Fighting with Your Teen? What to Do After the Blowout 7 Steps to Defuse the Tension


Mom trying to talk to her son

Does this sound familiar? You’ve told your teen she can’t go out with her friends this Friday because she came in past curfew last weekend. There’s been a huge fight where one—or both of you—lost control and screamed at each other. Now the tension in the house is unbearable. Your child is irritable and argumentative—or sullen and moody—and you’re walking on eggshells around her in order to avoid a repeat performance.

“Don’t keep discussing the fight. Move on so the elephant can move out.”

To put it mildly, adolescence can be a rocky time between parents and teens. After all, our perspective on life is very different. Often, teenagers try to be invisible because they feel like all eyes are on them constantly. Perhaps they want to buy the newest fashion trend so they can fit in and look like everyone else. Their thoughts and behaviors revolve around dealing with their reality. Parents, on the other hand, are focused on more practical concerns. They’re thinking about things like, “How are we going to have enough money for college?” or “What can I do with my kid who’s more concerned about fitting in than her test tomorrow?” When your teen asks to buy an expensive pair of jeans or some other fashion item that she “has to have,” you may get worked up and think, “I just bought her a new pair of sneakers and now she wants something else? She doesn’t do anything to help around the house, but she’s always asking for more, more, more.” Your child wants something, you say no, and then come the fights, disagreements and hurts—and tension grows in the relationship.

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But it doesn’t have to be this way. Just as there are ways to avoid blowout fights, there are also ways to avoid the animosity and tension afterward. I want to say very clearly that it’s normal to feel upset after a fight with your teen. It’s also important to remember that each person deals with the aftermath of an argument in their own way.

Here are 7 steps towards defusing the tension.

1. Give it some time

Give yourself and your child the space needed to gain back equilibrium. Tolerate the tension without feeling that you have to get your teen feeling good about you again, or that you need to get her out of her funk and negativity.  Don’t be needy by wanting her to be okay with you immediately. It’s important to deal with your own feelings after the fight without needing your child to validate you.

2. Acknowledge the elephant in the room

The fight is over and you’re glad. But you now feel an icy silence in the room. Or maybe there’s irritability and continued open conflict over seemingly nothing. Recognize that these are the aftershocks of the earthquake. Your job is to sit with it and breathe. Don’t feel like you have to get rid of the distress immediately. If you can tolerate the tension without having a knee-jerk reaction to get rid of it, then you can give yourself some time and space to think. Ask yourself, “Why is this tension here—and is it best to leave it alone or address it in some way?”

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3. Think about the elephant

There are many possibilities for tension after a fight. Think about what it might be for you.

  • Are you left with hurt and angry feelings about things said in the heat of the moment? Could your teen be left with bad feelings from the way you treated her?
  • Is it possible that your teen is upset because she couldn’t get what she wanted and her anger is a way for her to release her disappointment and frustration?
  • Could it be that your child feels fine because the blowout helped her release all of her distress, while you’re left feeling tense and miserable?
  • Are you carrying resentment after the blowout because you gave in to your teen, even though you really didn’t want to? Perhaps you did it out of guilt or wanting to avoid more conflict, and said “yes” even though you wanted to say “no.” Now you are frustrated with yourself and resentful of your “demanding teen.”
  • Maybe you’ve been changing the way you’ve been engaging with your child, and she’s uncomfortable and unfamiliar with your new parenting style. Now she’s provoking you in an attempt to change you back. When kids do this, understand that they really are testing you to see if you mean what you say—or to see if they can continue to manipulate you somehow.

Whatever the reasons, it’s natural to have some tension between the two of you after an outburst. Sometimes you’ll feel the effects for weeks. Once you think it through and own your contribution to the tension, you’re ready to either let it go, or address it with your teen.

4. Address the tension

If your teen hurt you with verbal attacks, it’s okay to tell her you were hurt by her words and actions. It may take you a while to feel like engaging with her again, and that’s okay.

Remember that not everything needs to be addressed all the time. For example, if you feel you’re in the clear and that you did nothing other than set a limit, you don’t need to apologize or re-open the discussion. Don’t change your mind in order to defuse the tension. Nothing more needs to be addressed other than an empathetic statement like, “I wish the circumstances were different and I could have allowed you to go out with your friends. But that isn’t the case this time. I know how much you wanted to go and I’m sorry for that.” Allow your child her feelings of disappointment or frustration—and work to tolerate your own feelings of guilt and discomfort. Remind yourself that those feelings are temporary.

If you did say “yes” to avoid further conflicts, but now feel a resentment towards your child, take responsibility for your feelings. Say something like, “I noticed I’m feeling tense because I gave in to your demands and now I’m resenting you for that. I realize that’s not fair to you. Next time I’ll say ‘no’ and not give in to please you. It leaves me resentful and that’s not fair to you or to our relationship.”

If you sense that your child is trying to provoke you by using guilt or the silent treatment in order to “change you back” to the way you were before you started setting healthy boundaries, just let it be and don’t give it legs. Nothing needs to be addressed. You haven’t done anything wrong. Just disengage and the tension will eventually defuse itself.

On the other hand, if you recognize that you lost control during the blowout, apologize for your behavior and any hurt you caused. Don’t use the word “but” when you apologize; in other words, don’t say things like, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but you were making me crazy.” Just keep it short: “I’m sorry for losing control.” Address what needs to be addressed, learn from it so you can do better next time and then let go and move on. And if nothing needs to be addressed, just disengage.

5. Ignore the silent treatment

If your child is giving you the silent treatment, you don’t have to join in.  Speak to her anyway if you feel ready to engage—without being mad at her if she is not. Even though you may not get an answer from her, you can say, “Boy, it doesn’t sound like you’re ready to talk to me yet.” And then just go on about your business.

6. Don’t hold grudges

Sometimes parents can hold grudges. They may feel disgusted and angry by something their child did and so they hold onto that anger. How do you know if you’re holding a grudge unfairly? I think you just have to keep checking in on yourself and take responsibility for what you’re feeling. If the fight is over and you find yourself simply wanting to give your child the cold shoulder, or you’re picking on her and being critical for no reason, those are signs you’re not finished—there are some unresolved feelings there. This is why it’s so important to acknowledge that there’s tension in the first place. So check in with yourself, see how you’re acting, and observe what you’re doing. Think about why there’s tension, and then address it if it needs to be addressed.

7. Don’t discount feelings

Don’t try to get rid of your child’s negative feelings by discounting them or trying to cheer her up when she’s still mad. Also, don’t argue about who was right or wrong. I think many parents sense tension when they know their kid is mad at them and they try to make it better by pretending nothing happened or by being falsely cheerful—but they only end up making matters worse. This is actually needy behavior. When you feel bad and want everything to be okay—and you don’t let your teen have the space to get back on her own feet—it’s not fair to her. Instead of doing that, try saying, “I know you feel angry after our fight. So do I. When we both feel better, I hope we can talk about it and then move on.” Don’t keep discussing the fight. Move on so the elephant can move out.

Related Content: How to Walk Away From a Fight With Your Child
How to Stop Fighting with Your Child: Do You Feel Like the Enemy?

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For more than 25 years, Debbie has offered compassionate and effective therapy and coaching, helping individuals, couples and parents to heal themselves and their relationships. Debbie is the creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM™ program and is also the author of numerous books for young people on interpersonal relations.

Comments (33)
  • TAT
    After a long senior year of high school my son 19 just graduated. On the night of his graduation me and his mom was downstairs talking about things we have to do for the kids. I told her i had to save up money to get my sonMore the computer that he asked me for ($5k for gaming). At the end of the night around 3 am in the morning we went to go to bed. When I got upstairs my son was in my bathroom. I told him I had to go to the bathroom and for him to hurry up. He replied with read your text. So I pickup up my phone and this is what he texted me: "YO Why do you have to tell my mom about everything damn The pc didn't have to be brought up" by this time he open the bathroom door and I said to him damn, did you just say damn to me in a text. He looks and me and said "you are drunk and I responded I am not drunk I am tired" I then went back to "you said damn to me". He has never spoke a bad word to me and I was shocked. He has said Yo to me before and I asked him not to address me with Yo, its disrespectful and he said sorry. So why I was asking in I stepped into the bathroom and he pushed me and I fail to the floor. I got up and a fight started. He pushed me again and I tripped over his mother and we fell into the TV. I must admit that at that point I lost total control of my words and action. How do I move forward? I know I will never forgive him and I don't think he even cares. I need to figure a way to move forward, my heart is broken, I feel revenge I need help. That night I turned his cell phone off that I pay for and he fly back out of town with his mother to spend time with her as already planned. What happen?
  • Steph
    I have a 15 (almost 16) year old daughter. I have felt our disagreements align with this stage in our lives, but today something hit me differently. I am not the best communicator and I am HIGHLY sensitive - so that often interferes with my communication. Therefore I fearMore she is/will have the same issues. She told me today during an argument that she never communicates right because the same thing that happens with us happens with her and her friends. Since this has stretched past what goes on between the two of us it has elevated my worry for her. I want to help and teach her better...but if I am teaching her wrong with how I react, I'm at a loss. I am trying to implement better coping and response tactics but I don't always get it right...obviously. If she can't communicate with me how will she learn to do so with others? I am hurting so bad for her.
  • Andrea
    I have 2 teenage kids; 13yr girl & 14yr old boy. I am divorced from their dad & I have stage 4 cancer. Been through ALOT with the kids regarding the divorce/cancer. My daughter in particular has been both verbally & physically abusive towards me in the past. Both kidsMore refuse any counselling. There is no co-parenting with their father, its counter parenting. So obviously any time I try & implement rules, its met with huge resistance as their dad let's it all slide. Its 2 against one as I have no support/partner, I am single. My daughter wants to shower at 11pm & stay up all night despite it being a school night. I calmly told her the last time she did this was the last time, shower at a reasonable hour. I am tired from my cancer treatment & my slept is awful. I cannot sleep with her up all night, my Mammy listening ear is constantly on. I have explained this to her. I am fed up on the moods, attitude, disrespect, laziness of both of the kids. I am hormonal too due to my cancer treatment. I let alot slide when it comes to the kids as I am so tired but it gets too much for me & I explode sometimes. Help!
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out. I can hear how distressed you are that you're not able to stay calm when your kids are acting out. This is a common challenge for parents. It can be hard to keep your cool in the face of verbal disrespect and abuse. We have several articles that offer tips for how to stay calm as a parent. You can find those articles here:

      In regard to the physical abuse you are experiencing, it's important to have firm boundaries around that. As James Lehman explains in his article, there is no excuse for abuse. We have several articles that focus on this difficult topic. You can find those here:

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Tulip

    My husband did not set any or would not allow any boundaries so my daughter started doing things that were very upsetting and disrespectful

    This caused a lot of conflict with her and I and she believed she should be able do whatever she wants without question. We got into arguments and she blames me and says she should be allowed to do whatever she wants and is now angry towards me. What can I do ?

    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      We hear from lots of parents who share similar distress over not being on the same page as their co-parent. We have several articles that offer helpful tips for what you can do:

      Thank you for reaching out. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • susjan
    Hi, My daughter (18 years old) moved from home about four months ago to go to college in another town. Since then we have kept contact over skype and also because we have a common hobby and we speak about it often and I help her with it. She hasMore been anyway lately disrespectful and since she came for Christmas this disrespectfulness has increased. If for example she does not like a subject she tells my son (14 years old) and me to shut up, like forbiding any situation she does not like. On Jan 1st it is a family tradition to play some table games and we started doing so, but at some point, interrupting the game and spoiling the fun for all, she said that she was not in the mood. I asked her to continue, so that we could finish the game, and she did it, but playing dumb moves, like to lose asap. We argued and she said a lot of bad things about me. Now it is Jan 6th and we still do no speak to each other. She will leave the day after tomorrow to college again and I feel destroyed, seeing that my daughter will go away from these Christmas holidays angry with me, not having really spent time with me and with her being away this will be worse. But I also do not think that I am the one that has to go after her trying to solve this. My wife tells me that if I do not do anything I might lose a daughter, but how can this be? If I am the one to go after her trying to solve, then next time it will be worse. She will think that this is how it is. She treats us disrespectfully and then we try to solve? How should I handle this?
  • Rebecca
    My daughter just turned 17 last week. We have a difficult time communicating and the older she gets the more she is tuning me out when she doesn't like what I am saying to her. She has ADHD,anxiety and mild autism. She doesn't recognize authority in anyone and that everyoneMore has to treat her like an equal. I mean, even when it comes to teachers and parents asking her to do something she acts like she just doesn't have to do it if she doesn't feel like it. She is failing or has failed most of her classes for grade 11. She is currently in summer school trying to get credits so she can try and graduate next year. She says she wants to graduate and go to her grade 12 party but she just won't do the work. She can do the work.She was an A, B student all the way to grade 9. She is smart enough to complete the work. She has tons of people at school making accommodations for her and trying to help her get to the graduation line. But she just doesn't seem to care or realize the consequences of her actions. Or that most people don't get the accommodations that she gets and how many people are rooting for her future.Though she will talk until blue in the face that she gets it she understands but her actions say different. She wants to focus on friends all the time and I even have a friend of hers who is a very good student helping her twice a week to complete assignments for the summer school. But she still only has 30% and I get emails from the teacher stating his concern. I just don't know what to do. If I speak about school or anything she doesn't want to hear, she won't even let me finish my sentence. She automatically assumes I am going to say something that will make her angry and tells me to stop talking I don't want to hear you and will turn up her headphones and tune me out. I tell her you acuse me of being judgemental but you judge me before I even get my thought out. She says all I do is manipulate her. My act of breathing is manipulation. I really don't think she understands that manipulation is intentional act to control someone. I am reacting to your blatant disrespect of me and I am sick of it I tell her. She says obviously you have no idea how adhd works and how hard I am trying at school , she says. I tell her I do understand as I also have ADHD. And never got any accommodations in high school and I struggled to hand stuff in. But I did hand in most of my work. Not that I got good grades. But I knew I had to actually do the work to get a grade. And then we parted ways as we got out of the car I told her I was done putting up with her crap. And we haven't spoken since. ( it's been 3hours so not much time has passed)But I am trying to find some advice. But her phychologist doesn't have much advice for me. She pretty much just listens to her gripe about life. Tries to teach her better coping techniques but after 2 years not much has changed with her coping mechanisms. Phychologist says she isn't that interested in learning better ways to cope with stress . Do you have any advice?
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      Thank you for writing in and sharing your story. We have had many parents of children with Spectrum Disorders use the tools and techniques of our programs with much success. We do recommend working closely with your child's treatment team when determining which tool to use. We are not expertsMore on Spectrum Disorders and we don't know your child. So, we would not be able to make any specific recommendations. We appreciate you being part of the Empowering Parents community and wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • Heartbroken mom
    Last night I found out my 19 year old daughter had a account for fans only on where she was selling very compromising pictures of herself. We got into a argument and I gave her the ultimatum or she stops doing that or she needs to leave. IMore have 2 little boys at home that I don't want them getting this kind of content around them. I don't know what else to do
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out. I can understand your concern. Granted, you daughter is an adult so she does have the right to make her own choices. As the parent of an adult child, you determine whether or not you will continue to support those choices. WE have several articles on parenting adult children you may find helpful:

      We appreciate you being part of the Empowering Parents community. Take care.

  • Kelley
    We have a 17 year old son that has started dating a girl that lives an hour away. He likes to go see her on the weekends. He also plays basketball and it’s his senior year and he’s trying to get a scholarship. He had a game last night, conferenceMore tournament playoff and we lost unfortunately had been undefeated and won the conference, my son got conference player of the year. After the game we got home around 10:30 and he wanted to go see his girlfriend and my husband had a fit, every time he wants to go down there my husband tries to come up with reasons for why he shouldn’t go see her and how she is controlling his life and he isn’t focused on basketball, only cares about seeing her, that he doesn’t care about us and only cares about her etc... this has been a fight almost daily or anytime he wants to go anywhere, my husband says why can’t he just stay home that he doesn’t care about basketball and just wants to party blah blah it’s always some reason why he shouldn’t go do things with his friends. My husband is constantly going on about our son being disrespectful, that’s all he ever says, we shouldn’t let him do anything because he’s so disrespectful. My husband is an only child who grew up very sheltered in a small town where people think it’s 1950 still and it was a very different lifestyle. Times are different and he seems to forget that our son is a teenager. He is going through a lot of changes and instability. He may lose his temper one minute and then cry the next, he’s young and it’s hard being a teen, I went through it and I remember, was the worst time of my life but now he’s a senior and will be 18 soon, he gets good grades, never gets in trouble, is an incredible athlete, he’s a good kid, he’s done nothing wrong yet my husband wants to punish him all the time for being “disrespectful “ I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m constantly being put in the middle and then my husband and I end up arguing and our 10 year old daughter has to listen to this nonsense day in and day out. Last night my husband told my son and I that we need to stop texting with each other, who is he to tell me I can’t text my son? I’m allowed to have my own relationship with my son, my paranoid husband thinks we are texting about him and sometimes we are but my son will text me because he’s frustrated with him and needs someone to talk to, my husband takes my phone when I go to bed at night and goes through it then uses it against him. That’s so wrong and then he tells me look at how our son is behaving, I feel like he’s the one behaving badly. This has become a daily issue and I just am almost to the point where I can’t handle it anymore, do you have any suggestions?
  • Feeling like a failure

    I have 2 daughters, 14 and 13, and one 11 yr old son. My middle child - my 13 year old and I can hardly go a couple days without a fight. She often misinterprets what is said as some sort of challenge or criticism, when it absolutely is NOT. I feel like anything I say is wrong. My other two children have called her out of control, but she is just highly sensitive and emotional. She has 0 confidence in anything - academics, looks, everything. She has this issue with everyone, really, including her boyfriend (yes, I realize she’s only 13 almost 14 but they are really great together and he “gets” her. Been close almost a year) and many “past friends”. She is GORGEOUS and people tend to gravitate to her (especially male), but she can be very mean to those closest to her - her family and bf (who, naturally is her closest friend). She and I are very close but also fight hard usually bc I ask a question or bc there is miscommunication or misunderstanding. She constantly needs things - clothes, beauty products - and cannot be by herself. She has adhd but doesn’t like the meds, so I don’t force it since she *can* function. It’s just her moods... yikes, especially when around her period. So much so that I put her on birth control to mitigate some of the moodiness (and, let’s face it, other reasons too).

    I cry all the time, and so does she. She is unreasonable sometimes. I feel crazy! She tells me I am. Do I just need to stop reacting to her? Sometimes I feel like I’m scared of her.

  • AmIjustbeingoverprotective
    My 16yr old daughter is my only child. Her father and I love her, support her in school and goals. We value her as her own indiviadual and she has her freedom to express her opinions or what not. We love her our baby. However, her biological father and IMore set certain limits to her going out. She just began asking us to go out more and more with friends, (some old or new friends) tho she does very well in school and is a good kid but she does nothing to earn these privileges. I hear from her that I "Have her on a leash" but just for one example, just lastnight, she was allowed to go over this girl friends house and sleepover. The following day she was then to go with her friend and the mother to go prom dress shopping for her friend. My daughter friend here, is 17. Well I spoke to the mom of this friend and the mom told me she understands where I come from and the limit I have with my daughter. (As I always need to speak with my daughters friends parents) it just gives me peace of mind. This mom understood me, so me and my husband let our daughter sleepover and go out to this outing the followed day. Turns out ,we drop my daughter off ,and I head back home. A few hours later I check in with my daughter and she txts me she is out with her friend, its late (for me at least for her to be out and about) (without my permission) and the mom of this other girl didnt care to ask me that she just let our girls drive out. No adult in the vehicle but her 17yr old has her license. I mean, I flipped. My daughter knew that was a huge No No,and pushed it. Am I overreacting in this case? I picked her up the following day and she could not go to this outing to help her friend find a prom dress. Am I wrong? I spoke and argued a little with my daughter but she keeps saying "she just wanted to have fun" or "she wanted to just hangout with her friend". When I txt my daughter at the time of me finding out she drove with her friend into town without my permission, my daughter was txting me back, it was not a big deal .... Umm... Yes it is! At least I think. How does this build trust? Why wouldnt the other mother txt/ call me before these girls were thinking to drive out? I think it was poor communication with that other mom towards me bc I made myself clear how I am with my daughter. I thought she understood. So, now I grounded my daughter but I'm afraid she still thinks I'm not letting her do what she wants as far as to hangout with friends. She does no chores. She doesn't help raise a finger in this house. Where do I draw the line? Am I being over protective? Should I have not freaked out and let her stay at her friends house? Please help
  • Sad mom
    My teen daughter had snapchat previously (she was not suppose to) I found out she had an issue with an ex friend and I deleted her account for good. A week ago she asked if she could get back on snapchat and promised it will be clean and MentionedMore I could monitor her phone if I want to. My answer was no. She hasn't spoken to us (parents) for a week now so I took her phone away and told her she can have it back as soon as she wants to be part of the family again. I guess she chooses not to be part of us. Was I to hard on taking her phone away and should I let her get snapchat? I feel sad and teary eyes alot because I miss her. Please help.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear you. It can be so hard when you set a limit with your teen, and she responds by giving you the silent treatment. As outlined in the article above, it can be useful to do your best to interact with your daughter normally, so that youMore are not reinforcing her passive aggressive behavior with attention. Chances are that your daughter’s reason for not talking with you is more about her lack of effective conflict management skills rather than how she feels about you and your family. By demonstrating a calm, neutral demeanor, you can model how to resolve arguments appropriately for your daughter. You might find additional tips on how to move forward in When Your Home is a Battle Zone: How to Resolve Conflicts Peacefully. Take care.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
    guest123123123 We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story. I am sorry to hear about the fight you had with your parents the night before a big test.  Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in theMore advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role.  Another resource which might be more useful to you is the, which you can reach by calling 1-800-668-6868, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk with kids, teens and young adults everyday about issues they are facing, and they can help you to look at your options and come up with a plan.  They also have an option to communicate via live chat which you can find on their website.  We wish you the best going forward. Take care.
  • Confused daughter
    I'm an 18 years old daughter and I had been having an amazing relationship with my mom lately since I'm away for college and usually meet after a long period of time. I came back home for the vacation and been staying here for a while, we still had greatMore communication until I asked her for a favour, I wanted to visit my cousin/friend who is hours drive from our city and she happily agreed, moreover promised (keeping in mind that I come from a very restricted area where men can do whatever but quite the contrary for girls). But lately she has been bringing up lame excuses for us to stay. I've kept asking her to go whenever she's ready but she keeps delaying it for no reason (eventhough she knows how hard it is to enjoy as a girl here. I mean I've tried to see it from her prespective but there was actually nothing holding us from going except that she wasn't all excited about it even though she promised. We had serious plans with my cousin and had to cancel it all just cause she wasn't up to it. I got really mad and frustrated that I gave her the silent treatment and she's been acting the same. Did I over react? What should I do?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @Confused daughter

      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

      sharing your story. I am sorry to hear about the issues you are having with

      your mom.  Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more

      effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can give to

      those outside of a direct parenting role.  Another resource which might be

      more useful to you is the Boys Town National Hotline, which you can reach by

      calling 1-800-448-3000, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk with kids,

      teens and young adults everyday about issues they are facing, and they can help

      you to look at your options and come up with a plan.  They also have

      options to communicate via text, email, and live chat which you can find on

      their website,

      We wish you the best going forward. Take care.

  • badmom
    I have been defeated by my 16 year old son.  I cant handle the arguing, the laziness, lack of respect for others and things.. he ruins his stuff, punches holes in new house,recklessly smokes in room (this just after we had a house fire) (burn holes in matress to proveMore it) demanding supper, do nothing and expect everything, get in to trouble and some how its my fault.. gives people the "poor me's"  like how he has to stay home and clean house and babysit siblings while we go out...bahaha... don't remember the last time we had a date night.. and clean... even funnier... let him babysit.. no way... he picks on his 5 and 7 year old siblings, call them down, gets jealous over their finger painting for petes sake.  its been years of fighting.. trying to talk sense into this kid. constant yes I love you or I wouldn't care what you do, tired of him running to grandma and making me out to be a monster,, twisting stories to make him look like the victim.  The stress level at home is at its max.  The little ones should not be around this.  If this was my husband causing so much stress, I would get a divorce.  But it is my son, my baby... so I think I have decided its time to go live with grandma.  I will take the role of bad mom if that is what it takes to make my kids lives easier and happier.. all 3 of them,  He is obviously not happy here... soooo as hard as it is going to be.. I think its time .. even just a few months.. she is only like 2 minutes away.. we will still see eachother... I dunno what to do... at my wits end.  I know he is going to say that I don; t love him... well I do.. but I have 2 others that I love too and I think its time I start thinking about whats good for them , not just about him all the time.
  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


    I am sorry you and your mom are having these conflicts. It’s

    not uncommon for parents and teens to disagree on how much privacy the teen

    should have. While it may seem over reaching to the teen, from a parent’s

    perspective, it usually is more about trying to protect their child from harm.

    I can hear how upset you are with how things escalated between you and your

    mom. It can be tough to know what to do after an argument. We are limited in

    the advice we are able to offer you because the focus of our website is on

    helping parents develop more effective ways of addressing acting out behavior.

    There is a website that offers support for teens and young adults – This is a

    website developed specifically to help young people who are facing challenges

    in their lives. It is staffed with counselors specially trained to work

    directly with teens on developing strategies for working through difficult times.

    They offer support in many different ways – by phone, e-mail, text, and online

    chat. You can call them 24/7 at 1-800-448-3000 or visit them online at

    I appreciate you writing in and sharing your story. I hope you will reach out

    to this valuable service and share your story with them. They are in the best

    position to help you find solutions to the problems you are facing. Best of

    luck moving forward. Take care.

  • donmoy
    I have a 17 year old son who has been very difficult for at least four years and his behaviour is becoming more difficult to handle.  He often abuses me and my husband verbally and is constantly asking for money - which he says I should give him because hisMore father (my ex-husband) pays child support for him.  I am concerned about giving him more than he needs for basics like petrol to get himself to school (he is in Year 12 and doing well academically) as I suspect that there are drugs involved - we have had some evidence of this - although he denies it.  It would perhaps explain his anger and behaviour towards us?  He seems to be fine when he is getting his own way and not challenged about anything and no expectations are placed on him to abide by our rules.  He has a part time job and appears to be reliable with that, but does nothing at home to help and is abusive when asked to help out, or just ignores requests to help.  He gets out of bed at lunchtime on weekends and then spends time with friends when he is not studying - but is always too busy to help out here.  I have a serious medical condition which is made worse by stress and think the worsening of my symptoms in the past two years is perhaps due in part to the situation with my son as it inevitably causes me a lot of distress and at times problems between my husband and myself due to our different approaches of how to deal with him.  Last year I asked him to stay at a friend's house temporarily as it was unbearable here for everyone - he then used it against me saying that I don't love him and don't want him.  I feel that I need to be supportive in his last year of school but have my own health to consider and the mental wellbeing of my husband as well.  My ex-husband is generally supportive but my son living with him is not possible until he finishes school at the end of the year.  Any suggestions about what can be done to try to improve this situation?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Many parents describe similar challenges where a teen seems

      to do well outside of the home, yet when asked to do something at home, it is a

      completely different scenario.  As Sara Bean describes in her article, acting out

      at home can have big payoffs for kids and teens in terms of gaining

      power.  Something that can be helpful in a situation like this is for you

      and your husband to about your expectations and how you will respond

      effectively if he is not meeting those.  Once you are in agreement, you

      can talk with your son about the rules, and how you will hold him accountable

      if he is not following them.  For example, you might set a rule that there

      is no verbal abuse, and if he becomes verbally abusive, he will lose his cell

      phone until he can go for 3 hours without being abusive.  I recognize how

      difficult this must be for you; please be sure to check back and let us know

      how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

  • jrcia007

    my wife and my daughter argue over small thing and they always escalate into screaming arguments...I try and stay away, but most time get pulled into the full blown cat fight..I feel like I have to take sides and stop the fighting to get  them communicating... because it always seems like one started it or one continues to escalate it... nether of them can successfully stop the fight... and it will linger for days / weeks...

    Is it wrong to try and stop the fight ?

    Is it wrong to take an 18 years old side over their mother if I think the mother is wrong ?

    Is it wrong to reverse of not enforce restrictions I think were placed by spouse over a fight they started or escalated ?

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be

      difficult when you are constantly being pulled into arguments between your wife

      and daughter, and feel like you have to take sides.  While it’s normal to

      want peace in your home, keep in mind that by continuing to act as a referee or

      take sides in arguments between your wife and daughter, it may actually make

      fighting more likely in the future.  We also encourage trying to present a

      united front with your wife as much as possible.  This does not mean that

      you cannot disagree with your wife, or how she chooses to address a

      situation.  Instead, we recommend addressing these disagreements in

      private during a calm time.  Debbie Pincus has more information on this in

      another article,  Thank you for writing

      in; please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going for you

      and your family.  Take care.

  • zumbamom
    Last night my 18 year old daughter and I got into a huge altercation.   I know she is under a lot of stress with AP exams and end of the year projects.  Last night she just started yelling and cursing about not having anything to drink in the house.More  It went fro 0-60.  I tried not to engage with her which only caused her to get more mad. She started to curse saying that I am a terrible mom to name calling, saying I have no friends, calling me the b word and a whore (don't know where that came from) I tried to remain calm, but I said something out of anger. I told her that she doesnt have friends either and that she will probably sit at home for prom like she did for winter ball.I knew as soon as I said it, I was wrong and wanted to take the words back. She then went ballistic, telling me that I am the reason why she has a low opinion of her self she started  to break picture frames, lamps, glass was all over the place.  I told her this is my house,  she is violent and she needs to leave.  She could go to her father's place.   I don't know what to do.  I did send her an email this morning telling her "I said somethings that were very hurtful and I am very sorry. In anger, people say things that they do not mean.  I went below the belt and I am sorry and I did not mean what I said."  Do I let her stay at her father's place? Do I push to have her talk to me? She and I have had a wonderful relationship these last few months.  We were suppose to go away for Mother's Day.  i just don't know what to do.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Thank you for writing in.  As you noted in your email

      to your daughter, we all say hurtful things out of anger that we don’t mean

      from time to time.  By sending her an, you are taking steps to move forward past this incident,

      and focusing on where you have control.  The next steps are ultimately up

      to your daughter because at 18, she can decide where she wants to live, whether

      that is with you, her father, or on her own.  You also can’t “make” her

      talk to you.  You can really only control yourself, and your own actions

      by taking responsibility for yourself and doing what you can to keep the doors

      open to communication with her.  Another part of this process can also

      include focusing on taking care of yourself.  Your self-care plan can be

      anything you wish, from calling a supportive friend or family member when you

      are feeling stressed, to engaging in an activity you enjoy.  You might

      also think about what you might want to do if your daughter decides not to keep

      the original plans for Mother’s Day.  I realize that there are no easy

      answers here, and I appreciate your reaching out to us for support. 

      Please be sure to check back with us and let us know how things are going for

      you and your daughter.  Take care.

      • zumbamom

        RebeccaW_ParentalSupport Thank you for your quick response.  I am having a very difficult time of "letting go", waiting for her decision, and giving space. What else is there to do, just wait?  Her father is not being helpful. We have been separated for 10 months, which has been difficult, but in the last few months, my daugher has been speaking to me about her feelings and I felt like we were just beginning to get settled.  

        I did send an additional email that said the following:  Do I just leave it at that?

        "I’m sorry for saying the comments about friends and prom.  It was a horrible comment to make when I was angry, hurt, and frustrated.

        I know you feel angry and hurt after our fight. So do I. When we both feel better, I hope we can talk about it and then move on."

        • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

          @zumbamom RebeccaW_ParentalSupport 

          Thank you for checking back with us.  You are not alone

          in feeling that this is the hardest part: the waiting and giving your daughter

          space to calm down and respond.  It is crucial, however, that your

          daughter (and you) has the time and space needed to calm down, so you can talk

          about what has happened in a neutral, objective way and make a plan for how to

          move forward.  I encourage you to use this time to focus on taking care of

          yourself, as well as thinking about how you might handle a similar situation in

          the future in a more effective way.  I understand how challenging this can

          be, and I hope that you will continue to check in with us.  I wish you and

          your daughter all the best moving forward.

          • renej


            What if it is the same situation but w/a 16 yr.old instead of 18? I haven't seen or talked w/my daughter since Sat. & it's Wed. My fight got more physical she punched me in the face & I had to push her off. She called me a cu*t, B, psycho, & went on to say that I was just mad @ her dad for divorcing me. The fight started because we were arguing,  she told me to"calm the "F" down". So my fiance told her to "knock that shit off". She erupted by telling him to "f off". Said she hated it here & was never coming back. Then more happened after that.please help. I don't know what to do & my heart is broken.  She has never sd things like this before & we just back from a wk. @ Crater Lake.

          • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


            It can be really challenging to

            try to move on from an argument when your teen has left the home and refuses to

            speak with you.  As long as your daughter is in a safe place, it can be

            useful to take some time for both of you to cool off and calm down from your

            argument.  Once you are calm, it can be helpful to reach out to her via

            phone, text, email or other private forum and let her know that you want to

            talk with her about what happened.  If you do not know where your daughter

            is or if she is in an unsafe place, I recommend contacting the police to see

            what kind of assistance they might be able to offer you in returning your

            daughter to your home. I recognize that this is a difficult situation, and I

            also encourage you to follow my advice to the original commenter about focusing

            on taking care of yourself at this time.  Please let us know if you have

            any additional questions; take care.

  • Casper 4
    My father and I always have fights about little things. So few days ago we had thismassive argument which started off with him saying things that hurted my feelings so i gave him a cold shoulder. He got mad at me for giving him silent treatment and shouted at meMore and i shouted back. In between the argument he did say sorry but we both continued fighting and it went out of control and many things were said. Later on, i realized i was also wrong and said sorry but he didnot respond. He has been like ignoring me. What should i do?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      Casper 4

      I think it is awesome that you would like to take steps to

      improve the current situation with your dad. Not getting along with a parent

      can be tough to handle. I’m glad you have decided to reach out for help. Since

      we are a website focused on helping parents develop more effective ways of

      addressing their child’s behavior, we are a bit limited in the advice we can

      offer. There is a website, however, that may be able to offer you help and

      guidance. Your Life Your Voice is a website aimed at helping teens and young

      adults deal with challenges they are facing in their lives. It is staffed by

      specially trained counselors and offers many different ways of accessing

      services. They have an online forum and chat, e-mail or text support, and also

      a call in Helpline. You can access them 24 hours a day by calling

      1-800-448-3000. You can also visit them online at

      I encourage you to check out the site to see what they have to offer. Good luck

      to you and your father as you work through this challenge. Take care.

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