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What Parents Need to Know When the Emotional Abuser is Their Child

A question from a viewer wanted to know what they could do with their emotionally abusive child. It’s a very serious topic and one parents need to understand. Occasional conflict is normal between parents and their children, especially when the child is a teen or young adult. Children at this age are separating themselves from their parents and establishing their own independence. However, you should never tolerate emotional abuse from anyone especially when it’s from your child. Emotional abuse is different from an argument or disagreement. It is controlling and manipulating, and the purpose of the child’s engagement is to intimidate their parent. The abuse isn’t once, but ongoing and hurtful. Parents who are abused by their children live in despair. On one hand they want to defend and protect the child, but on the other hand, their child’s verbal abuse hurts and often times scares them. Emotionally abused parents live in fear, and they hope it will go away on its own if they ignore treatment, but abuse doesn’t go away. In fact, it gets worse when not confronted and dealt with.

As with all emotional abuse there are different types, but the feelings behind each type is rage. This rage is meant to control their parent and they do it by slamming doors, throwing things, and yelling, sarcasm, hitting, uttering curses and name calling.

Kids may also play mind games, making their parents believe they are losing their minds. They may run away from home, threaten suicide, as well as anything they can think of to have their parent totally under their control.

Kids become emotionally abusive more typically when they have watched others in their family use emotional abuse, and it has been reported that emotional abuse is on the rise for kids who abuse their parents. Statistics are difficult to determine due to the rise of mental illness, but the number is between 5 to 15 percent. Kids who feel isolated or vulnerable may project that on to their parents and take it out on them. They also have poor communication skills, mental illness, and poor coping strategies for dealing with anger or unpleasant feelings, and rather than try to talk about them, they find a way to punish their parent.

Parents rarely talk to relatives or friends about their abusive children, but if they do, there are things you can do that will help the parent:

  • Listen non-judgmentally.

  • Don’t give advice, but do tell the parent you will be there for them.

  • Respect the parent’s confidentiality, but do ask them if they’d like you to go to the authorities with them.

What parents with an emotionally abusive child must do for themselves and their child:

  1. You need to seek the guidance of a therapist. They can help strengthen you and connect you with necessary resources that can help.

  2. Refuse to talk or engage with your child when they’re being abusive.

  3. If your child lives on his or her own and they come over in an agitated or insulting state, you don’t have to nor should you let them in.

  4. If your child is willing to talk to a therapist and work with them to manage their rage, this will be incredibly helpful.

  5. The more you educate yourself with what your child is going through, the more empowered and strong you will feel.

  6. In all cases, if you feel threatened or scared at any time, call the authorities. Your child has a problem and denying it will only make it worse.

  7. Call the national crisis support team for more understanding and support at (800) 214- 2083.

When you bring your child home bundled in their baby blanket, the last thing you can imagine is needing protection from them. If your child is out of control enough to hurt you, they’re out of control enough to hurt someone else. Get help and follow through with making your home and you safe. No one deserves to be abused.

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