Verbally Abusive Child

Dear Sara,

I am at my wits end. My daughter is twenty years old and still living at home. She can’t drive right now because she got caught drinking and driving so I have to take her to her job. She can be verbally abusive to me and sometimes when she gets angry she throws things. She has a boyfriend but she isn’t very nice to him either. I don’t know what her problem is but I also don’t know how much longer I can live like this. What should I do?

Dear Fern,

Sometimes when kids get to be a certain age they really want to leave home but don’t know if they are capable of taking care of themselves. Their unhappiness may come out as anger toward their parents. She could be trying to make you the bad guy for putting her out.

She could also be having some mental health issues that she is trying to medicate with alcohol. Why don’t you try to get her to a doctor for a checkup. Maybe there are some things that she could share with him or her that she wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with you. If she continues to verbally or physically abusive to you maybe it’s time for her to leave.

Good luck.


  1. Hello, I am a retired social worker and what you are describing is unfortunately very common. Your daughter is. Depressed, angry and frustrated with herself and obviously pulling a “gotta love me” as you are the mom. I think her life ( and yours ) are in a downward spiral and drugs and alcohol are fueling the fire. You must tell her that her behavior is unacceptable toward you and that if she wants your help whether living there or a ride someplace she has to shape up and become a decent daughter and citizen. The boyfriend will most likely leave her but he doesn’t matter in this equation. Daughters at 20 are so confused and frightened. They have no idea which road to go down unless they have been involved in something that totally piques their interest. The more she gets high off of “whatever” the bigger the hole she has to dig out of. Her self esteem won’t improve if you don’t have any. Do not allow her to get out of line for one minute. Tough love is needed and many many books and sites on the Internet can help you. Good luck. Please make sure she is on birth control or you will be babysitting two people.

  2. This needs to be a multipronged attack, for want of a better word.

    1) Sit your daughter down and tell her that you are unhappy with her attitude to you. Her language is offensive to you and you will not put up with her assaults (throwing things at you).

    2) Tell her that you love her but you cannot live with her like this. That she needs to act like a responsibly adult.

    3) Ask her what is/are her problems? Tell her you want to help. Tell her that if she feels uncomfortable telling you, then perhaps a doctor or counsellor can help.

    4) If this fails to work inform her that you will no longer drive her to and from work. She can catch a bus, train, taxi or walk. But you will not be “her” taxi driver. And by the way has she paid any money for “your” gas bill?

    I’m also wondering if possibly she might have self confidence issues. This boyfriend, is he for real, or has she been unable to find anyone else. It happens ok? Is a lot of her attitude because she wants a boyfriend and the only one she has is someone she doesn’t really like? And that she’s taking her frustrations out on you, and also sometimes on him.

  3. James Gatton says:

    I m 77 years and we have had ups and downs with our adult children. That is natural.
    However I never stopped loving my children and they know it. During their down time is an opportunity
    To show them how much they are loved and appreciated. They are looking for support even though they are adults. Getting started is not easy in this day and time. It is hard.
    I never want my children to feel as though they are a burden. I personally work very hard to make them feel welcome anytime every day.
    There’s an old saying ” what you sow is what you reap”. So true. Twice yearly I get the entire family together with grand children and go somewhere to spend cherish time together. It could be camping or something else. Does n’t need to cost a lot of money. Or they all can come and camp out in house and cook eat talk about things. It took me years to figure this out. Now that I have I go out of my way to be apart of their lives. They look forward to our trips and gatherings on special occasions. My wife and I are lucky ducks.
    If my children see this you are welcome home anytime under any circumstance and stay as long as you want. POP

  4. MAYBE it’s time for her to leave? I would say past time. If you do not DEMAND that she show respect to you,,,she sees you as weak and undeserving of respect. I went through something similar with my son. I told him that he didn’t have to respect me, I would have to earn that, BUT he would show me respect. What a difference that made. Good luck.

  5. Sara thanks. I feel that is very good advice for parents with kids who are getting ready to leave home and be more independent.

  6. she’s full of hate and discontent. pray for her soul. could be the age group too.

  7. You are not helping her or teaching her anything by letting her continue to live with you and act this way. There are consequences to every thing we choose to do. She chose to drink and drive so the consequences of that are you lose your freedom to drive and unless you can get a ride you will probably lose your job as well. It’s not up to you to run her around just because she made bad choices. Make it her responsibility to fix and deal with. If you continue to fix all of her problems she will never change because she knows she doesn’t have to, you will fix it. If she is out on her own paying all of her own bills and having to figure life out on her own she will think twice about doing stupid things because now the consequences hurt more than the stupid things are fun. Right now she hasn’t had to deal with any of the consequences because you take care of her, drive her wherever she needs to go and she can continue to treat you like crap with no repercussions. She needs to be put out on her own and forced to live a decent life or pay the consequences. She will never grow up if you don’t.

  8. Betty Peterson says:

    We have a company that puts a unit on her car so she can’t drive drunk and hurt herself or someone else. Don’t know where you live, but most DMV’s have a list of Interlock Device companies that report to DMV on each offender. At least she could keep her driver’s license and drive herself to work…after all … she is a big girl now and needs to take responsibility for her own actions. You didn’t make her drink Mom, so don’t feel guilty.
    We are located in Victorville CA Alco Alert Interlock, Inc. and we help fill out all the paperwork for the courts as well as for DMV. 760-269-7600 We have been in business for over 20 years.

    I wish you the best of luck.

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