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Toxic Ties
6 Types of Parents Who Don’t Love Their Children

In: Difficult Parents, Emotional Abuse, Most Popular Posts, NarcissismApril 7, 2020 15 Min read40 Comments
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We all assume that parental love is a given, but that’s a myth. Parents who don’t love their children are more common than we think.
If you grew up with one of those parents, you went through unimaginable pain.

Every child has a vital need for a genuine, loving connection with the parents (especially the mother).
When a child catches her parent’s loving gaze on her, she knows she is loved — deeply, passionately, unconditionally.

This is the foundation of her self-esteem, her self-image, and all her future relationships.

Deprived of such a connection, that foundation is shaky.

When the child doesn’t receive unconditional affection from her parents but instead receives disapproval, anger, impossible demands, and empty gestures, she learns that she is unloveable.

If you can relate, you might have had an unloving parent. This article describes 6 types of unloving parents. So…do you have a parent who
  • is incapable of love (disturbed)?
  • is too sick to love you (depressed)?
  • only loves you when you reflect positively on them (narcissistic)?
  • is too mad to love you (angry)
  • only loves you when you do what they want (controlling)?
  • only loves their “favorite child” (preferential)?
See if you recognize them in the descriptions below.
Then read on to find out the 5 essential things that will help you heal from this painful experience.
[Image: Here are 5 types of difficult parents who don't love their children, and how you can cope with being unloved by one or both of your parents.]
The Screwed-Up Parent
When I was a child, I was obsessed with dogs. It seemed like I could tame even the wildest, meanest pup with a gentle word and a kind touch.

Until I got bitten. That’s when I learned that some dogs are just too damaged and unpredictable to be around.

Just like a damaged dog, a screwed-up parent is too f***ed up to love, period.

I’m talking about sociopaths, psychopaths, people suffering from chronic alcoholism, drug abuse, or some other severe psychiatric or neurological disorder that renders them emotionally unavailable and destructive.

These people were never meant to be parents, and yet, in our crazy world, they are given that opportunity.

You may hear about these parents on the news — those who kidnap, kill, or commit horrific acts of violence against their children. But most abuse their children in total anonymity.

This happens more often than you think.

Each year, there are over 700,000 confirmed cases of abuse or neglect in the United States.
In over 80% of these cases, parents are the perpetrators (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016).

[Image: parents don't love children]
And keep in mind that these statistics are underestimated because many cases go unreported, and abuse is almost never a singular incident.
Typically, it’s chronic and involves more than one form of abuse.

The parents who commit terrible crimes against their children are afflicted by an extreme pathology that most likely stems from their own deep-seated trauma.
“Hurt people hurt people.”

They might be sadists, pedophiles, wife beaters, repeat offenders, drug addicts, etc.

They do not love their children because they don’t know what love is.
The Depressed Parent
While the screwed-up parent is incapable of love, the depressed parent is too sick to love.
It’s possible that they were once a happy, well-adjusted person, and a loving parent.

But something happened — a personal tragedy, perhaps, or an insurmountable challenge that proved too much to cope with, and they became a hollow vessel, an empty bodysuit that was once a person.

The depressed parent’s emotional range is extremely limited. They don’t feel love, or hate, or sadness, or anger. They don’t feel anything.
And that’s the scary thing about depression. It isn’t about feeling unhappy.

When you are unhappy, you can see yourself being happy again. You know what you want to happen in order for you to stop feeling unhappy.

But a truly depressed person is unable to even imagine a future where they feel happy. Their world is so bleak that they see no hope.
They might’ve had a habit of staring into a distance for hours or stayed in bed all day, simply because they saw no point in getting up, eating, talking…
[Image: depressed parents don't love their children]

If you grew up with a depressed parent, you grew up with a ghost. You probably remember you parent being quiet, detached, unmoved by anything that’s going on around them.

Sometimes they could barely register your existence.
In other words, they were emotionally shut down, which felt like they didn’t care about you. But unlike some other types of parents on this list, it wasn’t their fault.
RELATED: Toxic Parenting: 9 Ways to Avoid Repeating Your Parent's Mistakes
Depression is a devastating illness. It can be a serious lifelong condition or a passing phase. Either way, it’s very treatable when addressed professionally.

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, don’t ignore it or hope it’ll get better on its own. Seek help.
The Angry Parent
Growing up with an angry father, I could just tell when his anger was about to explode.

He would get quiet, and the air around him would get punctured with dread. His eyes would get dark and very still, and the next moment he’d either scream with the rage of a mental patient or slap me in the face.

I remember how terrifying it was, to experience the wrath of this 6 ft. tall man, and how small and ashamed I felt afterward. There are no words to describe this terror and the self-hatred that followed.
If you grew up with an angry mom or dad, you know what I’m talking about.

Unlike a depressed parent who feels too worthless and like they have nothing to offer their children, an angry parent believes they are an exceptional parent with so much to give.

These parents yell because they care. They hit because they care. They vandalize a child’s self-esteem because they care (and to teach a lesson).

Yet this type of parent cannot and does not love their child. How can they? They’re too busy flying off a handle at every real and imagined transgression.

Pretty soon the relationship between a child and an angry parent becomes tense, fearful, and insincere.

The child reacts by shutting down, and any semblance of love between the two evaporates.
Related: 10 Signs Of an Angry Grandparent (And How to Talk to Your Kids About It)
[Image: parents don't love children]
The Narcissistic Parent
Most people have children with an intention of loving them with all their hearts.

But to some, parenthood is just another way to boost their damaged egos.

A narcissistic mother or father sees their child not as an individual but as an extension of themselves.
Love never really enters the equation. Not in the way most people understand love, anyway.
A narcissistic parent can only love a child that’s a perfect mirror to their own self-image.

If a child mirrors his negative traits or doesn’t inspire pride in whatever way the narcissist imagines his child to make him proud, the parent perceives it as a failure and a betrayal.

For example, if a narcissistic father sees himself as a great athlete, he will “love” an athletically gifted child. Meaning, he will love seeing the reflection of his own athletic greatness in his son or daughter.
[Image: narcissistic parents don't love their children]

But if a child doesn’t show great promise on a football field, the narcissist will react with sharp criticism, disappointment, and rejection.
Related: 21 Gut-Wrenching Lies You Learned From Your Narcissistic Parent

Even if the child is gifted in other areas, it wouldn’t matter to a narcissistic father. In his eyes, the child failed and shamed him. And since failure and humiliation are unacceptable things that drive narcissists insane, the father will try to symbolically “erase” the offspring that let him down.

So the narcissist needs to live vicariously through the child who fulfills his desires.

As long as the child allows the parent to indulge in that fantasy, the narcissist will “love” their child. But when the fantasy is over, so is the love.

To learn about dealing with a narcissistic mother, read Coping With a Narcissistic Mother: 9 Tips to Heal the Damage

For more about the psychology of narcissism, check out 20 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Narcissism
The Controlling Parent
A controlling or an authoritarian parent needs to be in total control of their children.

Quite often a controlling parent feels out of control in one important area of their life (at work, for example).

So they will channel that feeling of impotence into their parenting style, trying to regain a sense of control by being a strict parent.
Like a narcissistic parent, this type of parent only loves their children when they’re the perfect version of what the parent wants them to be. In this case, obedient automatons.

A controlling parent will make all the choices for their children, including personal ones like choosing their profession, friends, and even a future mate.
RELATED: Top 10 TV Shows Featuring Narcissistic Male Characters

And if the child makes different choices, or challenges the parent in any way, the parent reacts with rage, and then rejects the insubordinate child.

They think that they’re acting in a child’s best interest; protecting them from the mistakes they’re sure to make. But it’s all ego-driven.

In their distorted view of a parent-child relationship, a parent is always a mentor, and a child is always a passive recipient of parental wisdom.

When the child disobeys, the mentor has to discipline the child to put him back on the right path.

There are many marks of a controlling parent. For example, he (or she) might insist that the child addresses them by “Sir” or “Ma’am,” or in some other redundantly formal way to further convey their superiority.
They may use threats or other intimidation tactics.

A controlling parent may even get physically abusive at some point.
And the more the child resists being controlled and manipulated like a marionette, the meaner the parent becomes.

Simply put, a controlling parent will go to any lengths to make sure their child is under their thumb, always.
The Preferential Parent
The preferential parent is a parent who loves one child, the “golden child,” but doesn’t love the other (or others), “scapegoat.”

This difficult parent-child dynamic is most typical of families where one or both parents are narcissistic, but it’s not exclusive to narcissists only.

A preferential parent will triangulate her children into a competition for her affection, encouraging ongoing conflict, envy, and jealousy.

Oftentimes, the choice of which sibling the parent bestows her or his love upon is completely arbitrary.

[Image: parents don't love children]
It can also switch over time: the sibling that was the “favored child” in childhood becomes a “scapegoat” as an adult, and vice versa.

The preferential parent seems to be capable of love (at least they’d like to think so) but they cannot love their children equally.

In other words, they cannot love one without abusing the other.
And while some difference in the level of love and connection is normal, the dichotomy of total adoration for one and rejection of the other amounts to a parent who can’t truly love either child.

Children aren’t real people to them. They are extreme projections of the parent’s own best and worst qualities.

For that reason, a preferential parent gets a spot on the list of parents who don’t love their children.
How to Deal With a Parent Who Doesn’t Love You
We’re used to thinking that parents love and care for their children no matter what. But some people are simply incapable of love.

So what do you do if you’ve got one of those people for a parent?

1. Know that it’s not your fault.
You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t deserve it. There’s nothing wrong with you.

You weren’t some horrible unruly child who needed spanking.
You didn’t “provoke” your parent’s anger; that anger was already inside of them.

You didn’t “fail” your parent because you didn’t subjugate your life to their desires.

And you didn’t cause them to be depressed.

If you were on the receiving end of abuse, know that there is NOTHING about you that invited this treatment or justified it.

And there’s NOTHING you could have done to prevent it or stop it.

2. Know that it’s not your job to fix your parent, or make them love you.

Some parents act as if you owed them for being born.

You don’t. And it’s not your job to fix them either.

You might have a childish fantasy of somehow making your parent better, and finally having that relationship you always dreamed of.

At the risk of sounding cynical, that’s never going to happen.
It might get better though once you accept your parent for who they are, with all their limitations, and stop expecting things they can’t give you.

3. Know that there are other mother/father figures in your life who love you.

Children need their parents’ love and care. From the moment the child is born, he reaches out to his mother, seeking not only nourishment and warmth, but also comfort and connection.

Before long, he will be mimicking her facial expressions and smiling, just because he sees the delight on her face every time he does.
RELATED: Is Narcissism Contagious?

This is a deep emotional need hardwired into our brain — the need for a meaningful connection with our parents, the need to be loved by them.

But sometimes a parent falls short of fulfilling that essential need.
If that’s how you feel about your parent, know that there are other people in your life right now who can probably give you the love that you seek.

It could be your aunts or uncles, siblings or grandparents perhaps. Or you might have someone at work who always treats you with the care of a mother or the protectiveness of a father.
[Image: toxic parents who don't love their children]

Sometimes a partner can fill that role, although it shouldn’t be a primary mode of connection for a couple.

If you feel like you’ve missed out on that parental love, pay attention. You might find it all around you.

4. Know that there is a Divine Mother/Father within you

“Mother” and “father” are more than your biological parents or people in your life. Those are energies, or archetypes, present in all of us.

You have a mother and a father within you. Some people call it God, others — Goddess, or consciousness, or Spirit. They are always with you.

Look within and connect with the Divine Mother or Father. Talk to him/her. Ask to be relieved of the burden of anger, resentment, and pain, and to fill the emptiness you feel inside with love.

I promise you, you will be crying your eyes out with gratitude when it’s over!

Here is a powerful guided meditation to connect your Inner Child to the Divine Mother.

5. Know that you can still be whole, even if you have an unloving parent
Having an unloving parent can make you feel really screwed up.

It can leave you with devastating emotional scars. It can make you doubt your self-worth. And it can also cripple you in personal relationships because deep down you feel unlovable.

You may feel like: If my own parent doesn’t love me, who will?
Few things in this world are more painful than feeling like your parent doesn’t love you.

But it doesn’t mean that you’re broken because of it.

You don’t need your parent’s love to feel good about yourself. You don’t need it to be worthy of love. And you don’t need it to be a loving parent to your own children.
Acknowledging Reality Vs. Shaming
I am not trying to label or badmouth anyone.

Parenting is hard, and sometimes people are too quick to pass judgment on how other people raise their kids.

That’s why there’s such pressure to be a perfect parent (especially a perfect mommy) and always project happiness, love, and harmony.

But every parent has moments they aren’t proud of. Today I yelled at my toddler again, and let her watch too much TV. I felt like a bad parent, I’m not going to lie. As she gets older and parenting gets even more challenging, I’m sure I’ll do other things I’ll regret.

So I’m not condemning all parents for being human, or accusing everyone who’s ever made a mistake of not loving their children.

I do believe that most people love their kids with a fierce, deep, unconditional love. That’s how it should be.

But acknowledging the reality that it’s not always the case is equally as important as being understanding and forgiving of our parents’ flaws.

Some parents don’t love their kids. It’s a fact we have to accept.
Because if we don’t, we might be unable to see the bad behavioral patterns in our own families.

And if we don’t see them, we can’t challenge them, or stand up for ourselves.

We also won’t be able to recognize when someone in our family or someone else’s family needs help.
Parents can be abusing their kids as they’re professing to love them. But words aren’t love. Neglect isn’t love. Abuse isn’t love.

We have to be vigilant and aware when the most vulnerable among us — children — are being mistreated by an unloving parent.
20 Heartbreaking Signs of a Manipulative Mother
How to Deal With a Difficult Parent: 6 Strategies to Keep Your Sanity
How to Forgive Your Parents for Abuse (When They’re Not Sorry)
emotional abuse narcissistic parent toxic family member toxic parent toxic relationships
13 Subtle Signs of a Toxic Relationship
[Image: Here is the most complete list of revealing signs that you have a narcissistic parent, and how to come to terms with it.]
33 Revealing Signs You Have a Narcissistic Parent: The Ultimate List
[Image: validation narcissistic parent]
How to Stop Seeking Love and Validation from Your Narcissistic Parent
[Image: narcissistic male characters on TV]
Top 10 TV Shows Featuring Narcissistic Male Characters
Reader Interactions
  1. Matthew Abrams says
    October 2, 2021 at 9:06 pm
    I was never loved as a child. My parents run my life. I do nothing lie
  2. Kat says
    October 1, 2021 at 4:18 am
    I have looked through your site and read where you say you are not a Doctor or psychologist (unless that is out of date info). I would love to hear your qualifications to not only write this article, but to create multiple articles on this site based what seems to be personal opinion. What is your experience to offer advice to the general public? I have dealt with many narcissists etc but it does not make me qualified to speak in any degree of certainty.
    Do you have children? If you don’t, then you are automatically disqualified from writing this. And if you do, I hope you feel blessed that you never struggled with the guilt of not loving your kid in the way you always imagined you would. For a website about toxicity it seems to me you are the most toxic thing on here.
    • Lana Adler says
      October 1, 2021 at 10:37 am
      you’d be interested to know that most people who write about narcissistic abuse recovery (you can google their names) are not doctors or psychologists. Furthermore, anyone can write or speak about anything they want, provided they don’t misrepresent themselves. It’s called the freedom of speech. I understand you don’t like what I write but it’s not for you to judge what I can or cannot write about. Thanks for reading though!
      • joy says
        October 2, 2021 at 9:11 am
        Thank you for your article. You have been a part of my healing process. Thank you for speaking the truth and also providing ways to heal the emotional pain. I am at a point of healing where your words have resonated with me and given me further clarity and healing where I can finally love myself and be loved. Know you are doing good! Thank you.
        • Lana Adler says
          October 5, 2021 at 8:08 am
          Thank you so much Joy! It means a lot to me to know that I’ve been a part of your healing journey. It’s an honor 🙂
  3. Anonymous says
    August 3, 2021 at 9:16 am
    My mom is a preferential Mom
    She hates me and she has told me that several times
    She loves my younger brother way too much
    She always tells me to go live my dad
    She once told me that she wishes I die so that she could have freedom and enjoy her life
    I think I hate her too I don’t want anything to do with her
    • Lana Adler says
      August 3, 2021 at 10:24 am
      Those are terrible things to say to your child. You don’t deserve that. But try not to focus on the hate – it will only poison your heart. When you’re older, you can decide what type of relationship you want with your mom, or whether you want one at all. But for now, hang in there and know that you deserve to be loved, respected, and treated kindly.
  4. Invisible says
    May 16, 2021 at 1:48 am
    Hi, would i veable to send pm message to you please..?
  5. Hethero says
    April 23, 2021 at 4:15 am
    I sympathize with Amanda. I don’t know her full story, or her child’s, but I know that despite the parents’ best efforts, things do not always turn out as we hope.
    Our oldest child has grown to become a person that is difficult to like, even though we had nothing but love for her before. She has unfortunately inherited all of my worst traits, and none of my good ones. (The only good one is probably that I am honest. Nothing much else than that, I guess…)
    I must admit my faults: I am defensive and often moody, but I know about these problems and I try my best not to stay in such a dour mood when I am with my children. When my daughter was young I used to spank her, but within what I considered a reasonable threshold. That is how I was disciplined as a child, and I didn’t see a problem with it. I stopped hitting her while she was still in kindergarten, because my wife and brother both started preaching about having talks instead of spankings. I have not laid a hand on her (or her younger brothers) in over 10 years. (I have only been able to get somewhat better over time because my wife has not given up on me.) I see my faults in her, and I try to guide her to see the path to a better character sooner than I did. She seems to not have taken after her mother in any way, and that is truly a pity.
    I had a distressing talk with her tonight. To start with, it was just to try to set up some kind of agreement whereby I would grant her access to more apps on her smartphone if she promises to actually start helping around the house and .. well, just try to be a decent person at home. It progressed through me trying to explain to her that she needs to learn that everyone must mature and become more responsible as the years progress, and it ended with her telling me to my face that she doesn’t like her mother, she doesn’t like me, and she likes her brothers the least. The cherry on top was that she does not care whether the people she lives with likes her or not.
    So, yeah, long story short, I agree with Amanda. It is NOT always that the child is completely without fault, and the parents are ultimately to blame for everything. Sometimes the child is twisted somehow, and the parents cannot set them straight.
    Oh. And this may seem quite petty, but I only felt compelled to write something because I cannot agree with the line that you ended with: “Because the opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference.” No, that doesn’t sound right at all. Indifference is the complete ABSENCE of either love or hate. It does not exist on the same spectrum as these extremes of emotion. I will take your word that it can hurt as much as hatred, but it is definitely not love’s opposite.
    • Asa says
      June 2, 2021 at 9:42 pm
      I find it hard to believe your dislike for your daughter is based on her innate behavior. Did you even want a child? I guarantee how you treated her, is what made her into the person you claim to not like. She didn’t ask to be here, but you brought her, so take responsibility.
    • Asa says
      June 2, 2021 at 9:48 pm
      You mentioned that you prevented her full access from her phone as punishment.. and it’s stuff like that (because I’m sure that’s only 1 of 1 million examples) that will raise your child to resent you. You doing things for them but it’s really coming from a place of doing it for yourself. You really think your wife just gave birth to a twisted child? Lol. Ignorance is Bliss!
  6. Chelsea says
    April 17, 2021 at 12:01 am
    I am not so much offended per say. I have a mother with severe depression. It is ironic that she has bever attempted suicide. Sometimes I think she makes it up. I know lots of people with personality disorders or mental illness that are great parents however that is not the case with my mom. She doesn’t love me because she thinks I am the bane of her existence. I cause her digestive issues. I cause her depression. She even told me my grandmother cursed me to go insane to punish me because she had a special mean streak that day.
    It is not mental illness at all that causes it.
    I think in her case or in most cases it is pure selfishness, wanting to feel powerful, wanting to be in control, lack of accountability whether me or in pretty much everything in her life, weakness, she needs someone to blame with for her marital problems and pretty much everything in her life.
    I resent her too much to sympathize with her anyway. I do try but I feel like it is a burden to have her as my mother.
    Maybe it is lack of empathy on my part.
    I really do not want ro be like her in any shape or form.
    I resented her everytime she would scream and holler. I felt disgust when she would beat up my dad or throw coffee on him.
    I never meant my previous comment as an attack.
    I just think abuse in most cases is strictly behavioral and due to bad character.
    I do not have the best character myself. I started to slowly become like her and I have a lot rages as well.
    I always thought my mom and at times myself was rageholic.
    I strongly feel that is behavioral on both my mom’s end and my end.
    Addiction I believe is behavioral whether it is cocaine, meth, alcohol, heroin, or even rage.
    I am not trying to be condescending to people woth substance abuse problems. I actually have that myself. I am an alcoholic. I regret this behavior. I feel that I make a choice to use alcohol or in some cases rage as a coping mechanism. It is weakness on my part.
    I am sorry if I came off as hostile or if I sounded offended. A lot of people have that criticism of me.
    I would like you to consider this point of view and be open to it.
    I wish I was different. I learned to be hostile from my mother and I regret.
    I know a lot of people with mental illnesses and even personality disorders who are nothing like me. This is a choice on my part. I hope I can change but I am so conditioned to be cruel.
    My grandmother always described me a s damaged. Her eyes would squint in disgust as if I did not deserve to exist.
    For a long time I felt like I did not deserve to exist because of how I was treated.
    I am sorry. You are right there is a lot going on with me.
    Thank you for reading this. I hope this honesty amd transparency can improve things.
  7. Chlo says
    April 12, 2021 at 3:51 pm
    Your article is good for the most part. the only problem i have is that you say a lot of derogatory things about people with mental illnesses. Not all people with mental illness are bad or are bad parents. It seems like certain things you are saying are adding the stigma to mental illness which further isolates people with mental illnesses. This can make it hard for them to seek treatment or get the help they need because they feel demonized. You should use better word choices. I understand the point of your article and it was easy to follow. I just find your choice words and generalizations about people with mental illnesses off-putting.
    • Lana Adler says
      April 13, 2021 at 8:36 am
      Hi Chlo,
      thanks for your comment, and I respect your perspective.
      It’s interesting that people always take offense at that part of the article where I mention drug addiction and mental health issues, even though I make it clear that I’m talking about severe cases, where the parent is completely emotionally unavailable, disturbed, damaged beyond repair, psychopathic and sadistic. Still, it touches a nerve…
      Obviously, not all mental illness is the same, and not all addiction is the same. I don’t condemn just anybody with mental health issues. I am mostly talking about severe personality disorders that lead people to commit horrible acts of violence against their children. If you are offended by that, there may be something else going on.
      • Holly says
        August 14, 2021 at 1:47 pm
        Making it “clear” you’re talking about “severe cases?”
        Verbatim repetition of your words, plain as day: “a depressed parent can’t love their children. They can barely register their existence…. the depressed parent is too sick to love…”
        At no place in either of these flagrantly untrue statements do you assert that these are only applicable to extreme cases (which they’re not).
        Things like this astounding anthology of fiction why people are afraid to seek help. Maybe try encouraging those who suffer rather than vilify them? It seems like your intent may actually be to help people, so unless that’s not the case, maybe do some research. (I know you’re not formally educated in this subject, so it may not be feasible for you.) The stigma and our lack of health care resources make it hard enough.
        • Lana Adler says
          August 15, 2021 at 8:54 am
          “Maybe try encouraging those who suffer rather than vilify them?”
          I am not addressing the parents. This is written from the perspective of a child growing up with a difficult parent. To a child, a parent’s emotional unavailability feels like “my parent doesn’t love me.” I’m shining the light on how the child feels. But I understand why you took it negatively, and I apologize if my article caused you any pain.
          As for the stigma, I believe societal attitudes have changed in the past decades. So for those who want to seek help for their depression, there are multiple resources available, from free hotlines and therapists who are paid on a sliding scale to various pharmaceuticals with a lot more tolerable side effects.
          Wishing healing to everyone struggling with depression and their loved ones affected by it 🙏
      • Tom says
        September 1, 2021 at 5:10 am
        The author of this article has severe mental health issues herself including a strong sense of victimization, a lack of personal agency, and worse she uses this forum to exacerbate her symptoms rather than going to a professional to get the help she actually needs. It’s hard to blame her for her criticisms of the mentally ill when it’s a reflection of what is going on inside of her. It’s really displacement and projection. I feel sorry for the author and the people that read her articles. It’s helping no one and may actually be doing quite a bit of harm.
    • Holly says
      August 14, 2021 at 1:36 pm
      I concur.
      This is an appalling grouping of words and sentences written by a bitter charlatan who, rather than trying to be better, attacks commenters in a defensive and passive-aggressive manner.
      To all the other moms out there with depression: WE ARE CAPABLE OF LOVING OTHER PEOPLE. We know how to love. We are reading this because we obviously want to fix our situations. We are not a one-dimensional trope or villainous caricature.
      If you’re like me and are scouring the Internet for resources on how to do better, and have stumbled upon this outrageously stigmatizing attack on mental illness- which is YES YOU GOT IT, a disease that needs professional care and hard work through your own efforts- please know that having major depression does not make you incapable of giving and feeling love.
      I am so glad that I have done the hard work, the reading, the trauma healing, and have the mental acuity to tell you this fact. Do not take these statements about depression seriously, for they are untrue.
      -Depressed and damn good mama.
  8. AMANDA says
    March 26, 2021 at 9:31 am
    I hate my child. Not because I’m a narcissist or anything. I hate my child because she is abusive – mentally, emotionally, physically. She has made some very very poor choices that has put her and me in danger. And she’s not even sorry for it.
    Parents are only human and we can only take so much. I will never apologize for pushing her away and running as far away from her as I can. I will never apologize for doing what I needed to do to protect myself and escape her manipulations and her abuse. I have intrinsic value as a person – that didn’t change or go away when I made the unfortunate decision to keep my child.
    How can you say that it’s not a child’s fault if his or her parent(s) don’t love them? You don’t know every circumstance.
    • Lana Adler says
      March 26, 2021 at 10:38 am
      Hello Amanda,
      thank you for your honesty. I agree with you that children can be abusive, too, and it’s not necessarily the parents’ fault. I haven’t written about that particular situation yet but I know it exists.
      My article is not about that though. And I stand by my words that in most cases, it’s not a child’s fault if his or her parent(s) don’t love them. I needed the children who grew up with an unloving parent to know that, if they didn’t know already.
      You say pretty harsh words — “I hate my child,” “I made the unfortunate decision to keep my child.” It sounds like you wish your child wasn’t born. But most parents still love their children even when they’re horrible, as you say your child is. Jeffrey Duhmer’s parents loved him even though they knew he was a monster. So when you say that you hate your child, I wonder if there’s still love behind that hate. Because the opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.
    • Asa says
      June 2, 2021 at 9:51 pm
      I can say it’s not a child’s fault because they didn’t ask to be here, simple. You said you made the unfortunate decision to keep your child.. which is a feeling you’ve had before this child could behave in an unfavorable way. It can be argued that your claim to hate this child has nothing to do with them – because you’ve harbored this feeling since their conception. Sucks to admit that you’ve carelessly brought another human into this world. I hope it’s a practice we can get used to, so that we can stop it from happening in the first place.
  9. mantra says
    March 19, 2021 at 8:23 am
    it does’nt work they hate me my entire family hate’s me
  10. Kaily says
    March 3, 2021 at 10:58 pm
    I was an unloved kid, but the circumstances were very odd…
    My mom wanted lots of kids, dad agreed, but it was hard for my mom to give birth. 10 years and 6 miscarriages later (including twin boys in third trimester, who were both 6and 7th child lost) I was finally born, miracle baby.
    Then my dad said nope no more. My mom lied to him about birth control to have another, my sister. Who was also miracle baby cuz she had a twin that miscarried, but she didn’t.
    My dad was so mad… he said he didn’t want anything to do with her. Mom said fine then I don’t want anything to do with the first one. I was 2.
    They got divorced when I was 5, and I was suddenly very alone without dad around her preferential treatment/absence was felt,
    She would sing my sister lullabies, and I’d sit out in the hall to listen. Sometimes when she got out she would be nice and sing to me too for awhile but then she would get sad, start crying. And apologize cuz she didn’t love me.
    This happened pretty routinely till she got remarried when I was 7. Then I had my abusive stepdad to worry about…
    My mom preached against abuse, so I thought it just must not be bad enough for her to do anything about. I used to imagine lines he would cross and that then she would protect me, yell at him, throw him out.
    He crossed those lines, and I’d redraw them. Till finally he had gone so far I was sure this would do it. Then, she didn’t. And I thought to myself why? Doesn’t she love me? And it hit me, years late delay. She didn’t love me. She TOLD me she didn’t love me. It was just done in such a weird way it didn’t click I was too busy comforting her… and she wasn’t hateful when she said it she was apologetic…
    I wasn’t even sad when it hit me. Just cold… frozen. And I felt stupid. So fucking stupid. Like duh you were told hooowww many times and it never sunk in? Didn’t click? Stupid fucking retarded child, which was actually what I was hit for by my stepdad, I’m autistic so there were plenty “retarded” reasons he gave to hit me… he even once hit me for flinching… cuz he took offence that I assumed he was going to hit me, so he then actually hit me.
    Annddd my mom, the preacher, did nothing…
    My step dad once nearly overdosed me on his percs, said he thought they were my Ritalin pills (they look nothing alike), she did nothing.
    Social services start coming for visits, he threatens to kill me, that he had killed before and only gotten a few years for manslaughter, he would use same defence on me, few years, no big deal….
    Mom does nothing… even adds in if they dont get child support they can’t afford the dogs. They will be put down. Iow… threat to kill the dogs…
    Stepdad bribes with drugs, that I don’t even take, and I’m only in middle school at time, mom does nothing…
    You get the idea… there were a lot of unbelievably crazy fucked up shit… stuff that made me go what the fuck.,, this isn’t real life this shit doesn’t actually happen in real life it’s insane.
    I kept lowering the bar, till it got unbelievable. The hitting escalated too, and it was how far how bad that went that made me eventually snap to frozen. When she still couldn’t care enough to protect me.
    And she wasn’t depressed either… she was perfect parent to my sister. And my sister turned out spoiled and unthankful, which to me at the time was unforgivable cuz I would have done anything to have what she did.
    I suppose you could call her the preferential parent but that doesn’t feel right either… she loved my sister, and later my brother, unconditionally. It was just me…
    • Caring Friend says
      March 17, 2021 at 8:20 pm
      Dear Kaily,
      I hope you read this. You ARE AN AMAZING PERSON, I felt right through your written words, that you are ofcourse, and without a doubt, a SWEET, WORTHY, PERFECT, CHERISHED, BEAUTIFUL AND EXQUISUITE CHILD OF GOD, please dont ever doubt yourself because you had the severe misfortune to have very sick people in your life who never deserved you. I AM SO SORRY to read what you wrote, and how painful it must have been for you, I AM SO VERY SORRY YOU WENT THROUGH WHAT YOU DID. I know that anyone that reads your comment will have the same horrified reaction as I did. I wish that someone was there for you to protect you from that life, it pains me that you experienced that. I dont even know you, but I do feel so much empathy and caring for you—you never deserved any of it. So it goes without me saying ofcourse that it never had anything to do with you, it had everything to do with the sickness of the adults in your life, and again I am so very sorry for the trauma you experienced. I hope you can find it within yourself to talk to someone about this if this trauma affects you today, equally as important may I suggest EMDR –it is shortlived therapy for trauma—most say it is the magic bullet, please try it!! It may truly relieve you if the trauma affects you on a regular basis. If it helps at all, if I was in your life when you were going through this, I would have held your hand and protected you from that pain. Please dont relive the pain youve experienced to much. You deserve the world full of love and happiness and I pray you find it. Any one who reads your story has a sense of caring for you, please stay strong and positive, never forget how beautiful and special you are!
  11. Abusive says
    January 29, 2021 at 9:34 am
    Moral superiority does not really heal the pain. There is no real help even available for abusers. Except for a stupid anger management course that offers nothing but shame and guilt trips. We already feel like we are horrible people.
    And often times we make the mistake of trying to control others behavior so that we ourselves don’t come unglued. Almost all of us are further isolated over the years and we have to go it alone and in anger and despair. Sometimes the only thing that we have left is to blame others for triggering us.
    One thing you have to understand as how alone we abusers really are. And when our loved ones & other people around us are emotionally reactive, and waggle their fingers at us with lectures of how bad we are, the more we lose faith in ourselves with ever less control over our inflamed emotions.
    And I can honestly tell you… As a depressed person… That there is an incredible and deep love for my children.
    • Lana Adler says
      January 29, 2021 at 1:58 pm
      Hello Abusive,
      I want to thank you for offering an opportunity to see an issue from another point of view. I hear your pain. And I agree, abusers are wounded people, too. They need healing, too. But I don’t agree that there is no real help available for abusers. I think the issue is that abusers rarely look for help. And even when they do, they still tend to blame the victims.
      I’m sorry, I don’t mean any moral superiority. I guess it’s easier for me to feel compassion for the abused kids than for the parents who abuse them.
      And…I knew that including depressed parents in that list is going to be controversial…But as a child who grew up with a depressed parent, I can tell you that I didn’t feel that incredible deep love you’re talking about. That is not to say that it’s not there. I believe it’s there. I know you love your kids. But this post was written based on a child’s experience and perception. I am in no way blaming the parent for being depressed. But when a parent is seriously clinically depressed they can’t feel anything. It’s a misperception that depression is feeling blue. It’s feeling NOTHING. And it’s the scariest thing in the world. I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about. Anyway…thanks again for your comment. I appreciate your perspective. Wishing you healing 🙏
    • Abused says
      April 3, 2021 at 12:19 pm
      Here’s an idea. When you know you’re a horrible person, why don’t you stop pretending that you are in any way whatsoever a victim? Why don’t you stop victim blaming? Oh, so the people you’re brutalising are “emotionally reactive”, are they? They’re “finger wagging”? It’s THEIR fault you don’t control your “inflamed” emotions?
      No. They are defending themselves against your disgusting inhuman behaviour.
  12. Jackie says
    January 14, 2021 at 2:33 am
    You have given many excellent resources for people to go to. That said, you do not list your qualifications, except to say you are not a psychologist. You also make many generalizations, some not remotely true. As just one example: you say a depressed parent is unable to love. Why? Of course they are. Depression is highly treatable and, btw, common. Many parents who are depressed, are still very able to love and give to their chlldren. Narcissism: it depends the degree of narcissism. Never say all or none. And the ebook about grandmothers? This is a first. I would advise any parent who has an abusive mother/father (again abuse can come from men as well as women) … to limit the contract and to be present while the grandparent is with the child.
    Please don’t take this as a criticism, but you have no formal training and experience. You have written an e-book, and you want to give advice by email and zoom for money. I guess you could do this legally,but is it ethical. Why not blog and say “this is my opinion, but I am not a professional”. that would be closer to the truth.
    That said, I believe you may be an estranged daughter/or similar with personal issues. When you have personal issues surrounding this situation, you are going to have a biased view.
    • Lana Adler says
      January 14, 2021 at 6:05 pm
      If my blog is not up to your standards, you’re welcome to find alternate sources of information. I won’t be offended.
      • Autobot says
        March 9, 2021 at 11:02 pm
        Dude you make some dumb points and you are so wrong on so many levels. It’s freaking obvious that your not a mental health professional, no need to state the obvious.
        Cheers xx
        • Truc Nguyen says
          March 20, 2021 at 9:49 pm
          By the way the author replies, I can tell she is a qualified psychologist. I can also tell she has a prescription about you in her mind and knows how to deal with you very well.
  13. Amelia says
    November 30, 2020 at 8:45 am
    This was nice, I have authoritarian parents and I feel kinda unloved if I’m not doing exactly what they say, but I felt like I couldn’t say anything because they think they’re doing what’s good for me.
    • Lana Adler says
      December 11, 2020 at 6:09 pm
      Hi Amelia,
      I know what it’s like to have an authoritarian parent so I totally get what you’re saying. In the article I make a point to say that these parents don’t love their children but in reality it’s not quite that black and white. I think they love but it’s a conditional love because they’ve also experienced conditional love as children.
  14. Shelley says
    October 15, 2020 at 11:55 am
    Thank you for the meditation. I am 60 yrs old and continue to deal with the pain of being unloved by my angry father. he has always been verbally and at times physically abusive. No matter how I tried to please him it was never enough. He recently told me that I am a terrible daughter for not visiting him more often. Everytime I am with him he says terrible things, it takes me days of not eating or sleeping to recover. He recently ostracized me from the family. I am a very loving, caring mother to my children. The meditation opened my eyes that I do matter, I did not deserve his punishment. I will work on loving myself as I do the children I gave birth to. Released so many tears, thank you so very much!!!
    • Lana Adler says
      October 15, 2020 at 12:57 pm
      Hi Shelley,
      this is a beautiful message, and it brings tears to my eyes. You are such an incredible, gentle, loving, brave soul! It’s not easy to do what you did. It’s not easy to say: I’m going to love and accept myself, even if my parent did everything possible to make me feel otherwise. It feels good to let that go, doesn’t it? And you are proof that it’s never too late to do that! So proud of you, and happy that your children have such an amazing mother.
  15. Daniel Durston says
    August 21, 2020 at 10:15 am
    Interesting article , you have part of human behaviour right , but you lack wisdom. Your writing style suggests you were raised with a Western worldview with post-modern overtones. You need to do more research as some of your conclusions are logically inconsistent with your presuppositions.
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My biological father likely had NPD. He was abused by his father and smothered by his mother. That dichotomy left my biodad with a very superficial personality where he had to be the center of attention. Everything revolved around him. He thought he was some sort of intellectual, despite never even being able to finish a degree. He believed himself smarter and more cultured than everyone else in the room. While he lived with us, he never held a full-time job. His mother financed everything (he would often keep that money and spend it on himself). He left my mother for another woman. He went out of his way to not pay child support. A number of the times he took us for his court ordered visitations, he dumped us somewhere and went to do drugs with his friends. He often took us to bars so he could drink, smoke, and play video games. He showed up in our lives when he felt like it. I finally cut him out of my life in 2008. By 2017, he was in the throes of dementia (possible undiagnosed Alzheimer's). He prided himself on his intellectual ability. He died in his sleep this past May. I felt a little nostalgic about the handful of good times I had with him, but I really didn't feel much of anything else. I pitied him. He wasted his life and never really accomplished anything meaningful.

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I grew up to a parent with bipolar, PTSD, emotional codependency, abandonment issues, narc tendencies even... a lot wrong that she never really worked through, even with meds and therapy. It was terrifying when she was angry and I did feel unloved when she slept all the time. My childhood sucked for a lot of reasons but she is probably the core part of my trauma. I felt really sad and empty when I read something that made me realize how things really are. My relationship to/feelings towards her will always be complicated but I wish I could be away from her more than anything and just forget about her, and sometimes I wish I could still be ignorant and think everything is great, even if it would mean never understanding why I didn't matter.

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
My biological father likely had NPD. He was abused by his father and smothered by his mother. That dichotomy left my biodad with a very superficial personality where he had to be the center of attention. Everything revolved around him. He thought he was some sort of intellectual, despite never even being able to finish a degree. He believed himself smarter and more cultured than everyone else in the room. While he lived with us, he never held a full-time job. His mother financed everything (he would often keep that money and spend it on himself). He left my mother for another woman. He went out of his way to not pay child support. A number of the times he took us for his court ordered visitations, he dumped us somewhere and went to do drugs with his friends. He often took us to bars so he could drink, smoke, and play video games. He showed up in our lives when he felt like it. I finally cut him out of my life in 2008. By 2017, he was in the throes of dementia (possible undiagnosed Alzheimer's). He prided himself on his intellectual ability. He died in his sleep this past May. I felt a little nostalgic about the handful of good times I had with him, but I really didn't feel much of anything else. I pitied him. He wasted his life and never really accomplished anything meaningful.
I relate a lot to your fathers behavior, since my father was a lot like that. Everything was centred on him. Despite never having been able to get a degree, he believed he was the most intelligent person. My father had a shallow personality that required him to be the focus of attention at all times. Everything was centred on him. He was raised in a lonely and controlled environment by his parents, and his sense of self has been severely harmed, leaving him with a black hole within himself. No amount of validation is enough for him, and he sucks the life out of everything he comes into contact with. Being around him is just so draining, that I am not in contact with him. My father suffers from NPD. I tried to get him help, but he got dismissive about it. Denying that he had any problems. So I just left it at that.
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