Understanding your teenage daughter’s behavior isn’t easy. With all those changes happening with their bodies and brains, figuring out why they’re acting a certain way can be as hard on them as it is on you.
You might find yourself fighting more frequently than you care to admit with your teenage daughter. Just realize that all parents go through this at some stage. If you’re a mom, you might even find yourself in a more troubled relationship with your daughter compared to your husband.
On days when you’re feeling exhausted and not really up for an argument, it’s okay to chalk it all up to hormones and call it a day. However, it’s important to try your best to see and understand where your teen is coming from, too.
So, why is your teenage daughter being mean to you?
Could it be something that you thoughtlessly said or did? Will it eventually pass? What can you do to mend your relationship before it gets worse?
Let us help you understand the issue a little bit more and provide helpful suggestions for keeping a healthy relationship with your teen daughter despite the meanness.
10 Common Reasons Why Teenage Daughters Are Mean to Their Parents
Even though you try your best, we aren’t always mindful of what we say and do.
Sometimes, when you’re busy, you tend to say things without realizing how it could be perceived or affect someone. Or you could say something out of tiredness and anger that you don’t really mean.
Other than “why is my teenage daughter so mean to me,” there are a few other questions you might need to ask yourself.
Here are some of the most common and possible reasons why your teen is mean to you.
Her Hormones Are Out Of Whack
Your daughter’s teen hormones are starting to kick in. Aside from the usual physical changes you’ll see as she grows, one other thing you might begin to notice is how moody your teenager becomes.
The rising level of hormones can make your teen highly emotional. This means your teen could start acting mean at every minor inconvenience or bawl when triggered by a sad movie. This can get even worse during that time of the month for her.
Think of it as a phase where your teen is trying to figure out how her body is changing and how she feels about it.
This behavior is pretty normal for teens, but if you think your teenage daughter is starting to cross a line, it won’t hurt to gently call her out and let her know.
While hormonal changes are usually nothing to worry about, you might want to watch out for hormonal imbalance in your teen as well.
Other than that, there’s not much else you can do except wait for her to grow out of this phase.
She’s Mad At Someone Else, And She’s Taking It Out On You
Navigating emotions is a tricky thing. Some full-grown adults can barely wrap their heads around it, so imagine how hard it is for your teenage daughter.
If she’s mean to you, she might be mad at someone else and is taking it out on you because she doesn’t know how to express her feelings appropriately otherwise.
Maybe she’s mad at a friend, but she’s afraid that if she takes it out on that friend, their friendship might be over for them forever.
Maybe she’s mad at a teacher for saying something rude, but she’s afraid she’ll get in trouble if she lets the teacher know how she feels about it.
If you’re 100% sure you haven’t done anything to make her upset, ask her why she’s being mean to you. If she opens up, guide her and teach her how to express her anger properly without being mean to others who have nothing to do with it.
You could show her anger management techniques or teach her how to be confident and bold in confronting those who hurt her and are making her mad.
You “Failed” Her
More often than not, those words might pop up in your thoughts while you’re taking a rest, eating, or any time your brain gets the tiniest bit of blank space for a random thought.
It would be helpful to retrace your steps leading up to the moment you noticed the meanness. When did it start, and what did you do or say to her before that?
Was it last week when she asked if she could go to the mall with her friends, and you snapped at her because you were too busy working or sorting something out? Or was it when you were so busy that you forgot about a special event like a birthday or a performance at school?
Teens expect a certain level of love and care from their parents. You don’t need to treat her the same way you did when she was younger, but she still wants that reassurance that you love her and care enough about her.
She might have misinterpreted those thoughtless words and actions as you no longer caring and loving them enough. In other words, she might feel like you failed her.
When teens feel misunderstood and neglected, it’s only natural for them to be affected and react negatively.
The meanness, disrespect, and anger that she’s showing might be her way of getting you to notice her and give her the attention and the care that she craves so much.
This could come in the form of something as subtle as scoffing and talking behind your back to something more in-your-face like shouting at you, picking fights more often.
Address her mean behavior calmly as soon as you notice it.
It’ll be easier to make up for whatever it is that she’s feeling mad about when it’s addressed early. You may not be able to go back in time to undo it, but you can always strive to do better and not do it again.
Sometimes, teens feel like everything and everyone is unfair to them, and that’s totally normal.
That doesn’t mean you should invalidate her feelings, though. In fact, it’ll be more helpful if you could help her understand your actions, words, and decisions.
She Has Unresolved Issues Or Pent-Up Anger From The Past
As mentioned above, not resolving the issue immediately can result in pent-up anger in your teenage daughter.
This can be a bit more difficult to resolve as it would be overwhelming to figure out where to start and how far back to look.
Pent-up anger and unresolved issues can be from many things — disagreements, arguments where you end up “winning” and she ends up feeling like she lost, that time she didn’t get what she wanted, and she didn’t understand why — it could be from one of these or all of these and more spread over a period of time.
Pent-up anger and unresolved issues can take a while to resolve.
Consistency is key in assuring your teen daughter that whatever caused her anger in the past will no longer be repeated (if possible).
You’re Unconsciously Influencing Her Mean Behavior
Take a second to analyze your teen daughter’s mean behavior. Does it seem familiar? Does it ring a bell?
They say young kids are very impressionable but did you know that teens are just as impressionable, if not more, than younger children?
If you’re seeing your daughter displaying unkind behavior, it might be time for some introspection. You might not mean to, but you could be passing down your mean conduct and behavior to your daughter.
People tend to act differently at work and home. If at home, you’re usually pretty chill, you might be (unconsciously) putting on a more austere, less friendly front at work to command the respect of your peers.
Because of the global pandemic, more parents are spending time working from home and, if you’re in the same situation, your daughter might have picked up a few of these mean habits from you while she watches you deal with people at work.
You might unintentionally be showing your daughter some of your own inappropriate behavior. This could include eye-rolling, talking back to your boss or co-workers (while on mute during a Zoom call), the occasional swearing when you get frustrated, and more.
Sure, you try your best not to be mean to her, but the behavior you exhibit while working and dealing with other people when she’s around is something that she can pick up on.
You’ve probably heard about young children being highly impressionable, but did you know that this impressionability continues well into the teenage years and beyond?
Be mindful of how you talk and how you act around your kids, especially teens.
They’re at a time in their life where they know that they’re on their way to adulthood. You’re the first person they’re going to look up to and use as an example for how to act and how to deal with certain things and situations.
She Picked Up Mean Behavior From Friends
The theory of nature vs. nurture explains why, no matter how hard you try as a parent to raise your child a certain way, there is still a big chance that they’re not going to grow up exactly the way you had hoped.
You may show her nothing but kindness and grace at home, but you can’t control what she sees from her friends and other people around her when she’s outside.
Similar to how adults change their behavior at work, teens also tend to change their behavior when they’re around friends. Most of the time, they do this to fit in, but there could also be other reasons for the personality switch.
If you notice that your teen suddenly starts being mean after hanging around with new people, that might just be it.
Gently talk to her and let her know how you’ve noticed the change in her attitude. Remind her that while it’s okay to want to fit in, she’s fine just the way she is and shouldn’t change her attitude so other people would like her.
She Thinks You’re The Bad Guy
What role do you play at home? If your teenage daughter is always mean to you, you might be the disciplinarian in the house while your husband/wife plays the fun parent part.
This might be why your daughter is mean to you. She sees you as the “enemy,” the force that’s stopping her from having fun. She’s probably asking herself “why is my mom so mean?”
As the parent who plays disciplinarian, you might feel that it’s your responsibility to lay down the rules in the house and make sure they’re being followed. On the other hand, your partner balances it out by making sure the kids don’t feel too trapped in the house by offering fun alternatives.
The result? Your teenage daughter, who’s starting to crave independence, sees you as the parent who gets in the way of her having fun and having her way. She may treat you like the enemy, hence the mean treatment.
Luckily, there is an easy solution to this problem. Try to talk to your partner about being on the same page about your parenting style as a couple. Assigning a specific role to one parent may seem like a good division of labor, but in reality, it’s not a very healthy way to do it.
Let your partner in on your observation and how you think your teenage daughter is mean to you because she might see you as the bad guy. You could switch roles for a while or abolish the old roles and be on the same side regarding parenting decisions from here on out.
Your Parenting Style Might Need Adjusting
Do you firmly believe in a particular parenting method and follow the rules without fault?
While no one can tell you which parenting style to use for your teen, adjusting your chosen approach to fit your child’s development and personality is essential in ensuring that she doesn’t feel suffocated.
If you’ve decided to take the authoritarian route when your kid was younger, it might be time to try something else now that she’s a teen.
As they grow older, teens get a stronger craving for freedom and independence, and the authoritarian style of parenting grants them very little of that, which might make them rebel against you.
Try to take this part of her development into consideration and tweak your parenting style to accommodate the necessary changes, and avoid power struggles with your teen.
Allow her to be with friends every once in a while, so she doesn’t feel left out and blame you for it. Let her go on trips without you by her side, so she doesn’t miss out on fun experiences.
Let her make some decisions for herself, so she doesn’t feel like she’s being controlled and has no say in what goes on in her life.
Doing this will give her a sense of freedom and independence and will show her that you’re not trying to take over her life but instead are simply looking out for her.
She’s Using It As A Defense Mechanism
As mentioned countless times in this article, teens go through a ton of changes. All these changes happening inside her body and the things happening outside and around her can cause stress. Your teen could be using anger, rudeness, and meanness as a defense mechanism to cope with everything.
It’s called the displacement defense mechanism, and it’s one of the top 10 defense mechanisms that people commonly use. With this technique, your daughter is choosing to redirect her negative emotions from the original source to a target that’s less threatening and less overwhelming (aka you).
For older teens, it could be their way of preparing themselves to leave the nest, too. They’ll be moving out soon, so perhaps consciously or unconsciously, they’re trying to create a gap between you and them, so they don’t miss you that much when they’re on their own.
Before you start feeling bad about it, or thinking that your daughter hates you, you should try to see it as your teenage daughter considering you as her safe space. She knows that even if she shows you the occasional meanness and moodiness, you’ll always try your best to understand her and maybe even help her find her way out of the bad situation she’s in.
Of course, you need to put a limit on it, too. You wouldn’t want to make her feel like it’s okay to cross the line and treat you like a doormat parent.
It’s The Classic Mother-Daughter Conflict
Conflict is expected of mothers and daughters, especially when your daughter reaches her teenage years. Now that she’s older, she’s loaded with new information, higher confidence, more angst, and lots of determination to prove that she’s right about knowing what’s good for her.
As a mom, you know she doesn’t know everything she needs to understand yet to make it out there on her own. You offer, maybe even force, your opinions on her. She rejects it; you feel bad and think she’s mean. Or she accepts it but isn’t happy about it, so she starts being mean to retaliate.
There are many more reasons for the classic mother-daughter conflict, but a lot of it usually has to do with both parties wanting different things and the power struggle between them.
Rude behavior should not be accepted and should definitely be addressed. However, before you turn on your teenage daughter for being mean to you, take a deep breath and try to think what might be causing this behavior. Is it hormones and can you try to ignore the behavior until they’re feeling less out of sorts, or is it something deeper that needs to be addressed.
Thankfully, it’s not too late to mend your relationship with your teenage daughter. Whether you’re a mom or a dad, there are plenty of things you can do to keep a peaceful, respectful relationship with your teen despite the meanness.
Most of the time, they just need a bit more understanding than usual, coupled with guidance on how to express themselves respectfully and without hurting anyone.