It's like pulling teeth to get my 14 yr old to say "I love you"

Rachel - posted on 06/16/2011 ( 13 moms have responded )

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I know I shouldn't take it personally, but it hurts my feelings when my 14 yr old stepdaughter doesn't say "I love you too" when I say "I love you". She has no problems tell her friends, but when it comes to me and her dad she is less than affectionate. I continue to say "I love you" even when I know I won't get a response, because it shows her that I do love her, and that I appreciate her...any other suggestions of what I can do, or do you have a similar story?

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Shawnn - posted on 06/21/2011

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Expat, we say it because we want to. Because we want to express our feelings for another. Love comes in many forms, that of friendship, of relationship, of a parent, grandparent, etc.

I would MUCH rather tell my kids, parents, friends, etc that I love them, rather than say nothing at all, and assume that they "know".

With teens, it is difficult. We love them so much that we want to make sure that we are doing OK in raising them. And, for some that means hearing them tell us that they love us.

And, this woman is not a stranger to this child. However, being a step parent does make a difference to the child, and she may feel uncomfortable telling step mom that she loves her, even if she does.

I haven't run across anyone in the "american culture" who will just walk up to some stranger and say "I love you"...that makes no sense.

As an American, I am constantly amazed at how stand-offish and impersonal some other cultures (European, mostly) seem to be, however I realize that it is simply a difference in culture, not in sentiment.

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Expat - posted on 06/20/2011

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As a non-American, I am sometimes shocked by the way Americans throw this phrase around. I'm obiuovsly not saying that no one means it, but for some people it doesn't need to be said every moment of every day. In my culture, it's too deep a sentiment to be thrown out among strangers. It's kept for very personal moments and often doesn't need to be voiced; it's more in how you show it. Your kids, altho' not foreign, may have a different comfort level, especially being teens. It's enough that you love them. They will know it but they might not like it that you're looking for them to respond in kind.

Tah - posted on 06/20/2011

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She is a teen, of course she loves you guys..she just doesn't want to have to say it a hundred times..lol. She will be fine

Louise - posted on 06/20/2011

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My advice is to leave her be. She knows she is loved and forcing a child into saying this is not right, she obviously feels embarrassed. I am sure she loves you very much but is battling teenage issues and feels uncomfortable or silly telling you. Back off a little and try and give her some space. I am sure she like a hug and that says more than words.

Shawnn - posted on 06/20/2011

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My sons did go thru this. But, I'd already expected it. We didn't stress about it. Just kept telling them we loved them. They do come around. Now, mine (13 & 16) not only say it constantly, but also will respond to texts with "thank you" or "love you". Don't force it. Figure out an alternative way, such as the official sign for I love you, or Thank you, or make up your own "catch phrase"

Marie - posted on 06/19/2011

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My 20 year old son, and my 20 year old stepson both say, "I love you" or "I miss you" easily and frequently. My 17 year old, however, simply says, "yeah, sure" or "me too". He will be 18 soon, and I loved the laugh from him when I asked if he wanted a lump of coal or a fly swatter for his birthday! If your child won't accept a full or half hug, offer a "Hand Hug", aka a handshake that doesn't shake.

Jestene - posted on 06/18/2011

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I had the same issue with my now 15 year old step son. the important thing to remember is its a teen thing. Most teens and pre teens will try to distance themselves at some point. Just keep telling her, in public, at home, over the phone, without trying to embarass her, that you love her and eventually she will come around. It took about 4 years to hear it from my step son on a regular basis. I just explained to him that i say it so much for one because its true and he needs to know it, and for two that you never know if your going to get the chance to see or talk to that person again. so say it proud and say it often. Now he calls me out of the blue sometimes just to say i love you. Even around his frinds and peers, So just be patient and try to remember how you felt about your parents at that age. She will come around.

Tamara - posted on 06/18/2011

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My sons go through this every so often (ages 17 and 16) something I have learned to do is step back and listen to what they are saying, like when they ask for advice, or a small compliment (even if its dinner was good). To me those are saying I love you and appreciate you. Or even a small smile after I say I love you is their way of saying it.

Just take it easy on yourself, know you are loved and your doing a great job.

Amanda - posted on 06/17/2011

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Wow! I have this same exact problem with my 14 year old son. The only time he will say it is if we're on the phone and no one else is around to hear him say it! Really? Are his friends going to make fun of him for saying "I love you too" to his mother (or father, for that matter)? It's frustrating, but I keep chalking it up to his age...praying that someday he'll realize everything I do is because I love him. He doesn't really show me he loves me and I can't even get a "thank you" out of him for anything, but I know deep down he loves and appreciates me!

Rachel - posted on 06/17/2011

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Oops, I didn't mean that I was forcing her to say it back. I guess a more appropriate subject heading would be "It hurts my feelings when I don't hear I love you".

Debby - posted on 06/17/2011

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A wise mom told me, when my daughter was that age--hug them when they reach & only for as long as they hug you. It's just a step to independence....and yes, she needs to hear you say it!
We used the sign for I love you with both kids and even when the hugs stopped...the sign continued (as long as friends didn't see/understand). It's tough, but thats why we are the Mommys

Shawnn - posted on 06/17/2011

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I agree with JuLeah...I would be willing to bet she is expressing it in other ways...and why would you want to force her to say something?

Forcing anyone to do anything is definitely not right.

JuLeah - posted on 06/16/2011

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You want to hear "I love you" form someone forced into saying it?



You want her in the habit of saying words such as that just to please another person?



Listen with more then your ears. I bet she is telling you.



The words mean nothing really, it is the intention, the behaviors, the actions, the little things .... that really matter.

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