Adolescent-to-parent abuse remains a phenomenon that we don’t hear people talk about often. Unfortunately, many parents are the victims of physical violence from their teens. There isn’t a typical profile of a parent, they can be male or female, single or in a relationship. Any parent can be a victim of adolescent-to-parent violence.
Violence is Always Unacceptable
As much as a parent loves their child, all physical and verbal violence from them is unacceptable. It often starts with violent words, and at that stage parents often tell themselves that it will probably stop one day, and that the situation will not get worse. But that isn’t always the case. Constant verbal violence can increase in intensity until it becomes physical. At that point, the teen has already taken control from their parents.
Now more than ever, children who are behaving violently need to know, through their parent’s actions, that violence is not, and will never be, acceptable.
Parents who do not tolerate their teen’s physical violence will help prevent them from being violent to others in society. Parents saying NO to violence is important and formative, so that the teen no longer feels the need to push physical boundaries.
What to Do if My Teen is Violent Towards Me or Their Other Parent?
Here are some ways to get help:
- If the teen threatens, or is hitting their parent, another person, or inanimate objects, the parent can call 911 or the non-emergency police line.
- If the teen is younger than 18, the parent can call the DYP.
- If the teen is over 18, the parent can tell them that if they choose violence, they’ll need to go live somewhere else. If this is the case, the parent should be sure to have a safety net before proceeding, such as by: informing the police, having another adult present when they take action, changing the locks, getting the contact information for youth shelters, etc.
Managing their Emotions as a Parent
A parent who is in a violent situation may feel powerless, shame, guilt, or think that they made mistakes. Often, they regret not setting stricter limits for their child in the past. They may feel guilty for not having done this yet, or that when their child was younger, that they did not do enough.
But remember, how could they have known that their child would become violent? Parents do everything possible to take good care of their children. They don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed of their adolescent’s violent behaviour, because they’re not the one who manifested this behaviour.
When a teen becomes violent, parental guilt can be a slippery slope. They may try to compensate for the other parents’ shortcomings, or they may become a bit too permissive with their teen to avoid them becoming angry. Parents do not want their teens to feel sad, angry, or disappointed.
If you are living in a violent situation, do not hesitate to get in contact with a Tel-Jeunes counsellor. It is very difficult to act when we are in denial about our teen being violent. It takes a lot of courage, not only to confront our teens, but also because the situation causes us to experience a lot of conflicting emotions. We love our children, but we no longer want to accept the unacceptable. Contact us, we are here to help you.