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March 21, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Relationships

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Why do I hate my family?


My name is Sara. I am 18 years old and was adopted by a white family when I was 10 months old. I am Chinese and we obviously do not look like I am related to them at all. Before my adoptive parents got me, they had a biological child who is 6 years older than me. She is a girl and is the spitting image of our mother.

I know absolutely nothing about my biological parents, name, age, background, nothing. But neither do my adoptive parents. I had a great childhood. I was never mistreated or abused in any way, and I was loved by everybody.

About 8 years ago when I was 10, I started to HATE my family, mom, dad, and sister. I always felt like they loved her more than me because she actually came from them. I often wish eternal misery on her and wish she was dead. I have also wished that about my parents, mostly my mom. I have been doing research about these feelings and came across some interesting things. Apparently, if a child does not form that "mother-daughter" bond within the first year of life they will have a hard time forming relationships or trusting people in the future. Is this true?

I am also so sick and tired of my sister telling me how to feel. She constantly tells me to just be nice, that all I have to do is change my attitude. I try to do this every day but for some reason, I just can't love my family. I don't know why. My parents always tell me to be grateful that they saved me, but I'm not. The only thing I think of when they say this is how they stripped me of my cultural background and everything I have ever known.

Why do I hate my family who has been nothing but nice and good to me? Why do I feel hatred all the time? How can I tell my parents that I can't control the way I feel?

Sara, 18 years old


Sara my dear,

Many adopted people go through a stage of resenting the fact of their adoption. Usually, it is just that, a stage. For some reason, for you it has become a long term habit of thought and emotion. Possibly, when you were about 10 years old and had these feelings of resentment and rejection and “not fair,” they horrified you. You may have thought, “They love me, and have always been nice and good to me, so I mustn’t feel like this!” Or there could have been some other reason, but this is typical: whatever we try to send away gets stronger.

As an example, imagine you have an itch on your back. You know from experience that after maybe half a minute, it’ll fade away, so you don’t bother to scratch it, just get on with whatever you were doing. The itch will go away. But if you focus on it, and decide not to scratch it but fight the feeling, that itch will become irresistible, and you’ll find yourself scratching it, never mind how hard you try not to. So, you had an itch of resentment and tried to send it away, and the more you tried, the worse it got until it became overpowering. Probably, it now feels like it is just the way things are, and that’s that.

Even if the initial way the habit got established was different, the end result is the same. You have certain thoughts and emotions that distress you, and also distress your family. You would change them if you could -- but the more you try, the worse they get. The solution is to stop trying to make them go away, but make a tiny little change. Instead of “I can’t help it, I hate my loving family,” have “I can’t help it, I feel as if I hated my loving family.”

Those emotions, no matter how strong they are, are only real if you believe them. They are just inside noises until you do. So, like simply accepting an itch knowing it will normally just fade away, simply accept the negative feelings knowing that normally they just fade away.

Change is the rule. All things are change. If this situation has lasted for 8 years, it’s because some force is keeping it going. I think that may be this struggle. “I should not be feeling like this” ensures that you continue to feel like that. You can work at establishing a new habit: withdrawing the struggle. “OK, I feel as if... I am allowed to.”

A second point is that you are not what you think and feel, but what you DO. Try this experiment. Start a record book, or a file in your computer. Every day, find some way of acting toward your mom, dad, and sister in a way that will make them feel good: some action as if you loved them. This can be as simple as a smile, a friendly touch, doing some little thing to relieve your mom of a chore, whatever. Use your creativity and imagination. Write down each of these acts in your records. At the end of three weeks of doing such things at least once a day, read over your records, and see how you feel. I’d be interested, so let me know.

The third thing is, why don’t you do some research about your culture? Chinese people have many different cultures, even many languages. See how much you can find out about your own origins. Where do you come from? What is the language this area uses besides Mandarin? What are their customs? This could become an interesting hobby that will take your mind off what has been dominating your thinking for years.

What you have been doing so far hasn’t worked, so it’s time to try something different. Give my suggestions a go.

Your new grandfather,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.

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