When Mom’s Feelings are Hurt

My teenage son was stepping over the line in his behavior choices one evening.  In a quiet moment I asked him some questions of the heart.  He was not impressed.  He told me, “Mom, your psychology doesn’t work for me anymore”.   “As a matter of fact,” he added, “you went to school in 1990 and your education is old”.

How does a middle-aged mom reply to those comments?  I wallowed in my choices.  I thought about lecturing him, I thought about an intelligent come-back, and I thought about climbing under my covers and crying.  Admittedly, it took me about an hour to work through my response; wrestling with my thoughts and praying for God’s direction.

As our kids grow toward adulthood they struggle for autonomy; they need to decide what they believe and who they will be, independent of their parents.  They may even discover that their parents are not perfect.  We risk alienating our youth when we respond to them with hurt feelings.

Unhealthy responses to your hurt feelings

Manipulation.  Some of us are masters of manipulation.  We can guilt our kids in an effort to control them.   Maybe you can manipulate them now, but the relationship will deteriorate in the years to come.  Your efforts will squelch their individuality and they will be resentful when they are able to recognize it.

Withdrawal.  Emotional events like the one my son and I encountered may tempt a parent to pull away from their child with hurt and angry feelings.  When we choose to withdraw, we invite the danger of habitually responding this way during their struggle for independence.

Our behavior leaves our youth to struggle through the rest of their teen years without healthy parental input.

Insecurity.   The youthful words of our loved ones can cut to the core of our identity.  If we allow the snippy comments to define us, we run the risk of becoming parental weaklings.  We will make decisions from our insecurity rather than from a healthy perspective.

Healthy responses to your hurt feelings

Talk about it with your youth.  Sometimes it is okay to tell your kid, “My feelings were hurt by your choice of words”.  Youth need the freedom to respond to your directives as long as it is done respectfully.  Learning their words can hurt or tear down a relationship is a valuable lesson.  You have the opportunity to promote a healthy dialogue when this happens.

Learn when to let it go.  An adolescent is not equipped to manage and process his mom’s feelings every time she feels hurt.

It is up to us adults to struggle through our own feelings. We need to choose to let them go.  We must recognize our youth are developing and testing their way to independence.  Remember who the adult is in the relationship.

Talk about it with emotionally healthy adults.   Process your feelings with your spouse or your girlfriends.  Chances are high that you are not the only parent dealing with hurt feelings.  Don’t wait until you perceive a big problem; begin a dialogue with others who want to make emotionally healthy choices.  Together you will encourage one another in your parenting.

Develop a healthy identity.  We mom’s have the tendency to lose ourselves in our children.  When we lose our  sense of self, we create unhealthy relationships with our children.

Learn to strike a balance between being a great spouse, an attentive loving mom, and your own person.  You can do it!  Being at peace with the struggle to obtain the balance will guarantee your continued personal growth.

Take it a step further.  Talk with a pastoral or licensed counselor if you are unable to work through your feelings and responses to your children.  Your family health is worth the effort of seeking personal support.

Let’s grow through this together.  We’ll keep loving on our family, and become healthier women in the process.

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  1. Stephanie says:

    Really great Bonnie, thanks! Very helpful and fabulous suggestions.
    …walking bowed in His grace alone, as I enter the teenage years! ~Steph

  2. Michelle Weeks says:

    Loved this post! Thank you for the encouraging and thoughtful words. It does help me so much to talk to other moms who want to be godly yet struggle at times with parenting teenagers and young adults. Letting my son develop into his own person with his own testimony when he doesn’t completely fit my preconceived mold for him has been the HARDEST part of parenting so far. I am learning/trying to pray more and nag less!

  3. Amber Hudson says:

    God knew I needed to hear this TODAY! Just last night, I had a conversation with my own teen that has been bothering me ever since. I finally realized late this morning that it bothered me for two reasons: one, because it revealed some things in his heart that are concerning to me; and two, because I realized that my feelings were hurt in the course of the conversation. That left me trying to figure out what to do with each of those separate issues. This afternoon, I popped on the computer and saw this post! This provides me with good food for thought as I continue to talk to God about how he wants me to handle this with my son. I want to make sure that I don’t address the concerns I have for him based on my hurt. I’m also considering whether it would be constructive to address what caused the hurt, or if I should cover it over with love and let it go. This parenting teenagers stuff is HARD–but it sure keeps me praying, which is oh-so-good! 🙂

    • Ladies, such great discussion. Each of you mention prayer, never to be referred to as “just” prayer, because it is powerful. Prayer for wisdom like Solomon requested and prayer that the Holy Spirit would do exceeding abundantly, far beyond anything we could ever think, ask or imagine, according to the power that works within! The power that works within the heart is from the Spirit and not from us. How powerful to trust the Spirit to break into our kids hearts. I like how you are all thinking and processing this adolescent thing. It’s good to talk with others about it-we can laugh at ourselves and get creative together in the process. Love to you, BJ

  4. Kathy Ayres says:

    I have found that this will happen more and more as your teen struggles with your boundries and values trying to decide where they coinside and where they collide with his. Prayer, consistency in living out your faith, adhereing to boundries, dialogue, a good mentor for your young adult, being the adult in the situation, and letting them know that God’s love and your love is unchangeable are important factors to keep you both intouch. But the greatest of these is love.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Just started the first chapter of a …so far… great book! (saying this in the first chapter, of course, isn’t much of a sell I know). But, really liking what he has to say! Maybe you all have already read this one, but it is new to me… The Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp.

  6. Nidia says:

    Bonnie – thank you for posting…I love this…

    “Learn to strike a balance between being a great spouse, an attentive loving mom, and your own person. You can do it! Being at peace with the struggle to obtain the balance will guarantee your continued personal growth.” –

    In the busyness of life, I get lost and react with unhealthy responses – I pray the Holy Spirit will lead me to repentance and rest – Isaiah 30:15

  7. Bonnie, even though I spotted this blogpost late, I still would like to join in the discussion. This is a very helpful blogpost.
    I had had to deal with this type of situations almost on a daily basis when our children were going through adolescence. At the time, I tried to let go of my hurt feelings most of the time. Now that they are in their early 20’s, I discovered that if I didn’t tell them how their words hurt me, they would not know it. It has been helpful for me to be vulnerable and let them know Mom can feel hurt.

    Coach Theresa

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