These parents share how they became parents and why they don't love their children.
"I thought I wanted a child. I wanted one so badly that it hurt. I even cried a few months before I got pregnant because I was so sure that I was finally pregnant and then was let down when I found out that I wasn't. I think I felt my whole life that I was unloved and that no one cared about me, and that no matter what I wanted to experience life inside of me and have a beautiful baby that I could love on and eventually someone who would love me back. When I was pregnant, I would sit for hours and dream about my future with my little girl, like taking her to the park, getting ice cream after school, arts and crafts - the works!
My daughter was born a little early, but otherwise perfect. People would stop us just to let us know we had a gorgeous little girl. I was absolutely in love. But as time went on, my daughter, who was meeting all milestones, just turned off at 13 months. My once-interactive and charming baby became a growling, shrieking machine of rage and hatred. She didn't respond to anything, and our once-calm nights became a night where we could have anywhere between three to six hours of nonstop tantrums. As she got a bit older, about two years old, she started to get physically violent too. She would kick us and pinch us, clawing at our arms and faces. If we moved away from her or tried to hold her down, it would get worse but towards herself, slamming her head into the ground, kneeing herself in the face.
We got a diagnosis of severe autism with the future possibility of developmental issues and found a doctor willing to help us with her violent tendencies with medication. She's four years old now. Still nonverbal, still in her own world and when we last tested her, she is mentally about six months old.
She's too heavy for me to lift without a struggle, too long for me to be able to hold down all body parts when needed, and big enough that it really does hurt when she hits us. Her medications help, but there's no cure.
It's stressful. We can't afford anything but an apartment, so our neighbors constantly complain about her screaming, which we have no control over. She tortures us (and probably herself) with only sleeping between two and five hours of sleep a night and that's it all day. When she does sleep, she will be sent into a horrible rage if she sleeps anywhere but with us, and with us being between us. Two adults plus a four-year-old in the middle of a cheap queen size bed. We're constantly sleep deprived.
I love her in the sense that I would be upset if she got hurt. I would be upset if she passed away, and I would be sad if she no longer lived with us. But at the same time, I wake up every day wishing this was not my life. I wake up with the feeling that behind the love I believe nature makes me feel, that I hate my daughter. The part that ignores how I would feel in the event it happens wishes that I could give my daughter up for adoption and start over with my life. Part of me wishes that I had never gotten pregnant, or that I had listened to a few friends who had suggested I had an abortion. I wish I could leave. Just pack up everything and be the abandoned mother, running off and forgetting her past. But I can't."
"I knew I didn't want to be a father because although I think little girls are adorable (like a thousand puppies rolled into one), little boys do nothing but annoy the crap out of me. I think it's a genetic thing; my father and paternal grandfather are exactly the same way which has led to a weird family dynamic.
When I married my wife didn't want kids either, but she changed her mind once she passed her 30th birthday. I was adamant; after all, there's no reasonable way to choose the gender of your child, and there was a 50/50 of getting a kid I didn't, and would never, want. I DID NOT want to inflict that on some poor little boy, because I lived through it (my dad did his best to hide it, but kids can see these things).
Cue emotional blackmail, which didn't work, followed by secretly going off the pill, which did. I still resent her for doing this, and will never get over her betrayal - nor do I want to. What she did was unforgivable. Even so, I stayed and prayed the kid turned out to be a girl.
The universe has a vicious sense of humor because the kid turned out to be fraternal twins. One little girl who triggered the 'puppies' gene, and one little boy I had no attachment to whatsoever. I do my very best to hide it, but I'm sure he knows it, just like I did when I was his age. I've spent a great deal of time hating myself for not being the loving dad I should be (and could've been, if he's just been another girl), and even more time doing my very best to pretend to love them both equally.
Fact is, though, I don't love him and never will. That kid deserves someone who actually feels something for him, and for whatever reason, I just don't. He's a fantastic little boy, and I just don't give a care; there's zero response.
If there's a Hell, I'm sure I'll burn in it, and I'll deserve it."
"This Saturday, my son will have been sober for 18 months. He got his GED this year, and he starts at Community College at the end of August. He finally has a job that I didn't get for him, soon he will be moving into his own apartment, and he hasn't missed a single appointment with his therapist. He has done everything you would expect of a precocious 17-year-old who hit a rough patch after meeting with a particularly bad influence.
He is 29.
This is the point where I'm supposed to say that, nevertheless, I'm still proud of him for turning his life around, getting off illegal substances and off the streets, staying out of trouble, and acting like a responsible adult, or at least an adult who knows the meaning of 'responsible.' Basically, a son that I still love. That's certainly what my son expects of me. He demands praise and forgiveness and a party and me to hug him and tell him it's all right - demands me to tell him how proud I am that he's made something of himself.
But I'm not because he hasn't, not in the slightest.
His mother and I gave him every opportunity we could. I don't expect any praise for that because unlike my son, I don't expect praise for doing what you're supposed to. She and I worked hard to give him a loving, stable, comfortable, supportive home. We were involved in his school, we introduced him to music and sports and culture, we fed him healthy meals, we played with him, and we let him stumble and fall and make mistakes and get back up again.
He started shoplifting at 15. The first time we caught him, we dragged him back to the store, made him return the copy of Grand Theft Auto and apologize, and offered to pay for any damages. The second time we caught him (this time with a pair of shoes), we did the same thing. The third time, we started going to family therapy.
Therapy seemed to go well, and after a few sessions, the therapist asked for a few one-on-one meetings with him. After two of those, the police came knocking on our door, because he had concocted some story about how we were a religious cult who abused him and the dumb therapist actually believed him. Rational heads prevailed, we fired that therapist, and he went through six more in as many months until eventually, we couldn't find anyone who would take him as a patient.
By 16, he was drinking. Then he started leaving needles and pipes where he knew we'd eventually find them, just to mess with us. I know this because he said so, in those exact words. He had his first intervention and first trip to rehab that year, and his first relapse.
He had to repeat a year of high school at 17, which meant he was now the ringleader of a group of other young rebels who saw him as this totemic mentor-shaman who could hook them up with whatever they wanted. I'm also sure he started messing around with one of his gang's younger sisters (13) around then, but I had nothing to go on but my own instincts, so all I could do was tell her parents to keep an eye on her. No charges were ever pressed, and the family never spoke to me again after that, but they did pull both of their kids out of that school, and my son was furious at me for daring to not let him continue pursuing his statutory prey.
He decided to try for 'normal' assault later on. While I was away, he spent an uncharacteristic night at home and on his best behavior. After his mother went to sleep, he followed her to her bedroom; he took a knife with him. He crept into the room, straddled her, put the blade to her throat, and slid his other hand inside her.
I don't know exactly what happened next. I know he held her down and tried to undress her. I know she fought. I know he stabbed her. I know she eventually got away and locked herself in the bathroom before he could catch her; I hope that means she kicked him good in the balls. I know she broke the window and screamed for help. I know he ran. I know she was lucky the ambulance got to her before she bled to death. I know he called his friends to brag and beg for a ride. I know the police caught him.
I know if I'd been home, or if I'd caught him, I'd have killed him with my bare hands.
The state tried my son as an adult. He pled guilty, but only after making his mother testify and smiling the whole time. She divorced me a month after his sentencing; I looked too much like him. She killed herself a year later.
I would be a liar if I said I didn't blame him for her death because I absolutely do. He was sober when she went to her room, sober when he pulled out his knife, sober when he climbed on top of her, sober when he assaulted her, sober when he stabbed her, sober when he ran, sober when he called his friends to brag, and sober when the police found him. When I made the mistake of visiting him after the divorce, he laughed and said she'd had enough of him that I could never satisfy her. When I made the mistake of visiting him after she killed herself, he laughed again and asked how it felt to have 'some young buck take your woman away.'
I should have killed him right there; it is to my eternal shame that I did not.
They let him out after serving three years. He spent the next six years on the streets, in and out of rehab, on and off other people's couches, and would grace me every six months or so with a phone call demanding money. Eventually, I refused to talk to him unless it was to drive him back to rehab, and I stopped completely after he stole my wallet.
Two years ago, he came to my house with his aunt (his mother's sister) in tow and crocodile tears in his eyes. He pretended to apologize. I slammed the door. His aunt barges in to try to shame me into forgiving the man who assaulted my wife, caused her death, and laughed about it; he stayed outside. He slashed my tires, threw a brick through a window, and drove off in her car. His aunt had no idea that he'd taken her keys, or that he'd been armed the whole time, and yet she blamed me.
He guilted her into letting him stay with her, went to rehab and relapsed, then went again, and here we are.
My son has pretended to reform before. He has even convinced himself once or twice. But he always backslides, always relapses, always finds new ways to disappoint, always hurts other people for his own short-sighted benefit. His aunt is already at the stage where she is pretending she 'must have forgotten' where she put some knickknack or piece of jewelry and has already told me to screw off after I've warned her of what my son can, will, and has done before, and what he will do again now that he thinks she is weak. When he messes up again, when he hurts someone else with his ceaseless bull, I will not be there to pick up after him. I am through with him. I am through with his aunt. I cannot talk to her without being overcome with rage and shame as I see the stupid, stupid hope I used to have that my son would ever amount to anything, and I do not need any more disappointment and failure in my life.
I am not proud of my son. I am sorry for inflicting him upon the world."
Chepko Danil Vitalevich/Shutterstock
"I never wanted children. I saw no appeal, no urge to have them, no tugging on the ovaries when around babies. I never believed I was cut out to be a mother in any sense of the word, and experience proved it.
I dated my husband to be, who was adamant he wanted no children either. We married, and all was well until, out of the blue a few years later, he decided the most important thing to him on the planet was for me to bear his children. He wore me down, and at the time I didn't have the fortitude to say or do anything to push my point, and he made promises to cover all my fears. He said he'd be happy to do most of the rearing and he wouldn't allow me to fall into being the sole child-raising parent. I thought it was all part of how love should be and with his persuading, my parents telling me I'd change my mind like everyone does, his parents being over the moon about his decision to try for kids, I went along with it. At the age of 27, I had a fine, healthy baby boy.
Within months, it was clear his promises were all about him and I had made a dreadful mistake. I was raising a child I felt no bond with, virtually alone. The experience changed us both, and after just over a year later he left me because I changed.
Mentally though, it was a killer. The bond never happened and I just ended up a mother to a someone. I can't even say 'this is my son' because I don't feel that. There was caring for a dependent human being who deserves a safe life and protection and security, and until he was four years old, I raised him alone. I can't describe the nightmare of it all.
I don't hate the kid. He deserves far more than I am capable of giving, and I am so thankful my ex's parents stepped in. They were collecting him for a weekend and I made an off-hand comment about keeping him (worn down by two days looking after vomiting child) and my ex's father took me aside and asked in all seriousness if I was coping. I let it all out and he, the man who didn't want me to marry his son, was understanding enough to see I was serious. I was trying the best I could, I was failing, and it was damaging his grandson. By the time the child was five years old, they took him in permanently.
They're raising him and I think it's better for all of us."
"I have two beautiful kids, but I don't love them as their mother. I was a 21-year-old and met a gorgeous and awesome guy. He was older, had already graduated law school and was working at a law firm. He was great. Smart, very attractive and very fit. Despite this, it was clear it wasn't a long-term thing. He, admittedly, didn't function well in relationships. However, I could tell he really loved and wanted kids.
So I offered to give him a child. Sounds strange, but even though I knew we wouldn't be together and I knew I wasn't in love with him, I had a strong physical desire to give him kids. We talked about it and he eventually offered to pay for my college degree and give me some money. He bought me health insurance and then we started trying. I got pregnant surprisingly fast.
I was on summer break for the first trimester so I traveled. I, thankfully, didn't have a difficult time carrying and I was just in school for the rest of my pregnancy. His mother was around, so that was cool. I didn't have to do anything really to prepare for the child. He worked constantly as he was trying to earn as much as he could, but we always had great intimacy and it continued during the pregnancy. Mostly, I think this was a stress thing.
I had a girl and once she was born her father was on cloud nine. I think this caused the second pregnancy, because, well, we did it a lot right after. He begged me to carry the second pregnancy all the way through. So I did. I took a year off from school because I didn't want to graduate pregnant. The second time seemed way easier and flew by. However, the second time around there was more distance between us. I had my own place and was traveling around a lot and he was raising his daughter. The second child was a boy.
The kids are four and three now. They have a wonderful father and a great extended family. We have a great relationship and I know he is there for me should I need him.
I went back to school, graduated, and started my career. I've had some ok relationships. I relish in my freedom. My parents get to see the kids frequently and if I am over there I see them. They call me by my first name. They are great kids, but I don't have a motherly love-type relationship with them. We've discussed eventually telling them I am their mother. He is ok with it because he doesn't think he'll ever get married so he doesn't see any conflict with other maternal figures. My son also looks a lot like me so they figure it out eventually."
"I have three kids. A daughter who just turned 15-years-old, a daughter who is 4-years-old, and a son who is 20-months-old. My 4-year-old and I are best friends. I pick her up from school early for 'daddy dates.' I take her everywhere I can, and we have conversations where she stuns me with her insight and intelligence. My son is just starting to really show his personality. He is extremely loving. Between the two of them and my wife, I feel like I have everything in the world that I need.
And then there is the 15-year-old.
When I was 19-years-old, I got an IM from this chick and she basically gave me her address and asked me to come over and fool around with her. I assumed that 'To Catch a Predator' or something was waiting for me, so it took more persuading then it would have with most guys, but I go. Night over, life goes on.
Three years later, I get a call and it's her. She tells me she had a baby after our evening, but that she had moved to another state and had some fellow sign the birth certificate as the father. Now she has just given birth to his child, but he left her. So she has two kids, and she wants me to get to know my daughter. At this point, I am in college, and I figure I owe it to this little girl.
For the first six months, we meet up once a month or so and do things like go to the fair or zoo or whatever. We all do this together. Eventually, she comes to spend the weekend with me. Her little brother was spending alternate weekends with his dad's family, and I guess my daughter wanted to know why she wasn't going anywhere.
My family treated her like an alien and I really had no idea how to handle a child, so I would do stuff like put a video game on and she would watch me play. Or we would go to the park and play hide and seek and stuff. Come Sunday morning, I would have to start calling her mother first thing in the morning if I wanted to meet her by noon (she often just didn't answer or had someone else answer and say she was in the shower). I had papers to write, books to study, and classes to prepare for, so I was trying to cram all that into the very end of my weekends.
After about a year of this, I got a great an opportunity to work for NASA for a summer in San Jose. It was a 12-week program, and by the end of it, I was the lead author on a published paper. While I was away, my mother decided to step in and start having my daughter over. I thought this was a pretty good idea, as it would help them bond.
When I returned from NASA, my mother had bonded with my daughter and she basically had taken over scheduling the pickup and drop-offs. Now, it's worth stating that I enjoyed being with my daughter at this point, but it wasn't until I had my two younger children later that I understood something was missing between us.
This girl really looked up to me and idolized me as she would tell people her father knew everything and could build or do anything, but she was also uncontrollably afraid of me. She would hardly speak to me and she mumbled answer if I asked her anything. At one point when she was 13-years-old, she told me it was because she was afraid she would say or do the wrong thing and I wouldn't want anything to do with her anymore.
As the years went on my mother stepped in more and more and then I found she was telling people behind my back that I was an absent father and she pretty much did everything for her. It was a huge betrayal. I was paying money every month to her mother, I was buying her clothes, I was buying all her school supplies, I was picking her up and taking her everywhere, but because my mom handled scheduling, she thought I was 'absent.' I created a large rift between my mother and me.
Shortly after this, I got married and bought a home. At my home, I made a room just for her so she would feel welcome. It seemed to kick off a bit of a competition with my mother. My daughter quickly realized this and played it up to get everything she could. I never played the game, but my mother sure did.
After I had my younger daughter, my older daughter got very jealous. She practically counted the number of photos on the wall even though my wife went to great lengths to get photos of her and us up on the walls.
Two years ago, her mother decided she was moving to California. My daughter took this as an opportunity to play a game of who loves her more. I told her she should move with her mother. I truly felt that was best, as they are extremely co-dependent.
Ultimately, she decided that if she stayed, she wanted to go to a private high school that was 90 minutes away. When I explained that we didn't have the resources to transport her back and forth every day, she was done with me.
I haven't spoken to my daughter in six months. I feel she cut me out and therefore it is her responsibility to deal with it. Last I heard, my daughter was basically rebelling in every way possible.
The short of it is I really don't think I love her. I don't feel like I know her, I am disgusted by her actions, I am sick of her constant drama, and I just can't relate to her at all. And it feels so foreign to me as I love my two younger children with all of my heart. I consistently say things like, 'my two kids,' or 'my firstborn' when talking about my younger daughter. It's like my brain just doesn't have the synapse connection that defines my older daughter as my child, and all the benefits that this would confer upon her."
"I was a teenage boy with serious emotional baggage, which was the product of multiple father figures who came and went, each leaving a small reminder of themselves in the form of scars (some mental, some physical). My mother was a strong independent woman who was struck down by a driver when I was 9-years-old, and although she lived, the head and neck injuries she sustained gave me the shell of what she used to be.
By the time I was a teenager, I had substance abuse problems. By 14-years-old, I was working two full-time jobs to keep a roof over our heads. When I was 16-years-old, I felt I was a mature man who could handle anything. I avoided relationships because I always felt damaged.
One night when I was 17, I was at a bar where I knew the bartenders well enough and met a girl. She was beautiful, funny, the life of the party, and coincidentally, also underage. I made a few jokes, had a few drinks, and made my way to the exit. As I started my crappy little car to leave, said girl's friend knocked on my window and asked my age. I lied and said I was 22 to avoid any trouble for my bartending friends. One thing led to another, and that beautiful girl and I left together.
The next two weeks were spent wasted, barely sleeping, fooling around wherever we could find a bed. Without a care in the world, I lost my job, alienated my friends, and consumed myself with this girl. We would both find out later that we were much younger than we lead each other to believe. By then, it was too late.
When she announced she was 'late,' we bought two pregnancy tests from the pharmacy. Both showed negative results. When her little friend still hadn't visited two weeks later, we told her mom, who scheduled a doctors appointment, and low and behold, we were pregnant.
I spent the next two weeks begging her to get an abortion, knowing full well I had the emotional capacity of a carrot and realizing very quickly just how immature I truly was. She, the good Christian girl, flat out refused, listing all the reasons she hated me for even asking, and reminding me just what a terrible person I was for not loving our 'gift from God.'
We were married the following month, after driving to a state that would allow it at our ages because my mother refused to consent. The next 10 months were a mix of screaming, fighting, pretend breakups, and a general nightmare for us both.
On the day our son was born, our parents gathered around and smiled, and she was just different. For the next six months, I worked as many hours as work would provide and she slept. For hours, she slept.
As he would cry, she slept. By the time my son was 18-months-old, this girl who had convinced me I was a monster for not wanting our child was sleeping with a co-worker (who was also married with children). I begged and pleaded with both of them to end the affair. Within two weeks, she was gone. Her parting words were, 'Call me when he can talk and is potty trained.' Ironically, she left to join a Christian band with her co-worker in another state.
For the next year, I spent most nights wasted, contemplating suicide, and wondering what to do with this child. My mother helped. Her mother helped. But I grew to resent the kid more and more. I pined for my youth, which she promised she would sacrifice with me, but instead left to pursue.
I have spent the better part of 12 years being congratulated on being 'an amazing dad' and 'stepping up.' Secretly, I cry to myself some nights, regretting how cold and distant I have been, how selfishly I have treated this child that looks just like me, and how much better he deserved. His mother bounces in and out now, just present enough to remind him he means less than her two new kids.
He and I have a strange relationship. My anger gets the best of me sometimes over the slightest things. He is respectful, well mannered, extremely intelligent, athletic, and just an overall wonderful person. By his age, I was on my way to being the piece of trash I am today. And yet, knowing all these facts, feeling guilty beyond words for the hardships he has endured as I grew up simultaneously with him, I still feel like I love him because it is my duty to love him. Sometimes it feels like we are roommates, my friend who has slept on the couch for 13 years. He deserves so much better than I have given him. Yet I rest on the fact he has had so much more than I did. And for that, I know if there is a Hell, I have reserved my own suite."
"I never wanted to have kids. My girlfriend at the time ended up pregnant with my daughter and I kinda freaked out. I wasn't ready to be a father. I started drinking a lot and doing a bunch of illegal substances. I also started sleeping with a bunch of different women, going as far as bringing a working girl home one night and fooling around with her in the guest bedroom while my pregnant girlfriend slept in our bedroom. I actually had my girlfriend take her home the next morning because I couldn't drive.
When my daughter was born, her mother was understandably still very bitter at me. I didn't see my daughter much, mostly because I couldn't really face her mother. On top of that, I didn't know how to be a father. I didn't know what to do. When my daughter was around five years old, her mother started seeing a guy that pushed her to let me into my daughter's life. She tried, but I just couldn't do it. I stayed away as much as possible because I was still scared. I had no idea what I was doing, I was still incredibly embarrassed about my behavior during the pregnancy, and I was making it worse by making my daughter have to live without her father.
Right after her eighth birthday, I moved across the country. Even when I'd go home, I wouldn't really tell them because I was still scared to spend time with her. Every time we'd get together, it would just be awkward.
I recently saw her again. She's a teenager now but it's still very weird when we're together. Here's this person that I'm supposed to love and care about, but I don't know who she is. She doesn't talk to me. I keep trying to learn about her hoping that some light switch will go off, but it never does.
It's not that I don't love her anymore, I just never did."