What to Do When Your Teen Hates You

Why Does My Teen Hate Me? My teens says, “I hate you!” Many of us have been there, especially if you are visiting this site. No matter how great a parent you’ve been, at some point, your teenager will pull away from you.

The good news is that this is totally natural. When we hear those words, “You are the worst mom ever. I hate you,” it can sting much greater spoken as a teenager, rather than a toddler having a tantrum.

Their language is more sophisticated with hostility, and their grasp of reality is quite a bit bigger than it was at age three. So it makes sense that when their words are pointed at us, and it can feel like a firing squad aimed at our hearts. It hurts.


We likely knew this stage was coming, but like most parents, we believe (maybe) our teen would be different. They would never say those words to us, after-all, we’re their parent. However here we are, your child is now a teen and everything about you is either annoying or embarrassing.


The questions you ask, the things you buy, the curfews you put in place, or even showing up at a sports game. That sweet child that couldn’t wait for you to pick them up from preschool and barely left your side as a toddler — now can’t stand to be around you. Is this the same kid? What happened?


Ways to Survive Your Teen Hating You Phase


Teen years are challenging, especially in an age of technology where parents need to understand both offline and online lives of their child. We need to remember our teen still depends on us in many ways and are pushing back from us emotionally as they go through their transition in life. We were all in their shoes at one time. It doesn’t give them permission to behavior disrespectfully, however as adults, we need to have a goal to understand what they’re going through and be sensitive to their new, shifting needs.


1. Don’t Take it Personally. A teenager can stay some pretty harsh things to hear. Though these statements can be extreme, there’s often some truth to them that can make them all the more painful. Kids have grown-up watching adults their entire lives, it’s not only from in our homes but at family gatherings and now social media is influencing their young minds.


When they were little, we thought they were oblivious, ignoring or forgetting, they were actually noticing, observing and absorbing. The answer when they start to voice their opinions about us, or even lash out, isn’t to hate them or to hate ourselves. Although we should definitely interfere with any hurtful behavior, letting them know it’s unacceptable to be abusive to anyone, if we want our kids to deal with their feelings in healthier ways, we must be open to their feedback.


That may mean hearing some unpleasant things about ourselves. It may mean taking them seriously when they say they no longer want us texting them 10 times a day or coming in and out of their room without knocking.  In response, we should try not to be defensive and accept the ways we may hurt our kids even though that’s far from our intention.


It’s important to find the balance.


2. Be There Physically.  Teens need support and guidance, but they also need space. They should always know that we’re there to talk to them and help them work though the many hurdles that arise. This means being open to whatever they want to discuss. We should never punish our kids for the times they’ve rejected our help and should always respond when they come toward us. We can be present for them in a calm, consistent way that lets them know we are 100 percent there if ever they’re in trouble, want our input or desire our help. They may not need us as much as they used to or for the same reasons, but that doesn’t make our dedication or love any less.


3. Finding a Sense of Purpose.  If ever we feel worried about our kids’ choices, the best thing we can do is create an environment where they can focus and flourish. For example, we can help them realize a project or shared venture with their peers. We can support a passion that lights them up, be it guitar, dancing, digital art, sailing or skateboarding. Our involvement as parents may just be as supportive sideline figures, facilitating the time and resources for our kid to take on this new adventure, set their own goals and enjoy their own achievements. It’s important to let our kids own this experience themselves and not over-involve ourselves in ways that may make them feel pushed away, overlooked or pressured.


4. Having a Trusted Adult.  As parents, we often want to be “the one” our teens go to for any problem or issue. We tend to take our teens’ rejection as a personal slight or an attack on our ability to parent. But again, this isn’t about us. When our teens feel awkward, ambivalent or resistant in relation to us, it is our responsibility to make sure they have other supportive figures in their lives to whom they can turn. The presence of a mentor – be it a teacher, counselor, aunt, uncle, grandparent, step-parent or family friend – should not be seen as a threat to us as parents but as a gift in our children’s lives. Think of it as yet another force helping them navigate the tricky and tumultuous waters that take them into adulthood. Allowing them to have that relationship is an example of us doing our job as caring, attuned parents.


5. Being open-minded. Some topics are not easy for parents today. Reality is, it’s not any different than when we were teenagers. Talking to mom and dad about dating, sex or even feelings were something that wasn’t easily shared. Today teenagers turn to social media for advice, which can be helpful or very troubling. We, as parents, need to encourage our teenager to talk to us about online influencers they follow and why. Opening our lines of communication is key to having a relationship in today’s world of adolescence.


The more our kids feel like what they think and feel will be accepted by us, the better. Even if we ask that they follow certain rules, our kids should never be made to feel bad, disappointing or dirty for their natural curiosities and evolving interests. The more they can accept feelings in themselves, the more comfortable and confident they’ll feel to make responsible, self-caring choices.


Read: 5 Benefits of Therapeutic Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens.

Read: How Short Talks Can Build Strong Relationship With Your Teen.


If you’re struggling with your teenager that is out-of-control and you’ve exhausted your local resources, learn more about how residential treatment can benefit your family. Contact us for more information.


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