16 answers

Disrespectful Daughter

My 20 year old daughter attends a local university and lives at home. She treats and speaks me disrespectfully and I don't know how to make her understand that this is unacceptable. It isn't all the time, however, when there is an issue, the situation is unbearable. She screams, yells and swears at me and we currently haven't really spoken in a week. It's painful. Any advise?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your feedback ~ and with such quickness! I do know that I need to respond to her more effectively. It does usually end up in a yelling match. However, we do provide a roof over her head, her meals, we are paying for her college education, and yes, unfortunately, I had been doing her laundry. She asks me to do her laundry when things are going well, so, I do to help her out. She is maintaining a 3.8 GPA and signed up for 4 classes this summer so that she will just have Fall 2011 to complete her education for her bachelor's degree. She got engaged last Oct. and he is a medic for the Navy down in NC. I know
she is frustrated and would like to be with him. She works part time to pay for her car payment and car insurance. Basically she only makes enough to pay for those items so we don't ask for any room/board. We are trying to help her. She thinks she can say what she wants, when she wants to me and that is what is causing the issues here. The last blowout was over the fact that I went away for a couple of nights with a close girlfriend of mine and she thought I was going away with a different friend (not that it's really any of her business), and called me a liar. She blew the whole situation out of control and made it all a problem with my husband as well. She oversteps her boundaries and really do I really need to answer to my 20 year old? I don't think so. But, I could be wrong. To me, we provide her with all her necessities, love her unconditionally, drive her and pick her up at the airports when she is flying down to see her guy (and at all times of the night - last week, it was 12:30 a.m.!) I think I am very good to her. Perhaps she is a bit frustrated because she feels she isn't "growing up" by still living at home when most of her friends have been living away at school and learning to be on their own. She did go away freshman year, however, came home to commute for sophmore year thru today as she didn't like the food, the roommate situation(s), etc. We try to be a great support system, however, maybe we try too hard?? I don't feel she has any right judging me or my friends in any way. That needs to be a boundary. I am 48 yrs. old and have "been there, done that".

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Sounds like it may be time for some tough love. If she can not be respectful of you than maybe it is time for her to find a new living arrangement.

12 moms found this helpful

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Sounds like it may be time for some tough love. If she can not be respectful of you than maybe it is time for her to find a new living arrangement.

12 moms found this helpful

Hi L.,

I have a question. Has your dtr. been like this for years or did it start with college? It is difficult to have a college student at home (have a son at home attending school) b/c this is the time in their life when normally they are out on their own finding their way into adulthood.
It's more difficult if they are at home and mom or dad is still treating them the same as a kid or teen. So, here are my questions for you... Do you ask her where she's going or what she's doing every time she goes somewhere? Are you still doing her laundry? Are you still asking her if she has her schoolwork done?
I guess what I am encouraging you to do is take a look at your behavior and see if she could possibly feel like you are not treating her as an adult. This age group highly resents "mothering" and will lash out every time. May I suggest that you sit down with your dtr. (if this only started recently) and talk to her. Ask her what you do to set her off. If she says that you are too controlling or condescending..take that as a hint!! She's wanting space to grow up! And, btw, that can be a good thing! Work together to establish what works for both of you...give and take. Let her know you are hearing her . Oh, and after you have listened to her, then feel free to let her know what bothers you and how it comes across.
Now, if she has been like this forever (so to speak) and you have done the above with her before....then I am all for tough love.
Hope this helps!

6 moms found this helpful

You said that the two of you end up in a yelling match. To me that indicates that both of you begin to act like children. The way to win her respect is to remain an adult in your response. i.e. don't fall into the children fighting pattern. Do not respond to her statements, questions. Instead tell her that the subject is not open for discussion and then stop. If you have to, and I frequently do have to in similar situations, leave the room. Do whatever you have to do to not respond to her statements.

Remember that you are the parent and do not have to respond to everything she says to you. Maintain your cool. It will be difficult because you've developed a pattern of fighting. Do not fight, ever. Talk to yourself, reminding yourself as she begins her comments. Tell her to stop. If she doesn't, you leave the room. Do not allow her to intrude on your life, except in ways that you're willing to be involved.

You can do her laundry if you want to do it. But do not do it if it feels like an imposition. When you do it anyway you're developing bad feelings that come out in other situations. It's much easier to argue with her when you're already feeling angry or put upon by other things.

Pick her up and take her to the airport when it's convenient. Allow her to find other transportation when it's not. Maintain your own life separate from hers.

It's all a matter of boundaries. She's crossing yours and you're allowing her to do so when you argue with her. Remind yourself of where your boundaries lie and you stick with them. Don't cross them yourself by giving her comments credence. You're doing that when you reply.

I've been thru this with my daughter and now at times with my granddaughter. We do teach them how to treat us by the way we respond or don't respond to them. At first I had a difficult time with my daughter because I wanted to convince her I was the mother. I finally learned that I can only influence how she treats me by responding in a manner that shows that I am the mother. I cannot verbally convince her of anything. When she criticized me for what I had or hadn't done, I learned to just stare back and not say anything at all. At first I had to leave her house. Now, I can change the subject and we can bypass the argument. We are two separate people who have a right to our own beliefs about certain situations. We don't have to convince the other one that we're right or that they're wrong. The situation is what it is. If it's about going out of town with a friend, my answer would be a mild, even somewhat friendly response of "it's none of your business." and then on to another subject or to another room.

It does take time to get comfortable with this way of acting but it will eventually be second nature and she'll eventually stop trying to bait you. You have to make a concerted effort to be consistent in not responding to her.

Once yelling or screaming starts, it's out the door I go. Keep your cool. Never yell back.

4 moms found this helpful

Show her the door w/ a suitcase of her clothes.

4 moms found this helpful

I like Laurie A's advice.


Your daughter, is LUCKY, to have a Mom like you.
She better start to appreciate that.
You care about her.
Not all parents are so nice.

Next, she is 20.
Don't do these things for her.
Just stop.
She has an attitude of 'entitlement.' And this is learned.
Undoing it, is learned as well. And will not be pleasant.
But if she does not learn how now, it will get worse.
One day she will not have you or Dad to fend for her.
That will be a rude awakening for her.

I have a sibling that was so arrogant like your daughter.
One day, my Dad died.
Only then, did she learn to appreciate her family and parents.
That is a hard lesson.

Parents are not there forever. They have lives too.
And responsibilities for their own roof over their heads.
Teach her that.
Show her that.
Tell her, ALL that an ADULT does and is responsible for daily SURVIVAL.

SHOW her, all the BILLS you/Dad have to pay, daily.
SHOW her how much all of this costs, in money and in sweat and work.
SHOW her, reality.
SHOW her, life.
SHOW her, what goes on behind the scenes, for ALL that you have to do for HER survival.
Don't be afraid, to show her, these things. These aspects of LIFE and surviving.

My kids are 4 an 8. And I explain these things and show them these things, already.

Tell her to grow up, she is engaged already.
If she wants to be grown-up, then act like it.
Or she will be a childish Wife and Bride. And high maintenance for her Husband.
She is 20.

Tell her to get a JOB.

You don't make her understand her attitude is disrespectful, you TELL her that.
Over and over, if you have to.

Is she really ready to get married?
She can't manage herself.

Example: she came back home because she didn't like the food or room-mate situations.
Ahem. That is really a lame excuse.
That is college life. There are room-mates. There is school food.
That is just the way it is.

3 moms found this helpful

Have you asked her what her problem is?

Ask her why she thinks she has a right to yell at you?

Ask her if she screams at her friends or allows them to scream at her?

Let he know you will no longer tolerate her treatment of you and if she cannot control her outburst, she needs to go to a doctor and find out what her problem is or be prepared to pack up and leave at the end of this semester.

Tell her No more screaming or disrespect will be allowed in your home towards you or anyone else in your home..

She is an adult and thus needs to act like an adult.

Even if she gets a room mate, they also will not tolerate those behaviors.

She could be pms ing enough that she may need to get on some meds hormones can reek havoc on behaviors and can go into aggressiveness, especially younger women.

Even in a dorm my daughter says they can all tell when they are about to start.. tempers get shorter, so they give each other warnings. Our daughter and I can get a little snippy with each other, but we have learned to say.. "Watch out, I am not in a good mood right now".. Or, "I am really not having a good emotional day" "I am on edge."

Remind her she can go to her room to calm down, she can go for a walk and she can take a nap. These are some coping skills.

3 moms found this helpful

What is the underlying issue that is driving her behavior? Is she feeling unheard? Does she want/need more freedom about her decisions? Is she feeling trapped? Is she stressed about school and hitting feelings of "not good enough" or feeling fearful about failing? Is she hurt or upset by something between the two of you? Is it true that she "shouldn't" be disrespectful? What does it mean to you if she is "disrespectful"? What thoughts get in your way of setting boundaries with her? Do you guys have the proper communication tools to really hear each other and be heard?

Understanding what the underlying issues are will be key to finding a solution. There are some simple boundary skills that you can use when you are in the middle of things. You can simply walk away. You can make an agreement when you are both calm and in good moods, that you will each walk away when it is heated and come back together at another time to address the issue. You can get support for yourself to find what your underlying issues are and why it is so painful for you.

Do you have other areas of your life in which people seem to cross your boundaries when they are upset? Did you grow up in a home where there was a lot of verbal venting? Do you have a belief system that people shouldn't be angry or they shouldn't express their anger? Were you raised to be a people pleaser?

Does your daughter have any alternative ways to express her frustrations and anger such as journaling, shredding an old phone book, venting with a friend, etc.? Could your daughter talk to a counselor at school or some other professional to help her figure out what is stressing and angering her?

3 moms found this helpful

Amy hit the nail on the head,foot and tail!!!! you are supposed to learn to appreciate and be more respectful to your parents as you get older not the other way around. if she can't control her self when you guys are totally in agreement then it;s time for her to go. she has to learn that when you are in someone elses home you have to basically kiss some behind sometimes and act like you have some sense. so if she can't talk to like you are her mother then she needs to move out. plain and simple. still help her,love her, guide but she neds to go or get it together while she is in your house! best wishes!

2 moms found this helpful

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