These tips on what to do when your daughter says “I hate you” will help mothers cope. I interviewed psychologists, therapists, and parenting experts on coping when your daughter says she hates you.
Parenting a Teen Girl: A Crash Course on Conflict, Communication and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter by Lucie Hemmen is an excellent resource for moms whose daughters are difficult, argumentative, and aggravating.
Besides learning as much as you can about communicating and connecting with a teenage daughter, it’s also important to understand how important you are to her. Renita Weems says, “I cannot forget my mother. She is my bridge. When I needed to get across, she steadied herself long enough for me to run across safely.”
The downside of being a bridge is that you get walked on, run over, and sometimes even torn to bits! But the upside is that you are the safest way from here to there.
When Your Daughter Says She Hates You
I remember saying “I hate you” to my mom – and not just once. Now I cringe to think about it, and am so sorry I told my mother I hated her! Some day your daughter will feel the same way. In the meantime, here are a few ways for mothers and daughters to reconnect. They’re from a variety of psychologists, therapists, writers, and parenting experts.
Perhaps the most important tip is to remember that hate is the flipside of love. Our emotional connections to our family members – especially our mothers – are so strong and powerful. Any emotion that strong is bound to run amok: love to hate, yearning to fleeing, pulling to pushing, hugging to shoving.
This, too, shall pass. Remember the TV show “Roseanne”? When her daughter said “I hate you”, Roseanne said, “Then my work here is done.” Perhaps the less seriously you take her words, the easier both you and she will be able to reconnect after the dust has settled.
Detach from your daughter’s hateful words and emotions – and tell her you love her
“Don’t take it personally,” says Sal Severe, Ph.D., author of How to Behave So Your Children Will, Too! “Kids use inflammatory language like this when they’re genuinely upset but don’t have the tools to express themselves precisely. “Your six-year-old isn’t able to say ‘I feel frustrated and angry because you won’t let me watch my television program.’” To put it simply, she wants you to know she’s mad.
Severe encourages parents to acknowledge their daughter’s anger calmly, but stand their ground.
“Say ‘I’m sorry you hate me, because I love you very much.’ Then add, ‘It’s okay that you’re angry, but you still have to turn off the TV.’” You can mention that everyone gets upset occasionally, but it’s not all right to take it out on someone else.” ~ from When Your Child Says “I Hate You” on Parenting.com.
Remember what it’s like to be a teenager…Hormones! Angst! Fears! Peers!
“Reflecting back on my life as a teenager, I remember I had an uncanny ability to blow everything way out of proportion,” writes Sara Esther Crispe in My Daughter Says She Hates Me. “And since I wasn’t able or willing to take responsibility for my actions or consequences, anyone around that I could blame for my mistakes, usually got the blame.
As we grow and mature, G-d willing, so does our perception. Most teenagers have some degree of difficulty seeing anything beyond themselves, their feelings, their pain and their vulnerability. Seeing the larger picture, reviewing the past, recognizing blessing in their lives and working towards the future is the kind of insight that usually only sets in a bit later down the road, after we’ve lived life a bit more.”
Explore the “dark side” with your daughter
“My daughter (28) and I are best friends,” says psychologist Geli Heimann. “I suggest imparting values rather than telling your daughter she is not allowed to. For instance, I never said no when she wanted to see certain questionable films. I went with her and I allowed her to explore in safety with me being there with unconditional regard. Yes, I made my opinion known, but allowed her to gain the values she needed to discover herself. When my daughter became a teenager, I bought all the magazines she wanted. Like girlfriends we read them together and discussed everything. As a result, she never needed to hide anything. Eventually – at a much later stage – she told me all the details. That’s part of being friends with unconditional love!”
If you’re curious how Heimann would respond if her daughter said, “I hate you”, please ask in the comments section below. This is one mother of a psychologist!
Find the balance between mothering and friendship
“Be a friend to your daughter, rather than a mother,” says Harleena Singh, “especially if you have teenage daughters! If you’re friends, they’re more likely to share their feelings and open up with you. Mothers, in turn, know what their daughters are up to.”
Singh adds that boundaries are important, without a doubt. “But rather than hearing ‘No! You are not allowed to!’ and set up a law your daughter could break behind your back (like I did with my mother), it’s better to impart values that your daughter adopts with your guidance. Then, those values are part of her own system There’s no need to do things behind your back!”
Remember that good mother-daughter relationships take time and effort
It’s important to spent quality time together, which involves deep listening and asking about your daughter’s world with genuine interest.
“It also means that the TV-as-nanny and leaving kids to their own devices is unacceptable,” Singh says. “It means being a mother-coach-friend at the level that is right for the phase they are going through. It’s always better to be friends with your daughter, and of course, a mother-friend is the best combination.”
Quick Tips for Reconnecting With Your Daughter
- “One of my favorite things about my mom is that she never, ever judges me. I know I can come to her with anything.” ~ KeriLynn Engel.
- “Apologize for mistakes as you go. Show daughter you’re always learning.” ~ Laura Matthews.
- “Watch carefully to see who your daughter is…then support her whole-heartedly on her journey.” ~ Duanita G. Eleniak.
- “When/if you become more friends and less mother/daughter, your relationship will improve and take on a deeper level.” ~ Jen Nipps.
For mother-daughter tips from an adult daughter’s perspective, read You and Your Mother Can’t Be Friends? How to Live in Peace.
I welcome your thoughts below! If you’re a mother, how did you respond when your daughter said she hates you? If you’re a daughter, what tips do you have? I can’t offer advice, but it is often helpful to write about what you’re experiencing and feeling.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.