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When Parents Use Physical Threats and Aggression:
What Can I Do to Make Things Better?

Selena, 15.
Miami FL

Dr. Matt,

Im having problems with my mother. You see she controls me. You're probably thinking this is just another typical problem because i am a teenager, but in reality i think i am quite mature. At this point i have no other resort than to come to another adult. I seem somewhat like a robot, i must obey, she does not respect me as another human being but as if someone she has complete power over. When i try to overcome her, whatever i have said is completely stupid (she thinks i am delirious) and is of no importance.

It might help to tell you my family is hispanic (though i am fluent in English), and extremely old fashioned. My mother was born and raised in Cuba. Her upbringing was 10x more strict, and if i were her at the time i would probably be dead, because of all the times i have talked back. You see hispanic families are quite different than american families. A typical punishment for an American family is getting grounded for getting a bad grade on a test, but in a hispanic family you are beaten for testing authority.

Parents and grandparents are the authority, and they cannot be questioned, either way it is pointless, seeing to the fact that i am the only person that does not think this way.

i know that it must seem like just another typical teenage problem, i have gone through it in my head "why would a professional actually waste his time on something like this?" But every day i wish i had already done something, anything to make it better.

Thank you,

Related Articles: A Heart Remedy for Parental Manipulation: Hoping Instead of Coping!
Three Modes of Parental Influence: Compassion, Cooperation, & Coercion
A Perfect Response to Abuse

Hello Selina:

What I am about to write are ideas that you should share with your mother, when you feel the time is Right. It is wrong to talk behind her back. What I write to you must be honest and open: Words that everyone can read.

To take sides in this matter, is to approach the situation wrong: for I am not on your side no matter what, nor am I on you mother's side no matter what. Instead, I am on the Side of what is Right, no matter what.

When either You or your Mother stand on the Side of Right . . . then I am with You, and You are with Me. We stand together! Unity and harmony happen when we Stand Together for what is Right! It is not Right for me to undercut your Mother's responsibility as a parent and guardian. On the other hand, it is not Right for any parent to mistreat their children.

Concerning parental authority in Hispanic cultures, I am aware of the often domineering and overbearing tradition called "machismo," a cultural norm that sometimes justifies aggression and violence in the name of "respect." I am also aware of the sad history of "honor killings" — dishonorable violence perpetrated in the name of honor, ironically.

Both "machismo" and "honor killings" are traditions that go against the teachings of Jesus. The solution to your dilemma is discovered as you and your mother learn True Principles taught in the Bible.

If you believe in Jesus, then I encourage you to learn of Christ and follow His example of Loving Kindness and Tender Mercy.

In my "Changing Your Stripes Manual," I describe Three 3 Approaches of Influence: Compassion, Cooperation, and Coercion. Read what I have written about Compassion versus Coercion; then think about the ideas and pray about them. Ultimately, measure these idea about influence against the teachings of Jesus.

There is one account in the New Testament where many people imagine that Jesus was "angry." It was when He drove moneychangers out of the Temple. You can read about the first Temple cleansing in John 2:13-16; then read Matt. 21:12-16; Mark 11:15-19; and Luke 19:45-48 — these three give accounts of a 2nd Temple cleansing, which happened in the last week of Christ's mortal life.

When you read these passages of scripture, you will discover that is no mention of anger. Many people incorrectly assume that Jesus was "angry" because . . . that is how an average person would react emotionally. But Jesus was not an ordinary person. In the New Testament, there is one mention of "anger" in regard to Jesus. Mark 3: 1-5:

"And Jesus entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man who had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other."

Jesus is healing a man with a withered hand: this is the context of Christ's "anger" — Jesus is in the process of doing good on the Sabbath day. On this occasion, Jesus "grieved" for those who were trying to "accuse him"— He was saddened because of "the hardness of their hearts."

This scriptural account does not describe a man out of control, in a fit of anger. In contrast, fits of rage and anger are what average people do — and NOT what the Son of God did. Here's the good news: With the Savior's help and through His redeeming miracle, we can be like Him. Jesus will make "new creatures" (2 Cor. 5:17) of those who believe in Him and follow Him.

The English word "anger" comes from an Old Norse word "angr" meaning: "affliction or sorrow." The word "anguish" originates from the same root as "anger."

Anguish = A very great physical pain; great suffering or distress.

The obsolete definition of anger as "affliction or sorrow," is appropriate to the context of Mark 3:1-5, the only Bible account that attributes "anger" to Jesus.

When the time is Right, when you feel in your heart to do so, please share my words with your mother; then, with her permission, I will gladly answer more question you may have, or answer questions your mother may have.

Dr Matt

Matt Moody, Ph.D.
Social Psychologist

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