When Your Child Hates You
The first moment that you look at your newborn’s face, is an indescribable experience. The overwhelming feeling of completeness, and of absolute love, is all-consuming.
It’s sometimes hard to recall that moment, when your 4-year-old, or your 12-year old, or your 16-year-old screams, “I hate you!!”.
It’s even harder to remember that total bonding experience, when your adult (or almost adult) child won’t even talk to you.
Almost thirty years ago, when I was a new parent, I read a tidbit that has carried me through many rough times: the thought was, that if your child is comfortable enough to tell you that he hates you, then that means your child is secure in the relationship – that your child knows that you love him unconditionally…. no matter what he’s done or how he behaves. (“She” and “her” should, of course, be substituted for “he” and “him” when applicable :) )
This thought became a security blanket, of sorts, for me through my parenting years – and I definitely have had some difficult parenting years. It’s helped me understand that sometimes my child is angry, not at me, but at the world – it’s just that he can release some of those emotions around me, that he’s unable to reveal to the world.
It’s helped me maintain a steady level of support. I have a daughter who did not speak to me in her late teen years. She had made choices that I didn’t agree with. I didn’t support those choices, and so she was angry. I made the effort to call every day. I wrote regularly. People would ask me why I would continue to call, if my daughter would never answer – or return a message. The simple response was, that I am her mom. I love her. Even if she doesn’t respond or answer, it was right for ME, to let her know that I was thinking about her and that I care…. always and unconditionally.
Now, in her mid-twenties, that same daughter and I are best friends. She has turned her life around, and I am very proud of the woman that she's become. She calls me more often than her two siblings combined!!
You may not agree with your child’s behavior. And, it’s not your job to be your child’s best friend. It’s your job, as a parent, to offer that unconditional love, support and guidance. Sometimes that’s tough. Often, your child is not going to like what you say. It’s hard to say “no”. It’s really hard to hear someone that you care about, tell you that they hate you.
But, ultimately, you need to remember that you’re in it for the long haul – not the short term. You’re long-term goal, is to help you child develop into a healthy, happy, responsible, and independent person.
Hopefully, this will help you feel better, the next time that you hear “I hate you.”