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Aggressive Male Teens: Tips for Single Mothers

Your teenage son is becoming more and more aggressive toward you. He is quickly developing the habit of getting in your face and yelling when he doesn’t get his way. He has even threatened to hurt you if you don’t let him do what he wants.

To make matters worse, he is taller and stronger than you, and you’re a single mother who gets no protection from your son’s father since he is rarely – if ever – around to intervene. What is a single mom to do?!

Aggressive male teens emotionally abuse their single mothers in an attempt to control them. Emotional abuse is considered domestic abuse, and it is just as harmful as physical abuse. Domestic abuse is defined as any instance when one family member begins to dominate the other member. Your aggressive son abuses you emotionally so he can get complete control over you – your thoughts, beliefs and concept of yourself – in order to be able to do what he wants, when he wants, and without any consequences.

Emotional abuse is often the prelude to physical abuse or domestic violence. If your teenage son threatens you with physical harm, don't take this as an idle threat. He won't play fair in his efforts to get his way. Listen to other family members, coworkers and friends when they express concern for you. Learn about the cycle of violence (i.e., a cycle your son follows as he continues to bring you ever more under his control).

Here are some tips for single moms who are dealing with a violent teenage son who can easily overpower his mother in the heat of the moment:

1. Break the silence on this issue. You need to let others know about the abuse. Talk to a female friend whom you trust and let her know what's been going on. If you have a healthy relationship with your ex-husband or his parents, tell them about your son’s abusive behavior.

2. Talk to a counselor. Make a plan for how you will communicate with this person. Ask him/her to only call you while your son is at school or out with friends – or to wait for you to call, since your son may become more abusive if he finds out you're talking to someone. Depending on your situation, the counselor may recommend a formal "intervention" involving friends, family members, and perhaps even your pastor. During this meeting, this group of individuals will back you up as you confront your son about his abusive behavior. Tell him that you are not going to allow him to abuse you anymore, and insist that he get counseling for his anger problem immediately.

3. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE for information and referrals in every state, crisis intervention or safety planning.

4. File a protective order. Go to the court clerk's office in your town to file a request for a restraining order, requiring your son to stay a certain distance away from you.

5. If friends, relatives or co-workers tell you they suspect you're being abused by your own child, don't be afraid to admit it.

6. Make an escape plan in the event your son becomes violent (e.g., pushes, smacks, hits, throws things at you, etc.). Leave as soon as you're able, and call the police. At the first sign of rage, leave the house and go a prearranged place where you will be safe. That could be a friend's home or your parents’ home. It's also a good idea to have some extra clothing and toiletries in the trunk of your car.

7. Realize that you're involved in a very disrespectful relationship and your child is abusing you. Even though he hasn’t used his hands against you (YET!), his words and put-downs are just as damaging.

8. Recognize you have the right to be safe in your daily life. If your teenage son threatens physical violence against you, start filing police reports so you create a paper trail and obtain a restraining order so law enforcement can help you. With a trusted friend, develop a safety plan so you can get away with as little disruption of your life as possible.

9. Your self-esteem may become affected due to the emotional battering you've been subjected to. You loved, provided for, and raised this child – and now he is treating you like a junkyard dog. Locate a therapist so you can begin individual therapy and start the healing process. Look for a therapist or clinical social worker who specializes in working with victims of domestic abuse or violence.

10. Your son is able to control his behaviors. When someone interrupted one of his abusive episodes (e.g., his father, a teacher, a police officer), he switched from being abusive to being calm and charming. Talk to your therapist about this ability and observe this switch so you can gain new insight about your son, especially if you can't bring yourself to kick him out of the house. 


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents


Unknown said...

Thank you for this. My son has been physically violent with me once -- not hitting me; he smashed my computer when he was angry. He goes around angry and I'm always afraid that he will hit me or even kill me. (His father was also abusive.) My family is concerned, but I don't think they take my fear completely seriously. I'm trying to figure out how to get help. I live several states away from family and have not made any real friends where I live now, due to my work schedule. Your article at least validated how I'm feeling. Thank you for that.

Dontblamethedad said...

As fearful as it is, I was once in this situation. My partners son developed the same streak of behaviour, aggressive violence.
Whilst he was my stepson, I loved him dearly we had to do something, his mother and I got on very well so we worked together. He never treated me poorly as I was not his mother, so the conversations and discussions we had meant more to him then his mother telling him what to do.

It must be hard to see another male or female in the lives of your children, it sometimes is the best thing for the child. It gives the parents inside knowledge on what is going on with their children.

Forget blaming dad who isn't around or the height of the child and look at the environment, teenage boys need their mums, they need love and security, kicking them out, calling the police and all the rest of it doesn't always work. It's good to have a plan but try just understanding what they are going through. Try talking to him, you don't have to be a counsellor to ask him how he's going, try listening to him, hear his words, have a compromise ready for when he cracks it that he didn't get his own way and if you have other children, particularly daughters try not to favour them in front of him, he if finding himself and probably trying to fill the gap that his father had left. He needs time and support.

ReMom said...

When my son became a teen he too had anger issues. I told him when he started the verbal abuse to stop. And I told him when the day comes that you forget I am your Mother and abuse me I will forget you are my son and defend myself to any means I have to do so. Yes, they are our children and yes, we love them but they should show us respect and love as well. You might think I am being too harsh but my son turned into a meth addict and they become dangerous when they get paranoid. I meant what I said and he knew that. No one has the right to intimidate or abuse me unless I let them. Make plans to protect yourself and use them when necessary.

mich said...

My son is 14 with Aspergers and ODD. He is so mean and inappropriate. He loves to pick on me and harass me. He calls me names. My husband his dad does nothing! I am sick of it. I feel terrible about myself. I no longer will be alone with him. He has been violent and threatening.

LS said...

To Mich---I feel for you. I have an AS, ODD, and ADHD 14 year old son who also shows signs of his father's Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It has always been an uphill battle parenting him. However, I feel that he may slowly be improving. The tactic that seems to work, at least with my son, is to tell him in advance what the problem is and what the consequences will be if he does it again (no more warnings.) Also call the problem by the proper term, such as "You are calling me inappropriate names. Name-calling is a form of emotional abuse. Abusive behavior is not allowed in this house. The next time you call me one of these names (show him a written list of the ones not allowed) you will have your cell phone taken away for 2 hours (or no video games for the rest of the day, or you will have to pay $5--choose something that he really values.) Then you MUST follow through and actually give the consequence no matter how he argues or threatens his way out of it. If he says or does something else abusive while arguing, add to the consequence...etc. It will likely get worse before it gets better, so BE STRONG, stick to your plan, and do not give an inch. I am a single parent and I have a more respectful son as a result of being assertive and standing my ground against him. I have even imposed an "arm's length rule" that he must abide by when he is in a violent mood (he must stay an arm's length away from me or else he gets a consequence.) My heart goes out to you--it is very very difficult to parent a child like this.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this article. I have a 17 year we have sent him to wilderness and rehab for 10 months in Utah. He now is at a boarding school but was home for the summer and it's been shear hell. My husband and I are separated in part due to the nature of his behavior through out the years. Now that I am alone the his abusive behaviors mainly verbal abuse and incredible messes, urinating on walls and sinks and sexually inappropriate behaviors have taken a huge toll on psyche. I have contemplated suicide on so many occasions. He is on medications and see a psychiatrist but has not been taking his medications. I am debating about having him emancipated by the state. I think the hardest thing for me is that I have no support-everytime I try and contact my husband he can't deal with it. I think the suggestions in the article esp the one about going to the courts is something I am seriously going to consider

leftfordeaddownunder said...

Sons with useless and worse - destructive fathers who reward them for going against theie mothers, such as in my case, carry even more rage. My son desperately wanted a dad and his fathee is an abusive malignant narcissist, as well as completely dysfunctional and sociopathic. I have a beautiful boy who needs positive male role models and he can be wonderful and sensitive but when fruatrated he flips instantly. A parent needs to work with schools counselors and community to get support for self, other affected family members and their son. My son reacts like his father taught him. He now has a few good male role models at school and wull be socialising more with smart swutched on boys,and groups like the scouts. Last night, instead of reprimanding and punishing, i hugged him and offered,up ideas to switch gears when he felt upset and frustrared last night that worked. My son has father issues and autism/aspergers to a point. Every day is new beginning to try to improve his life and coping skills. End of day he knows I am trying to raise him up happy with responsible independent living life skills and that my love for him is tireless.

Anonymous said...

I am in the same situation and i do blame the father. Ok

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that involving the police almost never makes anything better for the child. It should ONLY be used as a last resort to keep the victim safe. Jail and/or prison time actually causes more anger issues, more violence and hatred in people. In Michigan Domestic Violence calls results in an arrest. No choice in the matter.

This is not an abusive boyfriend or husband, this is your child, in many cases still a minor. It is our jobs to help them to change before they become adults in prison. I follow this site specifically for the Information to do just that. So there has to be a way! Help us find it.

In my specific case, number 10 is not true. Once my son gets started, whether violent or just ranting, nothing can get him out, even the police. He can't stop himself. Usually time alone (with much self hating thoughts and insulting himself out loud) will get him in tears which sometimes calms him enough to tall, and even that doesn't always work. So what can I do then? He was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD and Depression btw.

Maddy said...

I am in the same situation as I read the comments on here. My son is 16 and he is vile and absolutely horrible. He was Baker Acted last summer because he is violent towards me. He does not even go to school anymore. I am afraid of him. He is disrespectful beyond words. He has choked me before to the point where I have nearly passed out. I have PTSD as a result of this. My depression is so bad, I can't function. When he was Baker acted, I begged child services for help because I am afraid of him. All they did was send a therapist once a week for a family therapy session. The therapist was no good at reaching my son, the whole thing was a waste of time. I have gotten to the point where I no longer feel the same love for my son. He has worked overtime to get me to hate him. I don't know what to do anymore. Suicide has been a thought. I would like for him to get help but he doesn't want any. He doesn't have siblings nor a father, so I do not have that support. All I have is elderly parents that cant' handle him either. I am already at the point that I'm willing to give up my parental rights and hand him over to the state because there is going to be a tragedy at my home. I've looked into bootcamp for him, but unless he has a criminal record, which he does not, the state does not have programs. There are programs that are self pay but the cost is over $5,000 monthly. That is impossible for me to pay. If anyone on here can anywhere direct me anywhere where I can get help,I will deeply appreciate it. I live in Florida. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it is 5:00AM and I so worried. My eyes are swollen from crying about my son. I felt so alone. My son is 17 and has been physically abusive twice, pushed me, grabbed my arms and shook me. He teases me and bullies me about my weight. He yells at his sister called her a bitch. She is just a little girl. He is my everything. I love him so much but today earlier I snapped. I yelled at him that I hated him and didn't recognize him anymore. I told him to get out of my life (but just until sunrise) I changed my mind two minutes later but it was too late. He's gone. Now I don't know where he is. Praying he is safe and that he comes home soon. So, we can heal and make peace. I need to hug him and tell him I love him. God bless everyone.

Unknown said...

I have a 17 yr old grandson that is doing the same thing to me. He cusses me yells at me and refuses to help around the house. He has beat holes in the walls and doors and now put dents in my car. I have called the police a few times and he straightens up if he thinks Im going to call the cops. I wish I could make him see the mistakes hes making. But i am 62 yrs old and I have been going through this almost 3 yrs. He knows how far to push. I love him and thats why I have put up with it. But I cant do it much longer. He will soon be 18 and then what will he do? I have had to put padlocks on my doors. He has stolen my deceased mother's jewelry and tore it all up and broke it he has stole money out of my wallet and took it to school and gave it away. My next step will have to be putting a protective order against him and put him him off my property

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