The Four Little Words That Break A Mom’s Heart


 As we drove to preschool yesterday morning, my daughter was screaming at me. She was upset because she didn’t want to go to school and decided to throw a full blown tantrum in the car complete with crying and seat kicking. Her actions bothered me, but the words she was hurling out as insults really stabbed me in the heart.


She screamed this over and over at me during the 20 minute ride. It was the first time she has ever said these hurtful words to me.

Hearing this come from her mouth for the first time was like the ultimate betrayal. As my eyes welled up with tears I wanted to yell at her, “Don’t you know what I went through to bring you into this world?!?! Don’t you know the mental and emotional anguish I lived through to make sure you could live?!?!” For a brief moment my mind took me back there. Daily shots in my stomach. Reminding myself to take deep breaths through the moments of panic. Praying to God on a daily basis asking for her to be healthy, and unlike her older brother, to be born alive. Letting go of the idea that, ultimately, I had zero control of what could happen to her inside of me.

But, instead, I just stayed quiet. In all honesty, I didn’t know what to say to defuse the situation. She was so worked up and I knew she would need to calm down before I could rationalize with her at all. I also didn’t think yelling back would help.

She has said hurtful things before, of course. I mean, she is three and the epitope of a threenager – all the bad and the good that comes with the age. Up until now the meanest thing she had ever said to me was, “You’re not my best friend.” The phrase was flung out there complete with malic in her voice and a dirty look.

The first time she said that it stung too. However, I managed to put up an emotional shield on this one and recently, I even came up with a response that she seemed to accept.

“Good,” I said back to her.” I don’t need to be your best friend. I’m your mom.”

This seemed to make her think the first time I said it and she hasn’t really mentioned me not being her best friend again. So, I guess, she decided to move on to bigger and harsher verbal attacks.

We were almost to school when I decided to put on a song from Frozen and see if she would calm down a bit. It worked a bit. At least she stopped kicking my seat, but it seems like even Elsa couldn’t help me now. She was still crying and occasionally screaming. And, she added another sentence into the mix.

“I love daddy. NOT YOU.”

Ok, I was over this. I know daddy is often the fun one. He plays while I make dinner, do laundry and feed her brother. Now he often puts her to bed because I’m busy putting the baby to bed around the same time. Since having a second baby in July, I’ve had a difficult time managing my time between the two kids evenly, especially since I have been breastfeeding, but I don’t think that is out of the ordinary.

“Keira, you’re not being nice to me,” I said calmly (shockingly). “Please do not talk to me until you can be nice to me.”

She stopped screaming at me. She was still crying but she stopped yelling. It was a start. I put, “Let It Go,” on repeat and we drove the last five minutes without any yelling.

“I’m hot, momma,” she said.

Well, that I could do something about. I turned down the heat and she eased up on the crying.

By the time we pulled into the school parking lot, her eyes were still teary and she was red-faced, but she was calmer. I took her out of her seat and she asked me to carry her. I scooped her up in my arms as best I could and slowly walked over the ice in heels to towards the door.

As she wrapped her arms around me and held on tight, I knew it wasn’t true. I knew she loved me. I also knew I was going to have to modify my emotional shield for these new, mean words. It might have been the first time she had said them to me, but I knew it wouldn’t be the last.


  1. I’ve recently gotten some comments like that. Even “I hate you” from my 3-year-old. You’re absolutely right to “rise above” the moment and deflate the anger/tension rather than feeding into it. I’m glad this resolved the way it did.

  2. “A threenager” ha ha! 🙂 I remember those days. Our boys are now in college and our girls are teenagers. And it happens so way too fast.

    The stresses have definitely changed from when they were little, but they continue to be the biggest blessings in my life. I’ve grown through being their mom. Being a mama can be tough. Hang in there…you’re doing great!

  3. Neither one of my kids have ever said that to me, but if they did, it would just roll off my back. I was a HORRIBLE teenager so I know what it’s like.

  4. My oldest daughter has said things like this to me as well… and I just tell her she has no idea all the things I do for her and she’s not allowed to say that to me. I try to encourage her to use other words to say how she feels and figure out what the root of the problem is.
    It hurt me but I also knew she had NO IDEA what she was saying, she just wanted to be mad and hurt me.

  5. You dealt with it fine and I think it’s really nice that you decided not to clap back at her and just remained calm through it all. They say things they don’t mean and it’s really hurtful. But at the end of the day they still need their mom.

  6. omg such a heartfelt post! Things like this gets me scared for motherhood – I dont plan on being a mom anytime soon BUT i will be one day and i think this would break my heart too!

  7. My 3 almost 4 year old is in the “hate” stage. He hates me, then dad, and then it’s something random. I just tell him we don’t say mean things that hurt others feelings and we don’t use the word hate either.

  8. This is an awful phase kids go through and it does suck but we just need to let them know it hurts our feelings and how would they feel if someone told them that. It passes thankfully.

  9. I have gotten the I don’t love you and I hate you from both of my daughters but thankfully not from my son. I am not sure if its the hormonal girl thing or what but it cuts your heart so deep to hear them say it.

  10. You handled it really well. It’s better to not get angry or go with your feelings, and just stay calm and allow them to let their anger out. They’ll soon realize how much they really need you, it’s all just emotions and kids have a lot of that.

  11. Oh man I was so horrible as a child to my mum I shudder now thinking about it! I think we all go through the stage of just testing the waters and being overly dramatic! doesn’t make it hurt any less though

  12. It is so hard when things like this happen with the little ones. It is so important to just remember to take it with a grain of salt since kids cannot really process what is going on.

  13. Brace yourself for the teen years because it will get so much worse! My daughter has hurt me in so many ways, but it has been an exercise in letting go and understanding what I can and cannot control. Parenting is rough, but at least we aren’t in it alone.

  14. Parenting in general is hard but when a child tells you they hate you it manages to break your heart instantly. I know that my kids will always make me happy but first they are making me strong.

  15. Wow! I obviously don’t have the experience of being a mother yet (not for a long while, to be honest), but hearing those words from someone you devote your entire life to must definitely hurt at first. But then you know that they never truly mean it… it’s kind of like how we all fight with our parents sometimes especially during those teenage years. We might hate them at the moment, or their decisions, but in the end, we know that all they want is the best for us, and our happiness and success. Great post!

  16. This definitely feels heartbreaking the first time it’s heard. But for me, even worse was when my oldest daughter said, “you don’t love me.” It’s important to understand how they are feeling and help regulate that emotion.

  17. You handled this just fine! Kids do and say things in frustration and anger that they don’t mean, but that doesn’t mean the words don’t hurt. The nice thing about little ones is that they almost always recover quickly, and will turn it around if you give them the chance. Sadly, as they get older, it can get a little more prickly at times.

  18. How.. is it ok for your child of any age to say things like that?
    Please teach your kids that respect for other shows self-respect and visa versa.
    A 3 yo should not be yelling those things. Is this normalised in suburban America? Honest question, why? Why put up with it and nog teach your kid to be abusive.


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