Parenting Milestone #21. When Your Child Says, I Hate You

We were in a frenzy to get out the door as usual. Of course I was running late, because….I have 3 kids.

Two were in the car, or meandering around in the yard. I wasn’t sure because the middle child couldn’t find his shoes. I was inside trying to deep breath through the shoe routine.

I’ll be honest, I am not always patient with this charade. “I can’t find them!” pretty much hits their lips as soon as I say, “get your shoes on so we can go.” But, in this particular case, I did at least see the 5 year old attempt to walk through each room and “look” for them. But, we all know that when a 5 year old looks somewhere, it’s about the same as when the husband looks. They glance. Sort of.

So as he’s glancing (aka “looking) around each room and crying because he can’t find his shoes, I proceed to lose my cool. Whatever grace and patience was left in me had suddenly evaporated and I became scary mommy. I got down low at his eye level and told him he better find his shoes or I was going to lose it.

Of course, it was clear to us all that I had already lost it.

As he turned his back to me, I heard 3 words no parent wants to hear, and 3 words I thought maybe, just maybe I would never hear.

“I hate you”

I whipped my head around like something out of the exorcist. “What did you say?!” I asked in sincere shock that one of my children could utter those words.

He immediately started to cry. And proceeded to cry as I did the only thing I could think to do in this scenario. Force him to say it again.

I threatened that he would lose his play date as we drove his older sister to hers. He cried and cried and cried while I tried to hold back my own tears. “Just tell me what you said and you can still go to your friend’s house”

“OK, once I turn here, your time is up.”

“It’s better if you just say it.”

“Why won’t you just tell me?”

I said all I could say and he obviously wasn’t giving it up again. He knew better. He obviously knew it was wrong. But, my threats had to be enforced. He didn’t get his play date, and he finally admitted that what I knew I had heard was true.

I sent him downstairs for quiet time, put his brother down for a nap, and called my husband to sob like a baby. “He said I hate you. I am failing as a mother. I don’t know what to do. blah blah blah.” The knife to the heart was real in that moment, and I just needed a moment to cry.

After regaining my composure and some of my dignity, I sat him down and tried to explain that I hate you is the opposite of I love you, and I hope he never says that again, because even when I’m mad at him, I would never EVER say that to him.

And, then we moved on with our day. I got a few more hugs than usual, and I eventually got over the fact that my kids were, in fact, normal.


So, as heart wrenching as this was, I learned a few things in the process.

1. Parenting sucks

2. My kids are normal

3. Expect at least one child to do what you thought they never would.

4. I’m doing my job as a parent.

5. I am no different than every other mother out there.

6. Crying helps.

7. So does chocolate.

I pray that you never hear those 3 ugly words, but if you’re a parent, my guess is you probably will.


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 Perfection Pending



Hi! I'm Meredith- Mom to three, wannabe writer, recovering perfectionist, and an avid blogger writing about the perfect and not-so-perfect moments in motherhood. Glad you're here. :)


  1. Rayna says

    About 2 months ago Sienna said it during this horrendous tantrum. I couldn’t believe she said that since it isn’t something I would think she would have ever heard before or even know what it meant. Hurt at first but I know she didn’t mean it. Just wasn’t prepared to hear it now. Maybe in 10 years but at 3???? Thankfully I haven’t heard it since.

  2. says

    Not saying we’ve known each other too long now, but I read the title and immediately knew what was coming, which child it was, and that you’d tell your husband while crying. YAY me!

    I’ve not gotten the I hate you yet, and I don’t think Wife has either. Cool told me I was fat once, maybe that was his way of saying he hates me? Who knows?

    He probably heard that from one of the Mormon elders and just repeated it. You know how those people are.
    donofalltrades recently posted…Answers to your pressing police related questions…My Profile

    • says

      Wow Don! I am so glad you decided to stop by again first of all. :) You do know me well.
      Yeah, it wasn’t fun, but if he pulls that crap again, I know how to handle it better next time!

  3. says

    Oh man. Why is it so hard to be a parent sometimes? Shoes are the worst. I totally get it. Today, I was upstairs frantically trying to get ready when my not-quite-two-year-old somehow broke through the baby gate and headed outside. Her three-year-old sisters went after her, and tried to stop her, but everyone was barefoot and half-dressed, and the twins were dragging a wagon and a toy shopping cart down the steps with them for who knows what reason, and the baby fell over and one of the dogs barked his head off at a landscaping guy next door…anyway…it was a mess, and I don’t think any of us liked each other very much. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Kate (Shakespeare’s Mom) recently posted…How to be a Good MomMy Profile

  4. says

    All my girls throw the “I hate you” around. The oldest started it and the younger ones are of course parrots. I certainly don’t like it but I try to ignore it and remember my mother. She always told me that every time I told her that she was the worst mother in the whole entire world that meant she was probably doing something right. Setting down boundaries that needed to be there yada yada… So I hear that, hope it means my mother was right (mothers are right usually aren’t they?) breathe deep, eat a bite of chocolate and try to carry on.
    Jessie recently posted…Weekly Photo Challenge: RelicMy Profile

  5. says

    Hugs from here too… Neither of my girls have said it yet, but my eldest is queen of the temper tantrums and I suspect it is just a matter of time before she “tries it out” to see what happens. I’m fearing the moment. I know it doesn’t mean they really do, but its got to be hard to hear.

    Sounds like you handled it well.

    As for the shoes? Oh do I ever hear you there. You had me at lost shoes. I’ve lost it at that too ;).
    Louise recently posted…Splash Pads HappenMy Profile

  6. Amanda says

    As a mother of a 19, 16, 8 and 5 I have definitely heard the “I hate you” but just wait. The one that REALLY gets me is “You Hate Me” and “You don’t even like me” – I get this from the 16 year old and it stings. I sit there and question HOW she could think I hate her, do I do things that make her think I don’t like her? Am I favoring the other kids and she sees it? I ask myself a million things every time she says it and then I think. REMEMBER, she is a 16 year old girl!

  7. says

    Words can definitely feel like daggers. But like others they shouldn’t use (often), they’re trying things out, I believe. They know ‘hate’ isn’t love, but don’t understand the implication. It’s pretty severe, I agree. But kids don’t know that. That’s why they might think nothing of dropping an F bomb at church.

    I haven’t heard it myself, but once, after I had to discipline my youngest two (yes, we dads discipline), I heard the youngest ask the middle child, “Do you like dad?” and the middle child just grunted.
    Eli@coachdaddy recently posted…Guest Post: Teri of Snarkfest on Stupid Silent SaturdayMy Profile

  8. says

    Ugh, knife to the heart :-( Our girls are 2 and 3 now and my husband gets the “I don’t want you!” pretty often around here. Why? I have nooo idea; you’d think they’d be sick of me by the time Daddy gets home from work at the end of the day! Usually he just brushes it off; I explain to the girls that those are very hurtful words to say to Daddy, and then I explain to Daddy that he’s probably going to be their best friend in a few years when they’re teenagers and busy hating me! (……Sorry, Mom!)

    Parenting IS hard :-\ Big hugs!!
    Kimberly Murphy recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – I get by with a little help from my friendsMy Profile

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