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I hate myself

04 Dec Posted by in Family Stuff | 2 comments

Those are the words my 8-year-old son wrote in tiny letters at the top of his writing paper  - I hate myself – words that are crushing to a mother who sees her entire world in his freckled face and blue eyes. I’m lucky that he wrote them, because as parents we aren’t often given the chance to see into the window of our children’s soul. So while his words brought me pain, I was thankful that he let me know what he was thinking. And, luckily, I had the proper insight, as I knew the events leading up to those words.

He had done a writing assignment for home school that was not his best work. In fact, it was his worst work. It was sloppy and we knew that he hadn’t even tried. And we told him so. Did we yell? No. But we were very stern, and very clear about what we expected from him, and how he had fallen short. And we made him do the whole thing over. And his tiny scrawled words at the top of the revised paper, told us exactly how he felt. And that’s when the home school lesson became deeper than him not applying himself.  We explained to him that our love for him had nothing to do with his handwriting, or his grades, or whether he cleaned up his room, or whether he got into trouble that day. Our love for him always existed despite his actions. We still expected him to obey our rules, just as we expected that sometimes he would mess up. Our love would stay the same no matter what.  We love him for who he is, not for what he does. The same way that God loves us.

I got lucky today. Today, he told me how he felt. But there will be a day when he won’t give me a sign. And I think that’s something we need to remember as parents – and even as people – to show our loved ones that we love them even when they mess up. We may think our children already know this – but perhaps our actions are sending a different message. And that’s where we can use our words to make sure the message is clear. “I love you. Even when you do things that disappoint me. My love is not dependent on you always being good and getting things right. Nothing you do can make me love you any less.”

Tell your child today. They may desperately need to hear it. Deep down, I think that’s the biggest thing we want from our parents. To know that they love us – even when we mess up.


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  1. Debra12-24-12

    Kelly, I’m attending Laugh Labs and clicked to read more about what you’re up to, though we’ve met at prior NSA events. I read and and immediately wondered about this being tied to afterthoughts of the school shootings. Then looked at your date. How intuitive this writing was in light of those events…in so many ways. Thanks for sharing!

  2. kelly12-26-12

    Hello Debra! I hope life is treating you well! Thanks for reading my post. And it does take on a new meaning in light of the tragic school shootings. I’m so excited that you are coming to the Laugh Lab! This will be so much fun – and so valuable. I am by far the lowest expert on the totem pole of presenters at this thing – but I’m super excited to share everything I have learned through trial and error. Meeting other NSA speakers and becoming life long friends is one of my favorite things to do. So see you soon!

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