I Hate My Dad: How to Cope When You Feel This Way

Unhappy mature father and adult son not taking after quarrel

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It’s possible to feel hatred toward your father. These feelings typically develop in childhood, depending on your father’s behavior and parenting style. 

Hatred can be difficult to cope with and painful to live with. It can also lead to arguments and fights between you and your father, as well as tension and conflict with other family members. Understanding your feelings and processing them can help you manage them in healthy ways. 

This article explores some of the reasons why you might hate your father, the impact of these feelings, and some strategies that can help you cope.

Reasons Why You Might Hate Your Father

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University, outlines some of the reasons why you might hate your father. These reasons are listed below.

Lack of Emotional Connection

You may feel detached from your father if you grew up in a nuclear family where your father was busy pursuing his career and spent less time with you as a result. Alternatively, if your father abandoned you, you may have longed for a connection with him, which can eventually cause you to resent him.

Regardless of the circumstances, children need their parents to have a significant presence in their early life. When this need is not met, children can develop strong feelings of anger and hatred toward their parents.

Authoritarian Parenting Style 

Most children express some type of developmental rebellion during their formative years. While this is typically a normative process, parental reactions tend to vary from permissive to controlling.

When parents use too much force to control rebellious children, it can inspire further hatred and insurgence in their children. 

Instead of helping their children actualize the independence and autonomy they are pursuing, some parents utilize an authoritative approach and actually cause their children to gravitate further toward rebellious behaviors. 

Child Abuse

Children are dependent on their parents for survival. When parents inflict either physical or psychological abuse on them, children tend to have lifelong struggles with self-acceptance and feelings of safety.

If you are a victim of child abuse or know someone who might be, call or text the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 to speak with a professional crisis counselor.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Family Violence

Children are perceptive and are acutely aware of relational dynamics among their primary caretakers. When their father is abusive toward their mother, children become protective and might view their father as a threat to their own well-being. 

When children witness the suffering of their mother at the hands of their father, it damages their relationship with him and pulls them into a parent-like role where they adopt an incongruous amount of responsibility to protect the vulnerable adults in their world.

Mental Health Impact

Romanoff explains how conflict in your relationship with your father can affect your mental health and your relationships with others.

Difficulty With Trust and Intimacy

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Children who experience strong negative feelings toward their fathers tend to have trouble in their attachment to others as adults.

— Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Conflict in the relationship with their father in childhood creates deep-rooted feelings of mistrust. This can lead to hesitation in getting closer to others due to the anticipation of hurt associated with intimacy. 

Difficulty With Emotional Relationships

When parents act in unpredictable ways or abuse their children, their children grow up to have difficulty understanding their emotions and the feelings of others. This limits their ability to build stable and close relationships.

Ultimately, they may struggle to connect with others, avoid intimacy, or be highly anxious in relationships.

Coping Strategies

Romanoff suggests some strategies that can help you cope with the hatred you’re feeling toward your father.

Break the Cycle

Recognize the ways in which your father impacted you and how that may alter your relationship with men or romantic partners.

This is referred to as an attraction of deprivation, as these individuals will seek out partners who are unsatisfying or disappointing in ways that are familiar to them, and believe that they will finally get their unmet needs from childhood met in the present through a corrective emotional experience. Typically, there is a fallacy to this type of thinking as these partners rarely change.

Instead, pick partners out of inspiration–meaning people whose love you don’t have to constantly earn, who you don’t want to change, and who inspires you to be the best version of yourself.

Seek Therapy

It is important to recognize the enduring impact our relationships with caregivers have on current functioning. Therapy can be a great tool to not only recognize and identify this influence, but also interrupt the maladaptive patterns that are extensions from this primary relationship.

Work Toward Acceptance

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

It’s important to accept the father you have instead of distorting the father you wish he would be.

— Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Most of our pain comes from distorting the reality of people to fit our desires for who we need them to be.

Once you can separate fantasy from reality, you free yourself from perpetual disappointment and can live a more stable and consistent life without the ups and downs of intermittently viewing him through the lens of fantasy and reality. 

A Word From Verywell

There are many reasons why you might grow to hate your father. Childhood conflicts with your father can cause you to develop feelings of hate that may accompany you well into adulthood. It’s important to seek therapy for the emotions you’re experiencing so that you can start to heal and move forward with your life, toward acceptance and healthier relationships.

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