Parental abuse is any harmful act by a teenage child intended to gain power and control over a parent. The abuse can be physical, psychological, or financial.

Many parents may recognize some of these signs as “normal” teenage behaviour, but those suffering from parent abuse have experience physical harm resulting in medical treatment or even death, damage to property, theft and bullying at the hands of their teenage children. This causes parents to lose complete confidence in themselves as parent and human beings, and is debilitating for the child as the parent loses complete control over the child, leading the teenager to be unsupported and in danger of losing out by not fitting into society.

Quite often, the child who is abusing the parent, does it willfully and for enjoyment, since the ability for empathy and compassion is not present in the teenage psyche, and is a way of them dealing with anger management issues, psychological disturbances and hormones. Not all teenagers turn on their parents, but there is an increasing number that are. Violence is a learned behaviour. Children learn violent behaviours from their family and peers, as well as observe it in their neighbourhoods and in the community at large. These behaviours are reinforced by what youth see on television, on the Internet, in video games, movies, music videos, and what they hear in their music.

Parental abuse is not restricted to certain social groups; it can affect single and two parent families equally. It is usually the mother (or the main caregiver) who is most affected, but other children in the family and fathers suffer too. Any behaviour that creates fear and is harmful to you can be defined as abuse. It may include

Physical Abuse – is the most visible form of abuse and can include:

  • Hitting, punching, slapping
  • Kicking parents
  • Shoving and pushing
  • Spitting at parents

Psychological Abuse – abuse often begins verbally and escalates to include other forms, and can include:

  • Creating fear
  • Intimidating the parent, mind games, making them fearful
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Not allow them any privacy, even in the bathroom
  • Silent treatments
  • Threaten to use weapons such as knives
  • Threatening to commit suicide or otherwise hurt themselves
  • Threatening to hurt, maim or kill you, a parent or themselves
  • Threatening to run away or running away from home

Verbal Abuse - (also seen as psychological abuse)

  • Criticizing
  • Name calling
  • Put-downs
  • Swearing at them
  • Yelling

Emotional Abuse

  • Blaming the parent
  • Controlling the running of the household
  • Lying
  • Making unrealistic demands on parents
  • Manipulating through threats of suicide
  • Minimizing their behaviour

Financial Abuse – includes

  • Breaking or throwing things, punching holes in walls, break objects
  • Damaging the home or possessions of the parent
  • Demanding parents buy things
  • Demanding things that parents cannot afford
  • Destroying the home or belongings
  • Racking up debts the parent must cover
  • Stealing or taking things without permission
  • Steal money or belongings
  • Selling parent’s possessions

Who is a Victim of Parental Abuse

Parent abuse can occur in any family and is not associated with economic class, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. Although fathers are also susceptible, mothers are the most frequent victims of parent abuse. One of the reasons is that women are the primary caregivers. They spend more time with their children than fathers and have closer emotional connections to them. Often, abused mothers are single parents. Elderly parents and parents with disabilities may be particularly vulnerable to abuse by their teenage children.


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