almost put myself in jail for asking the judge if I did the same in the grocery store and I was arrested for it. Does that not sound insane? ) Anyway, after a year and a half longer of this same craziness, my son is finally off probation. Now the mother of the other student requests that my son not be allowed back at the school or any school her child attends. The closest public school is over crowded and has a reputation for issues. Yep, I’m going to just be setting my son up for failure if I do that. I chose to homeschool him, for his safety and my sanity. He does online classes and only has four. Each class only requires he do three assignments per week. Ha! I don’t feel like it , mom. I’d rather be playing video games or watching tv. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. He basically chooses to act like an unruly five year old, no matter what I try to do. His bio father is absent, and his step father has been right there with me, for support and guidance. Another thing is I was offered a nice job last week. I can’t take it because I can’t leave him alone. He will tell you the things hes supposed to do, but says he doesn’t because he doesn’t feel like it. I have two other children. My second one is amazing, great person and wonderful student. She is 11 and I could leave her home alone without having to worry except for external dangers. My 9 year old is learning her brothers bad behavior. She has no disability, just monkey see monkey do. There’s a great deal more, but no narcissism here. I prefer the simple things, I don’t care about the latest and greatest. I don’t even shop at the mall. There are situations where over time a resentment can build up for a child, and because of initial love and responsibility hatred starts creeping in. You can’t just throw your kid out, can’t give up no matter how much you want to, have to spread yourself even thinner to make sure the other two are getting attention also. I am dealing with this right now, and it is a horrible feeling to not want your child around, to think of how their actions have negatively affected the whole family. I would not hurt my children, but I do fear that his laziness could end up hurting someone else through negligence. Then I end up upset with myself for choosing his father and trying to start a family with him. Its a mess. I will get through it, but it sucks all the same.

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