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Parenting is Hard! Why is my Teen Mean to Me?

written by Laura Dabney, M.D. March 12, 2021
Parenting is Hard! Why is my Teen Mean to Me?

Parenting is hard! Especially when parenting a teenager. If you have a teenager who is mean to you, don’t be alarmed, there is a reason behind it.

Don’t Take it Personally When Your Kid is Mean to You

When your child is mean to you, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you, it doesn’t mean they hate you, it doesn’t mean they’ll be mean forever.

When your kid is mean to you, it is because they have another responsibility. This responsibility is to separate from you. The easiest way to separate from you is to be mean. When they’re mean, it causes you to back off, and it causes tension which is putting something between you two.

I’m not saying this is the best way to separate but it is the easiest, and it’s very normal.

When your child is mean to you, it’s a way to separate which is normal.

How do you address this behavior?

Your child behaving this way hurts, and that’s normal, too.

It’s not okay for your child to be mean, but it is okay for them to separate. Your responsibility is to separate those two things for them. First, you have to understand it yourself.

If your child is mean to you, you can address it, but first, address the separation.

For example, let’s say you offer to help them study for a test, and they snap your head off. Address the separation issue first.

How can you address the separation issue?

When addressing separation, you can let your child know that you are aware they are getting older and can do things on their own. But when they snap at you, it hurts your feelings and hurts your relationship. Next time, you’d prefer them to say it in a more simple, kinder way, such as, “Mom, I got this.”

The difference between expressing your feelings to your child and punishing them is huge. If you scold them, it gives your child the impression that you can’t handle the separation which leads to other problems.

Call them out on being mean, but first, address the separating and let them know you are okay with that but you are not okay with them being mean.

Separating is important for your child because they’ve been dependent on you their entire life, and they have to learn how to move towards independence.

Parents have to learn when it’s time to start letting their child go because that’s how the parent-child relationship starts transitioning from a child who is dependent, to a child who is independent.


Watch a video on this topic here.

If you have any questions or would like help with how to break up with someone you love, call, or text anytime at 757-340-8800 or go to www.drldabney.com.

Dr. Laura Dabney

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