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What to Do When Your Teen Seems to Hate You

The love between a parent and child is supposed to be unconditional, but it’s not always easy to think loving thoughts when your child says, "I hate you." This is something Shelley C. and Amy R., Circle of Moms members who are both moms of teens, are struggling with. When Shelley's 15-year-old daughter blurts these words out in anger, she wonders what the best response is: "I've been told and have read that I should ignore it, but dang, I find it the ultimate disrespect and I hate letting her get away with it. Believe me, I am exhibiting enormous restraint by not popping back at her with something." Amy seconds that experience, volunteering that coming up with an appropriate response while keeping her own emotions in check is the hardest parenting task she's been faced with.

When your tween or teen similarly tests your limits by saying she hates you, Circle of Moms offer six tips to help you get through it.

Keep reading What to Do When Your Teen Seems to Hate You.

1. Know That It's Normal
Circle of Moms members generally agree that parents shouldn't get too worked up when their kids say they hate them. More often than not, it’s merely a phase that teens will grow out of. "My experience has been that this type of behavior peaks at 15, or when they are sophomores in high school, and by the middle of junior year or a few months after turning 16, they start to get more normal," reassures a mom named Connie S.


Margaret B., whose son began telling her he hated her at age 14, agrees. At that age, teens are seeking independence but are frustrated, she says. Pauline T. attributes it to puberty. When her sons and daughter used hateful language during their teen years, she talked to them about the impact of their hormones: "They have higher highs and lower lows and can go from one to the other in a flash. I told them that even though I understood this, that they needed to know it, too, and [to] remember that what they do or say can be hurtful,” she explains. 

2. Keep Your Cool
Because tweens and teens often don’t realize how emotional and hurtful they are being, it’s helpful when parents keep calm instead of reacting in anger. Ignoring the statement actually might help to defuse their anger, says a member named Geneva F.: "They're looking for attention in a negative way, like [they did in] the ‘terrible 2s.'"

Suzanne S. agrees. "Teenagers will say whatever gets the right, or any, reaction. It’s all about testing boundaries." And Connie S. endorses the notion that parents should not get drawn into the confrontation. Instead, she waits until both she and her teen have calmed down. At that point, she broaches how hurtful and disrespectful it is:

"I can't say I always handled the situation gracefully and didn't react, but the times I kept my cool and spoke to [my kids] after the initial drama calmed down, things went much better, and we resolved the issues that caused the drama in the first place,” she shares.

3. Be a Parent, Not a Friend
Several Circle of Moms members respond as moms Hope H. and Rocio O. do. When Hope's 14-year-old daughter slings hateful words her way because she's not "giving in to her every desire," Hope uses the phrase: "I love her enough to let her hate me for a while." She wisely points to the internal struggle at the heart of the issue: "Sure, I would love to be her friend, but as a parent, that's not my [first] job." Rocio agrees, explaining that a parent has the responsibility to make her child productive in life, so it's OK if your child sometimes thinks he hates you in the process.

When Gale I.’s teen says something hateful, she responds similarly, with, "That's OK, because there are times I hate you, too, but I will always unconditionally love you. What I hate is some of the things that you do, like disrespecting, but that's OK because you will find deep down you really love me, but [don’t] know it just now. When things cool down, you will find out you really need me and love me.”

Gale finds that these types of statements end arguments quickly and move the conversation onto whether you’ve given them a reason for hating you and how to heal the relationship. And a member named Tammy B. finds that a comeback like this not only helps a parent keep her cool, but also catches the child off guard. "It isn’t a negative response [and] you’re acknowledging her feelings and not rising to the bait of the fight," she explains.

4. Set the Terms of Respect
One thing parents should not do throughout these conversations is allow their teens to be continually disrespectful, say several Circle of Moms members. Ginger M., in fact, told her children they aren’t allowed to say “I hate you” at all. "I [told them that] I don't deserve that, and we aren't going to say that in this household. I used a normal tone but was assertive," she says.

Similarly, Kimberly G. told her 17- and 18-year-old daughters that "I hate you" is not an acceptable thing to say and grounded them for saying it: "I have great kids. [They're] honor roll students; they don't do drugs, run around, skip school, or hang with bad crowds, but it's because I set very stern rules regarding respect and moral values." Dani R., too, told her son that she does not allow hateful language or behavior in her house, and if she hears it, she takes away his allowance or his Xbox time. "When we have calmed down, I tell him it’s hurtful. ‘If you want to be treated like a grown-up, let’s speak about this in a grown-up manner.’”

Although teenage anger is a phase, it’s important for parents to teach their children to respect and value other members of their family, Mechelle C. says. "Our rule in our house is that each person is treated with respect, and if that does not happen, there is a painful consequence like missing an event, losing the car/phone, etc.,” she says. "What I have been discovering is that my teen treats me that way I allow him to treat me. If I set standards of respect and my expectations are that I am respected by him, I feel empowered when he disrespects me to impose a consequence that signals to him that what he has done is completely inappropriate and wrong."

5. Get to the Root of the Problem
If your child says something hateful, then it’s helpful if parents can get to the root of their anger, Kimberly G. says, noting parents have to listen to their children. "My girls tell me when I do something they don’t like, and sometimes they’re right about it. You have to hear what they say, and even if it’s tough to admit, it doesn’t hurt to let them know that you’re not perfect. They, too, however, need to listen and do the same,” she says.

Asking questions is a good way to find out what’s bothering your teen, Karen says. Is something rooted in her that is making her feel this way? Do you compromise with her? Do you compliment her? Do you praise her? "Everyone deserves and needs to have positive feedback,” she says. So when teens say, "I hate you," parents should sit down and find out what makes them feel that way. “Ask her what the two of you can do to mend your relationship and work on it together. If you involve her in the process of working on your relationship, it will make her feel like her voice is being heard,” she suggests.

Melanie N. agrees that asking questions will help you understand why your child is angry and hateful toward you. “Sometimes, to find out the answers to our questions, we have to pull our emotions out of it and actually listen to what they're saying. You may want to ask probing questions like, ‘Why do you hate me?’ Or, ‘What did I do to make you feel that way?’ It's not going to be easy to hear the answers, but just listening is taking some of the barriers down," she says.

Christy T. says getting to the root of the problem can help to prevent future arguments, as well as help your teen to see that she is being hurtful and that you are human, too. “Usually teenagers say it out of anger because they aren't getting their way with something. I have always told my children, ‘I understand that you are frustrated about (whatever it is), and I'm sorry, but I really wish you could find another way to express your frustration and anger besides telling me that you hate me because I do so much for you, and that really hurts me.'"

6. Lighten Up
If parents can keep a dialogue going with their children throughout the teen years, then they’ll very likely be able to laugh about those "hateful years" once they’ve passed. "When my daughter tells me she hates me, I tell her right back, 'Good, then I must be doing my job as a parent!’ When she rolls her eyes at me and tries to give me that stern look, I just look at her and burst out laughing! I tell her she looks so funny when she's mad! She soon forgets she's mad and gives me that quirky smile!" Wendy L. says. In the same vein, Shelley C. shares that once, after her daughter calmed down, she admitted, "Oh, I never mean it. Sometimes you make me so mad '[I hate you]' is the first thing that pops out of my mouth." Now they're able to laugh over the line “you'll love me later."

Remember, Melanie N. says, "we were all teenagers not too long ago, and it’s important to remember that communication wasn’t what we majored in. It’s not that our teens don’t like us — it’s that they don’t like our discipline, and they have a hard time communicating what exactly the feeling is. [Or] they could just be having a bad day. Kids are fickle without meaning to be and eventually will see that you do what you do out of love."

Source: Shutterstock

Join The Conversation
sheaculver sheaculver 2 years

Ugh! I replied back on my phone but it went out :(
Believe me, I did not want to give up custody! I cried and cried over that. I had spoke with an attorney though and he advised me to being that she turned 17 in AUgust. When they're 17 they can live anywhere they want. If I had custody of her unwillingly then if she left when she turned 17 and got into trouble, I would be legally responsible for her actions because she would then be tried as an adult. Paper is just paper. She can come home anytime. If she isn't under my roof and I am not aware of any of her doings, then her father is responsible for her mistakes. If I made her stay, she would always wonder what it would be like to have a relationship with her father. I never had a father growing up so I understood that. Unfortunately, she isn't getting the father/daughter relationship she so wanted. She has three Michael Kors purses, a brand new car, and is living the life but deep down I know she isn't happy.
My oldest daughter goes to visit and comes home and tells me the atmosphere there. The ex and his girlfriend are fighting because he won't discipline my daughter and lets her do anything she wants nor does she have chores. When they all go as a family to do something like going out to eat, my youngest and her boyfriend don't go with the family. My ex gives them money to go wherever they want. She knows at anytime she can come home. However, every time she has came to visit she has stolen from us. Unfortunately, because of this we had to change the code for the house. She is very angry at us for that. However, I can't allow her to come in and just steal from us every time. When I ask her about it, she of course denies it.
Her main problem is self confidence. I have taken her to counselors and she refuses to talk. She would stubbornly sit there for a full hour every week. She says she left because of rules. However, she has always liked rules. I don't think that was her problem. I know nobody at her school liked her anymore. They got tired of her lies. She would say anything to get attention, even making up stories about her make believe sister dying, me having cancer and dying, etc. She was constantly worried if someone would catch her in a lie she was so stressed all the time. She told people at her new school I beat her. LOL! WEll, I use to live there and they all know me so she got busted there. :) I don't bug her or cry anymore. I just let her know I am here when she is ready. I explain to her all the time, it isn't necessary to only "love" one parent. When she lived with me, she hated him. Now she hates me.......... I know she really doesn't but that is her actions. I keep telling her she can have a relationship with both parents. Problem is, the only thing her and her father ever talk about is me and of course it isn't good. She gets positive attn. from him by talking about me.
I love her and part of me is gone. My friends don't understand it. They all say, "Send all her crap there and let her a$$ learn the hard way". etc. I don't even talk to them or anyone about it anymore. They're all very upset with her because she knows how the ex has treated me and what all he has put me through and she is just being defiant cause she is upset with me for grounding her. IN reality, I don't think she expected me to let her even go on a trial basis. She wanted me to unground her in order for her to stay. No, I wasn't going to do that. Actions have consequences and so does moving out. I just hope she learns soon :) I miss her :)

sheaculver sheaculver 2 years

Me and my girls father divorced ten years ago. He stayed in their lives........ did the every first third and fifth weekend, etc. He was always closer to my oldest. My youngest never bonded with him. I re-married five years after the divorce. My husband took the girls in as his own. He has been in their lives for 8 years. Three years ago, my youngest grew to where she never wanted to go to her dad's house. She would only go for Christmas and her Bday. I would encourage her to go visit more often but she never wanted to. Since he never came to ONE game, practice or any of their events, I didn't push her. During the ten years, I have gotten CS on and off. Here the past two years though, he has been making over 250 a year so yes, I have been getting 5% of his pay which I am perfectly fine with! LOL! Heck, it was more than what I ever got before. In March, my youngest announced that she wanted to go live with her father. She was upset cause I had grounded her for sending topless pics to a boy. I had told her until I see her being responsible she would not have the data plan or texting on her phone. Well, her father didn't care so she wanted to go live with him. Did I mention for the last two years I have been getting CS that he gripes about it constantly! :) and will do anything to hurt me? Anyway, I told her we would do it without papers for a few months. If she still wanted to after three months, she could stay and I would give him custody. Up until the end of June she was saying she wanted to come home. I had to sign papers on July 1. She changed her mind on June 28 and just kept sending messages "sign the papers now I am home". She only texts me if she wants something. About once a week I send a text saying how was your day or just letting you know I love you. Last week I sent her a care package of stuff to decorate her new room at her fathers. This past weekend she came home for the first time in two months. After I took her shopping, on the way home her attitude changed and she decided to go "home" and left. I told her I loved her when she was leaving and she ignored me so I repeatedly said it until she responded. She wont' even talk to my current husband. She treats us all like crap and will not associate with me, him, or her older sister at all. Her father is living with another woman and has three kids. One of the kids is in the same class as my daughter. They hate each other! They don't even talk. The girlfriends daughter tells my oldest how my youngest acts so disrespectful and my ex lets her get away with it. I refuse to kiss her butt but I also don't ever want her to think I have given up either.

sheaculver sheaculver 2 years

mine is the same way!!!! She only talks to me or texts me if she wants something. It is so hurtful!

Anne15229506 Anne15229506 3 years
Hey SO6 I think your child is being bullied/ostracized in school. I have been bullied and ostracized in school and my treatment of my parents and siblings are quite like the way you have described your son's treatment of your family. It's weird because as I was reading your post I was beginning to hate you, although I don't know you at all. In any case, you said that you were yelling at him and ignoring him and he was talking to you like he did to a stranger. When I was bullied, I tried to detach myself from the world, and it felt like nobody understood what I felt. Your son probably feels like he's a stranger even in his own home, because he's getting bullied at school and yelled at at home. Nobody will take the time to understand him. I know this coz my parents were constantly yelling at me too. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't yell at him any more. What I think would have worked is to sit down and talk. And talk and talk and talk. Talk about school, talk about feelings. You would understand what's bothering him and he'll understand what you're feeling. But please don't yell at him. He'll probably reject you a thousand times (literally), but gradually he'll warm up and start to answer. You have to understand that he's just a kid. He doesn't know how to handle emotions like adults do, so you can't expect him to just pretend everything's fine, especially if he doesn't have an outlet to express his frustrations. The way he is acting now is already very polite, compared to what he actually wants to scream out at you and his bullies. Poor guy. I can understand what he's feeling inside. You have to be very very very patient with him. He'll eventually learn how to deal with his hurt, but it'll be much better if he felt that it was because you were by his side supporting him, as I'm sure that's what you'll do, than if he felt that he went through all of this alone and his parents were unloving. I hope you see this.
S06 S06 3 years
Hello I have a son who is 10 years and he doesn't at all care for what's happening in the house,with mom,dad or his younger brother who is 3 1/2. Basically he is like " if mom and dad are not asking me I shouldn't do anything ".... From 2 to 3 days we are just ignoring him , if asks me " should I come" then my answer is " if you wish to".... And so on.... He is just enjoying his life without asking him anything. The day we ask him to sit down for studies or tell him this is wrong or right , it's the day where we yell, scream . But after couple of minutes later he will come to us say "I will do it. " As a mother I don't at all get respect from him. He speaks as if he talking to a stranger. But when it comes to his needs he wants me to talk to him and reply to him..... With his dad he behaves ok ( can't say its good too). He goes to a catholic school and now we are moving his school as he is good in academic but his concentration level is coming down ( as it's a open education system) .When we said we are moving the school are you happy and y , he was like" if kids don't hurt me for what I haven't done wrong then I m happy" . As a parents we are confused and tired of his TOPIC going on and on everyday and night . If any one can help us out :) would be much appreciated . Thanks
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