I Loved Them Enough

Each of my children, during their teenage angst years, once told me they hated me.  There was a five year age gap between them.  It was two separate occasions with years dividing the incidents.  So it wasn’t as if I was bombarded.  And each time I could see it approaching.

They didn’t mean it.

Though they were pretty vehement in their expression at the time, I knew better.

I knew they felt like they had no control.

I knew they felt like I had all of the control.

And I knew what to do.  I was ready.  Prepared.  I had this one.

I had read a story, long before this point in my life, about a parent who’s child had constantly said “I hate you”.  So when it was my turn, I borrowed from that wise parent.

When it happened I reacted with great calm.

When each child in their own time made their declaration of hate I looked at them with all of the adoration a mother can possibly possess and said:

That’s okay, I love you enough for the both of us.

I truly, absolutely and without any trace of cunning or deceit, meant it.

But I cannot deny that little feeling of glee as they rolled their eyes so far back in their heads, I swear in retrospect, I heard them pop!

It was one of my better parenting moments.  I needed to have the courage to stand there and let them hate me.   They needed to know they were safe in feeling whatever they felt at that one moment.  And know that no matter how bad things may have gotten, I would not abandon them.

I think they’ve learned over the years that they have more control than they believed.  And I didn’t have as much as I wanted them to believe.

I would like to believe that they remember that moment with me with glowing awe of their mother.   Truthfully though, I’ll be happy that they just remember always, that I do love them enough.

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38 thoughts on “I Loved Them Enough

  1. rugby843 says:

    great story and advice

  2. Thunder Poet says:

    That was….. Absolutely amazing. ❤

  3. James says:

    I think that will keep me smiling for the rest of today 🙂

  4. ksbeth says:

    so beautifully said and done –

  5. GP Cox says:

    When a teenager tells you they hate you – you must be doing something right!!

  6. April says:

    I’m sure they will always remember 🙂

  7. goldenbrodie says:

    Sometimes we need to carry the love for others until…the love buckets are refillable…you will forever be remembered so hold onto that bucket.

  8. What a perfect response, Colleen. Well done. They will remember.

  9. What a great response for that situation! You sure are right that we need to give them the space to feel their feelings and not be punished for them.

    • Thank you Priceless! I always remembered the discomfort of being a teenager. I still remember it well. I could see it in them and though I wanted to, I couldn’t always make it easier.

  10. I’m fortunate that I have a 14 year old who has yet to utter that to me. The girl, I’m not so sure about…

    • Mine were both girls. I know plenty of mom’s who’s girls never said it. But I know plenty of mom’s who heard it as well. I surely didn’t fault them for it. I wouldn’t go back to being a teenager for ANYTHING!!!

  11. kerrymckim says:

    Great read. My girl is 2 and a half and just has discovered the word “no”. I dread when she tells me that she hates me.

    • She might not ever KerryMcKim. And if she does, it really does feel incredible to say this to her, and know you mean it. I think if it ever happens, you will be fine. 🙂 Just think, you are reading this about the same amount of time before your child’s teen years, as when I read it first. 🙂

  12. I join James in having a very big smile on my face whilst reading this. I just have to share it, in the hope that some other parent can store it away for when it happens to them, of it surely will!

    • Thank you Peter!!!! I don’t always retain things I read but I am so grateful for this one sticking with me. I just wish I remembered the full story or where I read it originally.

  13. Reblogged this on Peter's pondering and commented:
    For any parent whose children have yet to reach 10 years old you NEED to read this, and commit it to memory for later use.

  14. Beautiful. Future me will be borrowing this statement as well. Xx

  15. Debra says:

    I think “I hate you” is a rite of passage for so many! But if parents would only respond as you wisely did, the tension would be dissolved into a very loving memory instead of a sting!

    • I need to ask my girls if they remember these incidents. I’m curious as to how they remember them. And I am so grateful for who’s ever words I read all those years ago.

  16. What a wonderful blog! And most certainly true!! It probably should be required reading when you take your baby home from the hospital. 😊 My sons are both grown and the oldest is now a father himself, but I do recall him writing something to that affect in a note that I found crumpled under his bed when he was in about 2nd grade. My answer was very similar to the one suggested in your article and it worked quite well. I had totally forgotten about it until the other day when I was baby sitting my grandchildren ages 5 and 6. My grand daughter knocked down her brother’s lego building and I lovingly soothed my grandson while gently reprimanding his little sister. She stomped her feet and under her breath whispered, “Grandma, I hate you!.” Of course my grandson apologized for his little sister’s comment and I thanked him, but I told my grand daughter that I still loved her very, very much. And I switched gears and suggested that we all go outside to play. The wind was blowing quite strongly for a warm spring day and so I began dancing in the wind. My grand daughter decided to join me. We whirled and twirled and had a grand old time and she raced up to me hugging me ever so tightly and shouting with laughter, “Grandma, I love you the best when we dance in the wind.”
    I smiled and told her, “Then I suppose we will just have to dance in the wind more often, won’t we?” She nodded and laughed and my heart burst with such enormous love as I watched her smile. There is such a strong resemblance to my son in that beautiful face of hers. Perhaps for some children, the hate statement is a right of passage. (Little ones just trying to express their independence without quite understanding how to put it into words). It’s a good thing we parents and grandparents become wiser and more understanding with age. Thanks so much for sharing your lovely post. I truly enjoyed it.

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