When She Speaks Rudely to You
It can sting like you've never felt before, and how you react to rudeness from your daughter is key to helping her evolve into a helpful and functioning adult. As easy as it is to lash back and to be hurt or to jump into denial and pretend it never happened, parents have to deal with it and do the right thing, which falls in the middle of those two extremes.
Remember when your daughter was little, and you overheard a teen girl speaking rudely to a parent? You may have actually said, “I'm so glad I did not raise my girl to talk to me that way,” to which the mom of any teen would respond to you, “Get back to me on that in seven years.” Because it's going to happen. She's going to be rude to you. As many times as parents tell themselves that ahead of time, it's never less hurtful that first time. Some parents compare it to being stabbed with a knife, so deep is the pain. But here's the trick to it all: it's not really all about you.
When you do hear it for the first time, take a deep breath before reacting. Don't lash back. Rather, take your daughter and yourself to a quiet spot and explain to her how unacceptable that behavior is. If you're in a mall, drop what you are shopping for and head to the car. If you are with a group, excuse yourself immediately. Don't let it slide but don't react in front of others. And do not lash back with rudeness. Pattern for her how you can be firm and disappointed and yet still not be rude. This is not always easy.
Often, a girl's lashing out with words is her way to work out a frustration that has nothing to do with you. Try not to take it personally.
If rude talk becomes seemingly endless, parents have to take a stand. While some parents believe in letting it roll off their backs (since they know their daughter is just acting out frustrations), the best bet is to deal with it as it happens. Set some ground rules. Make it clear that rude language and treatment is not acceptable, with you or with anyone else. Having set those rules, be ready to enforce them, because an unenforced rule can be worse than no rule at all.
That said, it's not that easy. Parents do have to find that magical place in the sand where they draw the line. If parents were to punish every single time a teen spoke to them rudely, they might not be doing much else. So what's the crossover point? Some might say when the rudeness becomes a verbal assault. If you feel attacked by your child's words — or you witness someone else like a sibling being attacked with words — you must step in.
You might want to point out to your teen that under the law, “assault” can be charged and found for menacing words, and that “assault and battery” is words and actions. Some children may not understand that words do truly hurt.
The first action you should take when your child lashes out with rude words is to teach her control. Everyone has moments of rage; it's what you do with them that make you who you are. Try to encourage her to go to her room for some quiet time before speaking more. If she refuses to do this, remove yourself from the situation until she calms down. This could mean going for a walk or a ride in the car. Let some time pass and give her the room to become rational again. It may take time (even years) but your daughter should learn that if she blows her top, her best reaction is some quiet time to let her anger pass before rude words pass her lips.