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Does My Mom Have The Right To Hit Me?

Published: July 08, 2013
Dear Does My Mom Have The Right To Hit Me?,

So my mom and I got into an argument yesterday. I didn't want to talk to her while we were angry so I locked myself up in my room and she started threatening me ramming the door trying to break it open. I'm 16 male and she says she had the right to discipline/hit me but I haven't done anything wrong. Can she hit me if I'm trying to get some distance from her and if I haber done anything wrong? We live in texas by the way. Also my byest friends mom says she is putting me through emotional abuse. Please help

Dear Does My Mom Have The Right To Hit Me?,

Parents have a responsibility to teach their children about morals, values, appropriate ways of behaving, social norms, etc. And sometimes parents will give consequences for misbehaviors, which is totally appropriate. For example, if a teenager stays out past curfew they might lose their privilege to go out the following weekend. Or if a teen is careless in driving the family car and dents it they might have to work to pay off the cost of repairing the damage. Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with parents implanting consequences. In fact it is actually not helpful to a child or teen to feel like they can do whatever they want without any repercussions.

However, there are some ways in which disciplining can become problematic:

  • If a parent is unable to regulate their own emotions while disciplining a child, that can be a problem. If they are so angry they are screaming, breaking down doors, throwing things, or losing control of their emotions and behavior in any other way, this is a problem. For one thing, it can be very scary for a child or teen. Second, it hurts the relationship between the parent and their child or teen. Third, the child or teen is not learning how to effectively deal with problems that come up and may develop their own inabilities to regulate their own emotions and behaviors. Fourth, the child or teen is not really learning a lesson about whatever problematic behavior or situation came up in the first place.
  • When behaviors on the part of a parent become abusive, it has moved beyond effective disciplining. Any behaviors that are physically or emotionally abusive are going to have negative impacts on the child and teen, as well as that parents’ relationship with the child or teen. Child abuse is a serious problem and if a child is suspected of being abused or neglected, the police or local child welfare agency should be contacted.
  • Hitting children does not have to leave scars or marks for it to be a problem. It can be quite scary for a child or teen to be hit by a parent – especially if that parent is bigger and stronger and/or if that parent is enraged while the hitting is occurring. Hitting is generally an outlet for an angry parent rather than an effective form of disciplining a child. Hitting a child or teen is disrespectful and aggressive and will hurt, not help, the parent-child relationship. Children and teens who are hit by their parents often use physical violence or other forms of aggressive behaviors as a way to solve their own problems.

All that said, if your mom is using reasonable means of giving you consequences for problematic behaviors, that is reasonable and fine. However, it doesn’t sound like that is the case. It sounds like she is having trouble regulating her own anger, and that she might be emotionally abusive towards you and overreacting to things you have done. Depending on what kind of hitting has been going, there may be physical abuse as well. TeenHealthFX thinks that it is very important for you to reach out to a trusted adult for help with this situation. It is important for an adult to assess the situation, get further details on these types of interactions between you and your mom, and determine what kind of interventions are needed given the situation. You could talk to your family doctor, school counselor, or your best friend’s mom for assistance in dealing with this. Or you, yourself, could contact your local child welfare services. In Texas you would call the Department of Family and Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. You could also call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 7 days a week, 24 hours a day at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).