Inside: Why do our kids say things to hurt us and how do we deal with it?
A few days ago a dear friend mentioned that she was upset because one of her children had said some pretty negative things about her that really hit home. She knew she was struggling in those areas and it hurt that her child was using them against her.
As parents, we spend most of our time trying to raise our children with love and discipline while also secretly hoping they don’t see our faults. When it becomes apparent that they do, it is crushing.
How have we slipped up and let them see our fallible side?
Why have they found the most hurtful thing and thrown it back in our face?
Why do our kids say things that hurt us?
The simple answer. Because they can.
Our kids know that no matter what they say – no matter how cruelly they throw out words that they are only barely able to comprehend – we will still love them. They know we are there for better or worse. That even though they have hurt us deeply, we will still be there for them during their worst pain.
We are their parents, and there is never an end to that.
What happened to my sweet child?
Do you remember the sweet baby days? The days when they smiled just because you walked into the room?
Or the toddler years when they could barely walk but could give you the most fabulous leg hugs?
Or how about the early elementary years when an “I love you more than all the stars in the sky” was a frequent phrase?
Well, they’re gone.
That sweet child who doted on your every word has been replaced with this preteen/teenager who is suddenly smarter and wiser than you. They’ve been replaced by this person who
- rolls their eyes when you try to explain why they aren’t allowed to do something.
- tells you “No” when you ask them to take the dog out for a walk.
- says that you are a bad parent because you insist on them doing their Algebra.
- is full of hormones and angst and mood swings.
- can rip your heart out and then stomp off to their room as if they haven’t just mortally wounded you.
They can be cruel and manipulative. Because they live with you, they know just what to say to hurt you.
So, what do you do in those moments when all you feel like doing is hiding in the closet with chocolate?
Hide in the closet with chocolate.
You take a Mommy Moment.
You walk away from them before you irrationally join the fray and make the moment much worse. Find your peaceful place, and take a breath. Let yourself be calm. Be still.
Don’t scream, yell or even try to reason with them. Because it’s a waste of your breath and just causes more hurtful comments.
Then, remember all the wonderful reasons why you decided to homeschool…why you decided to have children.
Remember that this person who is saying these very adult things is still just a kid – a kid who is trying out their independence on the person they can count on to still love them even when they’re being, well, a jerk. Because, honestly, we all have jerk moments.
This child you love doesn’t suddenly hate you. They are stressed and anxious about dealing with life and they don’t explain that to you.
Our kids say things to hurt us because they need to feel that they have some power over something in their lives. They are hurting and need to let everything out.
You are supposed to somehow know what they are going through and realize that it’s not about you. It’s about life and how everything seems so important and scary when you’re a kid.
So you throw away the chocolate wrappers, wipe the tears away, get up and talk to them.
Because you are still the parent.
You are the one responsible to teach these children how to interact in society. They have to know that lashing out at people isn’t ok. They have to know that what they did hurt you. You aren’t a super person. You’re a real person with real feelings. They have to be disciplined in acceptable behavior.
Discipline – verb- to train or develop by instruction and exercise especially in self-control. Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.
And remember… they do love you.
They won’t tell you the way they used to, but they do. This struggle is a defining part on their road to independence and it, too, will pass to the next phase. So, hang in there – and don’t forget the chocolate.
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