Does your teen think that you hate him or her? Many parents claim that’s a preposterous thought. “Of course I love my kid, they should know that. How could they think I hate them?”
But the sad truth is that children are very sensitive to their parents’ emotions and reactions. They need regular, nay, constant validation of their worth and being lovable.
They look to their parents for that magic seal of approval and when they are met with anger or upset, criticism or shaming they personalize every event to mean "I must not be liked by my parents." Ouch.
"Better to have children who dress weird but who feel parental love, than a well-dressed child who feels hated."
Need proof? Just type in "why do my parents" in Google search and the first thing that comes up is "hate me." Now type in "why does my mom" and "why does my dad." Same result. Teens are a Google generation. They search everything that's on their minds. And these search terms sadly reflect what a lot of teens feel about their relationships with their parents.
So while you may think that your love shines through and trumps all your not-so-great parenting moments, maybe we’d better take a second look.
Kids report these common issues as proof their parents hate them:
My Parents Push Their Values Too Hard
As parent, we try very hard to raise our kids in the way we think is best. Our love for them and our desire for them to be the best can often be perceived as not accepting them the way they are now. Our children will have different values. That doesn’t mean we failed as parents. They're just unique!
You may feel they should be part of your religion, or dress a certain way, or play an instrument and engage in sports. But they may make different choices for themselves. If you fight about your values being right and their choices being wrong, you risk the tween/teen believing that you're hating who they really are.
I know you love them very much and you see wisdom in your ways. But be sure you're not perceived as rejecting or hating them, when they don’t adopt your wisdom. Better to have children who dress weird but who feel parental love, than a well-dressed child who feels hated.
My Parents Took Away My Phone/iPad
Parents often confiscate teens' favourite things as a way of punishing them for something they did wrong. Perhaps they broke a family rule or talked disrespectfully.
In psychological terms, removing their electronic connections to peers is tantamount to putting your teen in solitary confinement in a time in their life when peer relationships are of key importance.
They believe that if they are not online holding their presence, someone else could be hitting on their boyfriend or girlfriend. Someone could be trash talking about them, or their friends are moving ahead with plans without them.
Parents mistakenly believe that if their tweens or teens suffer some pain and inconvenience then they won’t break the rules or act disrespectfully again. While you may have some short-term remorse and forced compliance, your child feels they were mistreated which creates further problems in the parent-child relationship.
To a teen, only hatred could motivated a parent to act so cruelly as to take away a cell phone. This is why my work with parents is to show them how to enforce family rules with logical consequences instead of punitive measures. Teens do not see correctly executed consequences as cruel.
My Parents Call Me Names or Talk Down to Me
When parents are upset and emotionally triggered, we stop being clear thinking rational adults. Instead, we revert back to the emotional state of a child.
That means we feel and act like a five year old and spew out words we would have said in the school yard: “stupid,” “lazy,” “pathetic,” “wish you weren’t born,” “always ruining it for everyone.” These hurtful quips might make us feel a slight moment of catharsis as we let off steam, but children internalize these comments and accept them as true. They assume that you must hate them to think so lowly of them and they come to feel worthless.
If you have difficulties managing your strong emotions and have to cut a child down as a way of holding your ego in check, it’s time for counselling or anger management help.
My Parents Won’t Let Me Date, Or See My Friends
Many parents fear their child’s budding sexuality and try to manage it through social confinement. Parents need to learn to trust their children as they evolve through different social stages and mature through puberty.
In adolescence, we have to move out of the pilot seat and become the co-pilot of our teen's life. If we don’t allow them to take on this new freedom and control of their lives, we risk being ejected from the plane all together.
Keep your ability to help your child by staying along for the ride and coaching them through the process rather than controlling and confining them.
Pressure To Perform
Parents can have unreasonably high expectations, or believe that if they push or ride their children that they will perform better. While some children will be motivated by this tactic, a great deal of youth simply feel demoralized by the process of never measuring up, of letting their parents down, of never being good enough to earn their parents' love.
Be sure to acknowledge what your child has accomplished rather than what is yet to be achieved. Be sure they know you love them unconditionally, not just when they hit some goal or grade. Love is not performance based, it's relationship based, but children can get confused by our messages of wanting them to do better.
I would love it if all families who had strained relationships would come for family counselling or take a parenting class. With some skills training and improved communications, no one needs to feel hated in their family.
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