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Laurie Reid on Child-to-Parent Violence

On the future of mental health

Eric Maisel
Source: Eric Maisel

The following interview is part of a “future of mental health” interview series that will be running for 100+ days. This series presents different points of view about what helps a person in distress. I’ve aimed to be ecumenical and included many points of view different from my own. I hope you enjoy it. As with every service and resource in the mental health field, please do your due diligence. If you’d like to learn more about these philosophies, services, and organizations mentioned, follow the links provided.


Interview with Laurie Reid

EM: Your special interest is child-to-parent violence. Can you tell us a little bit about what you consider an epidemic of teen aggression, violence and abuse?

LR: We have seen many tragedies fill the news of children beating and even murdering their own parents. This hidden issue affects between 5% to 18% of families nationally. One important key to understanding child to parent abuse is to know that it is certainly not a phase.

This form of domestic violence, Child to Parent Violence (CPV) or Parent Abuse is defined as any harmful and demeaning behaviors by a child that cause physical, psychological, or financial distress to a parent or caregiver. This is also a complex family and public health problem. It requires an understanding and response that is different from any traditional anger management interventions, parenting skills training and family or individual counseling.

Below are a few examples of behaviors:

+ Physical abuse can be choking, hitting, kicking, restraining, and assault with weapons.

+ Emotional or psychological abuse that is placed onto the parent by the child, such as the direct act of telling the parent they are worthless through words, actions, or gestures.

+ Verbal abuse directed toward the parent, for example yelling, cursing, screaming, as well as the use of any words that demoralize or shame.

+ Financial abuse is when a child demands excessively for any items they want, steals money, engages in the unauthorized use of credit cards, and purposefully breaks items that have to be replaced.

EM: What sorts of problems are parents and/or families facing that are causing CPV to occur?

LR: The main problem with child to parent abuse is that there is not enough support or help for the families; most help resources are geared towards child abuse. Parents often feel embarrassed or helpless, not knowing where to turn and rarely report violence for fear of being judged. It's not uncommon for parents to downplay the seriousness of the abuse in order to avoid public and social system scrutiny.

There are many reasons why a child may become violent toward a parent. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, a combination of factors increases the risk of violent behaviors in children and adolescents. There are a variety of causes and contributors to child violence.

+ Being the victim of physical abuse and/or sexual abuse

+ Exposure to violence in the home and/or community

+ Use of drugs and/or alcohol

+ Other mental, emotional or physical challenges (autism, PANDAS, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder)

EM: What are some of your top suggestions for an adult who is being abused by a teen?

LR: Most parents often think when their child lashes out that they are just being children and the phase will soon pass over. It’s true that children and teens often act up, it’s the nature of how life works, but when these actions turn into abuse, it is no longer a small problem, but a large one that needs to be addressed immediately.

One option is child-to-parent coaching by an experienced Breaking the Cycle coaches—becoming such a coach requires extensive education and training. Additionally, our online programs at Breaking the Cycle Consulting are based on years of working with parents and children caught up in the cycle of child to parent violence.

Our Parent’s Guide to Teen Aggression online video program was developed specifically to address the unique challenges of this issue. We’ve condensed our full-length, 10-week program so parents can quickly and easily access it (either by video or MP3 download for listening on the go), learn what you need to know, and take immediate action.

Through this program, we hope to reach families throughout the country, and even around the world, who might otherwise not have access to this very specialized information. More affordable than individual or family therapy, the program allows parents and teens to access the material at their convenience and to refer back to it as often as they may need a refresher.

EM: If you had a loved one in emotional or mental distress of any sort, what would you suggest that he or she do or try?

LR: Breaking the Cycle Consulting was founded on the belief that parenting is no easy task, and parenting an angry, aggressive or, maybe an even violent child, may be 100 times more challenging. Unlike other programs which may focus on addressing parenting skills, BTC focuses on elevating the needs of the parent—focusing on their safety and need for support.

If you or someone you know is struggling to parent an angry, aggressive or violent child, we want you to know there is hope, and there is help. One consistent theme from our parents we hear is guilt. Every human being deserves to feel safe in his or her home and that also includes the parent. Safety is a basic human need to which we all are entitled. For more information about breaking the cycle of child to parent violence and programs for parents and teens in this situation, please visit our webiste at As always here at Breaking the Cycle, stay safe.

We offer:

+ A free resource library to help you with issues of safety, substance abuse, and the influence of peers and friends.

+ Private one-on-one consultations with experienced, knowledgeable life/parent coaches and therapists to address your family’s specific challenges and offer you guidance and support.

+ Scripts to guide you through difficult conversations with a child who is acting out or engaging in unwelcome behavior.

+ A basic, easy-to-use, self-directed online video program designed to walk you through all the key steps you can take to ensure the safety of everyone in the family, including you, your spouse, other children, and your violent child.

+ On-going support if you need it beyond the self-directed program.

Regardless of where families are now, we want parents to know that they are not alone. Working together, we can break the cycle of child to parent violence.


Laurie Reid is a licensed marriage & family therapist and addiction professional with over 18 years of experience serving individuals, families and teens. Laurie is a qualified subject matter expert on Child-to-Parent Violence and how it impacts families and the child and family serving systems they seek for help. She is a behavioral health accreditation consultant for CARF and The Joint Commission. As a US Navy Veteran, Laurie often speaks on topics related to Women Veterans such as Military Sexual Trauma (MST), Homelessness, and PTSD. Laurie can be reached at


Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of 40+ books, among them The Future of Mental Health, Rethinking Depression, Mastering Creative Anxiety, Life Purpose Boot Camp and The Van Gogh Blues. Write Dr. Maisel at, visit him at, and learn more about the future of mental health movement at

To learn more about and/or to purchase The Future of Mental Health visit here

To see the complete roster of 100 interview guests, please visit here:

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