The Words No Parent Wants To Hear, “I Hate You!”


So this week my son said it.  Those words that every Mom hopes and prays she never hears.

“I hate you Mommy!”  

It pains me to tell you this but why hold back, I can’t be the only one in this boat (right?).  I figured that I’d hear it sooner or later, but I was hoping it would be later rather than sooner.  I thought the same thing about my Mom at one time or another.  And I think if we’re honest with ourselves we’ve all thought that way about our Moms.  But the thing about Aden is that he wears his emotions on his sleeve and he’s honest to a fault.  He just verbalizes what others only think in their minds and never say.  One is no better than the other and I guess if I’m honest with myself I’d rather have him tell me how he’s feeling so we can discuss it rather than have him lie to me.

Well, I was mad to say the least.  Mad and hurt as Hell!  With Aden angry in one corner and me crying in another, Daddy came home to diffuse the situation.  It wasn’t long before Aden came downstairs his head hung low and offered his sincere apology “Mommy, I’m sorry for my fit.  Can you forgive me?’  Forgiveness wasn’t the point, of course I could forgive him, but those types of words aren’t going to win him any friends in life.

Now, I’m far from thinking that my child is perfect.  And any of you who know me and my son would most certainly agree to that!  But what on earth would possess a 4 year old to tell his mother he hates her?  I was emotional to say the least and my husband well he just laughed in a “you’ve got to let it roll off your back because this may be the first but won’t be the last time our kids says something like this” kind of way.

Bur seriously, what makes kids act out against their parents or friends with rude and hurtful words?  Maybe what he says TO me is not really ABOUT me at all.  Since our big verbal blow out I’ve done a little research and found that in most situations the above statement is usually true.

  1. Kids often spout hurtful things when they have a problem they don’t know how to solve or are in a situation they can’t control.
  2. Causing the parent to be upset compensates for his inability to handle the problem he’s facing at the time.
  3. Kids also say hurtful things as a way to get what they want, to reach a tangible goal through manipulation.

Huh!?  So maybe this battle wasn’t about Aden’s true feelings for me.  And maybe I’m not the worst mother ever as I was beginning to think.  And maybe rather than responding with hurt and indignation (and a heap of consequences), as I am wont to do, I need to dig a little deeper into the heart of the matter.  After all, he’s only 4 and how is he ever going to be able to express himself in an appropriate way if his little words have reduced his Mommy to an angry emotional heap?  Hindsight being 20/20 I can see that a little more clearly now.

My husband is right, this is just the beginning.  If I let his words stab me and cut me this much now I will never make it through the teenage years.  Please don’t hear me say that I’ve excused his words or behavior, I haven’t.  But what kind of parent would I be if I thought my kid was never going to say it again, or if I didn’t actively and lovingly teach him that hateful speech is no means to an end?  Words are to be used to build someone up and not tear them down.  Period.

As a little aside, the day after our confrontation Aden had his TaeKwonDo belt promotion test.  I watched and silently prayed that he would just stick it out until the end (sometimes a bit tough for a 4 year old).  As the test progressed I sat on the sidelines with all of the other parents watching as my child obediently followed his teacher’s instructions.

The final test was to break a piece of wood with a snap kick.  I was nervous, I mean what 4 year old can break a piece of wood with his foot?  The first kid did it and I got excited.  And then it was Aden’s turn, and he broke that piece of wood with a loud “Hi-Ya!”.  That did it, I fell into a puddle of joy filled tears.  Once he was awarded his new yellow belt he ran to me, broken board in hand, yelling “Mommy I did so awesome!”  He threw his arms around me and we just hugged.

This from a kid who only the day before hated me.  He looked to me with a thumbs up, he ran to me first upon his big accomplishment.  No matter what this kid says I will always love him.  Rude words can certainly pierce your heart but love can bind up any wound.

If you’re wondering what made him say “I hate you” in the first place, I can’t remember.  And if you wonder if he actually broke that wood or the teacher helped, who cares?

How about you, are any of you in this boat with me?  Have your kids blurted out something inappropriate or hurtful?


  1. I’ve heard this and much worse. Recently my son told me he wished Daddy would have never married me. UGH. I cried so hard. I am honest with my kids when they say hurtful things. I cry in front of them and tell them, “That really hurt my heart. I know you are angry but mean words are never ok.” They usually instantly feel bad and apologize. If it’s just mean and I don’t get terribly sad by it, I say, “I know you are just angry and so you are saying things you don’t mean. I love you and I will choose not to listen to your mean and angry words right now.” Approaching the hurtful words like that really shows them that I’m human and have feelings and I also know how to stay calm when someone is awful to me. It’s a hard lesson but one worth learning and teaching!

  2. Thanks for your encouragement Christin, you have been a great help this last year. And yes, the battle for our kids hearts is rough but most certainly a battle worth fighting.

  3. Thanks Kelli! I typically feel like I’m bad cop more often than I’m good cop but everything has a season and I know we’ll graduate out of this season and into another one. I think I just need to grow a thick skin when it comes to parenting and prepare for some blows. What we do for love!

  4. What a battle we wage for our kids hearts! I love watching you parent Aden, I’ve learned so much from you. Thanks for this honest post, I’m glad we get to raise boys together.

  5. Oh Shannon… Ironically, my husband and I were just talking about this last night and how hurt I will be once those words leave my son’s mouth… Luckily he is not talking full on sentences yet, but soon enough… I am sure after our weekend of taking toys away for misbehaving and numerous temper tantrums he would have said those horrible words if he could have in my direction. I think the toughest thing about parenting is being the good cop and bad cop all in one… trying to find those teachable moments that will build our children’s character and values… even though more likely than not it is in those moments they will dislike us… Great post and I am sure too many moms have experienced it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here