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Do Our Kids Need to Hate Us?

“I hate you, mommy.”

No mother wants to hear this, but according to a panel of parenting experts, your children need to hate you sometimes in order to become well-adjusted adults.

As much as kids require nurturing, they also need “something to bump up against,” argues psychologist Lawrence Cohen at The Aspen Ideas Festival, an annual meeting of intellectual leaders from around the world.

“I talk with a lot with parents who are on the attachment parenting side who never let [their children] walk or cry or be alone, and there’s a lot in that because it builds connection and gives a sense of security, but what they’re often missing is something to bump up against,” says Cohen, the author of Playful Parenting.

Cohen says helicopter parenting fails to provide this tension, and children “need to have a fight” in order to experience maturation.

Cohen’s ideas were supported by fellow author Lori Gottlieb, who says, “It’s actually really healthy for your kids to think they were born into the wrong family, and maybe some switched-at-birth thing happened at the hospital.”

“You want them to, at some point, hate you—not for a prolonged period of time, but you want them to develop their own separation and individuation,” says Gottlieb, whom most people know as the author of the controversial self-help book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.

Gottlieb outlined her tough love parenting argument in The Atlantic magazine’s July/August 2011 cover story, "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy", where she argued the modern day obsession with our kids’ happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods.

At the Aspen Ideas Festival, Gottlieb spoke of parents who won’t make their children do basic household chores like asking them to set the dinner table because they’re too scared to interrupt their child’s play.

“We don’t like that our kids will get mad at us,” she said, but this is counterproductive to a child’s healthy development.

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