It can be easy to presume that parents and their children get along automatically.
But unfortunately, that is so far from the truth. There are SO many fraught, toxic, and already-destroyed relationships between children and their parents.
Of course, no parent sets off hoping it gets to that point. But sometimes the external circumstances, the other adults in the child's life, or the internal tendencies of that person--who is an autonomous individual--simply drive a wedge that, for parents, is impossible to surmount.
Some Redditors who are involved in a toxic parent-child relationship shared how it got there.
TheHeyHeyMan asked, "Parents who dislike their own children; why?"
A common thread was the negative response that many parents have to their children reliving their own flaws and struggles.
Many parents evidently treat child-rearing as a chance to perfect all the things that went wrong in their own lives. And when that doesn't happen, the all-too familiar person can be difficult to accept.
Churning Out Duplicates
"Probably because they're too much like me. I like to think that as a parent part of my job is to eliminate my foibles by helping my children be better than me. My failure as a parent instead has been to create copies; what I dislike about them is also what I hate about myself."
"Sometimes the harder you try the bigger you fail."
"P.S. I love my children."
A Flawed Approach
"Because after his mom died , I stopped disciplining him. I thought if I gave him everything I never had ; coolest clothes , shoes, toys , dirt bikes, game consoles etc would make me a good parent. I was wrong."
"He's about to turn 18 and i can't even stand to be in the same room as him. He's manipulative, mean, arrogant and condescending. And it's all my fault."
Projecting Onto a Clone
"I am not a parent, but a child who is not loved. Everything is quite ordinary, I just resemble my father, both in appearance and character, so my mother considered this a great reason for physical violence and discrimination among other 'right' children."
"As a result, my mother and I do not communicate, she abandoned me at the age of 12. The last thing I heard was, 'you should be grateful that I put up with you until you were a teenager.' Thank you for doing your job. Thank you, you disgusting person."
The Last Person He Wanted Recreated
"I hate my daughter bc she has all the bad characteristics of her mother and none of the good ones."
"She's mean, aggressive, demanding, she hits her classmates, gets violent when she doesn't get what she wants, yells loudly to overpower anyone around her when she can't use physical violence. She breaks things that aren't hers. She actually looks down on everyone around her; it's crazy, you can actually see it. She's six."
"....obviously, I am not the one who raises her. She's got a hard life ahead of her. Poor girl."
People Explain The Worst Thing That's Ever Happened To Them On Their Birthday
Others were more puzzled by the person their child turned out to be. These parents could not understand how, given the upbringing they provided, their child could ultimately be so unkind.
Choosing a Different Version of Community
"He has no conscience. He has brutalized people over rumors, you could watch him steal something, catch him with it, and he would lie. He ended up shooting someone."
"He grew up with an upper middle class suburban family that no one had ever even been arrested. My wife and I come from good families, he had so many aunts uncles, grandparents, cousins who all supported and loved him. He could have gone to college for whatever he wanted."
"He chose to join a gang. Then we found out he tells everyone he turned out this way because his mother beat him and I was always passed out drunk (neither are at all true.)."
"I can't deal anymore. It put me in the mental hospital multiple times."
"I just had to write him out of my life."
"His brother had a great childhood and is pursuing his Doctorate."
Too Late to Turn it Around?
"I'm not a parent but my uncle and aunt really hate their son because he's accomplished nothing in life and is a complete failure but still has an ego higher than the Mount Everest."
"He's always mean to everyone."
An Eternal Mystery
"My sister and I - who were well behaved and successful - never understood why we were borderline neglected while my piece of sh** brother was showered with praise and love."
"Oh well. I don't treat my kids that way."
A Whirlwind Debacle
"He did terrible in school, became a drug dealer, squatted in a house owned by the family, decided it'd be a good idea to start a METH LAB in the basement of said house, and then hired a crappy tv lawyer to blackmail us into selling the house back to him!"
"I can say there was a brief period in time where I disliked my youngest. I need to say I loved him and would have given up my life life for him but I did not like him. He was preteen and was trying to test the limits of our parenting and would question and/or resist EVERYTHING!"
"It was a trying time but now (17) he is probably my best friend and we enjoy being together and working on project around the house."
Others discussed the ways external circumstances--particularly around the birth of the child--that played into growing dislike as they grew up.
Cannot Accept What Happened
"my mother wanted a boy, had one before me but it was a miscarriage, i was conceived a year after, i was an early delivery, she was in coma for 2 weeks and after that she did not take me or touch me or look at me or even fed me for days."
"my dad took care of me and looked after me. she still curses me and wishes it was a boy"
The Product of Infidelity
"My father was sober for 18 years before I was born, then only started drinking again once my mom got pregnant with me. This eventually led to my father cheating, and my parents getting divorced. Since my birth was technically to blame for this, both of my parents despise me."
"I'm not old enough to move out of my mom's house yet, so I'm spending just about every day hiding in my room, making as little noise as possible, and trying to bother as few people as I can."
"My mother does not like me because she never got attached to me at birth. A year before my twin sister and I were born, our parents had triplets who all died after a few days. Untreated trauma followed. I was born nearly suffocated and poorly, so my mother, wanting to protect herself from more trauma, never attached to me. She did however to my twin sister who was born healthy and thrived."
"Years went by and this initial lack of attached turned into resentment or dislike during my childhood because by the time we were eight years old, our parents were divorced, and I physically resembled my dead-beat father. This only worsened during my teenage years as I was beginning to act up years of neglect and became depressed. She disliked the signs of her own doing neglectful parenting and lack of love in me. I remind her of that."
"Ever since we have pretended to get along, but the relationship is never really there. I am a mother of two myself now and have taken all of this on board trying to do better. I am also trying to understand her. That ultimately this was not her fault."
"My dad didn't like me for some reason. I asked him several times but never got an answer. He loved my older brother (the prodigal only boy), and he lavished on my two younger sisters. I need to add that my dad was married 3 times, and we have different mothers (my younger sisters are both from his 3rd marriage)."
"My mom said that he wanted her to have an abortion, my mom was the one that also initiated the divorce, whereas his 1st marriage he initiated, so my mom also thinks that she hit his ego pretty bad with that. I look like my mom, so that could be a factor too. He died March 2019, so I'll never know, but it affected me greatly."
"Parents, don't let your children know that you don't like them, it's a horrible feeling. The kids didn't ask to be here, you were the parent, their actions reflect your parenting (or lack there of)."
Others had some fun with the prompt.
"He's a vindictive and conniving prick, that's why. His first birthday is next week and I have scant hope that he'll change his ways."
Still Working Out the Kinks
"He is a 12 year old with no concern for personal hygiene and also manipulates me with the best hugs."
"Wash your feet you disgusting brat."
There's no question about it, this was a very depressing list to read through. But hopefully there are some lessons we can glean from these posts.
Maybe you surmised a way to make sure you don't do the same thing if you already have or plan to have kids.
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