I’ve heard it from you a thousand times when you don’t get your way. You yell it when your force of will doesn’t bend mine, thinking it will convince me to give in. But I’m here to tell you once and for all: I don’t care if you hate me right now.
Last night you hated me because I made you take a bath before bed. This morning, it was because I made you wear pants. I’m the worst mom ever because I told you to eat a vegetable, and the whole day is ruined because I won’t let you stay up late to watch TV.
I get it. You’re four. These things feel egregious and unfair. You have big feelings about being constantly told what to do and you don’t understand why you can’t always get your way. We will work—we are working—on the language you use to express those feelings. But in the meantime, it’s okay if you hate me.
I don’t mind making you mad when it’s to keep you safe, healthy, and well. I don’t get upset when you yell that you hate me (although we really do need to keep working on your other language tools to express yourself). Because I know I’m doing the right thing. Your yelling and stomping will not make me feel guilty for doing what’s best for you.
I will try to give you as much fun and magic as I can. I will cherish the moments of bonding and joy between us. I will love you with everything I have. But first and foremost, I will do what needs to be done to raise you.
I will punish you when punishment is called for. I will sit with you when you are sad. I will make sure you have what you need to thrive. I will try to guide you to become a kind, happy, and functioning adult.
It’s not that I want you to hate me. It’s just that there are bigger priorities here than making sure you’re happy with me. I’m here to love you, of course, but also to guide you, teach you, instill the right values in you, and keep you healthy and safe. When I have to choose between being your friend and being your parent, I will choose being your parent.
You’ve always been strong-willed, and I love that about you, but I will not let you rule this household because of it. I will not let your tantrums cause tantrums of my own. I will try to teach you when to use that stubbornness for good, and when to let it go.
I love you, even when you “hate” me. And I know you love me, even when you “hate” me. I fervently hope that one day we can be the very best of friends. But today, it’s okay if you hate me.