We coast through life, aware to some varying degree of the meaning of the word hate. We think we get it, until the moment you become a parent on the receiving end of the word.
No manuals, no books, no movies or TV shows can prepare you for the moment your child yells, in a furiously strained voice, “I hate you, Mommy!”
Very rarely the expression comes seemingly out of thin air. More oft than not, there will be a series of events in which you, as the instigator of such misery, were simply doing your part to protect by way of discipline. You can anticipate the reality that it will happen at some point or another, but nothing will ever fully prepare you for that moment when the words fly from their lips. Sure, they’ve been epically ticked at you and you have riddled yourself with worry, assuming that they indeed hate you, but to hear it straight from the mouth of babes? Get ready for a very bumpy ride.
As parents, in general, we are gifted the responsibility of teaching our children. And it truly is quite the gift. We are expected to seize the opportunities that present themselves as a means to mold and nurture our children to grow into upstanding, functional members of humanity. The very moment the lesson on hate is presented, and in such a way as this, the way we approach the teaching moment is pivotal.
There is a swell of emotion; anger, pain, confusion, failure. Which emotions we entertain and those we choose to sideline have such a great effect on how our child will perceive the word from that point forward. Depending on the age when they bust out this doozy, it’s safe to assume that their real grasp on the meaning or ramifications of using the word is so loosely based on the reality of its true meaning.
If we respond in a way fueled by anger or upset, the single thing that conveys to our child is that hate is a word used to pain others. While this is true and hate is a word that pains others, reacting this way greatly skews their innocence to understand the word as a means for arsenal to evoke that pain in others with intended purpose. Why would we ever want to explicitly hand our children the tools they can use to manipulate other people?
Sharing, instead, that there is nothing in the universe that warrants hatred speaks of the greater beauty in using this.very.moment as a means to diminish the use of the word. As much as it may seem so, it’s not necessarily lying to them. We are very smart people, us parents. We know that there really is no reason to hate anything. Even if we are pre-wired to really, really, terribly dislike something, hate has such connotations of weighty evil that hold no purpose, regardless of the very reality of its meaning’s prevalence in the world.
When you hear it from your child, there is no doubt that it will break you. It will destroy the sense of accomplishments you’ve made in helping to develop them into a very good people. Whether you are a deeply emotional person or a hardened soul, weeping will ensue. Embrace the flow of tears after you’ve stepped up to the moment. As in all things we teach our children, the way we choose to approach these moments hinge our successes in continuing the bang up efforts we’ve exercised thus far.
Basically, don’t blow it on such a vile, putrid four-letter-word as “hate” because, remember that they will drive the family car one day and you’ll need to dip into your reserves for that nightmare.
“I hate you, Mommy!”
“And I love you too much to let that be, son.”