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Having a disrespectful daughter is a painful experience for any parent, but can cause a tremendous rift when it is between mother and daughter. Whether your daughter is a tween, teenager, or adult woman… arguing follows, and soon, your last recourse may be to write a letter to daughter who is disrespectful.
Children are said to be little pieces of their mother’s heart running around outside her body, which is why when your children are being rude or disrespectful to you, it really hurts.
So what can you do when your daughter breaks your heart with her disrespect? There are a few options, but when all else fails, a letter from your heart to hers may be all that remains in your repertoire.
The important thing to keep in mind is that accusations will not bring any resolution or change of behavior. You must first understand the why and how, and then suggest a meaningful way forward.
It won’t be easy, but you can recover and repair your relationship with your daughter.
Why Is My Daughter Disrespectful?
From the first time she “cheeked” you to being all-out rude to you, it hurts when your daughter is disrespectful to you. If she is a toddler, you have less ground to cover and swift intervention can help shape her to be more respectful of you (and other adults).
It’s harder with a teenager or adult daughter.
There may be several reasons why a daughter becomes disrespectful to her mother, from seeing friends who are disrespectful to their mothers and copying that behavior – to mimicking behavior seen on TV or witnessing disrespect by older siblings. Or perhaps her father or your boyfriend may have behaved disrespectfully to you.
If your daughter starts behaving disrespectfully in her toddler and pre-teen years, she has likely learned it from others. Children are, after all, sponges that soak up the environment they are exposed to. Bad environmental factors “nurture” disrespect and other poor behaviors.
Common Reasons for Disrespect
There are a few other reasons why your child may suddenly become disrespectful. These include:
She Feels Neglected by You
When a child wants attention, they often act out to get it. Your daughter may have been feeling neglected by you, and in an attempt to get your attention, she speaks to you with disrespect.
She Experiences Disrespect
Perhaps your daughter has been disrespected by her peers, teachers, and other pivotal people in her life. Her disrespect may not be aimed at you exclusively, and you may see that she is disrespectful to everyone.
If she is disrespectful to you exclusively, chances are that she feels you failed to protect her from the disrespect of others.
She Witnesses You Being Disrespectful
Children copy what they see. If you generally act disrespectfully to people, your daughter will copy that behavior and parrot it back at you.
Before you get upset with her disrespect, take a long and honest look in the mirror. Respect is valued by everyone but not always practiced by all.
She Is Protecting Herself from Anger and Violence
Disrespect can be driven by fear. If your daughter is exposed to anger or violence (especially in the home), she will likely act out in a way that pushes people away, since she doesn’t trust anyone.
Her tone of voice, facial expressions, and behavior may be designed to subconsciously keep people away—like a puppy snarling at others because they feel vulnerable.
She Feels Misunderstood and Is Frustrated
Communication is key for any relationship to work, and if your daughter feels like she has been misunderstood and becomes frustrated, she will likely act out with disrespect.
Frustration may lead to disrespectful tone of voice, facial expressions that are confrontational, and verbal exacerbation. She feels unseen, and therefore, she acts out.
She Has Cause for Losing Respect for You
A final cause for disrespect is if your daughter feels she can’t respect you. Perhaps you’ve been less than a model parent (we’re all human) at times… but if you have given your daughter cause to not respect you, then there’s work to do on your side to earn her respect again.
Daughters may lose respect for their mothers if they are alcoholics, drug addicts, loose with men, frequently unemployed, cause them embarrassment or put a strain on the family (such as cheating on their father or being emotionally unstable).
Examples of Disrespect
Knowing what disrespectful behavior is can help you detect early signs and help address the root cause of disrespect.
When you see your daughter being disrespectful, you have a small window of opportunity to address the problem and find a way to move forward in a positive way. So look out for these types of disrespectful behavior.
Rolling Her Eyes
Children who disagree with what you say or do may show their disapproval and lack of respect by rolling their eyes, or by looking away when you speak to them.
You may have seen your daughter looking away sharply when you reprimand her, which is another form of eye rolling. However, depending on your culture, it may be considered rude if your child stares at you when being reprimanded.
Snorting When You Speak or Tell Her to Do Something
Teenagers are usually the culprits of this form of rudeness. When you speak to her or ask her to do something and she makes a nasal or throat sound to show her disgust and lack of respect, you are dealing with snorting behavior.
When we speak to our children, we usually expect some sort of reply to indicate they heard or accept your guidance. A child who ignores you and continues doing something else is giving you the silent “finger.”
Slamming Doors, Throwing Things, and Other Violent Actions
Other children, especially girls, may turn to the theatrics. They will throw things, slam doors, bang their heads against a wall or shred magazines and papers when they don’t like what you are saying to them.
You may not always be the cause of their anger at that moment, but they feel frustrated and don’t know how to deal with the emotions they feel, so they lash out in defiance and disrespect.
Gossiping About You to Her Friends and Peers
Speaking ill of you behind your back is another act of disrespect. When your daughter tells her friends lies about you or even if she speaks truthfully but does so maliciously, she is disrespecting you.
It is usually done to provoke you and show you that she’s not going to respect you.
Screaming at You or Tone of Voice
Screaming, speaking in a rude tone of voice, and using swear words are another example of disrespectful behavior that teenagers often like to engage in.
Being sensitive about your daughter’s tone of voice and choice of words can help you spot disrespect and possibly head off worse examples of disrespect.
Tips for Dealing with a Disrespectful Daughter
Now that you know the “why” of daughters being disrespectful to their mothers, it’s time to look at what can be done when dealing with a daughter who is disrespectful.
Your instinct may be to lash out or scream back when confronted by a disrespectful daughter, but do your best to control your emotions and stay calm.
You can’t control her or her emotions, but you can be an adult and show her how to handle the situation by being responsible and calm. If you don’t feel calm, use a mindfulness activity to calm down first.
Discipline Through Teaching
Previous generations raised their kids by using the belt and the Bible to punish their children. However, this is not always the best way. Instead of punishing your daughter for rudeness, you can teach her a better way.
We have all had a young child act disrespectfully and throw a tantrum in a public place. It’s embarrassing, and keeping your cool while teaching them it’s not acceptable is difficult.
One father achieved just this with a video that went viral of him having a quiet talk with his rude daughter in a parking lot at Walmart.
Mothers can do this too. De-escalate by teaching, not punishing.
“I See You”
Children often feel unseen. They easily believe their parents are unable to see what they go through or how they feel. Take the time to reassure your daughter that you see her; you acknowledge what she feels and experiences.
Ask What’s Wrong
Children don’t always want to talk about what’s bothering them, but there is something that’s gotten your daughter upset.
Until you get to the bottom of it, you won’t know why she’s being disrespectful. Carefully ask what has been bothering her, why she is upset or angry, and what you can do to help.
Don’t be surprised if her first reaction is to lash out at you or tell you off. Stick with her, ask quietly, wait, and listen. When she’s ready, she will begin to tell you why she’s being disrespectful.
“How Can I Help?”
Your daughter probably feels alone and overwhelmed. Assuring her that you are there to help and care for her may be the final piece of the puzzle to unlock what has upset her.
Write a Letter
When your daughter and you have really sunk each other’s patience boats, and it’s a mess of disrespect and hurtful comments, you may be at the point where it’s impossible to talk to each other, much less be in the same room.
Writing a letter is the last resort, short of going for family counseling, and even then, a letter may be the best way to really express what’s going on and find a way through the pain.
Step-by-Step Guide to Write a Letter to a Disrespectful Daughter
Putting pen to paper and writing what is in your heart while trying to comfort and soothe your difficult daughter is a real challenge.
You may be tempted to simply pour all your heartache onto the page and then send it off to your disrespectful and rude daughter, but this may worsen matters if your letter isn’t well-planned and constructive.
With a few steps, you can also write the best and most effective letter to your daughter. Depending on the age of your daughter, you may need to use age-appropriate language, but the steps remain the same.
STEP 1. Decide What You Want to Achieve
All too easily, a parent may become swept up in their outrage or emotions, failing to keep their end goal in mind. What do you want to achieve with this letter? What is your envisioned outcome? Do you want your daughter to open up and share what she’s upset about? Perhaps you want her to respect you more?
STEP 2. Identify Potential Causes
When you know what’s causing the conflict in you and your daughter’s lives, consider the events surrounding incidents of disrespect your daughter has been causing. What preceded the event, what happened after she was disrespectful, and what factors may have played a part?
Using a journal, you can keep a record of these and other questions. It’s not enough to simply say your daughter is rude to you. Why? What triggers her?
STEP 3. Draft the First Paragraph
Your daughter probably knows that when she receives a letter from you, she is in for a serious talk. So the letter needs to be powerful. If you don’t have her attention in the first few paragraphs, she won’t even finish reading the letter.
Start your first paragraph by emphasizing these qualities: Tell your daughter that you love her, you value her, and you want to work on what’s broken between you. Be careful with the blame game. Instead, own up to what you know you’ve done poorly or how you’ve hurt her.
After the first paragraph, it’s important to clearly explain what kind of behavior by your daughter has been rude. Notice the words you choose to use. There’s no point in being petty or acting out because you are hurt in your letter. You can control your emotions, even if your daughter can’t (or doesn’t).
STEP 4. Draft the Body of the Letter
Once you have the basic start in place, you can move on to the main concerns you’ve noticed.
Don’t just list her flaws. Dive into your own too, making it clear to your daughter that you are also shouldering your blame, and you just want her to do the same so you can both meet in the middle.
Encourage her to reach out and be open to discussions about what has gone sideways between you two. Help her understand that her behavior has become unacceptable, but don’t blame her for it.
Keep reminding her that she’s not alone, and that she can still rely on you to help her figure things out.
STEP 5. The Way Forward
The letter shows a clear path forward for both you and your daughter. Suggest that you can both discuss the problems in a calm manner. Tactfully suggest a few solutions, or things you can try.
Keep the matter positive and encourage a shared perspective and mutual responsibilities, so you can both make decisions together.
STEP 6. Write the Conclusion
Your letter needs to give your daughter assurance, guidance, and advice, without telling her what to do. Your daughter needs to decide for herself what the best way forward is.
You can’t make someone be polite and respectful. However, you can wrap up what has happened, find the best course of action, and develop the skills to move forward.
Finish the letter with a clear message of hope and support. Encourage your daughter to work with you, and gently paint a mental image of what you hope your future relationship will be.
Example of a Letter to a Daughter Who Is Disrespectful
This is a hard letter for me to write. I love you, and I only want the best for you. However, this is a letter to a child who has treated me badly and behaved in a way that’s not a reflection of the beautiful woman I want to call my daughter.
I love and value you. There is nothing I won’t do for you, but you have been disrespectful lately, and I don’t know why. I know that you are young and still learning about life. I know that times have changed a lot since I was your age, but I also know the struggle of finding yourself and knowing who you are. I want to assure you that I am here for you—always, no matter what.
This letter is my way of reaching out to you without fighting or arguing or getting upset. We’re both human, and when our emotions take over, we don’t act nicely to each other. Your behavior has hurt me, and I am very disappointed in the disrespectful way you have acted lately.
You shout at me, slam the door in my face, and roll your eyes when I ask you to do something. Where you once hugged me every day, you now give me the cold shoulder and don’t want to speak to me at all. I have noticed the little ways that you are mean and rude to me, and it is hurtful. It hurts me, and it hurts you.
I want to understand what is going on, why you have suddenly become rude, and why you aren’t acting like the beautiful and kind daughter I know you are. We all have faults, and I am also not perfect. But we can both own up to our flaws and be better for that.
Would you please meet with me so we can hear each other out? We both need to speak our truth to each other, and I want to hear from you what is going on in your life. The disrespectful behavior can’t continue as it hurts me and it hurts you. Life is short, and I don’t want to lose precious years with you because of bickering and disrespect.
This is not about finding someone to blame. I want to rebuild the beautiful relationship we once had. I love and cherish you, and I know you will need me in your life for many years to come (even if it doesn’t feel like that at the moment).
Let’s talk. If you feel things are still too hot to talk about in person, please write a letter to me, and I will respond the same. Or, if you feel ready, let’s meet for a milkshake or soda at that place you like on 5th Street for a chat. When would it suit you?
I love and care about you. There is so much we can learn from each other and share with each other. Let’s not leave things like this—I want to hear you, understand you, and plan a way forward with you.
All of my love,
Final Thoughts on a Letter to Daughter Who Is Disrespectful
Dealing with disrespect from your daughter is a blow to the heart, and it can wreck many beautiful relationships if both mother and daughter don’t come to the table of healing and learning. Your daughter’s behavior isn’t acceptable, but it may also not be entirely her fault.
She is learning about life, and she’s also struggling with things… such as hormones, friends, learning, pressure to perform at school and questions about love and life. She needs you, her mother, to guide her and be there to support her—not judge her.
Your daughter is becoming her own woman, and she may not be the woman you wanted her to be, but it’s her choice and her life. As her mother, you need to respect her and help her on her journey (wherever that journey may lead).
In turn, as your daughter, she needs to be respectful of you and all the sacrifices you’ve made on her behalf. At the end of the day, if you still don’t feel understood, you can borrow inspiration from these life quotes to help you get past the hurt.