Parents don’t want to admit an ugly truth—that sometimes they don’t like their child. If you feel this way and are scared, it’s okay. Parenting is challenging and often emotional, especially when our kids are defiant, disrespectful, or not who we wanted them to be.

We all have expectations for how our kids should grow and behave, and when these expectations aren’t met, it can be very painful. Maybe your child isn’t the person you thought they would be: perhaps they’re not academic or outgoing enough, or perhaps they are negative and like to complain.

Instead of feeling upset and guilty, there are ways you can build a healthier relationship with your child and like who they are. Here are some tips.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Don’t push your feelings away because you feel guilty or think it’s wrong to dislike your child. You don’t have to like the emotional truth—you only need to own it. Change can’t begin until you are honest with yourself about how you feel. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling and why?”

It’s important to accept the fact that you won’t always like your kids—and they won’t always like you.

Identify the Cause of Your Feelings

Find some time to think about the root cause of your feelings. Are there external influences affecting your child’s behavior, such as problems at school? Or is it more to do with your preconceived expectations?

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Maybe you don’t like your child because they’re so different from you. Or perhaps you don’t like your child because they act out, are defiant and oppositional, and wreak havoc in your home. These are all understandable reasons to feel dislike towards your child. Why would you like someone who treats you poorly?

If this is the case, try to remember that it’s the behavior you don’t like, not the child. We can love our children and hate their behavior, but sometimes the two get entangled.

If you look closely, you may realize that disliking your child is more about you than them—because it has to do with your reaction to their behavior.

Sometimes, as parents, we are triggered by memories of our own childhood, causing feelings of inadequacy, fear, or anxiety. We then project those feelings onto our kids. For example, if you were heavily criticized as a child for not having a stellar report card, perhaps you are hard on your child when they drop below an A average. Be mindful of this, and don’t let it control your parenting.

Be on the lookout for other factors that may be contributing to your feelings. For example, your child may be caught between your difficulties with your co-parent. Perhaps your co-parent (or you) aren’t holding your child accountable for their behavior.

Manage Your Expectations

Accept your child for who they are, and you can move toward a better relationship. If your child is different than your expectations, then manage those expectations.

Remember, ultimately, the only person you can control is you. Learn to find the space between your child’s action and your reaction. It is here that you can learn to be a calm parent and stay emotionally separate. No matter how your child acts, promise yourself you’ll try to remain calm.

Get to Know Your Child Better

Make time to do something fun. Learn what your child’s likes and dislikes and what makes them tick. Try to listen without judging—children are more likely to react negatively when they feel scrutinized. Your child will appreciate the chance to open up and tell you how they’re feeling.

Stay positive

Talk to your kids as if you like them, even when saying ‘no’ or giving consequences. Don’t scowl, and speak with a soft tone that gives them the message you care about them. Staying positive can be hard, especially when you’re frustrated and your child has been disrespectful.

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Still, be as positive as you can when dealing with them because they pick up on any negative feelings quickly and soon internalize them—or rebel against them aggressively. And remember, the look on your face and the tone of your voice communicates more than your words do.

Focus on what’s right and begin building on what is good. Don’t obsess over the negative or try to change who your child is. You’ll have a better relationship if you try to praise your child and affirm good behavior. Sometimes, as parents, we are too automatic with judgment. Make an effort to watch what you say. Remember: your child needs a coach, not a critic.

Finally, bring more playfulness and less seriousness to your interactions. Recognize that your child may have a problem, but it’s your interactions that have led to your feelings of dislike. Try to accept them for who they are and love them without worrying about them so much.

Commit to Not Criticizing

Here’s a trick that works for me. I get up in the morning, and I say to myself, “Okay, not one criticism can come out of my mouth today.” I make it a very conscious thought and activity. It’s so automatic for some of us to criticize, and half the time, we don’t even know we’re doing it. So make it a conscious effort.

Notice when your child does something well. Point out your child’s strengths and describe what you see. For example, you can say:

“You looked like you were about to scream at your brother, but I noticed how you pulled yourself together and walked away. How did you do that? That was impressive.”

If you can do this, it will help both of you gain an appreciation for one another.

When There’s a Personality Clash with Your Child

What if your personalities simply clash? Maybe your child is not a friend you would have chosen. Perhaps you’re too different or too similar. Problems start when you carry around a lot of disappointment about somebody and try to change them in some way or another. That’s when the negative cycle begins.

Keep in mind that your child is not your friend. Your role as a parent is unique, and you can be friendly without necessarily being a friend.

Understanding that you don’t have to be your child’s friend can help you come to terms with who your child is–and accept them.


By taking responsibility for your emotions and making an effort, you’re showing your child that you want things to be better. Tell your child:

“I know we haven’t always gotten along in the past because I’ve been too hard on you. I apologize and am working on it.”

That effort will go a long way with your child. Get calm, accept your child, and help them become the person they’re meant to be.

Related Content:
“Am I a Bad Parent?” How to Let Go of Parenting Guilt
“I Feel Like a Failure as a Parent.” How to Turn That Hopeless Feeling Around

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For more than 25 years, Debbie has offered compassionate and effective therapy and coaching, helping individuals, couples and parents to heal themselves and their relationships. Debbie is the creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM™ program and is also the author of numerous books for young people on interpersonal relations.

Comments (46)
  • Ellenna

    Great article.

    I go through times of love & dislike with my teenage son. On the times when I just can't stand it, I take a break & read through a good article (like I did just now!), or listen to a session on Empowering Parents. This course has REALLY helped. I think what makes me so ticked/discouraged/apathetic, etc., is when I've slipped back into my old ways & my son is manipulating me again. It's when I let him run all over me that I get upset & react. I always need to be reminded of the basics. Old habits die hard. When we remain calm & actually are empowered---using the correct tools-- we can allow our kids to own their bad behavior. We then "drop the rope" so to speak & not allow their bad vibes to affect us. I've found that slowly but surely the ship turns around & I see better behavior coming out of my son. And, consequently, the warm feelings start coming back.

    I really recommend doing this Empowering Parents course. If you need someone to talk to, pay the extra to have your own online coach. Those are my honest, heartfelt thoughts. prayers & blessings for all us parents!

  • Vicki
    I dont like my almost 13 year old more and more. She is entitled and takes absolutely zero responsibility for how her behavior triggers everyone around her. She lies frequently so im never really sure if something is actually happening to her or not. For example me and her wereMore fighting and I was like I'm not getting ready to do this. This could ruin a wet dream. She goes and tells her grandma that I said I hated her. Mind you grandma heard the entire exchange and told her that's not what was said at all. Then she starts changing what she said. She believes that I should relearn all middle school math so she won't have to ask her teacher a question. I'm a single parent and I work 45 to 50 hours a week. I don't have time to learn this again especially since I just Google it and watch YouTube videos. She has a damn 1200 dollar phone. Why can't she use it to help with homework instead of snapchatting her friends. She claims to have too much on her plate but it really isn't that it's she has poor time management and will not take any advice on how to fix that. What's worse is the younger 2 are picking up this behavior and I'm at my wits end. I've never really considered boarding school until now.
  • The_Mom_With_All_The_Guilt

    This is the first time I feel safe enough to vent about how I'm feeling. Sometimes I worry that I hate my child, or at the very least dislike him. Mostly I feel exhausted and feel guilty about having hurt feelings.

    My son just turned 14 and he can be so casually rude and mean that it brings me to tears. Then I feel guilty for taking it personally, because I guess I feel like I should be able to correct his behaviour without being so hurt by it. I feel like I'm parenting wrong every day.

    He has a lot of issues with depression, self-harm, gender identity, suicidal thoughts, disordered eating...you name it. His dad and I have tried so hard to help and support him. We've spent the last 3-4 years making endless appointments with endless professionals, changing our work schedules, meal planning, and so much more, just to try to keep him safe and help him cope with whatever he's going through.

    I feel bad for even complaining about any of that, but he still complains that we don't have as much money as his friends' parents, that he hates all the food I make him, that he hates looking like my side of the family...you name it, he hates it.

    Sigh. I'm just so bleeping tired, you know?

  • Tee
    I have a 5 year old & I love him with all my heart but I hate when he wakes up in the morning because that means I have to deal with him . His dad and I always argue because of him and I'm literally going crazy ! IMore hate being around I don't even know how to be affectionate towards him because he hits me , pinches me , kicks me just whatever you can think of , he screams and cries all day and angry about everything no matter what it's never enough . Maybe I do contribute in some of his negative behavior because he can feel and tell I don't want to be bothered with him but I don't know how else to feel ! Sometimes I try to put the negativity aside and look past everything but it still doesn't work, he even fights his dad and grandma! I'm disgusted and don't know what to do or feel about him ! Need serious help . . .
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. I can hear how distressing this is for you. As Debbie Pincus points out in the article, it's not uncommon for parents to not like their child sometimes. This is especially true when your child is strong willed or lashes out verbally or physically towards you. It may help to know that acting out and defiant behavior is often a reflection of your child's poor coping and problem solving skills. Finding productive ways of responding to the behavior and holding him accountable can help curb the behaviors you're seeing. We have several articles that offer helpful tips for managing aggressive behavior in children. You can find those here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/aggression/.

      It may also be helpful to see what types of services are available in your area that can help support you and your family. It can be tough to be an effective parent when you're feeling overwhelmed with everything that's going on. If you live in the US or Canada, you can contact the The 211 National Helpline, a referral service available 24 hours a day, nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support services available in your area such as counselors, therapists, support groups/kinship services as well as various other resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto 211.org (211.ca in Canada.)

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • What was I thinking?

    As a kid, I grew up with an alcoholic mother who was simply not a good mother. She did not like me because I was not the right kind of person for her --she wanted a drinking buddy to stay home, watch soaps, drink beer until you pass out. She would have been happy with a daughter who became a grave digger barely getting by rather than the over-achieving professional I am today. I escaped, going to college & professional school was my running away from home (financed with loans, grants, scholarship & the military). Having kids, I was going to do it better.

    I now have a 26 year old learning disabled daughter - not Down's and severe, but she needed major (very costly) tutoring to make it through middle and high school. I believe she is on the Asberger's spectrum (never diagnosed). She will never live on her own with any type of fulfilling, meaningful life, never earn enought money to support herself, never date/marry/love or be loved by anyone other than her dad. She has had major medical problems since birth, had major surgery before age 2, needed so much support my husband completely dedicated every waking moment to her existence. I love my husband, I love my son (first born), but I feel anger, resentment, despair, failure and loss when I look at my daughter. I am embarrased to say she is my daughter; she mumbles, no one can understand her until you make her angry and she yells - so she is capable of enunciating when it serves her. She cannot process a thought, however simple - like what to order off a menu without us essentially doing the work for her. Even going out to dinner is a painful experience, but my husband refuses to leave her at home.

    I want my house organized in certain ways, but if it doesn't work for her, she undoes everything to her liking. I am the one who works to pay for it all (long hours for many years). I work for it, it is MINE, but I have to be the one to be disappointed all the time when my things are lost, broken or pitched. I was not the right daughter for my mother; karma, I guess. I feel terrible - my whole life I have felt terrible about not liking my daughter, but I just don't. I am planning retirement for 3 and I just hate it. Dinner for 3, vacation for 3, concert tickets for 3, a new house for 3, laundry for 3 and a trust to take care of her ass when I die. I wanted to be a mom...what was I thinking? A very lonely life.

  • 30 year old teenager
    I have a son who is now 30 but still acts like a teenager. I had him young. His father ran out on me, claiming he wasn’t his and called me awful names. I was single and working two jobs- a full time and a part time - and couldn’tMore handle it so I started calling adoption agencies. My mom said no, that her and my stepdad would take him and that I’d always be able to see him and be in his life. So that’s what I did. They raised him and spoiled him rotten. He threw a fit about going to school so they let him drop out of high school in 9th grade after repeating 8th grade twice. He punched holes in the walls, was mean and manipulative, used people, wouldn’t work, did drugs, got blackout drunk, got arrested a couple of times, all without any consequences. Then he assaulted them one night. They called the police and he got taken to jail but they turned around and bailed him right out. Years of this kind of thing went by. I paid for a couple of rehabs to try to help him. Now he tries his best to make me feel guilty, and I really do, but he really works it. I’ve paid for things, which I know is super enabling. He has paid me back for some stuff which is good. But now my parents recently passed away, he had lived with them until after he turned 29. Now he rents a room in someone’s house. He won’t hardly work, he gets drunk every night and he’s super mean and manipulative. He pulls at my heart strings because he knows I feel guilty. I’ve been trying to get him to go to rehab and supposedly he went tonight. I don’t know, I live in another city. He lies and he’s so defiant. I really can’t stand him. He’s like a little sociopath. I feel like he learned it from my stepdad who put their house in a reverse mortgage so he could gamble and literally did gamble the house away. Anyway I think it’s past the point where there’s anything I can do to help him. I’ve had it. The person who explained opposition defiant disorder sounds like they’re spot on. Wish I would’ve known about all this sooner, all of it. Thanks for letting me vent. Take care.
  • Darlene

    I am so fed up. I have just googled 'I don't like my child' and came across this .

    I have always clashed with my youngest who is approaching 13 in the next month.

    She always takes and never gives.

    She is a bright and intelligent girl, never wanted for anything . She's polite most of the time.

    She goes on and on at me about silly things I then blow up. I can't stand her around me I have no interest in what she says or does . I have an elder daughter who I absolutely adore..how can I have such different feelings for them both. I feel really bad but I really don't like her !

  • OnBoard
    I have a 13-year-old daughter that will be 14 shortly that I can’t say I like at all. My wife is easily manipulated by her behavior which has gotten to a point where I am just disgusted to be around her. For example, she wanted to have some friends overMore and started demanding that my wife clean the house which my wife agreed. She demands horseback riding lessons which are close to $500 a month which she tells my wife you will pay for, and my wife is easily manipulated into. We can’t go on vacations with her because she demands that we take her friends with us. She is rude insulting and mean. I grew up in a very abusive household and the world retard was directed at me from my mother and sister on a regular basis keep in mind I hold 2 master’s degrees. This word I hate, and my daughter gathered up the courage to call me that tonight and I took her home work crumpled it and said why does it matter your mother is doing it for you anyway which she was. My wife tried telling her to walk into my den and apologize to me I told her don’t come in her because you are not sorry and let me clear my head and have a sit down so I can let you know what I think about you tomorrow. I have concluded I don’t have to like my child I am required to provide for her which she is spoiled to the bone. I am thinking about letting her know that there is a great deal of dislike from me toward her which I doubt she cares about because if I am out of there hair my wife gives her whatever she wants. A good example I don’t get any time away unless I am working, I had a vacation planned that I put $3,000 aside for I went to my personal safe to grab my watch out of and $1,700 of what I had saved was gone and my wife said our daughter needed it because she was going out of town with some friends. I have had enough!
  • Grandma S

    I hope someday you will write an article entitled, "What to do When You Dislike Your Grandchildren" This was a good article, the comments even better because it makes me realize I'm not alone in my ugly thoughts about my grandkids.

    My mom was the most amazing grandmother ever, and I hoped that when my own grandkids arrived I'd be like her; loving, endulging, no discipline, laugh and play and send 'em home to mom and dad. That's not the reality. My son and DIL adopted my DIL's 2 nieces and nephew. They had been removed from their home by CPS because of sexual abuse (the oldest grandaughter) abuse, neglect and substance abuse. My son and DIL were only 26 when they took "H" in-she was 12. They weren't even married yet and were really just starting out on their journey together as a couple. a year later they took in H's two younger half siblings, "E" who was 7 and "D" who was 5. Now they are 28 with 3 kids, all with significant emotional trauma, ADHD, autism, abandonement issues, eating disorders, you name it, these kids have it. My DIL cuts her work schedule down to 1 day a week because each child has multiple therapy appointments each week. It's rough from the get-go, but we all have the (incorrect and in hindsight foolish) idea that with enough love, patience, structure and therapy they will improve and there will be some kind of peace and normalacy in the home. I live in California and they live in Colorado. I call often to provide as much love and support as I can from a distance. Two years ago I retired and committed to visiting every 2 months to give hands on help. There is nothing peaceful or normal in the home. The oldest self-harms, has attempted suicide, been hospitalized several times, has run away numerous times, is sexually promiscuous, argumentative, lies, steals, sneaks food, threatens to call CPS, tells school staff she is abused at home. My DIL spent hours and hours convincing insurance to place her in a long-term treatment facility. She was finally admitted and we hoped to see improvement. Insurance ended treatment early-when she came home it didn't take long for the old behaviours to start up. H will be 18 in January. The goal is to get her graduated in December and out of the house as soon as she is 18. E just turned 11 and I see all the signs of ODD-since she already has a diagnosis of ADHD it's not too big of a stretch for her to have ODD as well. She's acting like her older sister, but starting 3 years earlier. She is the most foul mouthed child-uses every curse word there is, defiant, argumentative. Has started throwing and breaking things. When she's in the tantrum cycle she looks and acts like a wild animal-her pupils are dilated and she mentally just not there, but yelling and crying and screaming. She is manipulative and can be so angelic around strangers or when it gets her something, but at home she turns into pure evil. D is 7 and autistic. He's strong and a handful when he gets into a mood. He threatens to kill himself (he's heard this from both girls) and copies what they say. He's a handful at school as well. He goes to ABA therapy everyday but I sometimes wonder if it's helping. At least he's not home during that time to give mom and dad a break.

    Do I feel like the most dispicable person for truly disliking/hating my grandchildren? Yes I often do. I am fully aware that they have all been through so much and these behaviors come from their traumatic background. How can one possibly dislike/hate someone who has all the emotional baggage? Shouldn't I feel nothing but compassion and patience for them? I used to all the time, and would encourage my son and DIL to look at it differently and to be patient, but as time has gone by and the behaviors have escalated/not improved, and I've spent more time with them I more often feel tremendous resentment and wish my son and DIL had not adopted them. They have a 14 month old baby and I worry that all of the chaos and horrible behavior will affect baby N.

    This is the ugly and very unflattering truth. I'm not sure how this story ends but I hope and pray my son and DIL and stay strong in their marriage and can manage to find hope and positivity.

    I have a greater compassion and empathy for anyone dealing with a situation like this. Not liking my grandkids is a hard thing for me to accept.

  • Sadie

    These comments are incredible. I feel less alone.

    I thought I had to blame my distaste for motherhood on my zodiac sign...being a Sagittarius..a natural born free-spirit who is far too mutable to be chained to and held down by something...or someone. I had convinced myself that motherhood just wasn't for me and that I am simply facing the consequences of my actions, as negative as that sounds.

    I'm 23, and my daughter will be 4 in 2 weeks. I've been homeschooling her in Kindergarten workbooks for a like a month now. The time we spend in the books keeps getting shorter and shorter, to the point where I don't even bother with it anymore, even when she asks. She's incredibly smart, but incredibly manipulative and it drains me until I'm completely shriveled up with nothing left to give.

    She is defiant. Doesn't listen. Tells me she hates me. (Don't even know where she heard that). Screams bloody murder over everything. (Which is a frequency of sound that absolutely irks my entire soul). She a quitter. Gives up on everything she tries. Has angry outbursts when she feels like she can't do something or do it right. She'll scream. Throw everything that's in front of her. Break stuff. Rip her pages. Whatever we're doing she'll completely ruin it.

    She sucks the life force out of me. She's entirely the opposite of me. And who I was when I was her age. My dad says she's exactly like he was. That's great, dad. Glad you can relate.

    Yet he won't lift a finger to help..lol.

    I can't help thinking I caused this. I'm incredibly introspective and can't keep from blaming myself and trying to find links between her current behavior and what kind of a parent I was in the beginning.

    Postpartum hit me really hard. At about 8-9 months in. When she started screaming blood curdling screams all the time over little things. It was just a level of loudness and disruption that I was not built to respond to well...given that my father was..and IS..a yeller.

    I began to scream back. Cry even. Beg her to shut the fuck up. Obviously as a baby she doesn't know what else to do. But neither did I. I would scream back at her with some of the nastiest sounds I could create. Especially early in the mornings when she was back in her carseat and I was driving her to the babysitter and literally could do nothing for her until we got to where we were. I'm tired and cranky too.

    Things got better for awhile after postpartum passed. I'd say it lasted a few months for me. Until I started working more and had enough time away from her to actually miss her and want to be around her again.

    But here I am. A few years later, in the same position again, just slightly different. To improve the situation, I've decided to re-enroll Brailynn in daycare, gymnastics, and taekwondo. As well as have a weekly family get together with my closest cousins and their children who are Brailynns same age. To give us all a break, a safe and non-judgemental place to vent, and it gives our kids an emotional reset and tires them the hell out.

    Gives us something to look forward to every week. And builds that support system that we all need desperately right now and don't fucking have.

    Hope this helps or speaks to someone. I'd love to meet some of you.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Terri
      I completely relate to this I have a son who is older but feel the exact same and his actions and grandparents are the same way too, it’s just me and him and some days I just want to sit there and cry, it’s nice to read I’m not theMore only one struggling at times I love my son but liking him can be a real challenge some days.
  • Guilty
    I am a mother to 2 daughters, 6 and 13. My youngest is argumentative, purposely winds up my eldest, she doesn’t listen to me and the only way I get any “control” is by shouting in her face which of course, is a terrible way to parent. I really don’tMore like her and when I’ve been wounded up by her behaviour I have told her this. I’m not proud of that. It’s reassuring to read not everyone thinks their children are little angels like social media would suggest!
    I'm a single mom of 3 boys, 23, 13 and 9. I get along great with my 23- and 9-year-old but my relationship with my 13-year-old is very difficult. I'm sitting here literally exhausted, and I just want to get away. His father has never been in his life. HisMore father was pretty crazy, he's been in jail since I was a few months pregnant. My son never saw him, and I haven't seen him since I was pregnant. I feel guilty because when I was pregnant with him, I really didn't want to go through with the pregnancy. At the last minute I decided to keep my pregnancy and I pushed forward. But even while he was in the womb, I was resentful because I didn't want another baby, especially by his father but that was the situation I put myself in. I never felt connected to my son really. I have taken care of him etc. but it's always been some weird energy there. I tried to love on him, but he always seemed kinda rough. He wasn't the cuddling type. He was always a loud, kinda out of control child. I didn't know what to do with him. His father was loud and out of control also. Usually from the time he wakes up he's harassing someone in the house. Even his hamsters, he harasses them too. It's like he's addicted to creating chaos and then he turns around and plays the victim role like it's everyone else that is hurting him. I try not to yell at him but sometimes I can't take it. After I've asked him to stop about 3-4 times I find myself yelling. Then he will say I'm a hypocrite because I'm doing what I told him not to do. But I'm pushed there!!! It's hard not to get upset. It's as if he doesn't like to see other people enjoying themselves. When he comes into a room he's complaining or trying to be a bully. I have put him in therapy but he says I'm the one that needs therapy and he's fine. He uses mental manipulation on me. I feel like I have no control and I'm just working hard to not self sooth by eating bad foods or getting a drink or just plain zoning out. Instead I go for walks or do something constructive. IDK what to do. Perhaps I do need therapy...parenting therapy because I feel like I have failed. The only time we get along is if I buy him something and even in that he finds something to complain about. I feel like if he had a strong male role model in his life that he wouldn't act like that because he would have a stronger energy to check him. My only leverage is taking his cell phone or telling him I will take his xbox cord. He stares at me like he hates me. I often think this has all happened because when I found out I was pregnant that I didn't want my pregnancy and he somehow knows and that's why he acts out. IDK!! I'm just venting because I'm so tried now. :(
  • CellaD
    I am a grandparent of a 12 year old granddaughter I read these articles for myself and I forward them on to my daughter, they have been sooooo helpful. I'm learning to like my granddaughter as much as I love her. (LOL) Please keep up the good work!!
  • Just about had it
    I’m glad I read this but I feel my feelings are too far gone. I love my son and I would die if anything happened to him but I resent him so much. He looks just like his father but he’s so emotional it makes me angry. My mom alwaysMore yelled at me and was mean to me growing up even though she took me places all the time kept me in clean clothes and fed me and I feel like I’m doing the same thing to him but I don’t know what to do to get out of feeling this way. I hate his dad with all my heart and sometimes I feel like just running away. I have another son who is younger and I’m starting to feel the same way. Sometimes I just don’t want to be a mom anymore. I just need a break sometimes and it’s impossible because I’m a single mother. I don’t know what to do. I had a serious breakdown earlier so I went searching on what to do when you resent your child. I’m glad I found this article. I’m going to try the things you stated and I’m praying they work. I know I need to see a therapist but I literally have no time. My support system is awful so I always have my kids. I guess I just have to take it one day at a time but I feel like I’m losing it
  • Moon
    Glad I came to this page. First of all, thank you for writing this. What you wrote makes sense. Most of the times I tried to get even with my first child. So petty and childish of me when I am the adult. I'll try to be nice to herMore even when I don't feel like it. Maybe later we'll get along better. I hate being a bad parent but sometimes I couldn't help myself saying all the nasty things.
  • Kamarie

    This is my problem too I can really relate. But I find it’s making me depressed because I know it’s in part my fault. I feel my life is a mess and I don’t know how to get out of it.

    My 9 year old son has traits that I hate so much. He is like his father in so many ways I can’t get him to do anything without threatening his screen time. All his father and him do is spend time together playing games and that’s all he enjoys in life. I feel like I’m losing him or pretty much lost him. I am in a pit of bad mother habits and I just don’t know how to dig my way out.

  • Rebecca
    I know I have a lot to work on. My children and I have always been close however recently ( since my middle son became a police officer) he isn’t the same person. I don’t think I like who he is as a person. He’s rude and selfish and mean.More I don’t argue with him or have conversations that I know will make him mad at me I’m always walking on eggshells and just mind my business because I’m tired of him getting mad and at me for something as simple as he asked for my help with lawn work and it took me an hour to get to his house to help rather than dropping everything and being there in 10 minutes. My eldest son asked for his help on the ranch and my middle child got irritated and would only help if he was paid a ridiculous amount and it had to be when he wanted to do it. To me this is unacceptable and disappointing, first of all you just lend a hand because someone needs it, 2nd you don’t hold your hand out and greedily ask what’s in it for you, and lastly this ranch is a family business they can’t just wait till he’s damn good an ready to go help. I’m so angry and saddened. I don’t like him as a person at all anymore. It scares me that he is turning into his dad
  • Noni

    I recently (8 mo.) became the caretaker for my 6 year old nephew, and his sister. His sister and I get along, but the boy grates on my nerves and drives me crazy. I always thought that if I had kids I would want a boy, so it's not that. It's that he's rude and entitled, doesn't listen even a little, and has several incredibly annoying personal behaviors and habits. When I expect something of him, be it a one time request or a general rule, like no running in the house, I have to tell him over and over and over, and it never sinks in. I don't believe in spanking, but his reaction to time-outs or losing privileges is a shrug and a couldn't-care-less expression - and then he's right back to doing what he's not supposed to be doing. I've tried sitting down and explaining to him why we have this rule, or why that behavior isn't okay, but I can tell from the look on his face he's tuning me out and just waiting for me to stop talking so he can go do his own thing again. The *ONLY* thing that seems to get a reaction of out him is having to go to bed early - but then he has full blown melt down tantrum as if I'd tried to murder him. I thought he might tire himself out if I left the room, but I came back to find him out of bed, so I had to sit there and wait and try not to validate the tantrum and he can last 45 minutes to TWO HOURS. I stuck it out, and tried to talk to him the next morning about it. I asked him if he knew what he did was wrong. He did. I asked him, when you do something you're not supposed to do, do you get in trouble? Yeah. Okay, did I warn you that you were going to get in trouble? Yes. Did I tell you what would happen? Yes. And you did it anyway, right? So do you think it was wrong that you got in trouble? No. That's right. Yet I'm still having to tell him every couple of hours not to do the same damn thing - and I can't do a 45-120 minute tantrum on a regular basis. It's a punishment for me too. I've done it, I'm sticking with it, but it makes me DISLIKE HIM. I don't want to spend quality time with him because I don't LIKE him, and I feel terrible about it. I realize that I need to build a relationship with him, because not doing so is harmful to his emotional development and it certainly won't help the disciplinary aspect, but my gut reaction to him is to avoid him like I would an adult who is an annoying ass.

    I don't know what to do.

  • sad mom
    I'm thankful to each of you that took the time to write your feelings for others to see, it's given me the strength to get this out. I do not like my son.. I hate saying this, I wanted nothing more than to be ay mom I suffered manyMore miscarriages finally he stayed in there long enough to make me a mom. the beginning years were great but him at 12 almost 13 now he's taller than me and out weighs me he hasnt hit me but has raised his hand. he talks back and curses doesn't listen and is so rude to other kids. but then when he wants can be nice and caring or showing genuine concern for others I know the age is hard but it's hard when your child is nothing like you. it's hard when your child says they hate you. it's hard feeling like I did or didn't do something. maybe I gave him too much or too little of something I don't know. all i do know is I feel like a failure as a parent. I see other kids his age making breakfast in bed on mother's day or a special kind word and I ache for that. I admit I lose my temper and say mean things that I wish I didn't and then that makes me feel more guilt.I can't stand him anymore and I'm so scared that he knows this and more guilt sinks in. my days are filled with dread as soon as my alarm goes off knowing the arguing that's coming just to get him to school because in his words "school is stupid and you're ruining my life by forcing me to go." to those that shared; knowing I'm not the only one weirdly makes me feel better for that I thank you all. I wish you all the best
  • Trapped
    I've been looking for somewhere to actually get this out, I don't know what to say really, I have two Boys 8 and 13 and I have to say I am really struggling to find anything rewarding or joyful about being their parent. I know people say children are aMore blessing and to be grateful but I'm struggling to find anything to be grateful for, if anything I get more angry with myself every day because I did this to myself! My 13 lacks any compassion, empathy he is all about himself, all the time! My 8 year old is just so demanding of everything he would actually take the last bit of my dinner without a second thought even if he's had dinner, pudding, snacks and whatever else he can find then spit it out in disgust! I'd say no but the whining guilt trip is to much (it's easier to be hungry) family days out are non existent, they usually end up with my husband and I arguing because it's so difficult to get them to do anything (even if it's for them) they destroyed mother's Day, I'm sick of being ignored, lied to, made to feel stupid, repeating myself and running myself to the ground physically and emotionally for these individuals who quite frankly clearly don't care, they make me cry so often and I thought I raised them better. They take and break my things they have no respect for even though I give them what I can (financially things are tough) I'm just at wits end and feel alone! It's a horrible thing to admit... I hope people understand and I hope they grow out of it!!
  • Sally
    my sons absent father has made a reappearance. We are polar opposites in our parenting approach. My son was gut wrenchingly disrespectful 6 weeks ago, i was looking at my son, hearing his voice, but the words were being spoken were that of his abusive father. My son then ranMore off to his fathers. I havent seen him for 6 weeks, he wont return my calls or messages. I love my son but i wont tolerate bad behaviour. I feel the caring, loving son i raised solely for 13 years has gone. He believes the lies he is being fed by his father and demonstrating the same disrespectful behaviours, including lying and deflection. I am at the point of giving up. The pain of not seeing him immeasureable. But i am not prepared to tolerate the degree of disrespect, simply to maintain a relationship. I feel damned if i allow the abuse to continue, i feel damned if i cease trying to maintain contact. What is the answer pls
  • Going through hell
    I have a 10 year old daughter she constantly has meltdowns everyday she used to live with her father now she is in my care I come from a dysfunctional family so I wasn’t really taught how to raise kids but regardless of that I have tried my best toMore teach her how to behave properly but I find she is constantly in a bad mood,swearing at her younger sibling and just very unbearable to be around our personalities clash a lot the main issues are the constant meltdowns,she doesn’t listen to simple requests to tidy her room and acts like a boy I truely hope she grows out of this phase .i have saved this article to remind myself i don’t have to be my child’s friend and other helpful key points to hopefully give me some hope for the future !
  • Adhd and ODD
    It’s easier said than done. Our 12 year old son has been diagnosed w adhd and odd since he was 5 years old. My wife felt giving him medication at such a young age. For 6 years she has been put through hell trying to make sure he did wellMore in his studies. Countless hours with therapists, pyschologists, pyschiatrists, christian counseling. Countless books read.. Our son continues to lie, cheat, curse , abuse his parents, break everything in home. We are wits end and at this point learning to accept our son will either end up in jail, an addict as he cannot control impulses. I remember 7 years ago a therapist told both of us we cannot be good parents, we need to be great parents. We are good people, good hearts, god fearing christians. I can honestly say one word to sum up how both my wife and I feel- hopelessness.
  • Don't like mine and there is no salvaging it.
    This is much harder to put into practice in real life when you have a child who, lies, cheats, steal, sneaks around behind your back, smokes weed, does poorly in school, sleeps around with boys, send explicit pics to others, flies into rages whenever confronted on anything. Life with myMore child is hell, and no one can really understand unless they have lived it themselves. And, I am not a bad parent, her therapists, her psychiatrist and my own therapist have confirmed this, which took me a long time to even accept. Logically I know this, I have raised 3 other girls, and none like her. She makes everyone else feel crazy and confused. Wish I could like her, but there has just been too much over the past 17yrs. However I will always feel bad about my feelings toward her.
    • I understand you
      I understand I have a 17 year old that’s pregnant. She knows everything
    • Noni

      Exactly! My nephew is so sneaky and dishonest. He wants to do what he wants to do, rules and restrictions be damned.

      For example, his teacher called and said he's only going through the motions and not engaging at school so he's going to be 7 in a few months and can't read or even consistently write his own name. I had already been concerned with the low quality crap tv/youtube he liked and after hearing that, they were banned from the house.

      I've caught him under the couch so he can watch them on an old phone, using the wifi.

      Likewise, he lost his Nintendo DS (grounded) at one point, and I had to run an errand with his grandma watching him. I forgot my face mask and had to go back in the house to get it, and I ran into him, walking out of my bedroom, DS in hand. He hadn't even waited for my car to be gone before he'd gone in my room to take back his electronic and play with it while I wasn't around. I was shocked. I couldn't believe him.

      I never would have dared do something like that. It just wasn't something I could even begin to imagine I'd get away with when I was his age.

    • Troubled widow w 4 girls
      Hate to say I feel the same way, her constant actions pretty much the same as described above are disturbing and have led me to hate my own daughter. I also have 3 others, the other three: 1 amazing, 1 trying teen but mostly good, 1 trying 8 yrMore old following in same footsteps. Doing this solo is even harder.
    • Crystal
      I appreciate your honesty. I'm glad to know I'm not alone.
  • Disappointed in myself...

    I just need to get this out there. I hate myself over this. I just don't like my son. We dont have a bad relationship, hes s good kid. Hes smart and well behaved I just don't like him and it's not even his fault. Being around him is physically and emotionally draining for me.

    This kills me because I try every day not to dislike him. I play with him and I talk to him. He's a good kid but I genuinely get depressed when I have to spend a lot of time with him.

    And the thing is I know how awful it is to have a parent not like you. My mother doesn't like me. But I can't fix how I feel and I feel like a failure because of it...

    • So sad but true
      Hi, i feel EXACTLY like this towards my son and hes exactly the same; intelligent and well - behaved child but i just do not gel with his personality. I prefer when hes not close to me and i cannot cope with his humour. Like other people have commented ifMore he wasn't my child he would definitely be someone i would want be around or in my life. So what do you do when you have to? Its not his fault at all and i feel aweful about it. I wonder have you found any good tips or advice on how to manage this? I dont want a broken relationship with my child at all :(
  • Hili
    I feel annoyed by my daughters talking as she has a lazy tongue but i want to accept her but i find it difficult
  • ChallengingNorms
    I really enjoyed this article. Its a subject that really needs to be discussed more! I hope its ok that I have linked and quoted you on my blog! Lets get the word out there!! :)
  • Shami
    I enjoyed reading this article....It's really helpful and applies to my situation with my son.
  • Trying very hard

    I agree and think this article is wonderful. The only question I have is - if you've truly addressed the questions in your article and applied as much as you can (no one is perfect yet I am a calm, loving, fun, and follow through always type mother) and I truly loathe my amazingly awesome and almost unbearable 4.5 son. He is oozing with charisma but is extremely oppositional, thrives on negative attention, and causes negative drama whenever he can. The more loving time we give him, the more he needs - no matter what it is not enough. Nothing I do, seems to change his responses to things. I accept that he may be a negative person and not my cup of tea, and truly try to love him no matter what, but I definitely understand when people that say they would not be friends with their child unless they were family. I feel that way and I don't judge myself for that. So my last question is - am I destined for a life with this negative tyrant and how do I minimize his domination over my entire family - me, husband, two sisters? I feel like he is being sent to his room for bad behavior about 50 times a day.

    Side note - I have two 18 month old twins and a nanny and I'm a stay at home mom. I plan special dates with my son, pick him up from school, play dates. I am truly emotionally available to him. Lack of time is not his issue.

    • Mom of Opposites

      @ Trying very hard:

      I'm not sure how long ago you wrote this comment or whether you are following this thread, but I feel like you are describing my life perfectly. I also live with a tiny negative tyrant. My five-year-old son makes no sense to me. "Extremely oppositional, thrives on negative attention, and causes negative drama whenever he can": that is my son EXACTLY. He has an objectively wonderful life: two caring and fun-loving parents, far more toys and enrichment activities (art supplies, etc.) than most kids, he walks to the beach almost daily to play in the sand and look at tide pools, no hardship or strife beyond a couple of chores that take maybe 5 minutes per day. He still complains constantly and torments others relentlessly. It's like he lives to create drama and make others suffer. It makes absolutely no sense. For years we blamed ourselves, thought about how we could give him even MORE positive attention than we already were, and nothing ever worked. Ignoring the behavior didn't work. Laying down consequences didn't work. Modeling good behavior didn't work. All the stuff in the article above -- it didn't work AT ALL. We've spent thousands of dollars seeing specialists and have followed their advice to a tee. NOTHING HAS WORKED ON THIS KID. Thank goodness we have his little sister, or I would be driven to madness. She is, as far as I can tell, a completely normal child. The parenting "best practices" actually work on her. This tells me that his father and I are not just completely inept; there's something else at play here. I wish I could solve this puzzle.

      If you're still reading this, I would love to hear how you and your family are doing. Is your son still a "negative tyrant"? Did you ever find anything that worked for him?

      Hoping you are doing well, or at least hanging in there! Best wishes.

    • Sparkle Dance

      Get the book on Oppositional Defiance Disorder. The color may be yellow. A counselor specializing in oppositional defiance disorder recommended me not to micromanage my child, but instead to give her more space. That helped, but it was years after the problem started.

      My daughter is now 24. She is now doing fine, and has been since late high school.

      But it was agonizing before that.

      This disorder starts young - I believe in the child'first year. But what parent is looking for that? The problem is that you do start to see it that early, this unusual defiance, but you just don't know it has a name.

      I was referred years ago to the Total Transformation Program. It is now called Empowering Parents.com., but it is still the same comoany.

      1-800-460-2235. CUSTOMER Service.

      For $99 You can sing up for unlimited email coaching, with some phone counselling appointments set up by them. 

      Then for $119 you can get Oppositional Defiance Disorder Lifeline, which is comprised of CD's and a book, written by two women who both had an ODD child.

      You can also get the ODD lifeline for the $119 and then unlimited telephone counselling fir $99. So, instead of email counselling, and some pre-arranged telephone appointments, you can call whenever you want, and as often as you want. 

      Keep in mind the following: I haven't needed their services for years, but they were helpful when I did. And I sure wish I had known about them thirteen years before I did. And that us why I am referring you to them, and other readers of this lost. It helps so much to know that one is not exaggering their child's behavior, and that other parents are experiencing the same thing, and that you are not alone. I am not affiliated with them in any way at all and never have been. And Amazon has a good number of books for sale about oppositional defiance disirder.

      I called Empowering Parents today at the old number I had l just to get an Idea of what their current pricing is, so that I could give you and others a heads up.

      So withat, I wish you and other readers well. It will help you just to get some good books on this topic. It is so hard to know that other parents don't have this problem. But, in fact, many of them are probably suffering in silence with the problem also. It us just so embarrassing to admit that you have a child with this behavior, and unless someone knows about this condition, and then tells you about ut, you don't know about it, and have no idea how to deal with it. Read up and you will start to have your reality corroborated, instead if feeling that you are imagining things, or just an ineffectual or bad parent. You should feel better just knowing that this condition actually exists, and there may be some things you can do to ameliorate it, and that there is hope at the end if the tunnel, and most of all, you are not alone, and you can find help in various places.

      • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
        Sparkle Dance Thank you so much for your kind words about our company.  I’m so glad to hear that you found our products and services helpful as you were facing challenging behavior with your daughter, and I’m pleased that things have improved as she has matured.  For more information aboutMore the https://www.empoweringparents.com/product/the-oppositional-defiant-disorder-lifeline/ or our https://www.empoweringparents.com/product/parent-ecoaching/, please click on the linked text.  For information about all of our product offerings, please visit our https://www.empoweringparents.com/shop/.  We appreciate you writing in and sharing your positive experiences with us.  Take care.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @Trying very hard 

      Thank you for writing in and sharing your experiences. 

      It can be very difficult when you feel as though you have tried everything, yet

      you still have a difficult time making a positive connection with your

      child.  As Debbie notes in this article, sometimes it can be helpful to

      have some additional support to help you manage your emotional reactions and

      responses to your child, such as a therapist or support group.  For

      assistance locating these and other supports available in your community, try

      contacting the http://www.211.org/ at

      1-800-273-6222.  I recognize what a challenging situation this can be, and

      I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.

      • Trying very hard
        Thank you very much. I have seen parenting coaches for my husband and I, plus a physcholigist for my son and a lot of his personality traits are listed as "yellow flags" and I've been told to watch them - that in theory he could improve with age or certainMore traits could worse into ODD or ADHD or who knows what else. If you have further advice, I would love it but understand that this may be some karmic justice for some horrible things I did when I was young. :)
  • Help i am losing it
    Just feels that my daughter is alway making me feel less to make herself feel better or dhe is i am wrong about everything
  • Fed UP with em
    I was interested in reading your article, then found it typical mushy mushy. sometimes it is simple. I do not like them. If they were not related, I would not associate with them. If I hated my boss that much, I wouldn't put up with it, I would LEAVE andMore find another job. what about MY happiness, you are creating another generation of me kids.
    • markl67
      I don't know your situation but let's examine these statements. "What about MY happiness"...and..."you are creating another generation of ME kids."
    • Me
      I swear I feel the same way about my oldest; I would not associate with her if she were not family. Sad, but true.
  • Khai
    Thanks for the info. This could be a great help and guide for parents in handling their child...understanding child's behavior and patience are some of the keys to lessen parent's headache...
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