My son hates me

I've always heard other moms talk about it, the dreaded, "I hate you!" I don't think I ever actually said that to my parents (I thought it, of course, along with some other choice phrases!), so naturally I assumed that no child of mine would ever say that to me. I was wrong. Jacob and I were butting heads over something the other day, I'm not even sure what. It probably had to do with not playing with him, or some other motherly infraction, but I do remember telling him that I had to get in the shower, and then we were going to have lunch. He shouted, "NO!" I calmly picked up my towel, headed to the bathroom, and said, "I don't talk to little boys who shout." He screamed, "Well, I don't like mommies who take showers and eat lunch! I DON'T!" Then he started crying while I shut the bathroom door and started the shower, too stunned and angry to respond in any other way. While I was in the shower, Jacob further demonstrated his frustration with me by throwing a Hot Wheels car loop-the-loop thingie against the wall, breaking the toy and denting the wall. I was not pleased, and the angry conversations continued until finally Jacob completely melted down, and we rocked in the rocker and then I fed us both. It's amazing what food can do, isn't it? But still-- to think, my child doesn't like me? Me? ME? I'm his mother, his universe, the sun around which his life should orbit, the woman who gave him life. Not like me? Impossible! The episode blew over well enough, and he didn't actually say, "I HATE YOU", but what should I do the next time he pulls out this particular defense against me? When he says it, it makes me want to simultaneously smack him and burst into tears. Probably not the best reaction, all things considered. Any other moms out there with this problem? Maybe I should just carry food with me all the time, and whenever he melts down, I should just toss him a granola bar, like an animal. Wouldn't be the first time I felt like I was living in a zoo!


Anonymous unknown said...

Well, I was raised with the good belt whippin' and with the wash out the mouth with soap remedies and they seemed to work pretty well. I learned very quickly that my parents' word was final and if I pushed it I was only digging my own pit.

Sometimes I really think we need more of that nowadays.

As Bill O'Reilly says, "Your children do not need to like you, they need to fear you and respect you."

1/04/2006 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous jamisue said...

Welcome to the ranks of the Meanest-mommies-in-the-world club! So happy to have you as a member! When I get the "I hate you" stuff I just smile and say, "I'm sorry to hear that because I love you."

By-the-way, I was sorry to hear about the Wiz breaking bones. Guess that's what you get for being a skinny chick with no meat on your bones to pad the fall. :-)

1/04/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

Remember that your child is only a child and is full of feelings that he is trying to sort out. Your job as a parent isn't to make him constantly happy. It is to help him and guide him as he develops from a helpless baby into a competent adult.
So, at age 3 he doesn't know how to deal with anger and he isn't mature enough to speak calmly and considerately to his mother whom he loves. I guess he's not ready to leave home yet!
I try to understand my children. I try to look at their behavior and decide if it is something that they need help with to deal with. I want my children to learn not to yell and scream when they are angry. My oldest I used to put in her room and said, "You need to stay in your room until you are done crying/screaming." She was upset, and didn't know what to do. I gave her an appropriate way to act. She could cry/scream, but only in her room where it wouldn't bother others. When she was done, I would smile at her, tell she could come out, etc. After a year, you could visibly see her control herself and stop crying when I asked, "Do you need to go to your room?"
Voila! She had learned to control herself.
I suggest that if your child is dealing with normal anger, you need to help him learn how to deal with it. Teach him what he shouldn't do, but you need to give him appropriate ways he CAN deal with it.
If my almost 2 year old said something similar, I would say, "I know you are upset, but we don't say things like that in our house. You need to go to your room until you are ready to speak kindly."
If my 6 year old suddenly screamed at me I would think he was taken over by aliens. But I have sent him to his room for his own way of complaining/whining at me.
If my 8 year old said it, I would say basically the same thing, only depending on the tone of voice or the volume, I would give a warning and/or punishment (go to bed early, no TV). I would also, for my 8 year old, talk about it and help her figure out what to do next time if she is very angry. For instance, if she was disappointed because I was busy and she wanted to spend time with me, she should instead tell me in a nice voice and suggest that maybe later we could play a game together.
I would not, however, make a big deal over hurting mommy's feelings to a young child. I think you want to be matter of fact that you don't speak like that in your family. But it is obvious he doesn't really mean it, and as he gets older if he knows it hurts your feelings he might be tempted to use it again. Your three year old isn't going out of his way to manipulate you, he's just trying to figure things out. But you should know he of course still loves you. ANd nothing you say should tell him that you doubt his love.

1/04/2006 04:23:00 PM  
Anonymous unknown said...

Dear JKS,

It sounds as if you have great patience but I think my way will get the same message across in a much more efficient manner and in a much shorter time span. A full year to teach your daughter not to scream when she is angry? Sorry, but I have to respectfully say that your method sounds too inefficient, too coddling, and way too indulging.

If my kid talks to his mom in that way, he or she will quickly learn what is acceptable and not acceptable.

I know that many people feel the more mushy way teaches the children valuable lessons about social interaction but I have yet to see it. Being raised in an Irish Catholic family in the northeast, all my siblings and cousins were raised the same way. Today, all of us exhibit a strong amount of self discipline and are raising our children the same way.

Oh, and when I do visit home and go to mass with family members, there is barely a peep from all of the children during the hour long mass. Unlike our tortured sacrament meetings.

It works, try it.

1/04/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Oh, man, I'm just going to skip over the previous and address Heather directly...

Jeffrey does the same thing, and Eric has a hot temper too. The first time he said he didn't like me, (after deciding not to cry and tell him about his labor and delivery) I thought, well, ok, I must be doing something right then!

I was one of those kids who told my mom I hated her, and it was because I was testing her. I learned there was nothing I could do to change her love for me. And that is how I deal with Jeffrey now- I look at him, might laugh if the situation warrants it, and tell him that's nice, I love you anyway, and let it go. Definately don't make a big deal out of it.

The thing is, you kid feels safe and secure enough to work out his feelings on you. Bottom line. Yes, they need to learn self-control, but at three or four, we are still working on what all these big, powerful feelings are. And where better to learn and practice than at home, with your parents, where you are safe.

Of course, throwing a granola bar to the beasties and giving a good long hug is always a nice ending.

1/04/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger fMhLisa said...

I did that a few times as a child, and I did say "I hate you". And from experience, let me say that "Well, I love you." was always the response that stuck in my head. So frustrating when you're trying to get a reaction or get your way, and yet so reassuring at the same time.

1/04/2006 05:26:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

When speaking about my daughter crying/screaming, I was referring to when she was 1, 2 or 3 years old and starting crying because she didn't get her way. Those tantrums kinds of things.
I doubt washing a toddler's mouth out with soup would stop tantrums.
Different ages and different temperments require some creative parenting.
Like I mentioned before, my son has never yelled at me in anger. When he gets upset, it is difficult for him to get words out.
My oldest daughter is quite different. She, however, has never yelled mean things. She is naturally loud and speaks without thinking, I believe that by dealing with her tantrums when she was little, I have helped her learn what is and what is not appropriate behavior when you are upset. She is now 8. I do notice that occasionally she gets a certain tone of voice (you know, the teenager attitude kind of thing). I hope to nip that it the bud before disrespect comes naturally to her. It bothers me when teenagers and now younger kids treat their parents like crap.
But I think it is the sort of thing that creeps up on you.

1/04/2006 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Well, since all my motherhood techniques are perfection itself, I'm sure I will never have to deal with issues like this. :)

Actually, my kids have yet to say anything like that to me, but I doubt it will phase me when they do, because truthfully, what? They have options about who their parents are or where they live or what the rules are? Nope, and nope, and a little threat of hatred isn't going to change that.

I think it's probably more difficult for divorced parents because sometimes their kids DO have an option about where they will live. Then the " I hate you, so I'm going to go live with Dad" threats arise. It gives kids more power and scares the parents into coddling them, for fear they will lose them.

So just keep your rules consistent and your marriage strong, and things will be fine.

jamisue!!!! Are you who I think you are? Did your sister just cut my hair? (She did a great job, BTW)Welcome to the blog, I didn't know you were reading! And...If you're a totally unknown jamisue, welcome anyway.

1/04/2006 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger HLH said...

Oh, that stage of life is a fun one. Jacob simply does not have the vocabulary and self dicspline to express his anger in an appropriate way, I mean he is, after all, 4!
He doesn't hate you, he loves you very much, and knows that he is safe enough to say those things.
When my son does this, I get down on his level hold him (if I can) and I try to verbalize what he might be feeling "I know you are upset because you want to play with trains not eat your lunch. You must be very angry, but this is not an accpetable way to behave." I then go on to tell him what particular behaviors are not accpetable and what perhaps if anything he could do different. I tell him he has a choice he can behave and do..(whatever it is you want him to do) or he can go be angry mad whatever in the time out chair, but I make it clear that it is his choice. Sometimes this works better than others, but he doesn't act out like this too often.

As for other methods about fear...It is very easy to control your child and to have them behave and mind you out of fear. It is much harder to raise a child who will grow into adulthood thinking for him or her self. I would much rather that MY child learn to govern himself because he understands why he should rather than him behaving out of fear. Because eventually the fear will be gone (he will leave the house and you will no longer have sway with him) and he will be left with no internal governing system, because he was never taught to think for himself.

1/04/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Anonymous jamisue said...

Yep, it's me. After reading about the one-handed blow drying, I understand the need to see my little sis.

Been reading the blogs for a while now, but never contributed because, I'm one of those working mommy outlaws and wasn't sure I should . . . . ;-)

1/04/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mo Mommy said...

I never used the H word on my mom, but my sibs sure have. She just smiles and says "I know that when you say you hate me, all you really mean is 'I love you , thank you for giving me boundaries'". That sure gets quite the response from them. May need to be tweaked a bit for a younger crowd ala, jamisue's response.
I really torqued off my son today when he was sent to his room. He spent an hour or so telling all of his toys how I was mean to him and wouldn't let him do what he wanted. When he finally came out he was much more level headed.

1/04/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

My grandson must eat every few hours. When he is hungry and his blood sugar goes low, he goes ballistic.

I would go with tossing the granola or a banana or something because it could be he's just hungry.

But he doesn't hate you.

1/05/2006 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Ana said...

Heather, it seems like he was trying to mirror your statement in a way. I don't know if it seems that way to you.

When my oldest was 2 we took a "Love and Logic" parenting class (we needed it, a lot). One of the things I remember from it was the phrase, "I'll talk to you when your voice is calm and happy like mine."

Keeping a calm and happy voice when a kid is freaking out is the really, really hard part. Way too often I fail at that. But I would be a lot less upset to hear my kid mirror that phrase, rather than an "I don't like" or "I won't" or "I don't" kind of thing.

Beyond that, all little kids say things they don't mean or even understand. They can be really upsetting, but don't make too much of it.

1/05/2006 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Liesl said...

The other day, we were driving in the car and Sarah (4) was upset for some unknown reason. She said, "I don't want you to be my mom anymore." Instead of defending me, my DH said, "Oh! Should we get a new mom? What kind of mom do you want?" That really surprised Sarah.

After a long pause, she said, "Well, I want a mom who is really blond, not brown haired who says she is blond." I had no idea that my darkening hair was the source of all our family woes.

The excitement of defining the new mom made her totally forget that she was mad. Not a tactic I would have thought to use.

1/05/2006 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger WaterCat said...

Our four year old is the same way! Four has been a frustrating ride at times, and great at others. I have taken him out and spanked him for his awful behavior in Sacrament Meeting. He was great for one or two weeks then reverted back to the "two year old" behavior. In other words, "unknown's" tactic wasn't working.

Now, at home, we stop, get down on his level, and try to speak civilly and reassure him. We try not to yell back but we don't ignore him either. If he persists and talks back uses any of his three favorite words, "dumb, stupid, hate" then he gets a timeout.

My wife swears that he is getting better and improving his behavior because we are reassuring him more. He even went to a timeout without kicking and screaming, just walked to the seat and sat down. I'm not sure that there is a perfect answer but this is kind of working in our home. He's our oldest so, like any good mad scientist, we are experimenting on him. ;-)

1/05/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I think annegb hit the nail on the head. When my little guy really gets irrational, it's always because he's hungry or tired. If we feed him or put him to bed, he's either cheerful within minutes or out like a light.

1/05/2006 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I never said anything like that to my parents (at least, not after I was old enough that I'd remember doing it now,) mostly because I had a terrible fear that I'd be packed off on a plane to my other family's house for the rest of my life for doing something like that. I don't recommend divorce and moving halfway across the country as an effective parenting tactic.

I don't have any kids of my own, just 5 siblings and 7 Primary students. They've all outgrown the "I hate you" phase (though one of them got back into it when she was turning into a teenager, and that lasted a VERY long time) and the younger four have all put my mom, or my stepmom, in tears for saying it. It's a horrible thing to hear. But it seemed to me that it lasts the longest when it becomes clear to the kid that it's working. It's partly a cry of "I am very upset and can't figure anything out and HELP!" but it becomes a "ooh, I can make Mommy really mad just like how I feel now" thing too. Obviously explaining things in length might not work very well when they're having a tantrum (have you been very responsive to lengthy explanations when you were mad at someone?) but I think that "Well I love you, you need to go to your room until you can come out and be civilized" (or whatever) would work well. Though my sister would want me to point out that it took her ten years to realize that that was exactly what her dad meant when he said it (i.e., we don't hate you, we want you around, we just won't tolerate that behavior, you really can rejoin the group once you feel civilized.)

I do hope you can (mostly) nip the general tantrum thing in the bud. I wish that for all parents everywhere, because dealing with the few kids who haven't gotten over the tantrum thing and are 7+ years old, is a real pain.

1/05/2006 10:47:00 PM  
Anonymous JBN said...

Watch your cousin Tracy A. in action dealing with a tantrum from a 3-year-old. She's the master. Be careful about letting the role of being a mother be the source of your self-esteem. You give that kind of power to your kid and you're doomed. Your kids (and life) will let you down every time.

1/06/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


LOL! What a great way to distract the child! Just goes to show that kids really need 2 parents, eh? There should always be one parent in reserve to step in when the other goes bananas!

1/06/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger RA said...

I am very depressed because of the same behaviour with my 4 year old. He just dislikes me. I am not talking to him since yesterday but seems like that is also not effecting him. I have even given him time outs when ever he says "i dont like you" that did'nt last long. I have tried all friendly ways as well. Nothing is working. He is always stuck to his dad for everything. It feels miserable when you are living your life for your family and then turns out that they dont want you. Please help how can i get my son to like me more.

12/11/2009 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's simple, mom: "That's okay. I still love you." That's all you have to say. It usually makes kids stop the madness really, really quickly. They have so little power when they're small, so the only thing they can think of to express their frustration with you is to withdraw their affection and love, even temporarily. They don't mean it; they simply want to express how disappointed in you they are when you aren't doing what they want. That doesn't mean you have to give in to the demand, but you do, as the adult, have to diffuse the situation. Don't escalate the argument. Walk away. Shut the door on them if you have to, but don't try reasoning with a child -- they are not logical creatures. I know it's hurtful, but don't feed into it.

I'm not a parent myself, but I've handled enough difficult children to know that this too shall pass.

5/25/2012 04:14:00 PM  

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