When a child abuses a parent, the problem often goes unreported. Parents have a natural desire to protect their children, so the idea of seeking mental and even legal help is dismissed in the interest of protecting the abuser. This is done all while attempting to preserve the parent-child relationship. But when your teenage daughter becomes so out of control that she's hitting you, her mother, it's time to end the behavior with communication, removal and even legal repercussions if necessary.
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Sit down with your teen and tell her that her behavior is unacceptable and then explain how her abuse makes you feel. It's vital to label the hitting specifically as abuse since your teen might not see her physical actions that way. Explain that you no longer feel safe, so you'd like to talk about acceptable behavior and consequences for rule-breaking.
Draw up a behavior contract for both you and your teen to sign. Ask why she became so angry and how to act in the future to avoid that type of situation. Choose appropriate consequences for physical abuse. Include a clause where you're within your rights to remove her from the home and contact law enforcement if she becomes physically violent again. Sign and date the contract, then place it in a prominent place in your home.
Withdraw your presence and support if your teen hits you again. As a parent, you're responsible for providing her with food, shelter and clothing so long as you have a mutually respectful relationship. Should you feel unsafe, withdrawing your financial support and removing her from the household sends a clear message that you will not tolerate physical abuse, nor will you support a child who hits you.
Contact law enforcement, per your behavior contract, if the abuse continues. A teen daughter becomes dangerous when she becomes so angry that she is no longer in control of herself. It's likely she'll be upset when you ask her to leave the home or refuse to support her, causing another argument and potential abuse. While you want to protect your daughter from repercussions and negative experience, it's vital that you avoid enabling or making excuses for her behavior. Time away and dealing with law enforcement gives her a reality check as to the consequences for her actions.
Seek help for the stress and strain you experience after being abused. Therapy with a qualified counselor provides time to explore your feelings after necessarily removing your child from your life. If possible, ask that your teen attend counseling, too, including anger management, as a condition for moving back home and to help repair your relationship.
- "Understanding Social Problems"; Linda A. Mooney, et al.; 2010
- PsychCentral: Parent Abuse by Teen; Ben Martin
- National Clearinghouse on Family Violence: Parent Abuse -- The Abuse of Parents by Their Teenage Children