14 Year Old Daughter Who Hates Me
from Dr. Bill Maier
Q: I have a 14-year-old daughter who hates me—and maybe I deserve it. For many years we’ve established a pattern where I end up yelling at her whenever we come into conflict. Although I apologize later for losing my temper, my child no longer receives it. Growing up, my parents hit me, yelled at me and ignored me, and now I don’t know how to reach my own daughter. I’ve prayed about this and have tried to make amends, but she is leading me to believe it’s too late. My daughter often asks what I want. What I want is for her to love me, but I feel like I’ve ruined that, and I miss our relationship. Please help.
A: My heart breaks for your circumstances. The Bible refers to this as “generational sin.” The abuse you suffered as a child has obviously wounded you deeply. It has also negatively impacted your parenting.
If you truly want to restore the relationship, you’ve got some hard work to do. Your daughter no longer trusts you, and it’s going to take time to rebuild that trust. She’ll need to see real repentance on your part, expressed in your actions, not just your words. The Bible describes true repentance as “turning away” from one’s sinful actions—a deliberate change in one’s heart and behaviour.
The Bible commands us to “confess your sins to each other” and to “carry each other’s burdens.” I’d encourage you to find a licensed Christian counsellor who can help you examine how your childhood experiences have affected you and help you to make permanent changes in your behaviour.
Express to your daughter how sorry you are for the pain you have caused her. Let her know you understand if she doesn’t trust you. Admit that your past apologies haven’t meant much when you’ve continued to lash out in anger. Tell her you are taking action to work on your anger problem and let her know about your own childhood experiences. Make it clear that you’re not making an excuse for your behaviour, but that you want her to understand your personal history.
Don’t expect her feelings to change toward you overnight. The strain in your relationship has built up over years, and it may take some time before she begins to feel love toward you again. If she feels pressured or manipulated to express loving feelings, those feelings will never be genuine.
Dr. Bill Maier is Focus on the Family’s psychologist-in-residence and host of the “Weekend Magazine” radio program.
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