I Hate My Dad: 7 Steps to Improve Your Relationship

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When there is hate towards a parent, it is usually associated with some intense degree of pain, frustration, and disappointment.  Either they were an absent parent who made us feel unwanted, or they were there but unbearable to live with.  

Your parent was possibly verbally or physically abusive or both.  Or maybe your parent revealed a side of themselves that you've never seen before, leaving you broken and confused.

Dads can be stubborn when it comes to what they believe. They can be overbearing and disrespectful to your boundaries. They can also be controlling and manipulative.  Fathers, like anyone else, are not perfect. 

However, knowing this doesn’t excuse the pain, sorrow, or abusive behavior. The suffering they caused doesn't have to define our lives. 

We can still live happy and productive lives. We can still live in joy and anticipation. We can still achieve our dreams without being handicapped by the pain of the past.

Furthermore, as long as you’re both breathing, there is still time to improve your relationship with your dad. 

In this article, we will help you sort through your feelings between you and your father and see if it's hate that you're genuinely feeling toward him. And then look at step-by-step ways to make the relationship better.

Signs That You Might Hate Your Dad

Do you have any of the following feelings toward your dad?  These may be signs that you hate your dad.

  • You wish for him to die.
  • You don't want to have a close relationship with him.
  • You can’t stand his voice.
  • You go out of your way to avoid him.
  • When he calls, you don’t want to answer.
  • His presence makes you feel angry.
  • You’re annoyed with him, no matter what he does.

I'm sure there are valid reasons for your feelings, and no one can tell you that you don't have a right to feel those feelings. 

However, as most who have disdain for their dads, you feel a bit of guilt about it because he is your parent and one of the reasons you even exist.  

Many hold on to hate in their hearts because they feel, in some way, it punishes a person for their misdeeds. 

However, holding on to hate puts us into an unhealthy headspace. We manufacture thoughts in our minds that we feel a person is thinking, all based on our hate for them. 

Brandon, a good friend, hated his father for many years. Mostly because he left him and his mother when Brandon was a young boy. Brandon often blamed himself for his father leaving. 

As a result, he became very insecure over the years.  For every reason he disliked himself, he was convinced that those were the reasons that his dad walked out on him and his mother. 

Sadly, projecting our brokenness on the person we hate often stirs the hatred even more. Before long, we will find reasons to hate all dads and feel none are good.  Indeed, the actions of your dad led to the brokenness you may be experiencing in the first place. 

But holding on to it is like walking a slippery slope. You take steps to get to the top and be over the hatred, but those projected feelings and the hate you hold on to don't help your footing. 

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Even though you consider his upbringing when it comes to his values and opinions, it doesn’t mean you have to agree with him or change. 

Then, unfortunately, the weight of the hatred pulls you back down the sloppy hill again. 

To be totally free, we must take steps to release the hatred.  It’s not letting a person off the hook for hurting us but freeing us to be the best version of ourselves. 

Hatred is like acid; it destroys the vessel that holds it,” – Sleeping Angel.   We often hold on to hate as if we are punishing those who have hurt us.  Instead, they are simply living their lives and have no idea that we are walking around with such bitterness and anger in our hearts.  

I grew up with a demanding father, when he was around.  I often fought for his affection and found myself being hurt even more profoundly as the years passed.  He could hurt and belittle me one day, then the next, act as if nothing happened. 

I felt like a nobody to him unless he wanted me to help him do some project or run some errand.  I really hated that reality and thought he needed to feel pain as well.  As a result, I had very hurtful things in my heart that I wanted to say to him. 

My mother had died, finally succumbing to health issues brought on by the stress of living with him.  I wanted to speak my mind and let him have it, but I realized that I didn't like harboring those feelings in my heart. 

I realized that our strained relationship helped me become the person I am today. 

I decided long ago to be the opposite of what I saw in my dad.  And I couldn't do that walking around with hatred for him.

Afterward, I’ve had more peace in my heart, and since then, I have made steps to improve our relationship. It’s not easy to improve a strained father-child relationship. And in many cases, there may never be a relationship. 

But you can improve how you feel about the person you see when you look in the mirror and decide to ease up on the hate for your dad.

Lastly, remember that therapy is always an option.  A good therapist can help you to get to the root cause of your feelings and begin to heal and even improve your relationship with your dad.

I Hate My Dad: 7 Steps to Improve Your Relationship

1.  Prepare yourself before you interact.

When interacting with your dad, you may experience a flood of negative emotions that affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

It could be sickness in your stomach, anxiety, and stress. Preparing yourself before interacting will help to release the tension you feel within yourself and enable you to be more intentional with your behavior rather than reactive. 

When we act from an emotional place, we come across as the bad guy.  So, being prepared is critical.

Here are a few tips to help you do that. 

  • Consider the environment.  Is it a one-on-one interaction, or can you blend in with a crowd?
  • If you can manage it, and the situation calls for it, be prepared to offer a hug or handshake so you don’t make the interaction awkward for the both of you. 
  • Plan your exit.  Like lying on a bed of nails, being around someone you hate is uncomfortable.  So, plan ahead.  Will you stay for 30 minutes or an hour? 
  • You know he says things that push your buttons; be prepared not to react to his comments.

By following these steps, we’re not asking you to be fake.  It's simply learning to be cordial in a situation with a dad you hate.  If you can start with this step, it will calm the waters of despair you feel within you.   

When you learn to manage your feelings and prepare for interaction, you are pulling into the driveway of the place where your relationship with your dad can be improved.

2.  Initiate a conversation with him. 

Rather than waiting to be surprised by a phone call or visit, take control of your interactions by initiating a conversation with your dad first. 

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Setting healthy boundaries helps you not to enable harmful behavior from your father. 

This helps to control your reactions, which could be perceived as negative.  Here are a few things to consider when preparing for that conversation.

  • It’s ok to keep the conversation short and sweet.
  • Set the tone at the beginning of the conversation.  If you only have a minute to talk, communicate that upfront.
  • Ask him about his day and what he has going on. 
  • Listen without interrupting, and give him your undivided attention while he's speaking.
  • Don't force it.  If things start to become awkward between you two, end it there.

Initiating a conversation and following these principles will help you consider his feelings, even though you really don't want to.  Additionally, it shows him that you have prioritized him in your schedule, even if it was for five minutes. 

Also, initiating the conversation helps you control your emotions better by being intentional with your interactions. 

3.  Put a positive spin on your feelings.

When you hate your dad but still have to interact with him regularly, it's helpful to put a positive spin on your feelings instead of thinking negatively about him and making pessimistic assumptions about his actions. 

If your dad comes across as short or rude with you, instead of thinking he was angry with you and reacting as a skeptic.  Think of it from a neutral standpoint.  Here are a few ideas to consider when putting a positive spin on your feelings.

  • Maybe I am overreacting and projecting past pain into this situation. 
  • He may be having a bad day, and his reaction had nothing to do with me.
  • It was just bad timing on my part.

Reframing your perception of the interaction with your dad goes a long way toward looking at him as any other person.  Someone you don’t hate.  You’ll become less triggered by his actions.

4.  Find some common ground.

When dealing with your dad and trying to improve the relationship, it helps to find some common ground in which the two of you agree. 

There are many things that both of you could talk about that could trigger an argument and have the two of you at odds with one another.  However, discussing something you agree on is a great way to ease into things.

Here are a few ways to seek common ground with your dad.

  • Talk about things you mutually enjoy, like a hobby, sport, or particular sports team.
  • Discuss the weather forecast.
  • Talk with him about something the both of you dislike.  This uses the principle “The enemy of your enemy is your friend.”  Except the enemy is some “thing” you dislike, not people. 
  • Take an interest in his feedback and allow him to share stories you probably haven't heard.
  • Ask him questions that get him to open up.

Finding common ground puts the two of you on the same side rather than at odds with someone you strongly dislike.

5.  Consider your dad’s upbringing.

One of the reasons our dads can be unbearable, rub us the wrong way, and even cause us to feel hatred toward them is due to their core beliefs from their upbringing. 

It’s vital to consider when he triggers you by constantly complaining about your career choices, choices in relationships, and how you and your spouse run your household. 

Here are a few things to consider when navigating the relationship with your father positively and productively:

  • Before reacting, consider whether his critiques of your life are coming from a place of love.
  • Being mindful of his perspective and history will help you see where he’s coming from, even if you disagree.
  • Though it doesn’t make it right, consider that he may be treating you as his father treated him.
  • Consider that he doesn't understand you because he is deeply rooted in tradition.
  • Look at how your dad talks and dresses.  Notice how he obviously has not changed with the times.

Remember, even though you consider his upbringing when it comes to his values and opinions, it doesn’t mean you have to agree with him or change. 

6.  Set healthy boundaries without cutting him off completely.

It's important to set boundaries with any relationship, but especially with a father that you've had issues with. 

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Disagreements between you and your dad are not about what side wins or loses. Everyone wins when you can make wise choices to improve the relationship. 

Just because you have forgiven him and are trying to improve things doesn't mean that the two of you have to become the best of friends. 

Here are a few steps to setting healthy boundaries with your dad while trying to improve your relationship with him.

  • Don’t be afraid to use the word “No.”
  • Be clear with them when expressing your boundaries so there are no misunderstandings.
  • Clearly explain the consequences of your dad dishonoring your boundaries.
  • Don't be afraid to excuse yourself when your dad exhibits harmful or inappropriate behavior.
  • Stay at a healthy distance while keeping a heart of forgiveness.

Setting healthy boundaries helps you not to enable harmful behavior from your father.  Additionally, when you set healthy limits, you give yourself space to heal and will find that it’s a great form of self-care. 

Lastly, you can recover from your wounds, so you won’t take your pain and frustration out on others like your spouse or children.

7.  Be the bigger person.

I admit I struggled when writing this one because I cannot imagine what you must be feeling at the moment. Yet, the hurt was real. You have kept receipts for every line crossed between you and your father. 

However, you must be the bigger person for this relationship to improve. Here are a few things you can consider and do.

  • Be determined not to hold his past or present indiscretions against him.
  • Keep in mind that your children can become the victims when the relationship between you and your dad is strained.
  • You will feel better about yourself for being the bigger and better person rather than the bitter one.
  • Express your feelings with your dad while also making it known that you forgive him. You may find that he didn’t know he hurt you and feels remorseful.
  • Apologize for any part you have played in the relationship issues.

Remember, disagreements between you and your dad are not about what side wins or loses. Everyone wins when you can make wise choices to improve the relationship

Final Thoughts on “I Hate My Dad”

For some, relationships with their dads are painful to talk about, and there may not be any way to salvage them. 

The nature of the pain, the problems caused by them, and the best boundaries you can set do not involve your dad being a part of your life. And that's understandable.   

However, there are many more relationships that can become better when we decide if we want to be right or be happy. We can extend the olive branch or be resentful. We can avoid them or be straightforward with our feelings.  

The pain hurts so badly because when you were young sons, your dads were your heroes.  For many daughters, he was the man you hoped your boyfriend or husband would turn out to be like.

Yet, your dad's humanity started to show increasingly as you got older, and admiration turned to aggravation. Aggravation turned to frustration, frustration turned to anger, and anger turned to hatred. 

But, as long as the two of you are still living and breathing, there is a chance to take steps to improve your relationship.  

We won’t all reconcile our differences, but we can find healthy ways to process our feelings and set boundaries that allow us to live our best life without being burdened by the hatred from our painful past.

And if you want more articles about family, be sure to check out these blog posts:

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