Mom Worries Her Husband 'Resents' Their Toddler Because He's Unhappy With Reality Of Family Life

Parenthood isn't perfect, yet children shouldn't be seen as objects used to make someone feel fulfilled.

mom and toddler, man with hands over his face file404 and Nicoleta Ionescu / Shutterstock

A mom wrote into the parenting forum Mumsnet, wondering if it’s normal for a parent to resent their role. After “a long road and struggle” to get pregnant, she and her husband “were thrilled to finally have a child after years of delay, trying to conceive, and IVF.” She explained that they “both collapsed ourselves into parenthood prepared to just fully immerse ourselves in that experience.”


Two years passed, and their baby is now a toddler, complete with all the typical, developmentally appropriate boundary-pushing behavior.

The mom worries that her husband ‘resents’ their toddler because he’s dissatisfied with the daily reality of family life.

She describes her husband as someone who always wanted children, even classifying him as wanting kids “more so than me, and was perhaps the main driving force in wanting to have them.” She shared that her husband is eight years older than she is, putting him in his late 40s. In her own words, her husband “has always seen having children as the main way to bring meaning to his life.”


Yet recently, the mom has grown concerned about the extreme sense of resentment she gleans from her husband’s attitude whenever he’s around their 2-year-old. She described his rigidity around their child’s sleep routine, and his frustration with their “repetitive behaviors, running about and creating general mayhem, just normal two-year-old stuff, but he can't seem to cope with it.” 

“I think the reality of having a child has really hit home for him now,” she said. “He was saying how we won’t have a decent holiday for years, and that so many of his plans are now on hold because he is too tired or occupied with our child to work on them.”

man sitting on the floor playing with toddlerPhoto: Tatiana Syrikova / Pexels 


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She also notes that he seems to be wavering over their decision to try for a second baby, which seems to be a larger issue orbiting around his attitude towards parenting.

The mom has come to the conclusion that her husband resents their child’s presence, as the reality of parenting is much harder than he imagined.

“I think he expected a picture-postcard version of family life — Don’t we all,” she exclaimed. She believes he thought being a dad “would make him feel happy and fulfilled forevermore but it’s obviously not always like that.” From her own viewpoint, “You just need to get on with it and appreciate the good when you can.”  

She ended her post by wondering if her husband’s resentment was a normal phase of parenting, something that “will pass as he comes to terms with the reality of life versus his imagined version of it.”


The comments from other parents in the forum focused on the need for the mom and her husband to open up their channels of communication and have tough, necessary conversations about the ways they can show up for their kid and for each other. 

One parent acknowledged just how hard the transition into parenthood can be, especially if the person is older and more accustomed to living their life solely for themselves. As they see it, “not every parent loves the baby years and the change of your lifestyle is significant.”

Another mom echoed that sentiment, saying, “My husband struggled massively in the early days. It doesn't mean he doesn't love his child any less.”

Someone else wondered if her husband might be experiencing depression, and suggested local parenting groups where he could meet other dads in similar situations. 


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It’s unrealistic to expect parents to love every minute of raising a child, yet it’s equally unrealistic — and harmful — to expect that having kids will fix your life.

The mom came to the comments to offer some context to her husband’s parenting worldview, saying, “I think he did expect having a child to somehow give him clarity and motivation. I think he feels very frustrated that this hasn’t happened.”


Photo: Sasha Kim / Pexels 

“He has a history of fixating on something he thinks will make him happy and then when it doesn’t happen, he finds something else that he hopes might work,” she continued. “However, he can’t just drop a child because it wasn’t as he imagined it would be.”

Orly Katz, a licensed clinical counselor and transition to parenting expert, says this feeling of resentment in dads is incredibly common and normal.

She told Focus On the Family Canada, "In my practice I often see dads who were unprepared for the new reality they faced when their baby was born." Adding, "Where new mothers are encouraged to verbalize their disillusions, disappointments and concerns – usually in support groups or to other moms – new dads have been raised to not express their emotional needs."


Sometimes simply acknowledging these feelings and giving men the opportunity to ask for "emotional space" without criticism can make all the difference.

While the distance between expectations and reality can often be quite painful, people can’t rely on an outside force to make them feel fulfilled. True inner peace comes from within. When we accept our realities, we’re able to inhabit them fully, focusing more on what we have than an imagined future we may have lost.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers parenting, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.