You know the drill: you tell your teen to come home before curfew or that she can't go out with friends and you're rewarded with a slammed door in your face. Dads often get a chilly reception when trying to discipline teens. While your teen might scream that she hates her dad, don't take it too seriously. Teens are notoriously emotional and their words aren't always a true reflection of how they feel.
Teen Anger and Triggers
Teens are naturally quick to anger, thanks to hormones and brain development that cause him to act in the moment and not understand the future. A teen teeters on the edge of adulthood while still technically being a child. If you, as a father, try to stunt that transition into adulthood, you're liable to get a scowl and some negative words. That's because teens see boundaries as restrictions, even if you see them as safeguards. The constant tug-of-war between adult and child can make for a strained relationship. Whether you're the main disciplinarian in the home or you're simply trying to protect your teen, father figures are often seen as too authoritative and unyielding, which can incur the wrath of a teen scorned.
What it Means
If your teen says she hates you as her dad, or says that she hates her father, it's important to take that language with a grain of salt, according to the Brigham Young University David O. McKay School of Education. The term "hate" doesn't have the same connotations for a teen as it does an adult. Usually, it refers to a hotheaded state of anger or dislike. Your teen's brain isn't yet developed enough to understand what hatred really means. On one hand, it still means that she's mad at dad. On the other hand, it may not be as dire as you think.
How to Cope
As a dad, you have a few options to deal with teen hatred. The first is to let your teen cool off. If you want to get into a yelling match, there's a good chance that he'll win and you'll only succeed in making him more upset. Instead, try a five-minute break before you try and talk things out. Then, model the behavior you want from your teen -- never say "I hate you" back. Instead, understand the real reason behind your teen's anger and how you can work together to solve it. Stay consistent but fair and your teen's temper should go from boiling point to tepid temperature.
If a teen says that she hates you or is angry on a regular basis, you may need to talk to your family doctor. Certain mental disorders, such as bipolar or oppositional defiance disorder (ODD) can cause excess anger and a penchant for conflict and confrontation in teens. If your teen's behavior is sudden, accompanied by mood swings or a problem with authority in general, seek out the help of a mental health professional who can diagnose your teen and help you both learn ways to turn down the anger and resume a more normal teen and dad relationship.
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