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Your kid hates you now. Congratulations!

A recent message on our F.E.A.S.T. facebook parent support group made me smile.

A parent reported their child said “I hope at some point I can make you as miserable as you’re making me” as a response to “I love you.”

Sometimes the language is not that polite, frankly, and is often sprinkled with profanity. Oh, the stories I’ve heard. If you only knew how common this is.

There was a time when I would not have smiled at this story. Being the target of that flailing rage and disdain from a person we love and are responsible for can singe the heart and deflate the ego. When our love is met with words of hate we are shocked, at first. It feels personal.

But let me give you the benefit of my own and countless other experienced family’s wisdom here: “I hate you” from the mouth of a struggling loved one is a gift.

  • It means they are uncomfortable: Congratulations! There’s no way to recover without distress and discomfort.
  • It means whatever’s happening is making the eating disorder unhappy, which is good for your person.
  • It means they are fighting back: that’s a sign of life.
  • It means you are safe to rant at: that they know in their core that you are the safest and strongest thing they have ever known. They trust you to stay strong and loving them no matter what, just as you did when they were tantruming toddlers in the grocery or holding them screaming as they got a vaccination.
  • It means they want you to hear them, urgently, YOU, that is how important you are to them, still.
  • It means they are being honest: not hiding their feelings, not suppressing or sneaking or pretending or acting.
  • It means I AM SO MISERABLE, and you want to know that, and you are there to show them it is survivable misery.
  • It means they feel this right now but they didn’t always, and there is a future in which this will no longer be true.
  • It means I love you, too.

A wise and expert parent on the forum answered that parent with this wise advice:

“Do not be afraid of the vitriol, love em anyway!!”



  1. Eva Musby

    I love how you teased out so many strands! ]
    There is so much more to “I hate you” than the initial, hurtful message that we hear.

    It may also help readers to know that, to my knowledge, the hate always passes.
    We end up with very loving, close relationships with our children.
    (And if any psychologists are worrying about this, no, it’s not over-enmeshed and over-dependent, just beautiful human bonds!)

  2. mireya

    I enjoyed reading this piece, and the reality it is pointing to. I believe too that our fear or discomfort around the experience of hatred is not supported of our humanness. That is, of course, hatred that is NOT ACTED OUT. We tend to be afraid of feeling our own hatred. These days I continue to welcome my 13 year old daughter’s connection to her experience of hate.

  3. Claire izcovich

    This is so true! I remember how the hurtful words were so painful to hear, however I also new that that was the only way to give our d her life back.

  4. Jacqui Mann

    Love takes many forms but this is extreme
    Witnessing their nightmare was hell and oh the pain of their expressed hate, sucking it up was so hard and on top of the guilt I already felt it was horrendous but it was important to listen, and take it all, it was the least I could do.
    I more than appreciate a conventional hug these days.

  5. Kevin

    I always felt it was better for my daughter to take out her pain and frustration on myself and her mother rather than herself. She was going through enough and we could take it. Also to some degree, we as parents deserved some of her anger – our job was to protect her and we missed so many signs and were way too slow in recognizing her illness.

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