11-19-2018 11:46 PM - last edited on 02-08-2022 11:37 AM by Philippa-RO
I'm hoping to get some advice on how to communicate with my very angry 16 year old daughter. It's hard to know where to start as our family has literally been living with tension from her for a very long time. She has always been fairly reserved and moody even when she was younger - always very monotone and brief in her responses if asked any question (how was your day? what did you do at school?). I've never been sure whether she lacked confidence or it is just part of her personality and she is just introverted. I've tried over the years to get her engaged in everything we do as a family but she either has no interest in anything we do, would make situations and outings so uncomfortable for all of us because of her mood, or goes the other extreme and says comments like "I know you all don't want me here" if we do or arrange something that she doesn't know about because she has made it so difficult to include her in the first place. It's almost like she wants us to give up or abandon her so she can justify to herself that she is right - she quite often has moments of self pity when she will accuse us (me, my husband and our other daughter who is 13) of not wanting her in the family.
I feel we have tried every possible avenue to help her (doctors, psychologists, school chaplains, teachers, her friends and their parents), but she will actively rebel against any sort of help. She won't open up to anyone - she is very close to the school chaplains but even they have said that she will not confide in them. She doesn't want to spend time with friends on the weekends and from what I can tell she doesn't seem to have much empathy for her friends. She does tend to keep her friends at arm's length, particularly those closest to her. She does have a boyfriend, but he lives a few hours away on a property, so she speaks to him on the phone most nights and probably exaggerates to him what is going on at home to get sympathy. I took her to a child psychologist last year but after about 4 sessions my daughter told me that I am wasting my money as she just sits there and doesn't say anything. I'm sure the psychologist may have been able to make some progress eventually but I feel like every appointment I made her go to she hated me that little bit more. I find that she is now quite rude to nearly everyone we know (especially my family - I think she just sees my sisters as an extension of me). She spends most of her time at home in her room behind a closed door, her room has been a complete mess for months and she seems to take no pride in wanting to clean it and make it look nice. She won't help with any chores around the house but expects us to be at her beck and call if she wants to go anywhere. She will also not tell us what is going on in her life - if she needs or wants anything she will let us know at the last minute and then says don't worry about it, she'll get or do it herself and makes out that we don't care about her. If we ask her any question she now just mumbles a short answer and most of the time we have to ask her to say it again because she won't speak loud enough for us to hear her. I feel like I have only just scraped the surface of everything that has gone on with her. Luckily my husband and I are on the same page, although we are both at a loss as to how to help her. My other daughter is very affected by it - my girls are like chalk and cheese - my 13 year old is one of the most caring kids I know and she just wants a big sister who loves her. Unfortunately her sister never has anything nice to say to her.
I'm at the stage now where I feel I have talked to friends and family too often about our issues and I don't want our current relationship to be set in stone forever by always talking about it. I'm hoping someone has some advice that we haven't tried - we've ignored, we've been normal, we've set boundaries, we've taken away privileges, we've given in (way too often!), we've talked, given advice, left her alone, given her space, we've yelled (maybe a bit too much in frustration!) - and all to no avail.
Tonight things came to a head a bit - it seemed to come out of nowhere - we were sitting having dinner and one comment led to another and then she said "I'm always the one making all the effort and I get nothing back in return". With that she stormed to her bedroom - and of course I followed her - begging for her to let me know what is wrong and why she feels the way she does. Not long after that she said she was leaving and walked out. I drove around for 10 minutes looking for her - I found her at the park at the end of our street - she agreed to come home but has been in her bedroom ever since. I did stick my head in after about an hour but the look of hate on her face makes me think we have crossed a line that is going to be very hard to cross back.
I am happy to receive any advice which may help. I just want my daughter (and the rest of our family) to be happy!
11-20-2018 05:16 AM
11-20-2018 10:58 PM
Sorry, I'm not going to be much help. I'm new, see my post "New member . . . . HELLO" and you'll see that I haven't got my parenting together!
Nevertheless, I will say that it sounds like she has a loving family who is doing everything they can to help their struggling daughter (which I think is the main ingredient to improvement).
Maybe stick with the psychologist again, this time with the goal of diagnoses. I know it doesn't mean everything will be 'fixed' but it could help treatment and manage your expectations of what you and your family can do.
Best of luck.
11-20-2018 11:25 PM
Thanks for your reply @Mazz123. So sorry to hear about your daughter too. I hope she is doing ok - self harming is so scary. Fortunately that isn't something I have had to deal with but can only imagine how devastating it would be for you. I do find the school chaplains are very good to connect with the kids on a different level than we can sometimes - is there one at your daughter's school she can talk to?
Today seemed to be a better day for my daughter (every day is a different day!). Her moods can be very unpredictable but I can usually tell her mood as soon as I see her. I did speak to a friend today who lives in another town but does spend a bit of time with my daughter every couple of months. My daughter does seem to have confided in her a bit and she is more than happy to be there for her if she needs to talk. It does make me sad that she doesn't feel she can talk to me (even though I have told her countless times that she can tell me anything), but I think I realised a long time ago that I may not be the main influence in her life as she gets older. I now just hope she will make enough connections with people who she feels can support her, and who she will listen to. Her school life seems to be up and down with friendships at times but she has been at the same school for long enough (5 years) that a few of the teachers and the chaplains know the issues we have had and I check in with them every so often to see if there is anything happening that my daughter hasn't told me about. We have had a couple of social media bullying issues over the last couple of years when I've had to get the school involved.
There is a book called Princess B****face Syndrome by Michael Carr-Gregg that I found to be very helpful. It's been a while since I read it (so probably need to read it again!) - it does have some good advice but more importantly gives you confidence that you are doing a good job as a parent even when everything seems to be going wrong.
Hope everything works out for you. I have to admit that writing everything down in a post made me feel a bit better - and definitely like I am not the only one going through this with my teenager.
Best of luck and good thoughts @Mazz123 xx
11-21-2018 12:09 AM
Hi @Dad4good - thanks so much for your post and support. I'm so sorry to read about what's going on for your family - but it sounds like you are the glue holding everyone together and they are so lucky to have you. It sounds like you have done your very best with what is happening in your world - and I agree that professional help is definitely worth investing time in. For my daughter, she really doesn't see that she has a problem so when she was speaking to a psychologist her moods with us were slightly worse - I think she thought we were doing it as a punishment.
One thing that keeps me going sometimes is the knowledge that my kids won't be young forever and that hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel once they get through the teenage years. I really cherish the rare times that our whole family can enjoy time together so I guess at the moment all we can do is ride the wave and give her as much love and support as we can. Knowing that she has lots of support both at school and with our friends and family means a lot to us - even if she doesn't appreciate it as much as she should at the moment.
Wishing you all the very best - I know how life's issues can put a strain on a marriage so hope you and your wife can get to a place where you are both in a happy place.
Take care xx
11-21-2018 12:11 AM
11-21-2018 12:18 AM
Yes, I do try to remember that teenage years pass! Of course there are times though that you wouldn't trade for anything (would be nice if they were just a little more frequent).
Best of luck
11-21-2018 12:55 AM
Hi @lighthouse369 - I definitely feel your pain - it's so hard when they accuse you of not understanding when all you want is for them to be happy. I wish I could offer some magical advice - but I'm yet to find it myself! Your 2 girls seem very close in age - my girls are 3 years apart and it breaks my heart that they don't have a close relationship like I have with my own sisters. I can only hope that they will become closer as they get older. I do have a friend whose children are adults now - she went through a similar situation with one of her daughters when she was a teenager (to the point where the daughter left home to live with relatives who sided with her against my friend and her husband). Fast forward through a lot of years, including a few years of disconnection from each other until her daughter was in her late teens, and their relationship is stronger now than ever. My friend told me that when it gets that bad that the best you can do is stay strong, love them unconditionally and be there when they finally get it altogether. Easier said than done, I know! I know that her husband and her always put up a united front, so I think that definitely helps.
Also, it can be such a fine line between what they believe is nagging and invading their privacy versus them thinking that you don't care about them at all. I know that my daughter tends to resort to self pity to try to make the rest of the family feel guilty - I did fall for it for quite a while but over years I have become a bit stronger to not let it affect me as much when she does it (but that doesn't seem to stop her from doing it!).
It's so good that your daughter is happy to speak to a professional - I really think it will help if she is willing to go. I've also tried to encourage both my girls to have friendships outside of school - my daughter has done dance classes for 10 years and has a number of friends there that she only sees once a week, but I think that helps when her friendships at school are going a bit pear-shaped.
Fortunately I haven't had to deal with self harm (I'm so sorry that you and your daughter have had to deal with that - it must be devastating) - I think it is something that is becoming more and more common, so hopefully the psychologist is giving her some great strategies to help deal with that.
Wishing you all the best - stay strong and just look forward to the good times when they happen (that's what I keep telling myself anyway!).
Take care xx