LN – “My children attack me.” Violence towards parents, a trend that alarms


It is a form of family abuse that is usually triggered in the adolescence of sons and daughters and is climbing; Due to the lack of limits, children control the home and do not respect the authority of adults Credit: Shutterstock

It was 2013 when Ignacio, a 58-year-old lawyer, searched the Internet for “boys who beat their parents”; so,
first read “filio-parental violence”. “I didn't know the term,” he remembers, “but I was absolutely reflected in everything he said.” At that time, the relationship with his two daughters, Juana and Sofia – who were 16 and 14 years old – had “completely overflowed.”

A year earlier, Ana, the girls' mother, had died of cancer and from that moment their assaults on her father began to escalate.
To the insults and the constant discrediting of his authority, were added the thrusts, the slamming doors, the destruction of objects in the home and personal Ignacio, until they hit the blows. The teenage girls began to control all the dynamics of the home.

According to psychologists and psychiatrists, the filio-parental is a
kind of family violence which, with particular characteristics, grew in recent years. It is the set of repeated behaviors of
physical aggressions (like punches, shoves, spitting),
verbal (insults, threats) or
nonverbal (threatening gestures, breaking precious objects) of sons and daughters addressed to fathers, mothers or adults who take their place.

In general,
the most affected are the mothers and it is a process that can last for years. Although the causes are multiple, what underlies is the
absence of limits and the
poor tolerance to frustration of the children

The professionals consulted agree that, although more and more cases arrive,
in Argentina there is still little talk about this problem, which grows in the shadow of ignorance.
In countries like Spain, the same does not happen: Given the alarming increase in complaints in prosecutors and requests for office care, specific attention and research centers began to develop over a decade ago.

Filio-parental is a type of family violence that grew in recent years. It is the set of repeated behaviors of physical aggressions (such as beating, pushing, spitting), verbal (insults, threats) or nonverbal (threatening gestures, breaking of precious objects) of sons and daughters addressed to parents, mothers or adults who occupy their place

Lorena Bertino is a psychologist and psychotherapist of
Euskarri, the Parental Violence Intervention Center in the Basque Country. For her, it is key to underline that “this is not a problem for boys or girls: it is familiar.”

“The first cases that began to be treated a few years ago were of
upper-middle class families, with professional parents. It was seen that it was a novel profile because it broke the scheme a little that this type of aggressions could occur in multi-problem families where there were multiviolences “, emphasizes the psychologist; and adds that, in these cases, that did not happen.

In Spain, given the alarming increase in complaints in the prosecutor's offices and requests for care in the offices, specific care and research centers began to be developed for more than a decade

Although a range of causes (social, cultural, family) are involved, for Bertino “the most notorious” is that
family hierarchy and roles are distorted. “There always have to be some figures that are above, which are the ones that raise, educate, make decisions and set the standards.
In these cases, the one who holds the power is the son or daughter“, the psychologist describes. And adds:” When you explore the rules and how they are put into the family, you realize that they are very arbitrary, that there is no clarity. “

Importantly, filio-parental violence is not a problem for boys or girls: it is familiar

Lorena Bertino

Violence begins when confrontations become everyday and is a snowball. Therefore, the whole family has to rethink their ties and face a treatment.

For Abigail Rapaport, parent and family specialist psychologist,
violence is learned in the family system and all those who are part of it, need to unlearn it. ”
Do not look for victims or perpetrators, but look at how violence is an inertia, and to get out you need a recovery plan that implies a level of awareness, saying: 'I don't choose this again', “says Rapaport.

Although a range of causes are involved, the most notorious is that family hierarchy and roles are distorted. Who holds the power is the son or the daughter

Ignacio says that with Ana
they dissented a lot in the way of educating their daughters, in the application of norms and their compliance. “Juana and Sofia were very spoiled by their mother, they had a strong alliance between them, and my figure as a father was disqualified all the time,” he says.

He says that, until the death of his ex-wife, in the family “there had never been violence before.” The desperation to find answers to aggressive attitudes on the part of his teenage daughters, led Ignacio to pilgrimage by psychologists and psychiatrists, and even by Google.

Violence is learned in the family system and everyone who is part of it needs to unlearn it.

Abigail Rapaport

By mail he contacted the Basque School of Family Therapy, who referred him to a professional in Buenos Aires. Although in these years there were advances, until today the work of recomposing the relationship with the young people continues.


Divorces or separations poorly managed by parents, differences in educational styles between parents or the difficulty in reconciling personal, work and family life can be, according to professionals, some of the triggers. For Marcelo Rodríguez Ceberio, doctor of psychology and director of the Argentine Systemic School,
“Filio-parental violence is a specialty that, in Argentina, is in diapers.”

Ceberio explains that, in this case, ”
we are not talking about classical violence“from children to parents, where, for example,” teenagers and young adults who defend themselves against parental assaults are observed, who are victims of sexual abuse or of any abusive treatment; nor of the violence exercised as a form of protection for another family member who is being assaulted; or the so-called 'retaliation' that are children who suffered child abuse and who return the abuse when the papers are reversed. “Nor are children with severe psychosis.

“This new type of violence appears almost inexplicable and can only be understood in light of the context.
The parents have lost power to such an extent that they lost the possibility of reprimands or limits and end up in extreme violence by their children. “, says the specialist.

For him, a central point of this type of violence is that it turns out
“an attack on rational logic”, both for emotionally close people and for some professionals, since, in general,
“Classically, violence is expected to be unidirectional from parents to children.”

We are not talking about classical violence. This new type of violence appears almost inexplicable and can only be understood in light of the context

Marcelo Rodríguez Ceberio

The specialists agree that, in most cases, the
violence is often triggered in adolescence, although it is never from one day to the next. “At the beginning, there were more cases of male children, but as the phenomenon developed, today we are quite equal between boys and girls,” says Bertino.

According to the psychologist,
there are also many cases of overprotective parents, “who dedicated their lives to the care of children” and that generated “an inhibition of frustration.”
The problems of the boys and girls are solved before they can face them and “when adolescence arrives, many difficulties are uncovered.”

At first, there were more cases of male children, but as the phenomenon developed, today we find quite equal between boys and girls

Lorena Bertino

Ignacio says that as in the Juana school he also had problems with teachers and principals, from the institution they had recommended professional assistance. Remember that one of the overflows of violence occurred during a dinner, when his eldest daughter demanded that he pay for the trip to Disney that he had promised if he behaved. Before the paternal refusal, the girl, as Ignacio and Monica, their current partner, rebuild began to throw different objects and they took refuge in the room. Juana came to break the doorknob with hammers.

Although cases of filio-parental violence usually come to light at the time when parents seek therapeutic help or are prosecuted (in general, when physical aggressions are reached), specialists agree that the vast majority remain in the shadows. The guilt and shame that causes many parents to talk about a problem that is considered taboo, recognizing that “they lost control,” delays consultation with professionals. Therefore, it is essential for them to ask for help at the warning signs.

Although violence tends to escalate, you don't always get hit. In Euskarri they attended the case of a girl who at the time of the consultation was 17 years old. “There had never been a physical aggression against her father, but there was an absolute psychological control on the part of the daughter. For example, she decided that her father did not eat at the table with her and her mother, but in the laundry room,” he says. Bertino However, he adds: “From that we went on a run in which we had three or four attempts to hang children to parents with PlayStation cables. The boy was playing nonstop and the father was going to ask him please to cut, the situation it triggered an escalation and it came to that. “

Today, Ignacio defines the relationship with his daughters – who are 22 and 20 years old – as “permanent reconstruction”. Juana lives in an apartment and Sofia in a residence. “There are almost no episodes of violence. We talk often and we have an affectionate relationship,” he says. However, he clarifies: “They never wanted to do therapy and that played a lot against us. I think it would be essential that more centers be created as in Spain. In Argentina there is a lot of ignorance, not only from professionals, but from judges , social workers and the State in general. “

Complaints in the courts

Lucas Aón, in charge of Civil Court No. 25 of CABA, says that in recent years there has been an increase in complaints from parents to sons and daughters for violence. “We are not talking about a very important amount, but enough to worry. In general, they are teenagers from 14 to 18 years old, who belong to middle and upper class families, and on many occasions with addiction problems,” he explains. The family judge.

For Aón, “it is the most difficult complaint to make, the most terrible: having to denounce the children themselves.” And he adds: “What parents are looking for is help. They want us to give them a solution to a problem that must be treated from the health field. It is a very committed therapeutic work, with resources that we unfortunately do not have “.

Include the whole family, the key to a successful treatment

Beyond the approach they use, specialists agree that
To address filio-parental violence, one must work both with fathers and mothers, and with their sons and daughters. The psychologist Abigail Rapaport emphasizes that the
lack of communication and that parents can not set clear and precise limits, is “a lack of care, a lack of perception of the needs of that link and the place that each one should occupy”, and for that reason it generates violence, like the filio-parental: “It is to allow the boys to climb. If the limit is lax, they gain more territory than the parents themselves in the management of the family.”

The psychologist emphasizes that, when we talk about parents and children, it is a “biographical story”: “We talk about a particular fact that is triggered in adolescence, but that has to do with what happened to that relationship throughout life. There are dynamics that are very previous to this situation of collapse and deep discomfort. “

Not setting limits is a lack of care, a lack of perception of the needs of that link and the place each one should occupy

Abigail Rapaport

For Rita Tempera, a psychiatrist and specialist in family systemic therapy, the family must always be seen as a unit. “The violence has to do with a power game, where before a father or a mother weak in his authority, the boy takes his place,” he says. Tempera often receives cases of sons and daughters whom he calls “kings suns.”
“In these families, there is an alteration of the generational limit, which is what differentiates the authority exercised by the parents, with respect to the child, roles and functions,” he explains.

Violence has to do with a game of power, where before a father or mother weak in his authority, the boy takes his place

Rita Tempera

Rapaport, delves into how family discomfort or bond stress generates consequences in the filio-parental relationship. ”
The adult is always responsible for the emotional offer. In that offer, you are giving the command to your son or daughter, not intentionally, in certain circumstances. At some point the boys win the pulse, “says the psychologist.

Consider that
“a sustainable adult” is the one who finds the resources to interact well with his children. “To me that I am a family therapist many times they call me and say: 'I want to take my son or daughter to therapy'. We need to understand that work begins with adults. It is very painful to admit that we hurt the children, but we have that starting from that level of consciousness to reorganize ourselves and start a new stage, “he concludes.

The different types of violence

One of the warning signs is when young people steal money or belongings from family or friends. They can also contract debts whose payments fall to the parents

They threaten to do, hurt themselves or leave home as a way to get what they want or to control their family. They ridicule or humiliate parents in front of others

When boys and girls hit, spit, kick, push, throw objects or insult. They can destroy objects appreciated by parents or other family members

More information

Basic guide of action in situations of filio-parental violence


. (tagsToTranslate) “My children add me.” Violence towards parents (t) a trend that alarms – LA NACION

Publicado en el diario La Nación