My 20-Year-Old Daughter is Disrespectful

You feel as though your 20-year-old daughter is disrespecting you. This can be a difficult thing to deal with. We do so much for our children and when they disrespect us it can be hurtful. There are things you can do to get more respect from your daughter but they won’t be easy.

Before we even start discussing how you can get your daughter to respect you more, we first have to identify why she is disrespecting you in the first place. To do this you are going to need to take a deep objective dive into your behavior.

The reality is that if your 20-year-old daughter is being disrespectful towards you, there is a good chance it is your fault. The primary reason our children disrespect us is that we are not deserving of respect.

Why Your 20-year-old Daughter Disrespects You

Most parents are quick to blame their children whenever they are disrespected by them. The reality is they need to take a deeper look into why their young adult disrespected them. This can be a difficult thing for us parents to do as it can be sobering in most cases.

1. Emotional Outbursts

If you remember being 20 you know it’s no walk in the park. You are still trying to figure your life out while everyone is trying to convince you to get your life together. If your daughter does not commonly disrespect you, then there is a good chance this is just an emotional outburst.

We all have them. You overslept, have a headache, and your annoying coworker won’t stop talking so you tell them to shut the f*** up. Normally you would never talk like that to anyone let alone someone in the workplace. These things just happen.

The best way to approach disrespect from an emotional outbreak is to have a conversation with them. Calmly explain to them that even though they are having one of those days, that is not an excuse to speak to a parent that way. We need to work better on dealing with our emotions in the healthiest way possible.

20-Year-Old Daughter is Disrespectful
Women Yelling with Though Bubble — Image by © RCWW, Inc./Corbis

This is also quite common when you are in an argument with your daughter. I would go as far as to say that most disrespect happens during a heated argument where both sides have high emotions and are therefore more easily prone to having an emotional outburst of disrespect.

This kind of disrespect is the most common and nothing to really worry about. It happens to all of us from time to time and is a good opportunity for us to teach our daughters more about emotional intelligence and controlling emotions.

2. Your Daughter Resent’s you

Having your daughter resent you is very dangerous to your relationship with her. What makes it even worse is that it can be difficult to diagnose when your daughter resents you. One of the main identifiers of when your child resents you is disrespect.

Resentment can be identified by disrespect as well as constant negative interactions. Disrespect will be much more common than with emotional outbursts. In order to solve resentment (and in return solve the disrespect) is to find out where the resentment came from.

Chances are you know why your child is resenting you.

If this is the case, your 20-year-old daughter disrespecting you is not the problem, it is a symptom of the problem. The real problem is that she resents you. Here are some common reasons children resent their parents:

  • Parent’s are controlling
  • Unfairly treating a sibling better
  • Parent makes life more difficult
  • The child does not respect the parent
  • Child is more responsible than the parent

3. You Don’t Deserve Respect

Although this is the most unlikely reason your daughter was being disrespectful, it could very well be the case. Many parents do not deserve respect. I do not subscribe to the idea that you should respect your parents just because they are your parents.

Like every other person, I respect those that are deserving of respect. So what do I mean by being deserving of respect.

First, you stick to your word. If you say you are going to do something, you actually do it. If you say you are going to spend time with her on this day then you actually make the time. If you say you will take care of a certain situation, you actually do.

Another is putting your daughter’s priorities over yours. Any parent that does not prioritize their child’s needs over their own in my opinion, does not deserve respect.

Lastly, a parent does not deserve respect if they do not respect themselves. Learning to respect yourself is something that can be difficult to learn especially if it was not taught at a young age. But if you have poor hygiene, neglect your health, and don’t respect your overall appearance then you can’t expect your daughter to respect you.

This does not excuse what your 20-year-old daughter did by disrespecting you, it is just the reason why she did it. Before jumping down her throat for treating you that way, the healthiest approach is to try to find out why.

4. You Don’t Respect your Daughter

Lastly one of the big reasons your daughter may be disrespectful towards you is that you don’t respect her. If you don’t respect your daughter how on earth can you get angry when she does not respect you.

Here are some of the most common ways parents disrespect their daughter:

  • Negative or demeaning comments about their life or body
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Disregarding their opinions and thoughts
  • Neglecting them daily

This is the one and only case in which the disrespect coming from your daughter is actually warranted. Should she have done that? No, but before you can even think about talking to her about the way she treats you, you need to start respecting her.

In some cases, some girls are just out of control. Check out this clip from Dr. Phil

How to Get your 21-Year-Old Daughter to Start Respecting You

The answer to this really depends on why she is disrespecting you.

For example, if your daughter is disrespecting you because she is having an emotional outburst, it is best to give her time to calm down then have a calm discussion with her that no matter what kind of mood she is in, she cannot treat you that way. Also, explain to her different ways to better manage her emotions.

On the other hand, if your child is disrespecting you because you disrespect her then your approach should be very different. If that’s the case you first need to take a deeper dive into why you are not respecting her and make a serious change. Don’t go after her behavior without first fixing yours.


It can be really disheartening when your 20-year-old daughter is being disrespectful towards you. There is a wide variety of reasons why this could be happening and every reason elicits its own response.

These same ideas could be applied to your daughter being disrespectful to anyone whether it’s you, your partner, or strangers. While most parents will immediately jump down their daughter’s throat for behaving that way, that is a dangerous way to react.

If she is dealing with things emotionally or is being disrespectful out of resentment reacting harshly could only push her further away from you.