Gabor Maté isn’t just any parenting expert. The Canadian physician and co-author of Hold On to Your Kids believes that, despite our best intentions, too many of us are going about parenting all wrong and we can never solve problems with our children until we change our relationship with them. So when our child comes to us with this complaint, we shouldn’t respond with a pat answer…

“Parenting advice in North America is always about, ‘If your kid does this, here’s what you do.’ It’s a reactive kind of parenting, and it just doesn’t work. There would be a lack of understanding it the parent responded with a stock phrase to somewhat reassure the child.

“The ‘understanding’ answer is to really investigate the question, to see what’s going on. So if a kid says, ‘My teacher hates me,’ you don’t say, ‘No, she doesn’t,’ or, ‘She actually likes you very much.’ You say, ‘Oh that must feel awful. What happened to make you feel that way? What did he say or what did she do to give you the idea that they hate you?’

“It’s a question of understanding what is happening with the child. There’s a quote I use at the beginning of my book on ADD, Scattered, and also at the beginning of my book on parenting and peer relationships, Hold On to Your Kids. The quote is by Krishnamurti who said that, ‘Action is meaning only in relationship, and understanding the relationship is infinitely more important than the search for any plan of action. Without understanding the relationship, any plan of action will only breed conflict.’ ”

Here’s how 4 other parenting experts say to respond…


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Sh*tty Moms
“Maybe it’s a good thing if your teacher says that,” says Mary Ann Zoellner, co-author — with Alicia Ybarbo — of the book “Sh*tty Mom.” Here’s their anti feel-good response. Format: Video (1:57)

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John Duffy
The psychologist and author of The Available Parent says that parents aren’t necessarily helping their kids if they go straight to the teacher. Try this instead. Format: Video (1:40)

Heidi Allen Garvin
Mormon Moms founder Heidi Allen Garvin says parents should take it very seriously when their child comes home with this complaint — and take action if they have to. Format: Article

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Christine Carter
Raising Happiness author Christine Carter says too many parents respond by saying, “Of course she doesn’t!” But this isn’t the right approach. Format: Video (1:40)