New parents can hardly fathom the day when their teenage or adult children have grown to hate them. To the naive, this is inconceivable, yet many good people are living out their lives with a burden of hatred cast upon them by an adult child.
My child hates me? This is the silent question that guides their daily thoughts and feelings, often with no apparent answer.
No foreigner to this issue, I have some suggestions that may be helpful if your child hates you. These suggestions by no means are intended to solve the problem, as the problem runs deep and has a long history. Only patience, longsuffering and some well-considered shifts in your thinking and to the relationship dynamic can bring about change. Of course, there are no guarantees.
The process of change begins with a new question. The question Why does my child hate me? isn’t often helpful. It may seem logical enough, but most of us ask that question from a place of disbelief. We use the question to cast doubt on reality. It’s as if we are saying this can’t be true or I don’t believe it. Questions asked with this underlying tone of disbelief don’t lead to constructive answers.
Begin with the truth. Your child hates you. This is a fact, albeit a very, very painful one. Before trying to figure it all out, stop questioning it. Sit with the horrific reality. Allow it to sink in. This is so tough to do. In fact, it may be impossible for many parents to accomplish because the pain and seeming impossibility of the situation are so paralyzing.
Fathers who have supported their children, paid for college and weddings, even therapy and drug rehab, are victims of child hate. Mothers who might have gotten abortions rather than give birth, who raised children while single and financially destitute; these are mothers who are often hated by the children once they come of age. No visiting the grandchildren. No lunch dates. No family gatherings.
It’s unfathomable. And this is the primary obstacle.
To you, as the hated parent, the incredulity of the situation actually prevents you from moving toward healing. Once you accept your child’s hatred, a new direction opens before you that makes room for your emotional health, even though this new direction may still involve your child’s scorn. Can you see why this issue is nearly impossible to deal with? Accepting, without reservation, the reality of a hateful child is among the tallest orders a human being can receive.
My children hate me. This is a fact. I do not deny it, no matter how painful. Given this reality, what must be true for my child? How does my child make sense of the world? What caused the hatred in my child’s mind? We are no longer questioning the existence of the hatred, but, with full acceptance of its reality, attempting to understand it. This is the first step.
Once you understand how your child came to this extreme place; how he or she makes sense of the world, then you have a chance of moving forward. There is an explanation. It can make sense to you and once it does, your perspective will change. It all begins with acceptance.