When your child says "I hate you!"

Amazing author and psychotherapist SuEllen Hamkins, MD helps parents respond constructively when their child may say something like "I hate you." She adds great tips to help you and your child reconnect in that moment.
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When your child says "I hate you!"

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So what can you do when your daughter says she hates you? First of all, don't despair, she loves you. When she says she hates you it's because she's very upset, she's angry with you, and she doesn't have the skills or the composure to be able to communicate with you more graciously. But what painful moments these are as parents. First thing is take a deep breath and remind yourself that your daughter loves you. Then ask yourself, "What do I need right now to be able to parent in a way that I can feel good about?" Maybe a deep breath is enough, but maybe you need more support in that area, maybe a hug from your spouse, a conversation with a friend, maybe you need a walk, a nap; figure out what you need from yourself first. Then turn your attention to her and ask yourself, "What is she feeling and what does she need right now?" If she had been able to communicate more graciously, what might she have said to you? Then you can respond to her as if she had communicated with you more graciously. If she wants some more support from you in some way or maybe she wants you to re-think an important decision that bears on her well-being, take action based on what she needs. You also need to reconnect with her in that moment. Once you've reconnected with her and addressed the issue that's what she was trying to talk about. Later, that's when you can say, "I wish you would have talked to me in a more thoughtful way."

Amazing author and psychotherapist SuEllen Hamkins, MD helps parents respond constructively when their child may say something like "I hate you." She adds great tips to help you and your child reconnect in that moment.

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SuEllen Hamkins, MD

Psychiatrist & Author

SuEllen Hamkins, MD, is a psychiatrist, author and founding member of the Mother-Daughter Project, a community of women and girls that developed powerful, practical ways to help mothers and daughters stay connected and thrive through adolescence. Co-author of The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds and Thrive Through Adolescence, Dr. Hamkins has given numerous presentations for parents and psychotherapists around the world, focusing on mothers, daughters, their relationships and the kinds of communities that nurture them.  As the psychiatrist for the Smith College Counseling Service from 1992-2004, SuEllen offered consultation to over a thousand women ages 16 to 23 to help them resist and overcome problems such as anorexia, bulimia, depression, anxiety, trauma, assault, and self-injury.  In addition to her work on behalf of mothers and daughters, as the Assistant Director for Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, she has been instrumental in developing strengths-based, narrative approaches to psychotherapy and psychiatric practice, helping people cultivate their values and strengths in the face of serious difficulties.  SuEllen is the mother of two daughters, now 17 and 22, and raising them has been the most thrilling and rewarding work of her life. She lives with her husband and younger daughter in western Massachusetts, where they love to swim outdoors, cross country ski, shoe snow, dance, cook and lounge around in the living room, reading. 

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