Fruitfully Living

Why Does My Daughter Hate Me?

Why does my daughter hate me image

I hope my story can help YOU restore your mother-daughter relationship! Scroll to the bottom for a free printable! Also, I may receive a small commission if you click on an affiliate link and you purchase an item. But know, I only recommend products that I truly believe in and I highly recommend the book at the end of this article!

My Broken Mother-Daughter Relationship

I remember going through a time during my teenage years that I hated my mom. However, I never expected to find myself on the other end of the spear a few decades later, asking myself, “Why Does My Daughter Hate Me?”

Honestly, I never thought I was the problem. I thought there was something wrong with my daughter and that I would need to ramp up the discipline to whip her into shape. But God would take me through a journey that would turn my thinking up side down. Or better yet, right side up. He would show me that the problem was me and not her and help me correct my mistakes before I hurt my child even further.

When I First Noticed the Problems with My Daughter

At the beginning of 2017, my husband and I had shared with our church small group that we had noticed some behavioral issues with our ten-year-old daughter. She was displaying an “entitlement” attitude, worrying only about herself with almost no compassion towards her little sister, her father, nor myself. More ominously, she had purposefully done a few things behind our backs and then tried to lie about it, like physically hitting a good friend of hers. She was also increasingly defiant whenever we would correct her and our mother-daughter relationship was hanging on by a thread.

It was a hard thing to accept that my smart, curious, happy kid was turning into this person that did not reflect the heart of Jesus and that frankly, I was not liking very much. She was not liking me either. She rarely sought me out and would not hug me nor say anything pleasant to me. There was a stark contrast between her little sister, our resident “cuddle bug” and my eldest. While her sister would run and jump into my arms, my other daughter would ignore me or sometimes just walk away if I got too close. I could feel that just my presence would annoy her.

It was a hard thing to accept that my smart, curious, happy kid was turning into this person that did not reflect the heart of Jesus and that frankly, I was not liking very much. Click To Tweet

When I First Realized I was the Problem.

My husband and I could have dismissed it as part of the growing process and blamed it on the “tween” years, but that would have been a big mistake. We knew we had to make some changes and so we planned for the girls and I to spend part of our summer in Laredo, TX doing mission work (more on our experience here). Our hope was that seeing poverty first hand would help my daughter realize that she had everything and help change how she viewed her world.

I believe the trip helped and it certainly opened the eyes of both my daughters in a lot of ways. But it also helped in an unexpected way. It helped me. During one of the  church services, my  daughter was sitting a row back from me, with her arms crossed, refusing to participate in the service.

This is small church so her bad attitude was easy for everyone to see. I was furious because it was reflecting badly on me and it was reflecting badly on my dad, the pastor. I gave her a glare and whispered condemning words in her ear and she glared back at me, unmoved. My heart was pricked. God convicted me right there and then. At that moment I was worried little about my daughter’s heart. Rather, I was worried about what the congregation would say and how she was embarrassing me.

God Used Other Ways to Show Me My Mistakes

In the following weeks, I heard a sermon that further cemented what God had begun to speak to my heart that Sunday morning. I also got the opportunity to spend time with a remarkable little boy and his mom and I learned a lot from their interaction.

Those two experiences showed me that I had been parenting from a place of condemnation. I was making my daughter feel like she could never do anything right, that she would never be good enough. Her natural reaction was to feel lonely, feel unloved, and to rebel and pull away. So I made the decision that I needed to stop the yelling, stop the glaring, stop the hurtful words, and seek to help restore her little heart. I needed to do some serious work on me and how I interacted with my daughter. I needed to apply Colossians 3:21.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

By parenting from a place of condemnation, we make our children feel like they will never do anything right, like they will never be good enough. Click To Tweet

Changing My Methods

That doesn’t mean I relaxed my “rules” nor that I did away with consequences. I still have certain expectations of behavior. She still has chores. But how I lay out consequences has changed. I try to assume a lot less and I ask a lot more questions to find out where the behavior or reaction is coming from. And if I determine that she has met a consequence threshold, I try my absolute best to speak to her respectfully and to explain why the consequences are necessary. I am trying to avoid phrases like, “I am disappointed in you” or “I can’t believe you did that.” I say things more like, “You made a mistake. It happens. We are all flawed and make mistakes, otherwise Jesus would have never come.”

I also changed my way of thinking. Instead of expecting perfection, I expect mistakes to be made. My child is a child and I would be a hypocrite to expect otherwise. I shouldn’t be surprised by questionable choices, but I am trying to use them as an chance to guide and instruct her instead. Changing that frame of mind, has helped me improve how I react when my daughter does fall short. I am less likely to give that condemning glare and more likely to show her how much I love her.

Changing How I Parented Was Not Easy

This new way of parenting is very unnatural for me. I am easily irritated, I am moody, and I have been told that I can give a look that kills. For those that know me well, they know I can be a difficult person (I can hear my mom and husband chuckling now).

I have to fight these natural reactions and be more calm. But what drives me is that I only have seven years left with this little girl. This is the chance God has given me to raise His child and prepare her for adulthood. If I am willing to fight against anyone that tries to hurt my daughter physically, then I must be willing to fight against the character flaws in myself that are hurting my daughter.

My Daughter Hated Me Because She Felt Unloved

And because I am seeking her heart, instead of just looking to get good behavior out of her, I am noticing her emotional needs more. I realized because she is so smart, and so independent, that I was not spending as much time with her as I used to. I wasn’t doing it on purpose. I just assumed she needed me less or didn’t want me to be around because she didn’t seek me out the way her sister does. But in her mind, that was not what was happening at all. She was interpreting my behavior as me not loving her as much as I loved her little sister.

And because she felt unloved by me, she was lashing out against me with passive aggressiveness and rebellion. I interpreted that as my daughter hating me. It breaks my heart to write those words, to know that I was responsible for starting that vicious cycle, but I can’t move forward unless I am honest with what I did. Now, I seek her out even if she is not looking for me and I try to serve her in little random ways that will make her feel special again.

Because I Changed, She Changed

It has been almost five months and the change in my daughter has been remarkable. She is more cuddly, more obedient, more likely to do the right thing when she thinks I am not looking, and just more pleasant. When I interrupt what she is doing and ask her to do something, I am now more likely to get an “Okay, mommy” instead of her stomping away. And although she still has angry outbursts now and then, they are more infrequent and I see a much greater, genuine concern for my husband and me and for her sister. She is still a child, of course. She still fights with her sister now and again. She still makes some questionable decisions, but they are more infrequent. I am seeing a heart change and I am full of joy.

2017 will always be the year that God nudged me, actually more like pushed me to change my parenting style. It was the year I learned that in order to help my daughter, I needed to seek His guidance to provoke change in me first. As we aim to raise our children, we also have to be willing to let God guide, correct, and transform us. We are imperfect beings raising imperfect beings, but if we let the Spirit guide us, it can make all the difference.

Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.

Other articles that might be of interest:

How to Restore a Broken Mother-Daughter Relationship

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

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31 Comments

  1. Pingback: Raising a Christian Apologist • Fruitfully Living

  2. Melinda Viergever Inman

    You are a superlative mother! Well done! The process you went through as you attempted to sort out your daughter’s struggle is a great model for others. To ask first, what am I doing wrong, is incredibly wise, and is often not even considered by parents. As we were raising our children, I valued the teen years for many reasons, one being because tweens and teens reveal our hypocrisy. I called them The Hypocrisy Police, and we had a large family, so we had many, many years of always having one of the police force around. As adults now, they still keep us humble and honest. No one can make us glaringly aware of our major flaws, sins, and habits as a resident tween or teen. This humbles us, and it causes us to grow, if we’re humbled and also willing to dig in and do the work of transformation with the Lord. You did this, and writing this out for others will surely help many parents as they struggle in the same well. There’s a lot of wisdom here, Luisa! This is a great post!

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thank you Melinda! I am going to have to borrow that phrase, “The Hypocrisy Police.” That is exactly what it is. ANd like you said, we have to be willing to be humbled, even by our children.

      Reply
      1. Melinda Viergever Inman

        Our children can be our best teachers, if we will but study them, as you did, and listen to them. They reveal us to ourselves, and they have unique insights. As adults, I often seek their input and opinions.

        Reply
  3. Marcie Cramsey

    I loved your post! In 2011, I had a very similar experience with our daughter. That year definitely taught me a lot about myself. I like how you wrote, “If I am willing to fight against anyone that tries to hurt my daughter physically, then I must be willing to fight against the character flaws in myself that are hurting my daughter.” Great perspective. Certainly one I learned the hard way, but nonetheless I learned. I’m glad I heeded the Lord’s prompting to work on myself as a mom rather than my stubbornness ignoring it. Today, my daughter (who is now 26 years old) and I are great friends, sister’s in Christ, not just a mother and daughter.

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thank you Marcie! So glad to hear that you and your adult daughter are great friends! I pray and hope that God will bless me with that when mine have left the nest. For the time being, I am thankful for the relationship I now have with both of my daughters.

      Reply
  4. Wendy Wallace

    I am so sorry that this has been such a struggle for you. I’m really glad that you’ve found the solution, though .listen to God! Let Him show you the way. It’s hard raising young people, daughters are especially emotional. Keep on that path and you’ll find the relationship you’ve always hoped for.

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thanks Wendy….It has been a struggle, but I am thankful for it. I have met lots of moms that have gone through similar experiences and it has given me the opportunity to mentor them. Even in the struggle—God will not waste an opportunity.

      Reply
  5. Patricia S Holbrook

    What a great post! I recently experienced something similar with my youngest (12)… noticing that she was disconnecting from me and becoming distant. I realized she preferred to spend more time with her “virtual” friends than with me. It took a week of detoxing from telephones and Tv to make me realize… I was not making the effort either. Thank God for that week! Our relationship is so much better now.

    Thanks for sharing your story. We have to be always open to the fact that we are not perfect parents, and that some of our children’s attitude is nothing but a cry for attention… or help.

    Blessings,

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thanks Patricia! Yes, it was a total cry for attention. Interestingly, my bad behavior as a teen was driven by the same motivation and as an adult and a parent—I did not identify it that way in my daughter initially. I am thankful for God’s grace for eventually revealing it to me.

      Reply
  6. Melissa McLaughlin

    Luisa, thank you for this wonderful post! I appreciate your honesty, because as you shared your struggles and how you learned to self-reflect through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I was reminded to think first about my own parenting. I want to remember to seek the heart of my children and not just address their behavior and choices. I praise God for how he helped you see ways you could draw your daughter close again! God bless you and your family!

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thanks Melissa! And thank God for the reminders from the Holy Spirit! I had read many parenting books including, How to Shepherd a Child’s Heart. While in the struggle with my daughter, I didn’t identify it as a heart issue even though intellectually I guess I should have. But was Graceful!

      Reply
      1. Melissa McLaughlin

        So grateful for your heart as a mom, being willing to learn and grow to be a blessing to your daughter. I will check out that book. Thank you!

        Reply
  7. Yvonne

    This information is so important to learn for us parents. It is so easy to get caught up in the condemnation to try to fix a behavior instead of seeking loving words. Thanks for the beneficial information. God bless.

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thank you Yvonne! I just hope and pray that my story can help parents who are currently struggling with their children.

      Reply
  8. Bob Hayward

    Thank you Luisa – thank you for your willingness to share your own journey in parenting.

    Our four Children are older, 31 being the youngest – age has not yet stopped the ups and downs in the relationships. Your blog contains a personal message for me – thank you. “My daughter hated me because she felt unloved” – Perception is projection. If someone is feeling unloved then that is their reality and I can more likely influence the perception of love by behaving in a more consistently loving way (as perceived by them)

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      I definitely understand the ups and downs of relationship. I didn’t reconcile with my mom until I was well in my 30s….17+ years after becoming a Christian. Thank goodness for God’s grace!!

      Reply
  9. Edna Davidsen

    Dear Luisa!

    I’m a first-timer on your blog, happy to be her.

    I’ve been lucky with my relation to family, no big issues there – but I understand how painful that must be.

    I think you inspire others with the honestly you share in your blog post.

    I believe it can help people with similar problems to reflect on how to deal with them.

    With love!
    Edna Davidsen

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thank you Edna! It is not easy being an open book to the world—but when I started being transparent about my life, other women started reaching out and saying, “me too.” It makes it worth it to help other women who just need that little bit of encouragement.

      Reply
  10. Beth Bingaman

    Wow! What a Victory! I love the way the Lord works and pray that as you and your daughter listen to Him that you will see even more blessings!

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thank you Beth!

      Reply
  11. Galina

    Read the post in one breath! As a very strong willed mother of a very strong willed teenage daughter I had my own share of very similar experiences ever since my girl was little. And as in your case MY attitude to life and my style of parenting had to change. I realized that our relationship is much more important than house rules. We still have rules but they are based on mutual respect and allow for a healthy dose of independence. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Both of my daughters are very strong willed (like their momma, lol), but I think that is why my oldest reacted so strongly. It is good to hear the stories of others that went through similar experiences. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  12. Brianna Martin

    Luisa, how easy it is to parent for the approval of the people around us rather than for the good of our children. Even the best of parents can easily fall into this trap. Thank you for being so transparent in writing this, because I feel that any parent has probably had the same struggle to a certain extent, and it’s so helpful and encouraging to hear that others have been through it and that a change in behavior, attitude, and/or motivation can turn a bad situation into a good one! I’ll be sharing this article on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thank you for the shares Brianna!

      Reply
  13. susanslandry

    As a parent of teens, I saw so much in your piece that I can relate to. As our kids get older, we have to change the way that we parent. Like you said, the standards don’t change, but we do have to change how we speak them into their lives.

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thank you for the comments, Susan!

      Reply
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  15. Pingback: How to Restore a Broken Mother-Daughter Relationship • Fruitfully Living

  16. Edna Davidsen

    That’s a great point, Louisa. One takeaway from that is that nothing great comes from the comfort zone 🙂

    Reply
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