What to Do When Your Daughter Says She Hates You

These tips on what to do when your daughter says “I hate you” will help mothers cope. I interviewed psychologists, therapists, and parenting experts on coping when your daughter says she hates you.

daughter says she hates meParenting a Teen Girl: A Crash Course on Conflict, Communication and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter by Lucie Hemmen is an excellent resource for moms whose daughters are difficult, argumentative, and aggravating. This book will teach you how to maximize your teen daughter’s healthy development, understand what underlies her moods and behavior, communicate effectively about difficult issues, and even enjoy and appreciate time with her.

Besides learning as much as you can about communicating and connecting with a teenage daughter, it’s also important to understand how important you are to her. Renita Weems says, “I cannot forget my mother. She is my bridge. When I needed to get across, she steadied herself long enough for me to run across safely.”

The downside of being a bridge is that you get walked on, run over, and sometimes even torn to bits! But the upside is that you are the safest way from here to there.

When Your Daughter Says She Hates You

I remember saying “I hate you” to my mom – and not just once. Now I cringe to think about it, and am so sorry I told my mother I hated her! Some day your daughter will feel the same way. In the meantime, here are a few ways for mothers and daughters to reconnect. They’re from a variety of psychologists, therapists, writers, and parenting experts.

Perhaps the most important tip is to remember that hate is the flipside of love. Our emotional connections to our family members – especially our mothers – are so strong and powerful. Any emotion that strong is bound to run amok: love to hate, yearning to fleeing, pulling to pushing, hugging to shoving.

This, too, shall pass. Remember the TV show “Roseanne”? When her daughter said “I hate you”, Roseanne said, “Then my work here is done.” Perhaps the less seriously you take her words, the easier both you and she will be able to reconnect after the dust has settled.

Detach from your daughter’s hateful words and emotions – and tell her you love her

“Don’t take it personally,” says Sal Severe, Ph.D., author of How to Behave So Your Children Will, Too! “Kids use inflammatory language like this when they’re genuinely upset but don’t have the tools to express themselves precisely. “Your six-year-old isn’t able to say ‘I feel frustrated and angry because you won’t let me watch my television program.'” To put it simply, she wants you to know she’s mad.

Severe encourages parents to acknowledge their daughter’s anger calmly, but stand their ground.

“Say ‘I’m sorry you hate me, because I love you very much.’ Then add, ‘It’s okay that you’re angry, but you still have to turn off the TV.'” You can mention that everyone gets upset occasionally, but it’s not all right to take it out on someone else.” ~ from When Your Child Says “I Hate You” on Parenting.com.

Remember what it’s like to be a teenager…Hormones! Angst! Fears! Peers!

“Reflecting back on my life as a teenager, I remember I had an uncanny ability to blow everything way out of proportion,” writes Sara Esther Crispe in My Daughter Says She Hates Me. “And since I wasn’t able or willing to take responsibility for my actions or consequences, anyone around that I could blame for my mistakes, usually got the blame.

As we grow and mature, God willing, so does our perception. Most teenagers have some degree of difficulty seeing anything beyond themselves, their feelings, their pain and their vulnerability. Seeing the larger picture, reviewing the past, recognizing blessing in their lives and working towards the future is the kind of insight that usually only sets in a bit later down the road, after we’ve lived life a bit more.”

Explore the “dark side” with your daughter

“My daughter (28) and I are best friends,” says psychologist Geli Heimann. “I suggest imparting values rather than telling your daughter she is not allowed to. For instance, I never said no when she wanted to see certain questionable films. I went with her and I allowed her to explore in safety with me being there with unconditional regard. Yes, I made my opinion known, but allowed her to gain the values she needed to discover herself. When my daughter became a teenager, I bought all the magazines she wanted. Like girlfriends we read them together and discussed everything. As a result, she never needed to hide anything. Eventually – at a much later stage – she told me all the details. That’s part of being friends with unconditional love!”

If you’re curious how Heimann would respond if her daughter said, “I hate you”, please ask in the comments section below. This is one mother of a psychologist! :-)

Find the balance between mothering and friendship

daughter says i hate you“Be a friend to your daughter, rather than a mother,” says Harleena Singh, “especially if you have teenage daughters! If you’re friends, they’re more likely to share their feelings and open up with you. Mothers, in turn, know what their daughters are up to.”

Singh adds that boundaries are important, without a doubt. “But rather than hearing ‘No! You are not allowed to!’ and set up a law your daughter could break behind your back (like I did with my mother), it’s better to impart values that your daughter adopts with your guidance. Then, those values are part of her own system There’s no need to do things behind your back!”

Remember that good mother-daughter relationships take time and effort

It’s important to spent quality time together, which involves deep listening and asking about your daughter’s world with genuine interest.

“It also means that the TV-as-nanny and leaving kids to their own devices is unacceptable,” Singh says. “It means being a mother-coach-friend at the level that is right for the phase they are going through. It’s always better to be friends with your daughter, and of course, a mother-friend is the best combination.”

Quick Tips for Reconnecting With Your Daughter

  • “One of my favorite things about my mom is that she never, ever judges me. I know I can come to her with anything.” ~ KeriLynn Engel.
  • “Apologize for mistakes as you go. Show daughter you’re always learning.” ~ Laura Matthews.
  • “Watch carefully to see who your daughter is…then support her whole-heartedly on her journey.” ~ Duanita G. Eleniak.
  • “When/if you become more friends and less mother/daughter, your relationship will improve and take on a deeper level.” ~ Jen Nipps.

For mother-daughter tips from an adult daughter’s perspective, read You and Your Mother Can’t Be Friends? How to Live in Peace.

I welcome your thoughts below! If you’re a mother, how did you respond when your daughter said she hates you? If you’re a daughter, what tips do you have? I can’t offer advice, but it is often helpful to write about what you’re experiencing and feeling.


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10 thoughts on “What to Do When Your Daughter Says She Hates You”

  1. My daughter is 30 and we are very close, until I got the “I’m done with you” Because,My friend Cheryl’s dad died, friend for 25 yrs. she bought me a ticket to go to the funeral in Vegas where she moved, right but the granddaughters birthday party is the same time, NOW Alyse, my daughter is pissed B’cuz I’m missing the party, she said she is” done with me” will she get over it? how childish is that, Let alone: one she lost her mom husband brother and now father within 3 years..So I wrote this to her left it on her desk at work with gifts for the grand girls: Alyse,
    I never thought in my wildest dreams would I hear the words “you’re DONE” with me.
    That hurt me more than anything you have ever said to me, I brought you up hoping you would have the deepest compassion for any circumstance that arises in life, and saying that because I am going to see Cheryl my friend that needs me right now and it happens to be the time of the girl’s party, I’m sorry, I am always there for you and the girls, and I will continue to be, but if your choice is to be done with me, then I am truly sorry you feel that way! Breaks my heart! Losing people in life is the hardest thing to go through, she has lost her Mother, husband and brother and now father within 3 years and I am her friend and I will be there for her as she asked me, as well as I am for you, Jeff, Paul, My brother, friends and whomever else! I hope this passes and you’re just lashing out, but if you’re not, I will be so ashamed.
    You and Jeff and Jess, and the girls are my world.
    I love you,
    Mom~ xo

  2. Laurie, I think that is just the response I needed to hear. I have been doing some thinking on how I respond when she upsets me, and i need to remember that her response to me is more about what she’s going through and not so much about me. It’s hard not to take personally, but I shouldn’t.

  3. Dear NYAVGMOM,

    I remember writing the same words about my own mom when I was a teenager. I said I hated my mother, I called her all the ugly names I could think of, and I vowed to never speak to her again after I moved out.

    And now, when I read those words I wrote back in 1984 (yes, I still have my diaries from 30 years ago!), I cringe. I can’t believe how ugly I was being, how nasty and mean. I was filled with uncontrollable anger and disgust for my mother. I feel bad for who I was back then, for how awful I felt. Today, I can’t imagine being filled with such hatred and anger towards anyone – much less my mother.

    Today, I call my mother every Sunday. I’ve forgiven her, she’s forgiven me, we’ve moved on.

    NYAVGMOM, how do you feel about just accepting that your daughter is going through an unhappy stage of her teenage life? You can’t change how she feels – and neither can she. She is wrapped up in a cocoon of whatever it is teen girls experience, and she just needs to incubate and then come out of it.

    Have faith that this, too, will pass. Believe that your daughter does love you deep down, and she will come through this. Know that almost all teenage girls go through these types of feelings towards their mothers, and that hatred is actually a normal feeling for many teens.

    What would happen if you just let go of this, and allow your daughter to work her feelings out the way she needs? Writing is therapeutic, and is helping her process her feelings in healthy ways. That’s a good choice she’s making.

    Your job is to learn how to stop your own thoughts and feelings from controlling you. Your teenage daughter is letting her thoughts and feelings control her because she doesn’t know better. I didn’t either, when I was a teen. But now I’m a grown woman, and I know better than to let my thoughts and feelings control me.

    What do you think?


  4. Laurie,
    I have a 14 yr old daughter, whom I thought I had a fairly good relationship with considering her age. We’ve had a bit of a rough patch the last two weeks though. She was sick recently, so to do something nice for her, I decided to clean her room while she was at school (something she’s expected to do normally.) Well, I did the worst thing possible and read her diary while I was in there : ( I was devastated to read the words she wrote about me. “Hate” the “b” word, even the “c” word once. She’s a very respectful girl and would never say these things to me in person. And she wrote about me a lot. I was shocked at how much negativity there was, saying she was an awful child and she hated herself. I praise her often (when deserved) I tell her how much I admire her and am proud of her. I try to have special mother/daughter time with just her (I also have 3 boys!) and try to use a gently tone when correcting. We have “girl” talks – that I thought were very productive and that she enjoys. I can be harsh at times. I try to apologize if I say things I regret. I had a very very hard relationship with my own mom, even leaving when I was 14. I think maybe I’m being too sensitive to my daughter’s words because of this. It’s honestly just ruined my day. I know I shouldn’t have read her diary and I don’t plan to do it ever again, or to tell her that I did it – she would never trust me! What are your thoughts?

  5. Dear Brenda,

    I don’t think you did anything to deserve how your daughter is treating you. Sometimes daughters have complicated, confusing emotions about the mothers — and often it has nothing to do with anything the mothers actually said or did! It’s just daughters working through their childhoods and their emotions.

    Nobody’s childhood is perfect, and healthy adults recognize and accept this. I think we all need to forgive our mothers and fathers for not giving us exactly what we wanted or needed when we were little.

    It sounds like you need to let your daughter go — emotionally. She has alot of control over how you feel.

    Have you read any of the Boundaries books by Cloud and Townsend? I also encourage you to talk to a counselor or someone you trust about how to let your daughter have her feelings, and not be swept up when she says things like she hates you as a mother. It’s a very difficult thing to do – detach yourself – but it may be the healthiest way to cope with your daughter.


  6. My 22 year old daughter told me that she hates me and cannot stand to be around me. I asked why she hates me she stated that she had a horrible childhood and we never let her do what she wanted. We were stricter with her when she was younger, due to the fact she had several run ins with the legal system. My daughter is 21 years old now does not live at home any more, she lives with her boyfriend and her 5 year old son. She watch our grandson just about every evening and every weekend so that she can work and go to college. I am devastated and do not know how to deal with my emotions. We are very proud of her working and going to school to better herself her and she is an exceptional mother and we tell her this very often. What did I do to deserve this behavior from her?

  7. Thank you for being here. I’m sorry I didn’t respond to these comments. If you’re still around, I’d love to hear how your mom-daughter relationship is going!

  8. Well…I know this is super late but I just need to post. I am a teenage daughter. When I tell my mum that I hate her, that’s not the real reason. I love her. I love her so much that my heart breaks when I see her growing older yet trying to do everything she used to do which is realy quite unneccesary now that all the kids have grown up. My oldest sister is in college but she still expects mum to pick up after her. And my mum does it. I kept trying to tell her to spend more time on herself but she never listened. So I did the next thing I knew to do. I told her I couldn’t keep caring for her if she refused to care for herself. No matter how mean I am, she keeps coming back to help me. I don’t want her to so I try to be mean so that maybe she will just give up on me. I’m probably going to end up as a daughter that occasionally texts her mum. I think I’m ok with it too. What else can I do?

  9. My youngest daughter who is 21 is going through clinical depression after a break up with her boyfriend four months ago. She stayed at the university but dropped so many of her courses. She is being treated with medication and counselling. I am learning how to deal with a depressed child, I never had a clue before. But along the way I made mistakes trying to give advice but she took it as criticism. She blew up at me twice with anger, accusations and hateful words blaming me for her low self esteem. I am not a perfect mom but I have done what I thought is best for my children. The thing that really affected her is when I told her that she is dressed like a prostitute, she was 14 at the time. I admitted to her that this was a very poor choice of words on my part, but English is not my first language and sometimes my brain can’t find the right words when I need them, I apologised for this but she is still angry with me and our relationship is very strained. I need help to reconnect with her. I feel like a failure, even though I have sacrificed my life for my children. I always thought we were friends but now she is telling me that since she went to university she had called my sister instead of me when she needed help or advice fearing that I would have judged her. I will start going for counselling myself soon. Do you have a suggestion to help me reconnect with her? or a book to read? Thanks.

  10. my ex-mother in law has caused major division and ruined what has always been a very close,tight loveing bond between my daughter & i.I know her reason for this & i dont know how to get my daughter to see through this womans true intents.i had to tell my daughter a truth about her grandma’s addiction to cocaine to prevent her from going to live with her in order for my daughters desire to be close to her peers after we had moved from the area.Well once my ex-mother in law knew i had told my daughter this,she set out for revenge and for the last year my daughter hasnt spoken to me except by way of texting.(every now & then)she is going on her 2nd yr.of college.what do i do? This has been soooooo emotionally hard,iam finally past the stage of tearing up every other minute,but the pain & anguish still resides deep.I text her alot to tell her i love her and thats all i know to do.