Q: My daughter hates and despises me... says she will run away and hide or fight if I try to pick her up at her dad's for my parenting time. I am devastated. What should I do?
- Sad Alienated Mom #2
A: Oh my, I'm sorry. That must have been very hard for you to hear.
Please don't believe her when she says she hates you. What she means is that she feels terribly angry and confused and upset. Kids go to extremes in their emotional expressions. If they say they are so mad they could punch someone, it's their way of describing the intensity of their emotion. It's not an indicator of true intention or premeditated violence.
It's important that you make a sincere effort to understand an acknowledge her perspective. As silly as it sounds, go ahead and say things like, You are so serious about not wanting to see me that you are planning to run away when I come. And, You are super upset and don't want to spend even ONE minute with me.
You aren't agreeing with her perspective, just letting her know you understand.
After you've acknowledged enough that you can feel her intensity diminishing a bit, quietly and gently say, Honey, I just couldn't stand not seeing you, so I am coming. You can be as mad at me as you want, and I will still want to see you. I will never stop wanting to be with you, ever, no matter what.
Then listen and acknowledge some more. Don't be the first one to walk away or hang up. Keep calm, keep breathing, listen, and reflect. Things may get intense! Stay present, and stay cool.
No storm lasts forever. Eventually she will run out of angry steam, and will probably start crying. If she lets you, come in close and make contact to comfort her. If she doesn't want to be touched, just stay nearby and offer words of comfort: I'm here. I love you. I am right here, honey. I'm not going anywhere. It's safe to tell me how you feel. Or if even verbal contact feels like too much, just sit near her as calmly and lovingly as you can.
If you give her words the power to devastate you, it's scary for her. Be her rock. Love her no matter what she says. Don't let her think that your connection is so fragile that she can scare you away! She needs you now more than ever.
You will need plenty of support to be able to do this, so please call on your team of friends and professionals to help you release your own feelings of frustration, anger, and grief.
Good luck. I know you can do this!
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