What to Do When Your Child says “I Hate You"

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
— 1 Corinthians 13:7

Oh, how this week’s Bible verse comes in handy, especially when children try to test your patience, question your affection for them, or even make you question their love for you.  Parents often fear the day when their child screams “I hate you” in the heat of passion.  Unfortunately, it will happen to a lot of parents and I think it is important to be prepared for when it does.

Children are not able to articulate their thoughts and feelings into meaningful, temperate phrases.  They are very honest and tend to share their feelings without filter.  Often, they blurt out whatever is on their mind, without regard for anyone else.

When your children utter these three words, experts recommend that it is best to focus on your children’s anger and not take the remarks personally.  You should respond with loving and reassuring phrases such as “I understand you are angry.  I love you and I am here for you.”   Teach your children to express in words that they is angry.

Your children need to know that you are always there for them and will try your very best to understand them. However, they also need to know that hurtful words like “I hate you” are unacceptable.  When the situation has calmed down and everyone has had the opportunity to take a short break, have a talk with them about appropriate ways to express their feelings.  Using the word “hate” is extremely powerful and negative.  Don’t yell at them and threaten.  The more loving your response is, the more they will understand that their choice of words was wrong and they can do better in the future.

You may have to bear through a few more intense tantrums and go through these points several times before your children are truly able to grasp the concept of healthy expression.  Keep trying – don’t give up!  The more practice you have, the better it will sink into their minds and the more they will be able to share their thoughts and feelings. You do not have to wait for them to throw another tantrum to put those lessons to work, though.  Try discussing experiences that usually elicit an impulsive, negative response from your children and teach them how to respond kindly.

Hearing those three words can be so devastating to a parent, but by responding in love and using these moments as times to teach, parents are establishing a foundation of self-expression that will definitely benefit their children in the future.

By Spreading Love Rather Than Gossip, You Grow as a Christian

As much as we hate to admit it, we have all participated in gossip at some point in our lives. Whether the information we were spreading was based on truth or just pure speculation never really mattered, because there is a strange thrill in sharing some information between you and a few of your friends. There are those who say the act of gossiping is and has always been a part of our social lives, used to learn what is and is not acceptable. Some have described it as harmless banter, but it is actually an opportunity to say hurtful things about a person, with no regard for the consequences, including the person’s wellbeing.

If we really want to stay informed, or have a better understanding of social niceties, as has been suggested, there are so many productive and non-threatening ways to do so. Instead of talking about someone, try to talk to the person.  Get to know him or her better.  We, as humans, are social creatures and by doing this, we use the same amount of energy and can make a new friend in the process. You might even be able to learn a few things from the other person, as that person can from you too.  At the end of the day, we should constantly try to lift others up and encourage them, rather than drag them down, and once we are willing to lift and encourage, it is easier to be lifted and encouraged in turn.

Once you make the decision to no longer be a part of the toxic lifestyle that comes with gossip, feel free to distance yourselves from those who choose not to follow that principle.  The Bible states “as for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” Titus 3:10.

Creating some distance does not mean you have to cut those people out of your life, completely and immediately.  At first, you should encourage the people around you to consider the consequences of their actions.  Try to inform them and give them some of your tips on stopping this type of behavior.  Your role is never to be judgmental, but to be helpful.  If they persist, however, do not be afraid to now maintain distance from them, surrounding yourself with people who believe as you do.

The next time you are told a piece of gossip, no matter how interesting it may seem, be that wise person and walk away.  Let it die at your ears.  Always remember that your children are watching you and listening.  Be a good role model for them.

How Can Christian Parents Build Self-Esteem in Their Children?

Although my quote for today’s blog is not from the Bible, I believe it to be nonetheless very appropriate about self-esteem.  Just what is self-esteem? Essentially, it is the way a child thinks of himself/herself.  As Christian parents, what can we do to build self-esteem in our children?  We, of course, do not want them to grow up to be conceited and self-absorbed but there is a balance between healthy self-esteem and an inflated ego that we should understand.

First, we need to know and fully appreciate how God sees us and there are a number of Bible verses that show us that God sees us as very special. For example, Genesis 1:27 says that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him”.  Psalm 139:14 says “(f)or You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  In Ephesians 2:10, we are described as “God’s masterpiece”. Since He created us as such valuable, superior beings, we should see ourselves that way.

Second, it is important to make clear to our children that they should not rely on anyone’s praise from day to day to have self-esteem.  We, as parents, may praise our children some days, but not on other days.  Also, other people may not praise them, but in fact, may say negative things to them.  Their self-esteem and confidence should derive from God, who is always consistent and loving, and not from humans.  Help your children learn and memorize Bible verses that mention how special they are.  It is the Word of God that will serve as the foundation of their confidence.

Third, each child has different strengths.  Focus on building those strengths.  Remind them that all their gifts and strengths come from God. James 1:17 (“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights”).