Parent Abuse–More Common Than You May Think

23 May

This may be a bit off-topic from mediation, but, I feel that everyone involved in conflict resolution should be aware of all the nuances that may be part of an abusive relationship.

Since mediators should always be on the lookout for possible abuse, I wonder how many mediators are aware of parent abuse–by adult children. Especially when mediating family issues, it’s important to know if an adult child is possibly manipulating or worse–abusing–a parent.

untitledI found an article about this titled, “Parent Abuse: The Silent Crime,” by Greg Wendlend: “That is verbal and emotional abuse of adult children towards their parents. This is a problem that is often ignored or dismissed. Words hurt and leave scars, and when a mothers child causes emotional damage, the mother often makes no complaint.”

This can often be the case when an adult child is living with one or both parents in the home. Because the child is an adult, Mom and Dad may feel unable to “control” their child because he/she is of legal age. And, perhaps the adult child is physically larger than Mom and Dad, adding to the intimidation. Whatever the case, mediators have to use common sense when meeting with a family for mediation. Does the adult child control the conversation? Does he/she yell at Mom and Dad? Do Mom and Dad appear to be intimidated by the child?

This came to the forefront recently in my practice, as I fear a Mother with whom I work may be suffering from Parent Abuse. As I learned more about it by virtue of trying to help the family, it became clear that Parent Abuse doesn’t just involve young children and isn’t always easy to spot. So, it’s worth my time to learn more about it.

As mediators, how often are we on the lookout for spousal abuse? A lot. But, how often are we on the lookout for Parent Abuse? Almost never.

The advice for Parents who are being abused or manipulated is simple: the right support/counseling is important in order to learn how to be assertive and not submissive. Regain control over the household. Be a parent.

So, as mediators who must be aware of power/control issues during mediation, let’s not forget about Parent Abuse. It may not be obvious–but it is nonetheless important.



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One Response to “Parent Abuse–More Common Than You May Think”

  1. The Olive Branch Blog June 15, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Great follow-up to this post on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – June 15, 2013

    Click here

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