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Lori Gephart
Lori Gephart, Licensed Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 259
Experience:  20 years of experience as a Psychologist and Parenting Coach. Parent of 2 grown children.
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My 20 year old and 17 year old daughter are not speaking again.

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My 20 year old and 17 year old daughter are not speaking again. At an outdoor family event, my 20 year old threw her sister to the ground for taunting her with a water bottle, in front of the entire group. We left. At home, it got nasty, yelling and derogatory cursing, till my 20 year old said "so kill me if you want to" and my 17 year old grabbed her by the neck and began strangling her till she pushed her off. What do I do now. THe 21 year old is away at college. Neither regret their action. What do I do?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Lori Gephart replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for contacting JustAnswer.


I am sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing with your daughters. There seems to be quite a bit of anger between the two sisters. It may be helpful to consider what may be contributing to this (perhaps jealousy). It is important to be careful not to encourage this jealousy by fueling the conflicts or taking sides. However, it is also important to set limits that violence is not acceptable. Threats, particularly to kill another human being, are serious and should not be ignored. The message to your daughter should be that this will not be tolerated. If you believe that these threats are plans, then hospitalization may be needed in order to offer safety for both girls. However, if you believe that this was not a serious threat, then individual or family psychotherapy may be very helpful to address the issues that are contributing to these conflicts. Strangling is not something to be taXXXXX XXXXXghtly and should be addressed by a psychologist.


You may also want to let your 20 year old daughter know that if she continues to engage in physical confrontations with her younger sister she could be charged with child abuse and to tell the 17 year old that if she continues with physical conflict and is out of control she could be hospitalized. You can also let them know that if they become physical again, you will call 911 in order to set a limit and protect them from harm.


I hope this answer is helpful. Please let me know if I can clarify further.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The 17 year old has been in therapy, and in rehab for substance abuse. She is trying to get her life on track...her older sister has tried to help her (she too has used before but not to the same degree to require rehab) by listening and offering advice, but it goes sour quickly.

My oldest is a high achiever, excellent grades...a tough act to follow.
The 17 yr old is a charmer, could achieve, but has no desire.
We have stressed that they are their own people and do not compare...but they compare each other.

I should not have left the house when they were at odds, but I couldn't take it any more and needed a breather. Now it's a mess and my husband is not giving it much attention. He thinks they will work it out.

How do I get them together if they won't go to family therapy (which we have tried, but not with the 20yr old.

Expert:  Lori Gephart replied 6 years ago.
I am glad to hear that your 17 year old is in therapy. It would be important to let her therapist know about this recent aggressive outburst and threat so that it can be addressed in therapy. It might be good to ask the 20 year old to avoid offering advice unless it is requested from her sister as this may be contributing to the conflicts. It can certainly be overwhelming when this type of conflict is happening. Instead of you leaving the house, you might try calling a time out and asking them to walk away from each other when they are angry. It may take time before they are able to get together and work out their issues. Rushing them or trying to take charge of their relationship with each other may not be productive. Instead, offering each of them unconditional love, while enforcing strict limits of respect and avoiding aggression in your home is what you can control. The more you try to manage their relationship with each other, the less they may take responsibility for it. While you cannot force them to be friends or get along, you can require them to follow the limits of respect and avoiding acting out by having limits and consequences. Please let me know if I can clarify further.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for your prompt response. I am going to contact her therapist. I feel like I'm in over my head. You have helped me clarify my role. I can only control what goes on in my home and will try to enforce the rules.
Expert:  Lori Gephart replied 6 years ago.
You are very welcome. I wish you the best with all of this.
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