I Hate You, Mom

I love my children.  I want them to be happy.  I want them to get good grades, have friends, be active, be successful.  I want them to be kind and respectful and responsible.  I give them lots of attention, love, and support.  I’ve read the parenting books.  I’m involved.  I’m concerned.  I want them to have a good life.

I also want them to get up, take a shower, put on clothes, brush their own hair, make their own beds, pack their own lunches, eat their breakfasts, put their homework in their backpacks, and be ready to walk out the door by 7:50 am Monday through Friday.  Is that too much to ask?  Apparently it is.

I understand a little grumpiness in the morning.  We can’t all be morning people.  But what do you do with a 9 year old girl who, when you tell her to stop dragging her feet, goes even slower than before?  Who, when sent to her room to get dressed after her shower, hangs out in a damp towel for 20 minutes?  Who takes 15 minutes to simply put on her shoes?  Who can’t be bothered to put a bite of food into her mouth until it’s time to walk out the door, then complains she didn’t have time to eat?  Who, when you tell her that you’ll have to rethink the playdate she was looking forward to if she can’t pick up the pace, turns and yells, “I hate you, Mom!”?  

What, parents, do you do about that?  If you’re not a parent, please reserve judgment- no offense, but until you’ve been there, it’s not possible to know what it feels like.  And I’m quite sure your future little darling will never do this to you because you will be an amazing parent, right?  Yeah, I remember thinking that too, pre-kids.  

The playdate is history, and she’s lost tv privileges for the rest of the week.  She apologized after I asked her to (it bugged me that I had to ask!), but my feelings are hurt.  I know, I need to suck it up and not take it personally, but still..  

Where did my sweet baby go?  And the teen years are coming (I’m terrified).  Help.

47 Responses

  1. I think we have twins separated at birth! My nine year old is killing me too! I had to laugh at your post because I feel the exact same way. If it’s any consolation, I’m hoping it’s a phase! I really think my daughter just marches to her own drum. I will send her upstairs to get dressed for dance, and it takes 20 minutes. What could she be doing all that time? And, if I’m not on her case, forget about piano practice, hair brushing, bathing, teeth brushing, etc! Do you think they are oblivious or in their own world?

  2. I’m not looking forward to Elliot getting older and therefore more attitudinal. Either of my boys in fact (6 months and nearly 3). I have no advice to give, I just sympathise!

  3. Psh. My kids will never do this. 😀

    But I fear when my kids *do* hurt my feelings. As it is, I MAKE my animals snuggle with me at night, even when it’s hot and they don’t want to be near me. I don’t know what I’ll do when my kids say something like they hate me. It’s all I can do to deal with my dogs rejecting my snuggling. 😀

    Dave might be willing to commiserate with you, since I’m not a morning person and definitely drag my feet getting ready. He comments on it almost every morning. Lucky for me, all he can do is make fun of me. I still get my playdates!

  4. My 6 year old has reverted back to clinging, so I’ve got nothing for you.

    My husband’s raised two girls previous who are now 23 and 25 and he assures me that it is simply mom/daughter dynamics and they snap out of it somewhere in their late teens. Oh , goody.

  5. Okay, no kids (yet). But I know this day will come with one of them, and I hope I can handle it with good humor, knowing that they do love me, that yes, they do think they hate me in that moment, but I’m doing what I think is best for them… and hopefully, it will be a passing thing. I hope yours is a passing thing, too.

    My sister S., the only one of my parents’ three daughters to ever utter those dreadful words to our mom (as we’ve been told time and again), is due in a few weeks with her first baby, a little girl. I think my mom is (just a little bit) waiting to see if the baby’s going to take after S. as she grows up… (S. was also the one most likely to say, “I wouldn’t [do/say] that to my kids!” and my mom would tell her, “We’ll see about that.” You’re familiar with that conversation, too, I’d guess.)

    Clearly, I can’t really offer advice as I’ve only been on the growing-up side of this situation, but my mom (and my aunts, when their kids did this), tried very hard not to take it to heart. (I eavesdropped a lot as a kid.) Do remember, though, that when she says, “I hate you!”–however convincingly she says it–it’s not you she hates, just what you’re doing or need/want her to do. Good luck.

  6. Okay, I don’t have kids, so I’m not supposed to comment on this post (I’m sorry!) but I can tell you I was a terror as a teenager and I really regret it now. I disowned my parents several times and they still love me. I feel so guilty about this, even though I never meant it.

    I appreciate my parents far more now. Especially when I’m not living with them.

  7. Wow… I could have written this very post! Only it would be more about my 13 year old son. My nine year old daughter… she has other issues… but she’s usually very happy in the morning, but she does drive me crazy quite often. Ah, kids.

  8. With an 11 year old girl and an 8 year old very dramatic boy, I have been there MANY times! Unfortunately, I have no great advice. Later, when you are both in a good place, explain to her that it hurt your feelings when she said that. But also know that it probably won’t stop it from happening again. I’ve realized that my kids (and probably me too) are very short sighted and cannot see past the nose on their face. And at that singular moment, when they are slighted, denied, disciplined, whatever, they truly don’t like me and that’s what they call hate. Thankfully I don’t think they actually know what the feeling of hate is and I pray that they never do.

    Many hugs to you. Who said this mother thing would be so hard on the heart?

  9. L:

    This happens to all of us, at one time or another, in motherhood… of that, I am certain. The truth is, they need direction, they need conseuqences, and they need structure. No, you are not asking too much of them in the morning. For me, it’s always this comment that comes from one of them (and, always in front of another parent… the good parent… not me)… “Mom, I’m hungry because I didn’t get breakfast this morning!”

    Are you kidding me? You had time to sneak in 15 minutes of Disney Channel when I was in the shower… but not enough time to eat that bowl of cereal?!?

    The “I Hate You” thing… they don’t know that that truly implies and, of course, they don’t hate you. They just don’t know how to communicate what it is that they are really feeling… lack of independence and the lack of ability to control their life & surroundings.

    But, you handled it perfect. And, since L’s an angel, she probably hasn’t given you this grief yet. But, they all get around to it, sooner or later.

    I raised two girls from my marraige. They are now 24 and 21. They TOTALLY GET how good of a mom I was and all that I did for them… NOW! I remember feeling the same way when I was 21-22 yrs. old. Suddenly, my parents are smarter than I thought they were.

    I’m convinced that we’re on the uphill battle… with Jr. High and High School on our horizon. Just look at how fast the last 11 went…!

    So, as I see it… it’s us vs. them! I got all kinds of little “Rosanne” tricks up my sleeve that I just can’t wait to try out to “ruin their life!” But, I think that’s what parents WHO CARE do!

  10. My 10 year old is not the problem but my 4 yr old is just like your daughter. I think it is a GIRL thing. I had the same problem this morning and it’s Picture Day! I finally just sent her off looking the way she did. Hair like a birds’ nest, pancake syrup on face.

    I’m sure you are taking some comfort in knowing that there are others experiencing the same challenges, but that “I hate you” rant is what tugs at your heart. Hugs.

  11. My son wasn’t pokey like that, but I heard “I hate you” about plenty of other things. To be honest with you, I think some kids are like that. My older sister was and she and my mother would go round and round. (I think that’s why I am the opposite) My mother used to say to her, “If I ever get you through high school, I’m throwing myself a big party.” Needless to say, my sister finished high school and college and has led a productive life. In other words, I think it’s hard to live through, but it will pass.

  12. My daughter is only four and already she’s yelled those words at me.I can tell you, it made me feel terrible. Also, the time’s she said “I don’t like you, Mommy, I like better, I want to go live at her house, she’s nice to me!” when I’m trying to get her to do something she doesn’t want. That makes me feel like a squashed bug. But I have to remember she’s only a kid, she’s just mad at not getting her way, she doesn’t really mean what she said. The little arms hugging and words “I love you!” that come later more than make up for her words of shortsighted anger.

  13. (Oops, my previous comment didn’t work. She said she liked grandma, or her day-care provider, better than me).

  14. I always said I’d never holler at my kids until I started working in daycare and hollering at other people’s kids. It was almost worse there because our hands were so tied. Can’t hit ’em (obviously), can’t take away any of their snacks or food from home, can’t physically FORCE them to take a time-out (and what do you do when a kid keeps getting out of the time-out chair?). I would actually PLAN fun activities just so I’d have something to take away from them. I can’t wait til I have my own kids so I can feel like a jerk ALL the time, instead of just from 8 til 4.

  15. Oh, man does this bring up sympathetic feelings of a fellow torture victim. Even as I write, my older son is arguing with his brother in the most annoying strident tone you have ever heard. I want to ground him, but I’m not even sure for what.
    When I ask my kids to hurry up they act as though they are moving through jello. It truly seems as though the words “hurry up” stimulate this phenomenon. When we drive to a destination, I say,”We’re here, let’s go, guys”, get out of the car, and go to the store. When I get there, I look back at the parking lot and realize that they haven’t even unbuckled their seatbelts. What the hell!
    I thought my nickname was “I Hate You Mom”. Now, after reading your blog, I realize I’ve been insulted. Now my feelings are hurt.

  16. My 10 year old son doesn’t do the ‘I hate you’ thing, but I think what’s even worse is that when he goes to spend a week with Nana and Papa, and then we pick them (his sister – who is young enough to love mom the most – and him) up, he cries (not the ‘wah, I don’t waaaaant to go’ crying, but looking out the window of the car with tears rolling down his face, I’m fine, not crying, kind of crying). He doesn’t do this when he leaves home…ever. I honestly do think he loves his grandparents more than his dad and me. And, why wouldn’t he – they never say no, “want two donuts and a brownie for breakfast? sure thing…”. But, it cuts to the quick, mainly because (unlike with the said in anger “I hate you!) it’s not meant to hurt me. But it does.

    I’m not saying hearing “I hate you.” wouldn’t hurt me. I’m just saying consider that she’s angry and doesn’t have the control in the situation, so she says what she thinks will have the most effect. It doesn’t make her a mean person or you a bad mom. It really is normal – not that it makes it hurt any less, but you have to remember that these little maneuvers (the slow-poking, the ugly looks – I get those a good bit, the occasional “I hate you”s are her way of trying to gain a little control in a situation where she probably feels she has very little.

  17. I think every kid does this. I don’t think you have to put up with it, though. I believe it’s acceptable to tell a child that he or she is free to express strong feelings, but to draw a boundary as far as the language that’s acceptable to use. Drawing those lines now will certainly prime her for better communication as she gets older. She can say she hates the situation, or that she’s angry with you, on and on; there are lots of ways she can express herself in anger without making it about personally hating anyone.

  18. As long as your feelings are hurt she is in control, and she knows it. Kids will be kids, that is thier job. It is the parents job to be the adult, the sticks and stones thing. Consequences when the behaviour happens, not next week. She does not eat in time, she goes to school hungry. She doesn not dress in time, she goes to school in the towel. She does not have to love you but she does have to get dressed.

    We have a 22 year old daughter with several disabilities that did what your girl is doing to the extreem. Do not give her your power, her behaviour is not your problem and you have to know that before she will.

    Do it from a place of love but do it.

  19. It really is just anger, but the punishment will definitely help her learn to control her temper.
    Just a few helpful hints in terms of time management: send her up to get dressed, to eat, etc and let her know how much time she has. Then remind her again when she has five minutes left. This is you giving her authority to manage her own time and showing that you trust that she is responsible enough to fit everything in. Even she doesn’t, she’ll learn from each experience, maybe learning to eat cereal during the commercials or to pick out an outfit that she can just slip into at the last minute.

  20. I have five kids, 10 -20. All I will say is wait until they are teenagers. 13-16 seem like the tough stage. All of my kids had different stages and they seemed to grow out of them. I think my approach on your situation would be ignore all of the play up to leaving the house and then force them out the door even if they did not eat. Kids seem to want to see if they can get a rise out of you and when it is not any fun anymore they quit.

    Good luck!

  21. It is easy to ventilate your feeling when you have hormonal, biochemical in balance in your body.
    when I was younger I used to be critical and judgmental to my father. Until I become father myself, I realized nobody is perfect, and everyone has issues in their life and we are still learning …

  22. I’m not a parent…. *ducks for cover*…. but I have a nine-year-old cousin too. When my aunt was disciplining him for something, he yelled, “I just want to make my own mistakes!” Somewhat scary…. Just a shared story. I honestly have no suggestions, as it isn’t my place (and as I have no clue)….. but good luck. Parenting scares the living mess out of me.

  23. No kids, so nothing to offer but a hug.

  24. i second what birdwell says about making her learn the consequences. that was my dad’s method of parenting – i could do whatever i wanted as long as i didn’t mess with his plans, and if i screwed myself over, then it was my own lesson to learn. him not micro-managing every minute of my day was probably a big part of why i never felt compelled to shout mean things at him. (and is also why i’ve always confided stupid stuff to him that i’m sure a parent wouldn’t want hidden from them – trying pot, getting tattoos, etc). (and mom was the opposite, which was really difficult).

    and, despite having no children, i think i know what you mean about the hurt, considering i heard mom say some really awful things pre-college. (“i hate you” “i wish i never had you” etc).

    instilling a sense of the consequences of hurtful words early on is important (to gear up for teen years). i think there needs to be an immediate, big-deal response to stuff like that – you’re not just this invincible mom-figure that provides infinitely and isn’t affected by an emotional beating. she needs to understand respect and that being selfish isn’t cool, even to you. maybe you just need to hammer it in a little more (if you haven’t already done so) why shouting stuff like hate (especially for something as ultimately inconsequential as losing a playdate) is awful, serious and inexcusable. yeah she may not really understand hate and the gravity of what she said, but i don’t think it’s ever too early to talk about it.

    i guess parent-child relationships just constantly have to evolve.. the things that get the point across change constantly, not to mention the power play, their idea of what they can get away with, ….

    and, *HUUUUG*

  25. well, how about guilt!!!! I’ve used it on my kids….and I’m proud of it 🙂 I have two teen boys…..no girls, but my oldest gave us grief starting at 12 and ended at 16, he’s now 2 months from being 18. Life was hard..but he said “I hate you” or “I’m running away” or this one was my personal favorite, “you don’t understand anything I’m going through” I would say the exact opposite to him.
    For instance, what if when she says “I hate you” again, you say, “but oh honey, I love you” and then go about your business. One time my oldest said he hated how happy I was all the time……and man I got so angry but didn’t let him see me get angry, coz as someone said above, he would win…..but here is what I did do. I took a deep breath and said “Joshua, you can’t steel my happiness God made me a positive and happy person and not even you can steel that away from me, so forgive me for being happy, but if it makes me not have to be sad when you talk to me like you do, then so be it…happy is what you will have to live with”. He shut up and left me alone the rest of the day.
    Good luck, but I have to say…..it will feel as if this gets worse before it gets better. Stay strong, and remember you’re the parent.

  26. I have a nine year old stepdaughter and she is just like this. i don’t have any answers……

  27. If it’s any consolation at all, I’ve heard pre-tween is much worse. I have a 9year old boy, with serious attitude issues. He’s had computer privileges removed so often, I’m not sure if he’ll be using one again before he starts college.
    We still call it disrespect in our house and it burns me to the core sometimes. And we are also fans of the phrase “fix your face”.
    Much luck in navigating these rough seas.

  28. Having no kids I can’t relate to being on the receiving end of “I HATE YOU MOM!!” but I was on the “dishing it out” end growing up. I’m sure it stung like the dickens when I screamed that at my mom but I was a bit older than your girls at the time. It probably had something to do with boys or going to theatre rehersal or something that she thought I should miss out due to my poor behavior.

    She was not an innocent party though. Hearing the words “You are such a BITCH!!” being screamed at your by your own mother is not something you readily forget. Really, ever forget.

    I hope that things get better for you and your daughters because once the heavy hitting hormones kick in, it’s gonna get CRAZY! No worries, right? Hang in there L!!

    Oh, and I tagged you for a meme. You can check it out at:


  29. I, too, have a nine year old girl. I find it fairly safe to say that they are cut from the same mold. I also have a 16 year old daughter with whom I have already been through this. It DOES get better, this I promise!!
    Until then, don’t take it personally, they really do not hate you. your daughter is just saying that out of anger and temporary hurt. She just wants to hurt your feelings because her are hurt. Obviously, she accomplished this.
    My response when one of my 3 children tell me they hate me is, “Then I am doing my job as ‘Mom’. I don’t expect to always receive a high-five from you.” Usually my kids will look at me and apologize immediately, saying, “I don’t really hate you, Mom, I am just mad that you said ‘no’ (or grounded me etc.).”
    Good luck and don’t take it to heart. She really does love you. 🙂

  30. OMG.. .that is SO my morning!! But i get a double dose with a 10 yo AND a 13 yo… add to the drama the fact that I, myself, am not a morning person AND that I am their step-mom… I really don’t know what to do with these two. I didn’t have the benefit of actually raising them from babies so I’m kind of trying to change behaviors that are in cement. My husband has had full legal custody for 6 or 7 years so they have lived soley with him… and he’s not the neatest person in the world either! ACK! So frustrating…

  31. My older daughter pulled this kind of stuff around that age as well. It was kind of like a “preteen adolescence” and I was dreading the middle school years. I finally decided to do nothing. Here’s what happened:

    I’d get her up for school and tell her to get dressed, and that was hard enough. She’d dawdle until the last second and then throw on some clothes and run out the door with her hair uncombed and maybe a bag of chips in her backpack if she remembered to put them in there. She hardly ever ate breakfast. This went on for a couple of months, and then one day it changed. She got herself out of bed. She still dawdled, but for a shorter period of time. She started making her own lunch and combed her hair more often than not. If she started being all grumpy with me, I’d ignore her (which she HATED).

    It will pass. Older daughter is still really “casual” about everything. She’s still cranky in the morning, but she’s lovely and she’s turned into a fine, compassionate person.

    Oh, and don’t be hurt by the word “hate.” It’s a spontaneous kid thing, and she’ll grow out of that too. If she’s still saying she hates you when she’s 18, then you have a problem!

    Let’s take a vacay to the French Riviera, Lisa! I think we both need one!

  32. My 10 year old daughter says she hates me all the time, but she also says she loves me qutie a bit, and I probalby don’t get as many “I hate yous” as my wife, who does most of the day-to-day shuttling of kids. Interestingly my son (also 10) rarely says anything like this, although he is also prone to getting on my nerves, just in different ways (bouncing his basketball off the back of my chair, slurping cereal, leaving his legos/underware in the middle of the living room, etc). I’m with you: I dole out the consequences and know that she doesnt’ mean it. She’s just trying to get a grip on her own emotions. Hang in there.

  33. Nine year old girls are the worst. I have one and sympathize greatly. LOL

  34. Me too, me too, me too, me too, me too. My few-months-away-from-seven year old is making me crazy. Her behavior deteriorated over the summer and I had hoped that would reverse once school started…not so much I’m afraid. Since she hung on me, cried and chased me down the hallway today (I know this is just an act, she knows it makes me nuts and never does it with my husband) she’ll have her consequence after school. I’m really looking forward to that!!!

  35. Reading through the comments, I see you’re not alone. I could’ve written that same post about my 8-year-old daughter, but instead of “I hate you, Mom,” she’ll call me a meanie! It’s only natural that your feelings are hurt…look at everything you do for them! Unfortunately, they just don’t get it yet. I think you handled it the right way. And thanks for helping me realize I’m not alone!

  36. Oh my can I so relate to my soon to be 9 year old daughter…I miss that little girl she once was but I know she’s growing up!!

    Farrah from…

  37. My son is now 19, but I went through similar things (and yes, it got worse in his teen years), but we DID get through it. And since this is a book blog, what better time to suggest a book!! I found the perfect advice in a wonderful, short read by Gregory Bodenhamer entitled “Back In Control”. The man is nothing short of brilliant. I firmly believe that the advice I found in that book both made my son the wonderful man he is today and allowed me to keep my sanity!!

  38. I’m overwhelmed by all the supportive comments, advice, love and hugs. Thank you all so very much. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Oh, and my daughter loves me again (today). 🙂

  39. Boy, did you get some responses!! My kids are now 38, 33, 28 and 20, and they’ve each been so different! One of the best things i learned was the concept of not taking it personally (even if it WAS personal) 😉 They’re using the words they know with the understanding they have at the moment they say those heart-wrenching things–

    i started learning to react “neutrally” and not be drawn into the fire (works with spouses and others as well.) In other words, in a neutral tone i’d respond something like “i’m sorry you feel angry. But use different words to explain it.” Or whatever makes sense to you to say after you’ve told yourself “neutral tone, neutral tone…” One thing i think we did right with our kids was to help them learn to communicate respectfully. It’s a process, for sure!! The 20 year old recently had me saying (loudly and NOT so neutrally) “You can THINK that but DON’T SAY IT!!” So i’m not always there.

    It’s all a process that goes on forever. 😉

  40. When my youngest started kindergarten (she’s in 8th grade now), she insisted on wearing her dress-up, plastic high heels to school. I tried to argue with her, negotiate with her, and even bribe her to wear her school shoes, tennis shoes, anything but those terrible “clip-clop” plastic high heels. No dice.

    The kindergarten teacher called once to ask if I might consider dressing her more appropriately. I said something to the effect that, if she wanted to come and have that fight at 7:00 in the morning, I’d be happy to let her try.

    Then one day in early October, it snowed. Despite my warnings, my daughter chose to wear the same shoes to school. I called the teacher to tell her not to let my daughter stay inside for recess, and the teacher agreed. That afternoon when I picked my daughter up, she complained that her feet were frozen. I suggested that we go buy some new snow boots, maybe purple ones, or pink ones with furry lining. We did, and she stopped wearing the plastic shoes to school.

    Words of wisdom? Let her pay the natural consequences. If you have to leave and she isn’t ready, leave her. If she doesn’t get breakfast, too bad. If she doesn’t turn in homework – oh well. You clearly can’t do all these things for her for much longer, not that I think you would.

    Basically what I’m saying – Sister, I feel your pain. But there is hope. My youngest often wakes me up to be sure she won’t be late for school. Hang tough, Lisa!

  41. Oh, Lisa, no advice, just my sympathy and commiseration.

    My daughter is 14 and the past few years have been ROUGH. On the bright side, in the past six months, things have gotten better. (Knock on wood.)

  42. Sorry, can’t help you much. My 9-year-old is doing the same sorts of things! My 12-year-old has pre-teen attitude, but starting middle school has actually helped in the area of taking responsibility for himself. Like Kim above, I like the “let her pay the natural consequences” way of doing things, but it’s all so difficult! And like Kim, I have to say hang in there, and sister, I feel your pain!

  43. Lisa – I felt like I was reading a story about my life. I am just going through the same things with my kids. I try to remember that my son really does love me, and not take it too seriously, but it is difficult when I am tired and my tolerance level is low. But knowing that I am not the only parent with these difficulties makes it easier to bear, and to make matters worse, I am going through a divorce now! How’s that for a run-on sentence? 🙂

  44. I don’t think people understand how much it hurts when your child is cruel to you. We do set the rules, but it is so physically draining..

    I find myself seeking time alone, or out with friends. It is hard for sure.And well worth seeking adivce for.

    My 8 yr old girl is distant and cold to me now,and it is a difficult time for sure. I can’t help right now, because i am just holding on. Just biting my tongue, keeping things consistent, but sometimes i think she is capable of being kind, and just needs more encouragement. I don’t know…

  45. […] younger daughter (of I Hate You, Mom fame) was just happy to get a red shirt and red pajamas from China (red being her favorite color) […]

  46. […] Non Book Post with the most hits and comments: I Hate You, Mom […]

  47. I found this site after my 9 year old daughter yelled this at me, over milk left in the fridge>? I was surprised how much it hurt, and whether i have overreacted. Should I or should I not let her know that she can hurt me this way. If i do, will this always be a weapon she can use, and if not, will it appear that I don’t care. I ended up having a blowup and grounding her for 2 days. (school days with gymnastics afterwards, so not much of a grounding–no tv, computer) Did i overreact? She is a great kid overall. Straight A’s, hard worker, but lately so moody and difficult at strange times. HELP. Thanks

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