What to do if Your Teen Says He Hates You by Dr. Paul Jenkins

POSTED BY on October 01, 2021

I would be really surprised if this didn’t come up for you at some point in raising a child.

Usually when a child says they hate, it means something different. It usually means, "Hey, I don't like the limits that you just set for me."

I'm remembering when i was seeing a 13 year old girl and her mother and they had their first meeting with me and we talked a little bit about some effective limit setting. And this girl was kind of going off the rails in a lot of ways. And the second visit, I still remember I looked out the window. I heard the car door slam. And I look out the window and this girl is just storming into the building. Mom gets out nice and calm and she's smiling. Something is different. Well, this girl bursts through the door. She doesn't even wait for me to open it and welcome her in. She bursts through the door and she points me out and she says, "You are ruining my life." -Mom must have figured out a few limits. Oh, mom comes in and she's smiling. She's like, "Dr. Paul, I'm glad we're paying you to do this." I had the same reaction that you did. I ind of chuckled a little bit.-Here’s the thing:

Hate it is a word that usually creates a real emotional response for us. And that's one of the reasons our children use it.

If you hear the word from your child, just put it through your thought process. Don't go to, "Ugh! I must be doing things wrong." Maybe go, "Ah, maybe I'm on the right trail."

It probably means there are limits they are needing and you have discovered them.

Remember your relationship with your child. You are not BFF’s. You are the parent. Now, I think we should have a friendly relationship, but your job is to love them no matter what and even if. And you are first their parent, not their friend.

Keep calm and parent on.

And next, let's check our limits. Remember, "I hate you is translated to mean, "I don't like the limit you just set."

You can have a reflective moment and ask, “Is what I am doing reasonable?” If it is, hold your ground. If it isn’t, apologize and ask for a do-over.




Some parents won’t back off, no matter what as they think it destroys their credibility to set a limit and then change it. This doesn't destroy your authority as a parent. In fact, I think that it adds to your credibility if your kids know that they can trust you to do something that's right and reasonable.

You may even avoid the, “I hate you,” if they can say, “Hey mom, can we talk about that limit you set for my curfew tonight?”

It might be helpful to work on the way we communicate. The time to do this is not when your child is yelling, "I hate you."

Weather the storm and after it has passed, when you can have respectful communication, then say, “Let’s talk about this. What would it take for you to go to the dance on Saturday night?"

The answer might be, "You're not going to go to the dance?" But the answer might be, "If you go with this these particular friends, you come home at this time."

You are teaching them that there are other ways to get what they want. You are trying to help this teenager figure out how to work out a situation with people he may not like at the moment. This is helpful when they go to get a job. They learn that emotional outbursts are not the best way to get what you want. The problem-solving skills they get in the home is what they have to take out into the world.

Detach yourself from the outcome. The reason we get all fired up about things is because we are attached to the outcome. This doesn’t been you are not invested, caring or loving. You are loving the entire way through.

We just need to be okay with them not liking a limit.

Keep calm and parent on.


Dr. Paul Jenkins

Dr. Paul Jenkins is an author, speaker, personal coach and positivity expert with 20+ years experience as a Professional Psychologist. His book Pathological Positivity and its pocket-sized companion Portable Positivity illuminate powerful principles that when applied can make an immediate difference in your life. Dr. Paul's channel Live On Purpose TV, available on YouTube, has a parenting playlist with a wide variety of subjects to help parents create positivity in their parenting.


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