Parents Who Hate Their Children: The Truth No One Wants to Admit

I watched The Graduate with my children the other night. (We are working our way through classic films). It was painfully obvious to me that Mrs. Robinson despised her daughter Elaine.

She seduced the person her daughter had feelings for (in her daughter’s bedroom!) and then denied her daughter that very relationship she stole. Later in the movie we learn that Mrs. Robinson (a woman without a first name and therefore without an individual identity) was forced to leave college and marry after she became pregnant with Elaine. Elaine, now at college, has all the opportunities her mother lost. So mother, in her anger and hatred, took something from her daughter.

This is classic passive aggression. Sadly, I see it often. Parents deny their children things that are reasonable and easy to give, simply because they can. Of course there are seemingly legitimate excuses, but the real motivation is control; and worse, to squash their child’s spirit. One young man I knew wanted his bar mitzvah party at a particular restaurant. It was not expensive and he was confident his dad would agree (his parents were divorced). In fact, I overheard him assure his brother that their dad would not host the party at an ethnic restaurant that the father liked because, the boy said confidently, “Dad knows I don’t like that place.” The party was, of course, at the ethnic restaurant.

Why do parents make choices like this? Mrs. Robinson hated Elaine for what her daughter took from her (the opportunity to finish college) and for the opportunities Elaine had (to graduate college and to marry a man she liked, Ben). Elaine also represented the accumulated years of disappointment that characterized Mrs. Robinson’s married life. Some parents hate their children because they are the embodiment of everything the parent is unhappy about with his or her life. Some parents hate their children for who they are not – the fulfillment of all the dreams that child represented when he or she was just a baby. And some parents hate their children for who they are – more capable, more charismatic, smarter, or simply different.

When pushed by Ben, Mrs. Robinson admitted that she didn’t want Ben to date Elaine because Ben wasn’t good enough for her daughter, and that is partly true. She sullied Ben and if Ben and Elaine were to hook up, his presence in her daughter’s life would be a constant reminder of her own despicable behavior. His presence would further reflect her self-hatred and she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from directing that hatred at Elaine and Ben.

Children can be a parent’s lightening rod – absorbing all the parent’s anger and self-hatred. Whatever love the parent feels for her child is marred by the negativity as well as the guilt associated with such socially-unacceptable feelings. The “I love you” is accompanied by a sharp blade that no one is willing to admit exists and the children, who sense that something isn’t quite right, don’t begin to understand until they break away.
Elaine’s escape on the bus with Ben is only the beginning of her journey to understanding. She will either endure years of analysis (professional or not) to make sense of her relationship with her mother. Or she’ll repeat the same mistake her mother made, and marry Ben for all the wrong reasons.

14 thoughts on “Parents Who Hate Their Children: The Truth No One Wants to Admit

  1. lonette says:

    Idk what to say but I truly believe some people doesn’t deserve children and there’s nothing in this world that my child could do that would push me to that dreadful place of hating my child or mistreating her I don’t ever want to make my child cry nor steal her joy I Wana b the second person To give her joy GOD is the first,I spoil her in a good way I would literally die for her

  2. Kent says:

    Wow. This is really amazing to read. After talking to my father a week ago and hearing his constant insults he considers advice, I realized both my parents hate my sibling and me. My mother has been very open to my sibling and me about the hate she has for us. My father has always claimed he loves us, but he tells everyone who will listen to him how disappointed he is in us and will lie about our lives to make both of us sound like we’re struggling in life. I was supposed to fulfill all the dreams he had for himself. I’ve done my best, but no matter how successful I was, it was never good enough for him. He always found fault with every success and every achievement.

    This article really hit home for me and was very therapeutic to read.

  3. Aide Hernandez says:

    I hate myself for the feelings I have…Thank-you…..I see where my daughter represents me and I hate me…..and punish her for it….We just don’t get along… part because she senses I am not what a mother should be….and I get so angry when he questions my love….I didn’t plan to be me….I was always alone and sad as a child…I never felt my mother loved me…..and I’m not sure if I even love her anymore…I’ve disconnected with all my immediate family……we were never all that close anyways….I don’t want her to feel this way about me……I want to be a good mom…I want to be the best…but, I don’t forgive mistakes….not even mine.

  4. Mary Bowers says:

    I believe both my parents disliked me, which was completely mutual. They chose their favorite children (one for mother, one for father), and that was it. I was the “lost child”, a role I still play. They’ve been gone for years and I can honestly say I have never grieved or had any misgivings about how I felt about them. Their ignorance, narcissism, and passive-aggressiveness are/were evident in the favorite brother and sister. Family–I really don’t have one. We have all suffered and are unsure and mistrusting of each other. Great gifts, huh? Thanks for nothing.

  5. Belinda Brown says:

    my mother hates me because I have seizures and I embaress her !
    So why is it ok for my syblings to do drugs but I can’t help having a seizure disorder; that’s not normal they say being a drug addict is in there eyes.

  6. Dee says:

    I have always felt my mom hates me; she has helped me financially, but I feel that I could have been doing better things if I had the same support she gives my sister. She loves to build my sister up while tearing me down at the same time. I am ok with her caring more about my sisters than me. However, I do not understand why she still gets joy out of trying to make me look bad. Despite it all I was still able to accomplish all my goals. I started my own business and instead of being happy she just said well do you even have customers. When I told het that I did have clients in the past she looked angry. Sometimes it still makes me sad, because being around my family causes me pain. For the last five years I have isolated myself from society. I am not at peace!

  7. Jennifer Serna says:

    What fault is it the child for their doings? I’m one of them who has a mother who hates me, insults daily & treating me like shit. Some assume nothing is wrong, denial & hiding is an everyday thing. I know no one is perfect, but there is no unconditional love from my mother. It’s her life & no one matters.

  8. Cheryl says:

    If your parent/s hate you then walk away. I did and while I grieve for what I dreamed of having walking away and going no contact has given me confidence and self respect it’s also given me a peaceful sense of rightfulness I wish I’d walked sooner.

  9. Annabelle says:

    I’m sixty-four and a psychiatric nurse practitioner . It still hurts. Even when you have all the knowledge in the world. A daughter needs love from her mother. My girls will always be loved unconditionally. I will never be loved and will never stop hoping for love even though it is never going to happen

  10. Tisa says:

    I am not sure why my mother has never liked me. But she was very cruel to me growing up – more so than with my brothers and sister. I am in my fifties now and was just told by my older sister that I need to stop trying to get my mother to love me. That I need to distance myself fro her. She told me that my mother used to hit me when I was a baby when I cried. Or she would just let me cry. My mother and my grandmother would call me names and they did not put a stop to the rest of the kids calling me names. I’m 59 years old and just realized I have never once been cherished. I’m angry, I’m sad, mostly sad.

  11. Susie says:

    when I was born my father was a student and my mother had worked, was the sole provider. My father was terrible at making money, and they did not have enough money, no family either. So they hated me for ruining their romantic lives, and have shamed and hated me ever since. Relationship with parents should not feel like an infected wound that never heals.

  12. tj harrison says:

    I haven’t spoken to my adoptive father in over seven years. As each year passes, and thanks to the support of my own children, my friends, and my faith, and my faith community, this second “abandonment” stings less and less, as I learn to love myself more and more. My father loathed my mother, and I suppose he attaches me and my sister to the miserable time he had married to her. He’s now remarried to a “wealthy” woman, and I’ve been advised that she and her children and her grandchildren are his “real” family.

    As a child, it’s natural for us to perceive ourselves and our worth through the lens of our parents’ perceptions. As adults, we don’t. Now, I recognize that my parents were both terribly immature, narcisstistic, and deeply scarred. They had no business adopting a pet, never mind children.

    Best advice: Let it go. Believe in your own perception of yourself. Your parents were wrong and sick.

  13. irin says:

    True.I and my twin were so maltreated,abused and laboured by both parents that even d food and education we got seems like sorrow.even their relatives could walk in and do their a point I felt even God hated us too

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