Dear Dr. Bill,
My youngest daughter just turned 8-years-old and for the first time in my life, I heard her say she HATES me! And she not only said it to me once, but 3 times. This happened because I reminded her about her chores — she knows she has to do them, but this was her response to me. I found this very upsetting and I wonder what should I say back to her? I didn’t believe my daughter’s words — but, boy does it hurt!
As difficult as it is to hear mean words from our children, remember this important principle: if our kids always like us, we’re failing in our job as parents.
Too many parents today are so concerned with being their kids’ best buddy that they don’t set appropriate limits on their behavior. I call this “Pushover Parenting,” and it sets children up for failure and frustration later in life.
By the same token, it’s unacceptable to allow your child to tell you they “hate you.”
Explain to your daughter that when she’s frustrated or angry there are certain words that are appropriate to use and others that aren’t.
While it’s okay to say “I’m angry with you” it’s never okay to say “I hate you.” Let her know that if she says “I hate you” in the future—to you or anyone else, she will be punished.
Then follow through if it happens again, and make sure the consequence is a powerful one, like losing a favorite toy or privilege for a period of time.
You can also teach your daughter a vital spiritual principle here. Explain to her that every human being is made in God’s image and that he loves each of us deeply. When we speak in an unkind way toward another person, we are essentially harming one of God’s children.
Thanks for writing Diane. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.