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Old 10-16-2022, 09:01 AM
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Default What do you do when your kid hates you?

I'm really struggling because my middle child, who has always been a joy & a delight, has changed since we got back to the States this summer. He's fifteen, so that's part of it, and he desperately wants to be back in the Philippines where all his friends are. He refuses to make new friends while we're here because he doesn't want to have to say good-bye. I get it. It's really hard. But it's like he is walking around with a dark cloud over his head, and he's so rude to me and Joel. He ignores me when I walk in the room; he won't talk to me; I feel like we're always walking on eggshells around him.

I just don't know what to do, and it makes me so sad. He had a big meltdown last month, and then he was better and acted like his old self. But now he's back to hating us and isolating again. He's seeing a counselor, but if anybody has any advice for me, I would be glad to hear it.
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Old 10-16-2022, 10:52 AM
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Love the crap out of him. These teens are tough kids but need our love. I am going through this with our 18 yr old. He still lives at home or I should say sleeps at home. He is mad at us all the time (trying to spread those new adult wings). I have found him softening up when I just give him a hug or a pat on the back...does he want me to touch him...probably not. I am mean bc he can't spend the night at his girlfriends house or stay out late. Curfew is 11. I have been making time for him one on one. I took him to a check up and then offered to let him skip classes (his is in college now) and have breakfast with me...his choice. It was a fun morning. I picked up his girlfriend and took her with us. Try to plan either you or hubby a one on one "date" with him. Go get ice cream or see a movie or whatever. Just keep it light and love on him. I am sure it is hard leaving his friends at this age. For a teen...friends are life and they feel lost without them. <3 Hang in there
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Old 10-16-2022, 04:21 PM
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I went through the same thing with my son at 14. When my place of work decided to shut the doors, I made the hard choice to move from the area. Businesses were shutting down all over and there just weren't any opportunities. So I took him from his school, which had also been my school, from his friends, who were the children of my own friends and I moved him 8 hours away, so that I could provide for him. I explained why it was necessary, for what good it did me.

He hated it and he hated me, to the point where he tried to physically assult me. My son is 6'5" and he was pretty tall then, lifted weights for sports, etc, so when he lifted his hand to me and was shoving me around, for the first time in his life, I got physical with him. As I told him at the time, I wouldn't allow a man to put his hands on me, so I wouldn't take it from him either. As a single mom, I needed him to understand that no matter how big he was or how old he got, I was the one in control of our household and in control of him as long as he lived in it.

Of course he was all about calling Child Services on me and I told him to go ahead while I packed his bags because they would take him with my blessing. That if he thought someone else would love him more or take better care of him, then he was welcome to go find them.

It was the most horrible day we ever had and to be honest, I didn't talk to him for a week after. I was so mad, hurt, shocked and all around devastated by the entire thing. It amazed me that my son and I ever got to that point with each other over something that was a necessity. At 14 he should have been able to understand we had to have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and food to eat and I had to be the one who provided it.

I won't lie, the first few years after the move were hard. He was sullen, refused to make friends, play sports that he loved, etc. My reaction to it all was to tell him it was his choice, but at the end of the day, he was only hurting himself and that I refused to feel bad because he was having a prolonged temper tantrum. Everything I did was to give him a good life and if he couldn't see that, appreciate and respect it, then he was free to be miserable. (He also refused counseling and I don't believe that counseling helps unless you are open to it.)

Through all that, I kept trying to engage with him, loved him, made sure he had what he needed, made trips back home for him to see his friends, had them come stay with us and tried to be the mom I always was to this new version of him, but I also didn't pull my punches. Life is hard and as a result we have to do hard things.

When he was being a jerk, I called him out on it and I demanded he be respectful as well as follow the rules. It sucked, but I didn't feel like I could let him bully me or make me feel guilty for doing what I needed to do in order to support him, me and my mom.

Over time, he did adjust and make friends here, but it wasn't until he was over 16 that he finally told me he understood why I did what I did and he was sorry for being such a jerk. Today, we have a wonderful, close relationship.

While I felt the need to control him at 14, as he got older, I loosened the reigns and let him make his own decisions more and more with a clear understanding that since the decisions were his, the consequences of a bad decision would also be his. And I stuck to my guns on that one. He messed up, he had to fix it. This mommy was not running to his rescue all the time. (Granted, I let him make his own decisions about things that did not have dire consequences and kept my eye on him.)

My parents tried to keep me under their control way past the point they should have. There is a big difference from telling a 14 year old what he has to do then telling a 21 year old college student what she has to do. In my opinion you have to let them make decisions and mistakes while you are still around to help when needed, so that they are capable and accountable. And you have to prepare them for the future with open eyes, theirs and yours. While they are always your children, at some point they are not kids and both you and them need to be ready for that point.

I may be a proponent of the tough love approach to child rearing, which may not be your approach, but that is how I handled it. I feel that it worked for us, because my son is an amazing person with a kind, loving heart. But we still talk about what a jerk he was at 14 and 15, cause he was.
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Old 10-16-2022, 08:03 PM
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I'm sorry. That must be very difficult for all of you.

My daughter went through a phase where she hated me. Thankfully she was able to connect with her dad during this time. I just stepped back. I let her dad deal with things that came up and I gave her space to come to me when she was ready. I probably should have pushed harder but, honestly, I was so tired of her declarations of hatred and her attitude that I just couldn't deal with it at the time. She came around a few years later but its been a slow process for sure.
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Old 10-16-2022, 08:42 PM
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Wow, Lorie. Thank you for sharing your experience, especially since it has a happy ending. : ) If I knew it would all work out, I wouldn't worry so much, right??

Max got physical with me last month, and it was probably the very worst moment of my life so far. I have such a hard time being tough with him because I hurt so much for how he's hurting, even though I know that my sympathy doesn't help him. In fact, it causes me to make bad choices.

Kimberly, I appreciate your advice to love him through it, too. I think you're both right about boundaries and love, but it's so hard for me! And I just want life to be easy. : (
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Old 10-16-2022, 08:49 PM
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Oh, Kellie, I cannot imagine how hard that big of a move is on all of you. We moved when I was 16 and I had a really rough time with it at first, too, even though I was happy to be in a bigger city, it was hard to leave my life & friends. I ended up having a panic attack. I have no advice for you, but I wanted to send love and support.
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Old 10-16-2022, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by joelsgirl View Post
Wow, Lorie. Thank you for sharing your experience, especially since it has a happy ending. : ) If I knew it would all work out, I wouldn't worry so much, right??

Max got physical with me last month, and it was probably the very worst moment of my life so far. I have such a hard time being tough with him because I hurt so much for how he's hurting, even though I know that my sympathy doesn't help him. In fact, it causes me to make bad choices.

Kimberly, I appreciate your advice to love him through it, too. I think you're both right about boundaries and love, but it's so hard for me! And I just want life to be easy. : (
I wish it weren't so, but life is hard. If there was a big red easy button, I would be pushing that thing all the dang time. When they get physical with you, it is heartbreaking, but it can't be allowed to stand unchallenged. I did get physical with my son, but I didn't hit or hurt him. I took him to the ground and wounded his pride more than anything. To this day, he still says he was on his feet one minute and on his back the next. I am not saying I recommend that, but it was what I did in the moment to protect myself and him.

I think my own experiences made me want to make sure my son knew that life was hard and was ready for it. I was 24 and 5 months pregnant with him when his dad died. It took me out at the knees, but I had to figure it out and make it work, and not just work, but make it good for him. And I had to do it alone. My parents would have been happy to take him over and raise him, believe me they tried, but he was mine to love, cherish and provide for. To have him hate me for doing everything I did for him was the hardest thing, but it didn't stop me from doing what was best for him in the long run.

I think if you keep doing what is best for your boy despite how hard it sometimes is, it will turn out fine in the end. They may not see that long view now, but they eventually do. Tough love is tough, but it is still love, so I didn't think I could go wrong using it a tough time.

You are fortunate to have a partner to discuss things with, work out a plan with and comfort each other when things are especially hard. Frankly, you say he has always been a joy and delight, so I am sure he will be both again.
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Old 10-16-2022, 10:05 PM
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Lots of hugs and sympathy! I wouldn't go as far as to say my oldest (now 19) ever hated me, but during his senior year of HS every time we went on a family vacation he was resentful and adopted the attitude that if he wasn't enjoying himself, no one was going to. (I'm sure it would have happened the few years before that, too, but because of the pandemic we spent his junior year and half of his sophomore year at home.) He wanted to be home, in his room, relaxing and playing on his computer, not forced to share a hotel room with his siblings, go out and do things with us, etc.

Our situation was shorter term than yours, so I don't know how applicable it is for you. But what helped a little for us was making some concessions for him and making sure he knew that we were doing it to accomodate his wishes so that he felt heard and understood. We loosened the reins and let him spend more time on the things he could still do during our time away. For example, when we were back in the hotel in the evening we let him stay up later playing video games than we would have at home. A few times we all left the hotel room to do something while he stayed behind so that he had some time to himself. Things like that helped him feel like we were sympathetic even if we weren't going to do what he wanted and all stay home all the time. I won't lie and say that solved everything, but it took his resentment and rudeness down a notch.
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Old 10-17-2022, 01:10 AM
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Oh Kellie, I did not know you moved back to US for good. I am so sorry for what is happening and have no solutions or advice for you... Big hugs to you, mama! I pray that he will start to see things differently and positively soon.
Being a mama is the hardest thing to do in this whole wide world, we all know that, so allow yourself some grace and give him time.
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Old 10-17-2022, 01:13 AM
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Thank you for sharing about your life, Lorie.
I've read and learned some wisdom from it on being a mom. That tough love and boundaries that I am setting for my kids, I can see a clearer picture of what I want to teach them as they grow older.
You are one amazing mom, Lorie!
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Originally Posted by LJSDesigns View Post
I wish it weren't so, but life is hard. If there was a big red easy button, I would be pushing that thing all the dang time. When they get physical with you, it is heartbreaking, but it can't be allowed to stand unchallenged. I did get physical with my son, but I didn't hit or hurt him. I took him to the ground and wounded his pride more than anything. To this day, he still says he was on his feet one minute and on his back the next. I am not saying I recommend that, but it was what I did in the moment to protect myself and him.

I think my own experiences made me want to make sure my son knew that life was hard and was ready for it. I was 24 and 5 months pregnant with him when his dad died. It took me out at the knees, but I had to figure it out and make it work, and not just work, but make it good for him. And I had to do it alone. My parents would have been happy to take him over and raise him, believe me they tried, but he was mine to love, cherish and provide for. To have him hate me for doing everything I did for him was the hardest thing, but it didn't stop me from doing what was best for him in the long run.

I think if you keep doing what is best for your boy despite how hard it sometimes is, it will turn out fine in the end. They may not see that long view now, but they eventually do. Tough love is tough, but it is still love, so I didn't think I could go wrong using it a tough time.

You are fortunate to have a partner to discuss things with, work out a plan with and comfort each other when things are especially hard. Frankly, you say he has always been a joy and delight, so I am sure he will be both again.
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Old 10-17-2022, 11:19 AM
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Perhaps something to discuss with his counselor, is there something you can give him control over? Some decision or responsibility on a regular basis? Right now, he probably feels like he has no control over anything which can lead to him lashing out. You might also consider a few counseling sessions for yourself/husband to get some advise on how to cope with your son's attitude. My oldest had some anger/behavior issues when he was younger not long after my divorce. He went to counseling for several months. In hindsight, I wished I had gone too so I could have reacted better. His anger would erupt and then he'd go back to normal and not even remember that he'd had a meltdown hours later. I would be upset for days. We have a good relationship now, thankfully. Hopefully he'll come around soon. Stay strong!
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Old 10-17-2022, 12:14 PM
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Thank you for sharing about your life, Lorie.
I've read and learned some wisdom from it on being a mom. That tough love and boundaries that I am setting for my kids, I can see a clearer picture of what I want to teach them as they grow older.
You are one amazing mom, Lorie!
That is so sweet to say and very much appreciated, Sheryl.
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Old 10-17-2022, 02:40 PM
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Kellie, I feel you. My son is going through this now with me. I wouldn't exactly say he hates me, but he is distancing himself. My friends who are older and wiser say this is normal. They've all been through it. I do think it sounds like maybe on top of this natural phase your son is experiencing some anger about circumstances out of his control that he needs to place the blame and hurt on someone in order to cope with them. That adds a whole other complicated layer.

If it helps any, this has been my approach with Ben: I cry in the shower and pray for him/us fervently. In the middle of the night when he was sleeping one night I even sat by his bed and prayed for him... kind of like I did when he was a baby and I was worried (you know, new mom stuff). It just felt right. I've written him little notes of encouragement and cards. I have taken him out for breakfast just the two of us- he LOVES that. Some days it is super hard but then we have a good week and I am encouraged. I never quit going up to his room at night to ask him about his day or ask if he wants to pray together. Late at night way past my bedtime is when he lets down his guard and wants to talk. I try not to push my own hurt and feelings on him because it instantly makes him shut down and I know this is in part a way of him growing his wings so he can leave the nest and become a man. <3 Of course, if he is acting out in ugly ways that are more than just brooding/mood swings, his father and I address that and correct it. We still discipline him by taking away some of his privileges but we do include him in making the decision with us after we have a conversation... like- Ben, what do you think is the appropriate consequence for calling mom a bitch? LOL sigh. He is mostly fair and takes ownership for his behavior 10/10 times when we stay calm and give him the ability to share his feelings and also when we are willing to apologize for what we contribute to it. Because we are ALL learning this phase of life and transitions together.
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Old 10-17-2022, 10:53 PM
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Parenting adolescents can be so hard. We've been struggling with our son that is a senior as well. I've been listening to a podcast called Feeding the Mouth that Bites You that has been insightful for me. I've been trying to apply some of the principles they suggest and have seen a little bit of improvement in our relationship. Praying a lot as well! Hugs to all of you mamas!
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Old 10-18-2022, 12:39 AM
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Big hugs, I don't have advice, but I can totally empathize. My older boys are 18 and 16 and there is nothing easy about parenting teenagers! It's one of the hardest gigs out there!
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Old 10-18-2022, 10:49 PM
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This is an exerpt from something that was in The Washington Post today--it echos a lot of what we're all saying.

Quote:
One of the hardest parts about parenting teens, at least for me, is feeling like they don’t care what we think. That’s not really the case though, right?

Ginsburg: Here’s what I know: parents are the most important people in kids’ lives, and every piece of research says that adolescents care deeply about what their parents think. That’s the fact. Knowing that means we can engage and we can communicate and we can shape.

So why does it feel like they don’t care what we think?

Ginsburg: Adolescence is about becoming increasingly independent, and you've raised these kids in a fluffy nest where you brought them everything they needed, and suddenly they realize they need to become independent. And so what they need to do is begin to imagine the nest is prickly, and think about life without you. In other words, they love you so much that becoming independent from you is scary. So they have to go through a temporary period where they imagine not needing you, even hating you, so that they can learn to fly on their own. Now, how you play this is going to make all the difference. When your kid rejects you, if you say, ‘Well, you know what? I reject you back,’ you've lost.

It’s so hard because it feels so personal. What should parents do instead?

Ginsburg: Parents need to tell themselves that this is their teen’s developmental need, and that their teens are uncomfortable with how much they love their parents. But, as parents, you are never going to stop loving your teens because they know loving them is the most protective force in their life. You’re not taking that away. Instead, you will celebrate their increasing independence.

I admit that there have been times when I’ve asked myself ‘Who are these kids?’ because they seem so different from who they were when they were little. Why is that?

Ginsburg: Yes, there are moments when you may not recognize the child you thought you raised, but remember, adolescence is about answering the fundamental question “Who am I?” And it’s time to try on many hats to imagine who you might be. For that reason, sometimes we don't recognize the child in one particular hat. It’s not a permanent hat, but rather, an experimentation to imagine who they could be. So don't freak out as long as your child is within safe and moral territory.

The bottom line: You know exactly who your child is, and it is the knowledge of who your child is that is the most protective force in their universe. It’s the same child we raised when they were toddlers. Love is seeing someone as they deserve to be seen as they really are, not based on the behavior they might be displaying.

And why do we love? We love so our teens know they’re worthy of being loved. You’re choosing to love them, with knowledge of who your child really is, in all of their goodness and in all of their complexity. You may not like the hat they’re wearing, but you love the child who is wearing it. And when you do that, you give them the security to launch into adulthood. Because when a child knows they’re worthy of being loved, they can handle the universe.
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Old 10-19-2022, 12:57 AM
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This is an exerpt from something that was in The Washington Post today--it echos a lot of what we're all saying.
Yep, that all makes sense. That is why it is important to let them start making decisions for themselves as they grow.

This plays into another thing that I did with JT when he was at his worst. I made sure not to make it personal. When he was being surly and ugly with me, I would say you're behaving in an unattractive manner or your behavior right now is not acceptable. I made sure to never say "you are" this or that because that can really impact their self image and how they see you as well. He was always a good kid, he was just acting like a jerk for a long time. lol

The importance of this really came home to me when he and his wife had their first fight. He came to see me right after and was upset because she had called him some ugly names. As he said at the time, no one he loved had ever called him names before and he was thinking it meant she didn't love him and they were going to end up divorced.

Meanwhile she is freaking because he left and wasn't sure he would be back over what she considered a normal fight.

His wife was raised in an abusive situation, so I had to explain to him that he needed to tell her the first rule of fighting with someone you love is that you love them and you have to treat them with love, even at the worst moments. When she called to talk to me about it, I told her the same thing. They worked it out and try to keep the rule in mind when they get out of sorts with each other.

Even better, when the kids in his class are not behaving, he tells them that their behavior is unacceptable. I have to grin every time he tells me about his day and some of the unacceptable behavior the kids were displaying. I think saying it like that is healthier for them then having a teacher say they are being bad or whatever else they might say.
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Old 10-19-2022, 01:49 PM
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Great article Rachel and great points Lorie. When it comes to 'fighting' too I read two great pieces of advice. #1 - never say 'you always' or 'you never'. It's generally an exaggeration and makes the other person immediately defensive. #2 - a good phrase to use is "When you do/say X, I feel Y" It doesn't attack a person or put a label on them and gets you talking about actions and, hopefully, resolutions.
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Old 10-23-2022, 04:14 PM
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Kellie, so sorry you are going through this difficult time with your son. Having had three boys and gone through some pretty difficult and trying times I can tell you that things will get better. Keep loving him through thick and thin, no matter what. Like Lorie, I too had to dish out tough love and believe it or not, they will thank you later in life when they have kids of their own and have to set boundaries. Parenting sure isn't easy but it can be very rewarding, especially once they grow into responsible adults. Hugs xxx
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Old 10-24-2022, 10:27 AM
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Thank you to everyone who chimed in. It helps to know I'm not the only one whose child has ever turned on them! There's some good advice in here, too, and I'm going to try to remember it all.

Lorie, could you please just start giving random advice in the forum? You are full of wisdom, and who knows what else you have in there that we need to hear!
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Old 10-24-2022, 03:38 PM
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Lorie, could you please just start giving random advice in the forum? You are full of wisdom, and who knows what else you have in there that we need to hear!
LOL, I don't know about wisdom, but I do have some years on most of you, so I have experience. It is always the best, and unfortunately, the most unforgiving teacher.
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Old 10-25-2022, 04:58 AM
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LOL, I don't know about wisdom, but I do have some years on most of you, so I have experience. It is always the best, and unfortunately, the most unforgiving teacher.
What Kellie said!

Oh experience... can be the cruelest teacher in the most unexpected ways.
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Old 10-30-2022, 07:22 PM
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Oh Kellie, I'm so sorry you're going through this. It's such a challenging age to begin with and with changes, it's tougher. I just know from what I've seen, you are a great mama and love him with all you are. I know the Lord has you as his mama because you are specially suited for it.
Everyone has such great advice! Just know that I'm sending lots of love and prayers your way.
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