The First Step
Experiences within a family of this kind of behaviour are often surrounded by a veil of silence, with embarrassment, shame and fear. Parents find it difficult to start a conversation with their child about the behaviour. But reaching out and talking is always a good first step. For the people who work with families like social workers and family support workers, counsellors and volunteers with Parentline, listening to parents or carers talking about these experiences is always a good start and listening without judgement is especially important.
But what can we do together to end the use of abusive and/or violent behaviour by some children and young people towards their parents? How can the people at Parentline help?
First we can name the problem and let parents know that they are not alone. Conflict between parents and children is usually a rite of passage, a stage in changing relationships as sons and daughters grow and mature. But in some families, abuse, violence and fear enter the relationship. This can make parents, like Mike and Patsy, feel they are unable to act as a parent.
Child to parent violence and abuse (CPVA) is an abuse of power through which a child/adolescent under the age of 18 years coerces, controls or dominates parents or those who have a parental role (e.g. grand-parents or foster carers). Parents living with CPVA often talk about feeling ashamed, powerless and alone.