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Manipulating Teenager

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Casual scribe

Manipulating Teenager

I am worried about my daughter. My mother in law has been the biggest issue in the problem we are having and it's only recently that I can see and understand how manipulating my daughter has become. She was my mother in laws first grandchild and from an early age she spoiled her. I didn't mind as I thought it was harmless and understandable being a grandparent. She is a wonderful lady and we had some tough financial times so she assisted in making sure my daughter had everything she needed when we couldn't afford to. I appreciated her help and felt guilty for not providing however she wouldn't see her granddaughter go without. As a child it didn't seem to be a problem until she became a teenager. She would often stay at her nannas on the weekends and when she would come home and we would make her do her chores or do homework she would complain and winge that at "nannas house she wouldn't have to do it." At first I would say "well nannas is treat time but home is real time and we all have to pitch in ", and would get the rolling eyes and comments under the breath. I would ignore it and carry on however my husband wouldn't tolerate her attitude and say, " well if you don't do your chores or homework you won't be going to your nannas next week!" And she would give him the death stare and do it however with her rolling eyes. It infuriated him that she was behaving like this and acting like she was a spoiled brat. The arguments would get worse over the weeks with her attitude towards us. I took her out shopping and she wanted something and I said no and she looked at me and said "well nanna would have brought it, she practically buys everything for me!", this infuriated me and upset me so much I went home in tears. My husband lost it at her and explained that " your mother works very hard and long hours to provide you the beautiful home you live in, she buys you the things you need and she would give up everything to make sure you had a better life but you don't see that as enough?, how dare you!" Our youngest daughter we never had any problems with, we kept her home more and she never argued about her chores and would offer to do her sisters to keep the peace and my husband never had any reason to be upset with her so the older one would see her as the favourite and treat her terribly. Her grandmother would argue that the younger one gets away with murder and can do no wrong, blah blah, and we explained how different they were and she would in defence say " well when does her father ever praise her, it's always fighting and arguments!", she was totally manipulated by her granddaughters side. Her own son was the problem? In her final year of high school we moved further away and I had to get up much earlier to get into work and the public transport was bad so I would have to wake the girls up at 6am to leave and drop them off at nannas so she could take them to school. My daughter complained it was getting too hard to concentrate on school with the early mornings so she would stay at her nannas house 2 nights a week so she could sleep in. I allowed it so it wouldn't affect her school work however when she was there she would stay up until 2am on the internet and not do homework, would have ice cream for dinner or breakfast if she wanted or her grandmother would drop her off on a Thursday late night shopping with her friends without asking us if she could go? She would come home and argue about internet not being allowed after 9, or the meals we made, she would tell us that all her friends are allowed to stay up during weeknights and we suck as parents and nanna understands her better! My husband was furious! He had it out with his mother and she turns around and tells him things I had said to her in confidence to deflect the issue however he defended me and yelled at her to never speak about his wife like that and she is a bloody idiot. He asked her "who is the parent in your relationship with her (granddaughter)?", she left upset. Anyway it did stop for a while and we started to get our daughter back. She would still try her ways. She finished high school and got a great paying job, started part time study and started saving for a trip to Europe. We told her she had to pay board, and half of her money must go into savings and the other half she can spend. She didn't like it and refused to be told what to do and moved out with her grandmother! We couldn't do anything because she was 18! Soon she lost her job because she wouldn't go, she stopped studying because it was too hard, her grandmother didn't charge her board and she was treated like a royal with her grandmother as her own chauffeur! Why would she have the motivation to do anything when her grandmother gives her everything and she doesn't pay a cent? We have had enough and are going to get hard on her grandmother and tell her to play by our rules or we will stop seeing her anymore. I need advice?

Super frequent scribe

Re: Manipulating Teenager

Hi @Dolphin_73, you certainly have a lot going on at the moment.


I read your post last night but decided not to respond immediately to give my response some thought and to mull over the big picture.


As an outsider looking in, and only from using what you have said in your post, your daughter has definitely figured out how to manipulate her grandmother to get what she wants. My question is though, does your mother in law have anybody in her life apart from your daughter?


I get the feeling (and this only my opinion), your mother in law is using your daughter as her companion, or to make her feel young and alive. She is giving your daughter everything she wants because she is afraid if she doesn't your daughter won't want to be with her and she will be left on her own. And as you say, your daughter has cottoned on to this and is milking it for all it is worth.


It is a symbiotic relationship. your daughter gets everything she wants, and your mother in law isn't alone.


It is going to be hard to try and resolve this situation, especially if your mother in law feels she is going to lose, she will fight to keep everything as it is. Maybe you need to put this thought to your mother in law and see how she responds.


Hope these thoughts help.

Super contributor

Re: Manipulating Teenager

Hello @Dolphin_73 Welcome to ReachOut Parents. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
I'm sorry things are so hard for you all at the moment. It's a very difficult space to be in when everyone is upset and hurt and it comes out as anger. Conflict within families is so difficult.
I agree with @Big_Crab that it sounds like there's more at play here than just your daughter being spoiled. And when you have a number of different desires vying to be met that can be problematic.
My first question is, what would you like to see as an outcome? Because sometimes when we are in the middle of conflict, especially one we've been fighting for years, we can lose sight of what it is we're fighting for.
If you can, a great place to start to undo a long drawn out conflict, is to sit down and write out what you think everyone wants out of this. What's everyone's driving force?
Do you feel comfortable sharing that here?