Many people have close relationships with their parents — in fact, some consider their mother or father their best friend. But that isn’t always the case. 

There’s a less fortunate narrative: Some people hate their parents. They don’t just lack that connection or disagree with their parents from time to time; instead, they despise their mom, dad, or both. 

Is this normal? Is it normal to hate your parents? Plus, what are some underlying causes for this hate?

Why Do I Hate My Parents?

The cause of hate can vary from one individual to the next, but in most cases, the parents have mistreated (physically, verbally, and/or emotionally) their child. It’s normal and expected to despise your parents if they’ve mistreated you — whether they intentionally abused you, held you to unrealistic and harmful expectations, or forced you to live a life you also hated. But what about in other scenarios?

Say you have perfect parents: Despite their dedication to raising you and loving you as their child, you don’t feel that same love for them. You feel hate instead. Is that normal? This isn’t as common, but that doesn’t mean you’re abnormal. There is most likely a hidden cause behind these negative feelings and the best way to combat the hate is to get to the bottom of it. Consider the following possible underlying causes:

  • The desire for independence. You may simply desire or be seeking more independence, and your relationship with your parents is consequentially suffering. This typically happens a lot with age. When I moved back home for the summer after my freshman year of college, I expected a greater degree of independence and more flexibility and freedom from my dad. However, it was as if I returned to my home as a teenager in high school. This definitely hurt my dad and I’s relationship and had we not respectfully talked about the issue, it could still be suffering today.
  • A phase of rebellion. A lot of teenagers go through a period of rebellion and parents never know the best way to handle it—it’s tricky and also troublesome because it can either strengthen or, more often than not, damage the relationship. If parents respond with punishment and scorn, then it can certainly result in the child’s loathing.
  • Media exposure. Your relationship can even be affected by the type of TV shows or movies you’re watching. You may see a slightly different or more desirable parent-child relationship portrayed on screen and wish that your relationship with your parents was more like it. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and deep resentment.
  • Differing morals and/or lifestyles. While our parents typically raise us with their ideals as the backbone of our growth, we don’t always take after their belief systems or lifestyles. This can cause significant strain on your relationship if your parents object to your choices or if your differences are so different that they create big issues. For example, a family that is devoutly Catholic may have a problem with their son declaring he doesn’t believe in God or even deciding to date someone who doesn’t believe in God.

Do any of the above resonate with you? As we mentioned earlier, the reason you hate your parents might differ from the reason someone else hates their parents. However, you might be able to trace your resentment back to one of the above causes.

I Hate My Parents: What Do I Do?

If you hate your parents, you might be feeling panicked about what to do next. First, stay calm. Remember that it’s normal to have negative feelings toward your parents and other family members. Then, follow a few tips for navigating your next move, which will require first making one decision: whether you want to salvage your relationships or cut contact with your toxic parents. If that’s not possible or you don’t wish to make amends, then here are a few pieces of advice for you:

  1. Move out of the house. If you’re still living with your parents, it’s time to move out (if you’re 18 of course). While this is easier said than done, it’s important to get out of the unhealthy living situation. Talk to a friend about looking for an apartment together. Or, consider finding a place by yourself. Living alone might give you the space and freedom you’re searching for.
  2. Limit interactions with your parents. Prior to moving out and after moving out, don’t interact with your parents unless you have to. If you’re still living with them, it’s probably best to respond when they speak directly to you, in order to keep the peace, but otherwise, keep to yourself. When you no longer live with your parents, it’ll be much easier to keep these interactions to a minimum.
  3. Be the bigger person. If your parents are known to strike up uncomfortable conversations or arguments, do your best not to retaliate. Be the bigger person. Matching their volume or aggression will only fuel the fire and make matters worse. Again, do your best to keep your interactions with them minimal and focus on getting some much-needed space from them.
  4. Secure a support system. You might be all anger right now — but sometime in the future (probably soon), you’ll likely succumb to other negative emotions like sadness. It’s tough to end a relationship and remove a loved one from your life, even if that relationship wasn’t the healthiest. Be sure to talk to your loved ones or a therapist about how you’re feeling and get the support that you need.
  5. Focus on you. Stop focusing on your hate for your parents and start focusing on yourself. You can become the person you want to be, despite the resentment that you harbor toward your parents and the cause of that hate. Start spending time with people you love and doing things that fill you with joy.

If you are interested in mending your relationships with your parents, then you must sit down with them and have a heart-to-heart. Hate is a strong word and stems from strong feelings. If your relationships with your parents have gotten to this point, it’s time to share your feelings with them. Be sure to listen to what they have to say, too. 

It might also be helpful here to consider moving toward neutrality rather than telling yourself you have to like your parents. “Trying to accept the imperfections within your relationship will be much easier at first than jumping straight into trying to cultivate positive feelings,” says Emily Simonian, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Head of Learning at Thriveworks. “You can move toward neutral feelings toward your parents by trying to acknowledge things about them that are not all bad, even if they’re small things that are unrelated to you, like how your mom is dedicated to her career, or your dad is a good cook. Teaching yourself to think in this way will create a more balanced perspective that could lessen your negative feelings over time.”

If you need or would like a mediator’s help in repairing relationships with your parents, consider going to family therapy. A therapist serves as that mediator, offers an outsider’s point of view, and comes with professional expertise to help you improve your relationships. You can book a family therapy session here