Why I Don't Like My Own Child

There are many important aspects to caring for and raising a child and all of them will play an important part in your child’s development and how they eventually turn out. Most of us realize that we need to provide food and shelter for our children, to nurture their intellectual development, and to give them the opportunity to socialize and develop their interpersonal skills.

One of the most important aspects of raising a child that perhaps doesn’t always get the attention it deserves is simply making sure that child is loved. If a child is loved then this will provide them with confidence, the capacity to love back, and happy childhood memories that will give them an optimistic and unconquerable view throughout the rest of their life. If they know love growing up then this will drastically improve their chances of finding it in older age. On the other hand those who are not loved as a child will often feel bitter resentment toward the world, will likely have low self esteem and be unhappy in themselves, and will likely struggle to build meaningful relationships later in their life.

This is why it is so drastically important that you love your child and that they know it – so what happens if you don’t like your own child?

The Effects of Not Liking Your Child

The thing is that we are all highly sensitive beings and we are all highly astute when it comes to emotions – even in childhood. If you don’t love your child, if you resent them, or if you ‘love’ them but don’t ‘like’ them, then they will pick up on this to a certain extent through your mannerisms and the way you act toward them – just as you start to suspect something is wrong in a relationship before you get dumped. While you might try and hide your feelings then, this will not be enough to ensure your child grows up happy and confident as they will still sense themselves as being disliked or the ‘least favorite’ and that kind of insecurity can stay with you forever.

What’s important then is that you make sure to understand why it is that you resent your child, whether in fact you really don’t like them, and then address the issue and try to resolve the problem.

Common Reasons You Might Not Like Your Own Child

The first thing to realize is of course that feelings of resentment or even fear towards children are not all that uncommon and at the end of the day a child represents a huge change to your lifestyle, a massive responsibility/burden and the catalyst for many changes to yourself.

Many people who end up resenting their children do so because they weren’t truthfully ready for the commitment of being a parent. Perhaps the pregnancy was accidental, or perhaps you rushed into your parenthood. In either case this then leaves you not having had the life experience that most of us would like to have before we settle down. If you always dreamed of traveling then having a child means you can’t do that. If you always dreamed of becoming a rock star then having a child will provide a serious barrier to that dream. At the same time if you wanted to have more relationships and sexual partners before settling down then your current situation won’t allow for that either. The idea is that you now change your dreams and ambitions and that you focus on raising happy children and gain pride and life experience from that – but of course this isn’t how everyone feels. It’s not the child’s fault that your youth and ambition has been effectively taken away from you, but it can still feel that way and they may still be where you choose to direct your frustrations.

Another reason many people grow to dislike or to resent their children is when they become overwhelming and too difficult to look after. This is particularly common when the children are going through their ‘terrible twos’ or if they are going through the equally terrible teen years. It can also furthermore be a problem if the individual is in charge of looking after too many children. While their free spirited nature might be fun from an outside perspective, if you have to put up with it and are constantly being disobeyed then this can be a truly traumatic and distressing time and eventually it makes sense that you might start to resent your children. With teenagers you might find that you are struggling constantly with arguments and that they seem to resent you which can make it hard to be the bigger person and to forgive them.

Finally some parents can struggle to like their children if the children are very far from what they envisaged. All of us had ideals before we had children of what those children would be like – what they would look like how they might share our interests and how they would progress to achieve certain things. Thus it is can be frustrating and disappointing if the children grow to be markedly different from this ideal and if they share nothing in common with the ideal son or daughter you imagined in your head. Maybe you wanted a boy and you got a girl? Maybe you wanted a sporty child who you could play football with and instead you got someone who enjoyed sitting at the computer all day? This might mean we simply feel we can’t connect with the children in the way we would like to, it might mean that we worry how others will perceive the child and how they will fit in (because if you’re judging them then most likely others will too), or it might be that they even remind you of things you don’t like about yourself.

How to Address the Issue

Of course if you don’t like your child for any of these reasons then you need to address the problem as soon as possible and to force yourself to work through the problem. How you go about this will depend partly on the reasons that you feel resentment toward your child in the first place.

If for instance you are finding it hard to cope with the burden of having young children and this is leading you to resent those children (you may also feel depressed with this), then you need to find help so that both you and the children can be happy. This might mean getting a nanny to help you look after your children during the day and this can help you lighten the burden and be less stressed when your children refuse to do what you tell them for the umpteenth time. If the problem is behavioral then you may want to get help from a behavior specialist who can help you to learn to discipline your child in a more effective way without straining your relationships.

Likewise if you resent your children because you feel your lifestyle has been cramped then you need to find new ways to find fulfillment. Book family holidays for instance and travel as a family, start writing a novel, run a website or blog, form a band with your friends and post the music online… there are plenty of ways you can continue to lead a fulfilling life and work towards your goals even if you do have children. You should also try and find fulfillment and ambition in raising your children and start to live vicariously through their achievements – give them the life experiences you didn’t have and then you can eventually start to explore the world together.

And if your problem is that your child is not fulfilling your expectations then the solution is to try and reassess what it is you want from your child. The best case scenario here is not to demand anything of your child but to instead let them be who they are – that’s what’s truly special about having children, you are nurturing a whole new personality with their own quirks and behaviors and they can teach you almost as much as you can teach them. Let them explore their personality and take an interest in what they do. Try to be more open minded and understand that what you might think is the ‘right way’ to be is not necessarily what your neighbors think is the right way to be.

Get Help

If you struggle with these cognitive shifts then it is important that you get help from trained professionals to make sure that you can be happy in your relationship with your child and can put aside your personal issues and love them unconditionally. Seeing a therapist can help you talk through your problems and most likely you’ll find that the resentment you feel toward your child just comes from yourself. If you are struggling a lot with the pressures of parenthood, then even taking a break to stay at a rehab clinic can be a great way to get some distance and to get some perspective. If you are suffering from a form of depression and this is just one of the symptoms then you might need to address these with more sessions and treat the symptoms with antidepressants so that you can be there for your child.

In some rare cases however your instincts may be picking up on something that is wrong with the child. It may be for instance if you are struggling with severe behavioral difficulties, that your child is struggling with ADHD in which case you will need to rethink the way you react to their misbehavior. Alternatively if you feel ‘disappointed’ with your child, it may be that they are coping with a developmental disorder such as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), or a growth hormone deficiency. Your child might seem unlike you, or not the way they ‘should’ be in your eyes because they have some kind of development disorder – taking your child to a specialist where they can receive a formal diagnosis can help you greatly to understand their difficulties and overcome them. Know though that in any case, if your child is suffering from such conditions, or if they are just different, then they are going to need your love and support even more. Remember: you are a team and you are in this together.

13 comments

  1. Chris Reply
    July 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I think this article missed one more reason to dislike. I have an issue with my six year old son. I just don't like him. I mean I would take bullet for him and he is an overall good kid… I just don't like him. I think he is stupid and a dork… yes that sounds childish, but we all think that about someone. He irritates the hell out of me and constantly frustrates and annoys me. He doesn't learn quick enough and always does dumb stuff that even his peers find annoying. I try so hard with him, but I can't help but picking on him and bullying him because I have to live with him. It's not like I can just walk away… I feel like Abraham who sacrificed his own son! I need help with this…

  2. xa Reply
    January 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Completely disagree with "You should also try and find fulfillment and ambition in raising your children and start to live vicariously through their achievements – give them the life experiences you didn't have and then you can eventually start to explore the world together."

    This is actually the CAUSE of my resentment.

  3. Mum of one Reply
    September 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    You suggest getting a nanny or booking a holiday. How with little money?

    I felt resented as a child by my mum. Still do.

  4. Anonymous Reply
    March 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    My 8 yrs old son has ADHD and mild OCD so yes sometimes I find him "annoying" or "irritating" then I end up yelling at him. And at the end of the day day I always go over things in my head and then I feel bad and feel like a bad mom. I just don't know how to handle him sometimes. My thing is my insurance doesn't help with therapists or anything like that so I don't know who to talk to professionally sometimes.

    • Sophie Reply
      June 22, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      I am having a similar time with my 9 year old with additional needs. I hurt so much because I just “don’t get him” I love him but just can’t get along with him. He is very repetitive and needs constant reassurance and quite honestly I’m exhausted of it. His dad (separated 7 years ago) has walked away from him also recently so I used to have a break when he went there but now I don’t. Curious to know how life is for you now? Xx

  5. Me Reply
    May 23, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    My Child is a grown up. I went through many years of working two jobs just to make sure she had the things she wanted & needed to be socially acceptable. I worked myself hard for years to provide & care for her. Now I want to have my career & travel & she has tried to stop that for her own reasons. I resent this as I gave up almost twenty years of my life to raise her and sacrificed everything for her. She decided to have a child I begged her not to get pregnant I feel she did it to trap me so she could keep me where she wanted me to be. She knew very well I used to travel to America every year and she knew I was interested in living there. Now she doesn't want me to leave so I can be there for her to babysit but I want to travel I never got to when I was young and my friends children her age live in different countries and far from their parents and only visit once every three months. If she didn't have a child it would be different she is only dependent coz she has a child. I resent this as I gave up my life for her and I would never stand in her way if she wanted to travel and work overseas and if she didn't have a child she would have done that by now.

  6. Zara Reply
    December 27, 2015 at 12:06 am

    My baby was born with DS tho all scans were fine, not genetic. I feel I resent my 6mth old & partner all the time, tho I feel this most with my endo being far worse since than before. I'm 31, baby planned for four years. When I have drugs that dull the pain of bending over etc I don't resent my partner so much, when I'm unable to even do housework I resent bubs the most as I feel I can't be a mum. My partner has to do everything & I feel what's the point when it's an ongoing circle. I think this article would be a little more helpful if it brought pain aspects into it, although I also thought it was very good to include disabilities. My doc seems perfectly happy to leave me in pain all the time, I have a bad knee that pops out & now sciatic nerve. When I addressed this with her she ignored it.

  7. Anonymous Reply
    January 5, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    My daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s and OCD disorder and I am at my wits end! She constantly says inappropriate things that make me feel embarrassed and most kids don't want to play with her or make fun of her for being who she is! She acts very annoying and I can understand why kids chose not to play with her! Long story short I have to do so many things for her even help her bathe! She forgets everything and has this ocds that drive me nuts! She is 11yrs old and she doesn't even clean herself right when she goes to the restroom, I feel so exhausted because I have to help her so much that when the morning comes I dragged waking up because I know that a long day of caring for her awaits me! I feel so depress and feel like am never gonna get a brake! :'(

  8. Anonymous Reply
    March 9, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    My daughter has good grades & is a nice kid but she annoys me so much. She is overly bubbly at time & laughs at stupid things. I find her immature (she's 16) & acts more like an air head 12 year old. She may get good grades but she's not very smart or deep. That's it. She's just really shallow. When I try to engage her in conversation about current events I get a generic "aww that's so sad/bad/cool" then her face is stuck back in her phone making stupid faces & taking selfies. Ironically, my son (18) who has been a challenge since he was a toddler, does NOT get good grades & is rude & disrespectful at times… I like him a lot lol I know it doesn't make sense but we have the same sense of humor & he gets the "big picture" with the world where my daughter is stuck in her own little world.

  9. Anonymous Reply
    June 20, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I have twins, a boy and a girl, both now 12. I am their father, they are w me half the week, w their mom (and her husband- she remarried) the other half. I believe I am a good dad and do everything in my power to do so. My daughter and I are very close, and get closer as each several months go by. We have developed a great "daddy/daughter" relationship that is so special. She is respectful, caring, empathetic, sympathetic, and overall developing into a wonderful, healthy, whole person.

    My son on the other hand is self-centered, selfish, and pretty much the opposite of how I described my daughter. Yesterday was father's day, and he told me he would rather spend the day at a bbq w friends over at his mom's house. I told him, calmly, it was his choice, I wasn't going to force him to be with me on father’s day, but that his decision if he chose to leave would deeply hurt me and would also have consequences for our relationship because it would convey to me what I meant to him. He just looked at me blankly and said he'd like to go. I was shocked. And heart broken. My daughter was surprised as well. So I spent father’s day w my sweet daughter and half a broken heart. My son sucks. I don't like him. He's not a nice person, and I have no idea where it comes from. I ask him, he won't talk to me about it. I ask in a non-offensive way; I don't yell or thrust guilt. I just ask him if he likes me as a dad, if there are things I am doing that he doesn't like or I could do differently. He never gives a substantive reply. So yesterday (father’s day) after his decision, I told him he needs to develop character, to learn to respect and take care of family, and people around him, the people he loves and that love him. That he is selfish and needs to work on that. Otherwise life will be very difficult for him. I told him this in a calm, matter of fact manner. Then called his mom to come get him. The issue is, does this person (my son) continue on his present track and become more self-centered and narcissistic? Which means I will like and respect him even less. My challenge as a parent is to find the will to provide unconditional love to someone that displays these personality characteristics that I would not tolerate anywhere else in my life.

    Ahhh, the joy of being a parent…

    • JP A Reply
      July 27, 2018 at 3:41 am

      Give it time. He’ll come around.

  10. Anonymous Reply
    July 1, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    This article has some good points but some of the solutions stick out to me as unrealistic for parents with low incomes and mental issues that are difficult to treat. One cannot just book vacations and hire nannies. Seeing psychologists with limited duration constraints imposed by government healthcare does not do enough to help. You may go there expecting help and find that all they have are weak surface solutions. Getting to one may be difficult; there are many people who stubbornly think of this as a non-option for them. Almost every man in my family as one example. Antidepressants are one of the biggest farce in medical history as well, just ask my college psych professors and their textbooks.

    I'm not saying psychologists won't help, I'm saying it's not that easy to just "go" to one for a myriad of legitimate reasons. For example, people with depression are very treatable but they are so depressed that getting to the doctor is very difficult.

    I think that not liking one's kids has nothing to do with the kids, but more to do with the parent's inner connection to themselves. They are just using the kids as the excuse for being unhappy at the moment. They can come up with reasons galore but it still has nothing to do with whatever conditions they think are making them unhappy. It comes down to finding something good and focusing on that instead. I mean "focusing" like enjoying the exquisite moment a warm summer breeze moves over you on a cool late spring morning or the way the leaves rustle slightly or a cute dog that struts by with a curly tail. You will feel so good enjoying these little moments that your mood will change over time if you can bring more and more of them into your day. You will probably not mind so much when your absent minded kid spills their juice all over themselves at the park another day in a row.

    Saying it's ok that you don't like your kids will help you realize that you are just feeling disconnected right then and then you'll remember that you do love them no matter how they landed into your life. Fighting against it will make you feel bad all over again and then you'll beat yourself up for yet another thing. You will not be able to give the love your children deserve when you feel that way toward yourself. You deserve to give yourself the love that your children deserve and when you give it to yourself, you'll find that it flows freely to them as well.

    I hate my kids, so what? Now I can move on to playing Chutes and Ladders with them and laughing uproariously for an hour of silliness.

  11. Spence Johanson Reply
    May 25, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    Stupid from the beginning. ‘Weren’t ready’? Sigh

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