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When You Don’t Like Your Own Child – What You Can Do

Of course you love your child, but maybe circumstances are such that you don’t like him much right now. Find out what you can do to rekindle your feelings of connection and compassion towards your child.

“I love him, but I just can’t seem to like him right now.”

If you are in a low spot with one of your children right now, this quote probably rings true for you. It is very difficult to face the fact that sometimes we don’t like our own children, our very own flesh and blood. This can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy and even resentment about the level of conflict in our relationship. You may know in your head that your love for him is always there, but it can get buried under so much pain and hurt that you can’t sense its presence. If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone. While you may not be able to immediately remedy the cause of the rift, you can make some changes in your own thinking that can help you revive your positive feelings for your child.

  • Remember that it is most likely temporary. It may seem that your relationship with your child has fallen into a deep, black hole. You may wonder if you will ever get out. No matter how deep that hole is, it is not a permanent state. Things can and will get better.
  • Make a list of the things that you have enjoyed doing with him in the past. Have you enjoyed skiing together? Hiking? Tag sale-ing? Try to recall the most pleasurable activities you have engaged in with this child and write them down. Maybe it is something really insignificant like looking at a catalog or watching a favorite TV program together. Thinking about these times can help, but trying to do them more often can help even more.
  • Watch home movies of good times. You may have a hard time accessing compassion and affection for this child. Seeing those feelings in action can help you remember what it was like. Watching the movies with the child in question (if he will) can have the same effect on him.
  • Look at his baby book. When you do, you will see the love in your eyes and the adoration in his. It will help you remember that special bond you shared in infancy with your child.
  • Imagine his future. While only God knows how our children will end up, “future forcasting” is a mental exercise that can help you rekindle those feelings of attachment and connection with your child. Imagine your relationship with him as an adult. Think about what it might be like, what he might be doing and how you will be interacting in a more positive manner.
  • Pray. I may have listed it last, but it is not because it is the least effective. In fact, the opposite is true. Prayer is powerful. Not because it changes our circumstances, but because it changes us. By talking to God and asking to hear and know His will, we can come to see our circumstances through His eyes. Often it is the most trying situations that bring the most radical and powerful changes. Waiting on Him and trusting His timing can help us get past the hurt we may feel regarding our child.

It is very important that you take steps to remedy your feelings for your child. Family relationships are often like dominoes – a change by one member can have a positive and lasting effect on the others. You may find that a change in your feelings can have an effect on the overall health of your relationship with your child.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.


  • I’m currently having this problem. I had a pretty difficult childhood and a terrible relationship with my mother and it’s directly affecting my relationship with my son. I hoping this is temporary.

    • Hi Arabella – I hope that some of the tips help. Your awareness and desire to address it are a very good sign.

      I sign this off with a prayer for you and your relationship with your son.


  • Hi I am a Clinical Psychologist. I am trying to find books and/or articles that discuss parenting, guilt, and not liking your child or stepchild. I have a client who lives with his mother and her partner (female) and the partner is feeling guilty because she is not “liking” her partners son right now. She feels guilty because of these feelings. Can you recommend any well written book or articles that address this subject. Thank you.

    • Hi Marcia – While I don’t know of any books off hand, I came across some helpful articles on line. This one, and this one would be a good place to start. I guess I would also like to uncover (if the partner is amenable to it) if her dislike of the child is actually about the child specifically or if there is something deeper in the adults’ relationship for which the child has become the scapegoat (or the recipient of displaced feelings).

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting!
      God bless,

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