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Why is my teenager being so disrespectful?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

My daughter is a senior in high school this year and we are not getting along. We have issues over the years but nothing of any great importance — we’ve usually gotten along quite well.

A few weeks before school started she tried to go behind our back and get her belly button pierced — after we had said that we didn’t think it was a good idea. We caught her in the lie and she went off the scale, packed up all of belongings and moved in with her Dad. She told us in a note that she left on our kitchen table — we were gone for the weekend and found this note when we came back home.

Her Dad backed her up (we’ve been divorced for 12yrs) and said I was being unreasonable — I put my foot down and told her it was unacceptable and she needed to come home.

She came home but has been very standoffish and completely rude at times. She includes me on her terms, I am allowed to help her with any problems she has — senior pictures — college visits. We’ve had some decent talks but she can be soooo cold at times.

I am having such a hard time — I am so frustrated — can you please tell me how to deal with this horrible attitude?! I feel like she doesn’t care about me at all and I get very upset when she is rude to me — especially in front of her 3 siblings!!

Why is my teenager being so disrespectful?

Answered by on -


This is a complicated and painful situation but not at all uncommon. (I responded to a similar letter on 11/10.) This is a normal but exasperating developmental stage. Your daughter is on the brink of leaving home and is alternatively excited and terrified. She is trying to figure out how to be her own person but also stay connected. Many kids in her position push the limits, find reasons to be angry, and yet continue to want the love and support of the very parents they are alienating. It’s telling that she left in a huff but she did come home, even though her Dad was supporting her in her rebellion.

What do you do? Love her lots. Coat yourself with some emotional teflon, and trust in the good values you’ve taught and close relationship you’ve had. Regularly remind yourself that this stage, like others before it (remember the terrible twos?) will pass in a year or two and you’ll get your daughter back.

I think your biggest problem is with her Dad. She doesn’t need to feel torn between you. It would have been more helpful if he had told her that he might disagree with you but that she lives primarily under your roof so she needs to obey your rules. Since there is no way to get her belly button a little bit pierced, she needs to wait until she is an independent adult to do something that you feel so strongly isn’t in her best interests. I hope he can more reliably back you up once he understands what is really going on.

Meanwhile, perhaps you can sit down with your daughter and identify something besides belly button piercing that will let her make her statement of individuality.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Why is my teenager being so disrespectful?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Why is my teenager being so disrespectful?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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