Responding to Your Tween Saying "I Hate You"

By Katherine Doble-Cannata

I remember it well.  It was probably one of my proudest moments as a parent.  I finally felt like all of my time, effort and sleepless nights were being validated.  Sure, I was shocked at first and maybe a little insulted but then it was pure joy.

No, I am not describing how I felt when Maddy took her first steps or made her first friend.  I am describing my feelings the first time my tween told me she hated me.  I know you are probably shocked and thinking there is definitely something wrong with me but hear me out…

When I read Justice Jonesie’s post, How [NOT] To Raise a Tween Part II: When Your Kid Says He Hates You, I just knew I had to share my story.  Now to understand my reaction we have to go back to MY tween days – cue the scrunchies, tights, and neon colors!   The first time I said the dreaded “h” word, my Cuban mother looked like I had crushed her and then was reaching for the chancleta while my American father started laughing.  After he was done with his good chuckle he said, “Good, then I am doing my job and you can keep on hating me until you move out of my house.”  WHAT!?!  Wait, that was not the response I had wanted.  But of course, he was right.

When I became a parent and realized that the “h” word would one day come out of my precious daughter’s mouth, I thought long and hard about my response.   Why do kids say they hate their parents?  To test their boundaries, revolt against discipline and of course shock value.  Was my dad’s response the right one?  Not for me at least.  I continued to test my boundaries and say I hated everyone and everything and  yes it continued until  moved out of the house (I totally blame it on raging hormones!).   So what is the appropriate way to respond when your tween tells you they hate you?

Maddy was 7 years old and we had just told her that she was being grounded for breaking the rules.  She stomped off to her room, slammed the door and then came back to launch the lethal “h” word at us.  My response, a simple and stern, “We don’t say hate in this house (a statement that I have told my children every time they have said “hate”).  Now go to your room to cool off.”  Amazingly, she turned right back around, went to her room and slammed the door again.  And I was a proud parent.  My moment of glory had finally come.  As my father had said, I was doing my job.

Can I tell you that I rid my world of hate?  Well no, she tried it a couple of other times only to meet the same response.   She is now 10 and while she still gets very angry, I can’t remember the last time she told me or anyone she hated them.  I am sure she will eventually try it again and I will give the same response.  Hopefully it continues to work.

Has your tween told you “I hate you!”?  Leave a comment below and share your story!

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2 thoughts on “Responding to Your Tween Saying "I Hate You"

  1. Okay, love this! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I feel better now. It’s makes perfect sense that at some point, your child will say this. I remember feeling it as a teen/tween, I don’t know if I ever said it. I certainly gave my parents trouble and sleepless nights.

    As as I said before, love this site!!

    Nadia
    AKA Justice Jonesie

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