I’m ashamed to say it, but sometimes I resent my child. Is that normal?
As a new mother, I remember asking myself, “What did I do with all that time before I had a baby?” Parenting is an all-consuming job: You’re always needed, and you’re never done.
I had spent my life around kids. But until I had my own, I had no concept of how constantly demanding it is to care for them.
I didn’t feel prepared for the demands of the job. Or for the permanence of the job. I mean, it’s not like you can take leave from being a parent.
Like many parents and caregivers, I sometimes felt overwhelmed and resentful. We don’t often talk about those feelings. They can make us feel guilty and ashamed — and alone — even though these feelings are normal and universal.
I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that every parent has felt resentful of their kids at one point or another. What are some of the most common reasons we feel resentful?
We’re tired and want rest.
We remember how easy our life was before we had kids and wish we could go back to the way it was.
We don’t have time to do the things we love.
These feelings tend to crop up in times of stress. Many of us are raising kids who learn and think differently. That can leave us feeling like we have even less time and energy for ourselves.
Minor feelings of resentment are one of the normal emotions of parenting. But more frequent or intense feelings of resentment can be a sign that something needs to change.
If you’re the parent of an infant or a younger child, it might mean something needs to change for you. You need rest or time to recharge your batteries. That might mean reaching out to a family member or a friend to see if they can help out.
As our kids get older, we might feel resentment because we’re doing too much for them. Still try to take time for yourself. But also take note of what you’re doing that they could be doing for themselves.
Get your child to do some chores. This may ease your resentment about having to do it all.
Get your child to take more responsibility for homework, too. If homework is a major problem, talk to the school. Ask about setting limits on how much time your child should spend each night on homework.
Most importantly, try to accept your feelings as normal. Know they may mean it’s time to make some changes. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Make time for friends. Connect with other families who are experiencing the same things you are. The stronger and happier you become, the less likely you’ll feel resentful during those challenging parenting moments.
About the author
About the author
Ellen Braaten, PhD is a child psychologist, professor, and founding director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP) at Massachusetts General Hospital.