By: Jon Phillips
by Andrea M. Darcy
Living with the idea that ‘my parents hate me’ is very hard. It leaves us with very low self-esteem.
Why would someone bring us into the world only to be unkind to us, or leave us feeling abandoned?
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Do my parents really hate me?
It is true that some parents have serious issues with loving their child. This would not be about the child, but about the parent. Their deep-rooted issues would stop them from connecting with their children (more on this below).
And it is true that some people have kids by accident, or because they thought they had to, and their personality just isn’t cut out for being a parent.
But it is more common that the issue is not that your parents hate you, but that they don’t always like you (much as you probably don’t always like them).
Different ways of showing love
If your parents actually do love you, why don’t they show it? Well they might be, actually.
Most of us make a big assumption that we all give and receive love in the same way. But we don’t. We all have different personalities, and this affects the way we love.
Troubles arise when two people have clashing loving styles. If one person shows love in the form of actions, and another wants to receive love in the form of words? Than both parties can be left feeling frustrated and disconnected.
- How might your parents give love in ways that you haven’t considered?
- How is it you want to be given love?
- Have you ever told your parents how you would like to be shown love, or what you would like from your relationship with them?
When personalities clash
Just like it’s impossible to get along with everyone at school or work, we sometimes just don’t get along with people in our families. Our personalities are just too different.
The problem is that when it comes to family, we have history that we can bring to every situation. We become blinded by emotion, unable to see the situation we are dealing with here and now. We can’t find the compromise we need to end the conflict, even if when we have conflict with friends or colleagues we can do so easily.
- If your parents were not your parents but your colleagues or fellow students, what would you do to make it easier to get along?
- If your parent was a stranger you just met that you needed to do a project with, what would you be willing to overlook and accept about them?
It’s all about attachment
Attachment theory believes that for a child to grow up into an adult who can trust and connect to others, they need to have had at least one reliable caregiver from birth to mid-childhood.
A child needs to be able to trust this caregiver to always love them, no matter what their behaviour or what they say.
If your parent didn’t get this sort of reliable parenting, then they might find it hard to ‘attach’ to others, including you, their own child. Attachment disorders include ‘avoidant attachment’ (aloof, don’t connect) and ‘anxious attachment’ (clingy or push pulling and confusing).
Of course is your parent has attachment issues, unless your other parent or guardian was very reliable and compensated, you yourself might have attachment issues.
The power of personality disorders
If a parent really doesn’t like their child, it can sometimes be because they have a personality disorder.
A personality disorder means that we consistently see the world in a different way than most people. This means we think and behave in different ways to others that make connecting with others really challenging, including our own family.
But personality disorders affect a much smaller percentage of the population than poorly researched articles declaring everyone a narcissist would have one believe. It’s more likely your parent has a psychological issue.
Why parents have no love to give
What sort of issue could stop a parent from loving a child? And leave you feeling, ‘my parents hate me’?
Addictions are an obvious one. An addict puts his or her addiction first, even before their own children. Sometimes what is addictive is a relationship. If your parents are addicted to each other, with constant drama and fighting followed by making up, they might have no emotion left for their kids.
Often it’s the case that parents had traumatic experiences in their past. Trauma can directly affect someone’s capacity to love and trust others.
Or it might be that your parents never felt loved by their parents, and are continuing the cycle. They might be psychologically projecting their fury with their parents onto their children, or even be jealous of you if you are happier than they feel.
What can you do if your parents really don’t love you?
If you feel unloved by a parent it will directly affect your self-esteem and your ability to have healthy relationships with others.
We need to learn what loving, trusting, healthy relationships even are if we didn’t get one from our parents. And then we need to learn to ‘reparent’ ourselves. This means we find ways to give ourselves the support, trust and love we didn’t get then or now from our parents.
It’s admittedly a big learning curve. You are having to compensate for an entire childhood of feeling rejected. So seeking support is highly recommended. A counsellor or psychotherapist can help you process the emotions that feeling unloved has left you with. You can find a way to handle your parental relationship in a way that works best for you, and learn tools to gain back the self-esteem your childhood didn’t provide.
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Andrea M. Darcy is a health and wellbeing expert, trained in person-centred counselling and coaching. She often writes about trauma, relationships, and ADHD, and advises people on how to plan their therapy journey. Find her on Instagram @am_darcy