She's currently 16.

She won't listen to a word my parents have to say. When they ask for the phone, since she's glued to it 24/7 and her grades have plummeted, she won't listen. She knows how to get on their nerves and knows how to make them angry.

Recently she's become even worse, despicable I might say. She's been blackmailing my parents. Every single time my parents ask her to do a chore, she won't listen. When they finally reach the point of frustration and start to get angry, she threatens them by saying "if you don't stop trying to make me do that chore, then I'm going to call the police". She has gotten away with it so far since my parents have had no criminal record and don't want to call the police for something that seems so trivial.

But my sister has been getting more and more aggresive, now using this to her advantage to get money for movies, tickets, and outings with her boyfriends.

What can we do?

Basically, she won't do anything they ask her to do. When they get to a point where they become so frustrated that she won't do anything, she'll hang the threat of "calling 911" over their heads as an excuse to get away with whatever she wants. Since I'm the eldest of the 3, I really have no idea what to do.

  • 3
    your username is delightful
    – paIncrease
    Nov 29, 2014 at 8:20
  • 4
    This is kinda basic, but have they tried therapy, alone or with her/the whole family? Nov 29, 2014 at 9:33
  • 2
    So ... do your parents have anything to hide? Is she threatening to call the police on their marijuana growing operation or something?
    – Amanda
    Dec 1, 2014 at 0:33
  • I agree with Amanda, if your parents don't have anything to hide and not mis-treating your sister in any way then I'd let her call the police. They are probably more than used to this sort of thing from teenagers and it will be your sister who gets into trouble and not your parents.
    – LauraJ
    Dec 4, 2014 at 11:39

2 Answers 2


I take it you have a cell-phone with recording capabilities? Maybe your parents do as well? Start using them. When you have caught enough of her threats on film, let her go ahead and call the police. They will tell her if she doesn't stop calling for such nonsense, they will write out a ticket or might even haul her in to show her what calling the police for nothing ends up getting her.

Also, I would consider, as her parent, getting children and youth involved. Your sister is abusing your parents emotionally. Maybe a couple of weeks in foster care would make her see the light.

OK, venting done. This is obviously a bad dynamic, and if your parents have no clue how to handle it, they should be availing themselves of whatever counseling opportunities exist for them. Also, if she is doing nothing to contribute at home, who is paying for her phone plan, and why? How does she get money for movies, clothes, or anything else? At her age, she should be helping considerably around the house for discretionary income, and since her grades stink anyway, maybe even a part-time job after school. There is no law that parents must give their child all the luxuries her friends enjoy.

Actions have consequences. If she gets the car without paying for gas with her own money from chores, she shouldn't.

I'm not hopeful for a miraculous meeting of minds here. I think meetings with the school counselor and principal/teachers should be undertaken, and your parents should be looking for a good adolescent and family therapist. Also consequences. Are your parents really afraid of the police? On whose behalf? If they're worried about what the neighbors think, they shouldn't be. Actions have consequences.

She's not going to be able to treat her boss or her husband like this (for long).

  • 3
    +1 letting her call the police & for recommending seeking help. Although, different jurisdictions have different rules about this stuff, and a child calling the police on their parents, even if bogus, may still lead to an routine investigation from Department of Human Services. The family's power dynamic here is out of whack. It's hinted at, but not directly stated, in your answer that resolving this issue won't be a quick change, and it'll require a fair amount of effort on the parent's part.
    – user11394
    Nov 29, 2014 at 14:35
  • 6
    Followed your advice, sister will see a counselor and a therapist. THanks for the help, much appreciated.
    – yuritsuki
    Nov 30, 2014 at 17:40
  • 2
    +1 for recording the threats. You want as much evidence to control the fallout as calls to the police can get out of hand. At the every least, Child services may be called in and at the worst, things can get very bad (slate: Why I Don’t Call the Police).
    – dave
    Nov 30, 2014 at 22:43
  • 1
    @looser - please don't apologize, these are valid concerns, and your kindheartedness is evident. Yes, this action is likely to anger the daughter; the thinking here, though, is that she has choices in how she reacts. She can choose to contribute to family life and earn money that way - a good choice. She can choose to turn her back on her parents - usually a bad choice. Ultimately, she has to choose, and take responsibility for her choices. This is a very "Western" pattern of thinking. Non-western cultures might handle this considerably differently, some harsher, some more lenient. Dec 1, 2014 at 7:24
  • 1
    @R.. - I agree that there is risk in everything, including calling the police. My work experience with the police and Children and Youth has been overwhelmingly positive. Domestic disputes are some of the most common calls for police service and many do not involve violence. Those that do involve violence are viewed by police as more dangerous (riskier). Either the police in my area are better trained in handling calls of this nature, or fatal outcomes are uncommon enough to be almost negligible, or both. Dec 3, 2014 at 19:16

When they finally reach the point of frustration and start to get angry, she threatens them by saying "if you don't stop trying to make me do that chore, then I'm going to call the police".

That's what kids do. They will pick the most embarrassing time to throw a tantrum whether it's in a restaurant, in a store, or in a crowded public place. This is just a variation on the same tactic.

And yes, they'll even call 911 to complain about their parents, or their siblings. I saw a show on stupid 911 calls, and there were a couple of examples of kids calling in for stupid reasons.

She has gotten away with it so far since my parents have had no criminal record and don't want to call the police for something that seems so trivial.

Your parents really do need to grow a backbone. There is really no other way.

Like Rancur3p1c suggested, they should even call the police themselves, the non-emergency line, and get someone to come over to give her a talk. But that's okay if they don't do that, if the girl really wants to call the police, let her do it.

If she really wants to live with foster parents, she should realize that those foster parents are never going to allow her to have a cell phone in the first place.

Also, your parents should consider getting her a Disney phone, or a phone with some parental controls, or consider just taking her phone away entirely.

And if she really gets out of control, note that there are special boarding schools and special mental health facilities that can deal with such a teenager, and any police officer that gets called will be able to provide your parents with their contact information.

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