It’s the rare parent-child relationship that doesn’t go through some growing pains during adolescence. Even the most loving, even-tempered teen may have a moment (or two or three or four) of shouting at his or her parent, “I hate you!” over any number of issues. As parents, this can sting, even if we are confident in our actions a parents that brought it on. We have to be prepared for it!
Adolescence is an emotionally challenging time for the whole family. Teens push us away while needing us close, test boundaries, try things they should not. This is completely normal. During the course of parenting teenagers, you are likely to implement a rule or apply some discipline that they don’t like. At all. They think they are mature enough to handle all the responsibilities of adulthood, but they aren’t. There will be drama. There maybe tears. There will be a declaration.
“I HATE YOU!”
Do they really?
Yup, they really do. In that moment, your teenager hates you.
I never thought I could be so okay with being hated every now and again, but I am. I know that overall, for this age and stage, my relationship with my son is decent. I trust that our foundation is strong (though swaying some days!) and we will work thorough it. Even though he “hates” me, he still needs me.
But teenagers are emotional, impulsive beasts. Their emotional development is still very much in progress and the full understanding of unconditional love – and how they can hurt others with their words – just isn’t there yet. That’s all to say, don’t take this very personal declaration personally.
Just because your child verbally hurls something hurtful at you doesn’t mean you should back down. Much like dealing with a toddler in the throes of the terrible twos or threes, you need to be consistent and firm. It’s hard, I know. But you are the parent, and you get to say what is right for your child, whether three or thirteen.
Keep loving them
There’s a wonderful quote I saw (and I wish I remembered it exactly!) about how when kids are at their worst, they need our love the most. I absolutely agree with that. We don’t necessarily need to like them, but we do need to continue to love and parent them. They may be angry and we may be angry, but remember that this effort to dicipline and guide them comes from your deep love for them.
Keep talking to them
Through these tough conflicts with our adolescents we have to keep talking to them – and sometimes at them. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your unconditional love. Whether it’s through the bathroom door, in notes, or in person when your teenager is sullen at the dinner table, in every situation, keep up the efforts at communication, both the big things and the little things.
From “I’m still concerned about and want to keep talking to you” to “Please pass the butter,” keep talking — find ways to point out their good qualities and say positive things if you can.
No one ever said parenting would be easy, and adolescents seem to take this adage to heart! The good news is that as hard as it is, as much as your child hates you in specific moments, we will make it through this time. Our own parents are living proof!
More on parenting teens:
- Teen dating
- 10 Tips to establish rules for your teen
- Discipline when your child is larger than you
- Talking to teens about drugs