Did you know that every month, thousands of people google the phrase “my parents hate me”? Sad, but true. Maybe you’re one of those who searched that this month. Most of my childhood was amazing, but it wasn’t all sunshine. I went through phases when I was pretty sure my parents hated me, and I wasn’t so sure how I felt about them, either. The good news? I have a fantastic relationship with my parents today! I’m writing this article anonymously because I don’t want my parents to hurt over things I thought when I was a kid. I’m sharing my story in hopes that it will help others find peace when they feel like the people who should love the most—don’t.
Cancer took my mom away when I was still in elementary school. Not long after, my dad remarried, and I found myself adjusting to new siblings, a new home, new rules—a new life. It was so hard being told I couldn’t do things I used to do, watch things I used to watch, or listen to things I used to listen to. My relationship with my dad was changing, too. Jokes that used to be funny to him were now inappropriate. Habits I used to associate with him with fondness were now considered wrong. I didn’t know what life I had been thrown into, but it was jarring, confusing, and depressing. I found myself thinking: My parents hate me.
Looking back now, I see things much differently. I’m a parent myself now, and the decisions my parents made make so much more sense. I can see so clearly that everything they were doing was out of love for me, to make me better, to protect me. I also know now that my parents never thought they had all the answers. They were doing the best they could, and they made mistakes just like the rest of us. As a kid, I never gave them room to make mistakes. Sure, I felt loved when they were doing what I wanted them to do, but when they weren’t, I was sure it was because they hated me.
Now as a parent, I constantly wonder if I’m doing it right—if I’m doing what’s best for my little girl. I get to see just how hard it can be to follow the perfect example God set for every one of us on how to parent through love. My parents felt that way, too, I bet. I know they did the best they could to love me as well as they could, even when I didn’t understand it, and despite any anger I showed them. They loved me through it.
Unfortunately, I know this is not the case for every child. For too many, there isn’t even a parent in sight. You have scars. This world can be a tragic, hopeless-feeling place for too many kids. Maybe you’ve been in the foster care system your whole life because your parents abandoned or hurt you. Maybe no adult in your life ever lived up to the role of parent that you’ve desperately needed. If that’s you, please, reach out. Talk to a trusted adult, your small group at church, or a friend. The last thing God wants for you is to feel stuck, believing a lie that you’re hated—He wants to heal us.
God desires for us to feel loved by our earthly parents. And, as in my case, even when you might feel like your parents hate you, they probably love you more than you can understand! But when the love of parents truly is missing, the term “Father God” can develop a deeper meaning for you. Because, even if God is the only parent who loves you, He is always, always more than enough. God created each of us. He loves us not despite of who we are, but because of who we are. He takes delight in us. He understands our pain because He’s walked through it in the person of Jesus, His son. He wants a relationship with each of us. He wants us to know the love that He has for us. He will never leave us, and He will never forget us. The Book of Psalms says it best, that God is “A father to the fatherless.” His love is eternal, and it can be trusted.
When you feel like your parents hate you, trust that they love you and are trying their best. Lift them up in prayer to our God who loves them as much as He loves you. Ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to help them. And if you still find yourself in a place of pain and anger toward your parents, whether it’s because of their negative presence in your life or perhaps because of their complete absence, rest in Jesus. Take your cares to Him and receive His love. It’s always available, and our heavenly Father can’t wait to hold you tight and remind you how loved you truly are.