To hate your parents, really feel it, is against the judeao-christian ethic, society, and our own inbred belief system.

In my psychiatric practice, countless patients have spent many hours “discovering” how they really feel about their mother and father. Even the most obviously abusive, alcoholic, and violent parent often remains immune to justly deserved hateful feelings. The parent who puts up a good front to the world, but in the privacy of the home is critical, distant, unempathic and devaluing is often more complicated to unravel.

How can you hate the person who gave you life and who you were dependent on? It feels immoral. It’s also crazy-making to know on one level that you can’t stand to be in the presence of a parent and at the same time doubt your right to have those feelings. Without our parents we wouldn’t exist. Often a patient or friend says, “I don’t hate my father. I just can’t talk to him, don’t want to be around him, and wish he’d just disappear. If I never saw him again, it would be okay. But…I don’t hate him.”

Well, how about EXTREME DISLIKE, which to me sounds a lot like HATE. If our parents have earned it, we have the right to our feelings.

In Chasing Backwards, Joe Belmont, a 24 y/o medical student who just learned his mother was killed, struggles with these feelings as he’s being interviewed by Detective Barneggi.

I glance back out the window. The light patterns are hypnotic, cars barreling down Vine Street, streaks of yellow and red swirling about in the darkness. Where will I bury her? What the hell do I do for money? I close my eyes and involuntarily shiver. What kind of asshole thinks about money at a time like this? I grip the coffee mug and picture heaving it through the plate-glass window.

A major bonus about getting in touch with hateful feelings is the possibility that when the hate is dealt with, there is the possibility that love still exists.


10 thoughts on “BE HEALTHY! HATE YOUR PARENTS, by Art Smukler MD

  1. My mother was very narcissistic, and tended to be very hostile and angry at times, especially if you expressed any negative feelings or needed someone to be supportive. She could respond to you with rage, or by stonewalling and the silent treatment. At other times, she could be attentive, full of praise for something you did, or patient at teaching you some skill. So, not knowing anything else, I thought she was a “loving” mother, but realized I often felt angry at her, and felt emotionally neglected. After I grew up, her Jekyll and Hyde mentality and her temper tantrums put me in a tailspin at times. I had no clue how to deal with her! During the last three years of her life, I spent a lot of time with her, and somehow was granted a very clear picture of how dysfunctional she was, and that it had nothing to do with me. After two years of this, I finally decided I had had enough, and that it would be better for me just to end contact. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I had terrible guilt over it, but my own emotional well-being had to come first. She died a year later, and I felt I had already done my grieving. I did feel as if a tremendous weight was lifted off of me, and felt a a huge sense of relief at not having to please her, or put up with her manipulations anymore. But I learned an awful lot about myself, and about her, because of those two years I spent. She could be the best person in the world, or the worst! But I am thankful that she had her good qualities, because that also shaped me into the person I am today. Next week will be the first anniversary of her passing, at age 78.


  2. Growing up, my father and I squared off a lot. I never knew why, but he always got on my nerves so easily. It wasn’t until recently that I began to realize why. He is a very matter-of-fact, meat-and-potatoes person. I see the world more colorfully, from many different angles. He was never strict, but he was stern. He said “no” a lot, and always questioned why I wanted to do things. He was always there for me when I needed something big, but he was never supportive of what I wanted out of life. He always tells me that he thought I’d end up with a blue-collar job and really go nowhere, and how surprised he is about where I ended up in life. This only tells me that he never truly knew me. It has really changed the way I see him and interact with him now. I won’t say that my brother was his favorite child, but they have more in common. I remember him leaving me to go play golf (I’m not a big fan) with my brother. He never read my poetry or stories. He never looked at my painting and drawings. Never took an interest in what I loved. I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was 10, but he never pushed me to take classes and submit my work to publications, simply because he just didn’t understand. I do that stuff now that I’m an adult, but I wonder where I’d be if my parents pushed me toward my dreams at an young age. It makes me resent them a little bit.


  3. I think most people have a love/hate relationship with one or both parents. I only let myself hate my mother after she was dead and I was no longer being manipulated by her.


  4. I “SUFFER” from a deep hatred and total disgust toward my father. Both my brother and sister say things like “you obviously didn’t grow up with the same man we did.” That’s only because I didn’t. I seemed to be nothing more than a thorn in his side, his emotional punching bag, and received no affection, attention, respect, or acceptance from him. I always felt the harder I tried the worse things got between us. Even when I graduated Nursing School with honors, he wasn’t the least bit impressed at least as far as I knew. When my father died I was actually relieved. I didn’t have the pressure to please him any more. I worked my way through college, was awarded several small scholarships, none of which he acknowledged. The only time in my life he ever ‘came to my aid’ was when I was raped at knife-point when I was 36. He actually came to stay with me for a few days to offer his version of moral support. It felt like blame to me, like I in some way asked for it. Which was the common belief anyway back in 1986 when it happened. Women were put on trial, not the rapist. The man was never caught so I didn’t have to go through the humiliation of a trial, but I was disappointed nonetheless because that meant the rapist might still, to this day be raping women, and men too. When my father died I was actually relieved, like a huge burden was lifted. I didn’t ry or speak at his funeral. My disgust for him comes from the constant insulting comments he made about my mother after she died. He knew we were close, and I felt like he was trying to mar my pleasant memories of her. I have bipolar disorder, PTSD and atypical Attention Deficit Disorder and am an alcoholic. None of which I blame him for because I have a long family history of alcoholism and mental illness on both his and my mother’s side. However, he never let me forget how disgusted he was with me for having mental illness and being alcoholic. I have since learned that alcoholism is a disease, and am no longer ashamed to be alcoholic or have mental illness. I take medication as prescribed and have been sober for almost 2 years. I know now that I am responsible for my own actions and thoughts. And with the help of my psychiatrist and AA am dealing with these issues. Knowing my father was raised by two very violent alcoholic parents has finally allowed me to experience at least some understanding of his behavior. But I just have never been able to figure out where his ill feelings toward me originated in my childhood. Maybe I never will. I am learning to forgive, but I will certainly never forget. A lot of people have told me that he really did love me, but I just can’t believe it. I am also learning to let it go because I don’t want to rent any more space in my head to him. Even writing this is helpful. Because I know other people have had very difficult relationships with their parents. Self respect and self love are coming slowly but they are coming and I feel more at ease now than any other time in my life. I also feel sorry for him because of his parents. My mother was also raised by an alcoholic father, but she didn’t treat me like he did. So you just don’t know how people will respond to any parenting, be it “good or bad”. Thanks.


  5. I was recently derailed by a realization of how much anger and hatred I have for my mother. Interestingly enough, instead of providing relief or validation, what it did to me was make me dislike myself that much more. Just knowing that I was capable of that much anger and vitriol was horrible and I beat myself up a bit for that. Thankfully, my therapist reminded me that anyone who knew my story would agree that I had every right to be angry toward her. I’m still dealing with those difficult feelings and am in a better space now, but sometimes I wish for the old days where I could just block those feelings and actually stand to be in the room with her.


  6. My parents focused on my brother’s illness and I was left to fend for myself as a child. No hugs, no validation, no words of praise, nothing. I have major depression, borderline personality disorder, and PTSD. I had sooo much anger towards my parents, but I am an adult now and have to take care of myself. I am not as angry as I used to be. Now my parents are both deceased, but I let go of the past. It was preventing me from moving forward.


    1. You’ve turned around a very difficult situation into a positive growth experience. I’m happy that you dealt with your anger constructively and didn’t let it hold you back. Thank you, Art Smukler


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