Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

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Active scribe

Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

Hello everyone! 

This is my first time posting here. I have 2 kids, my younger one (18) has had pretty major struggles in the past with depression, anxiety, and 2 suicide attempts last year. I feel that she has come a long way and am proud of the progress she is making. Last week, I took her to visit my family that lives a few hours away. She behaved ok for the most part, however at one point her and I got into an argument that eventually resolved itself. My mother went behind my back to let her know that she does not like the 'drama' that my daughter brings everytime we visit. I feel caught in this crazy family dynamic where my daughter is now made out to be the black sheep of the family. Basically, in my family, conflict is frowned upon, and portraying a 'perfect' life is rewarded. I feel frustrated as well with my daughter and what can be perceived as a rude or abrasive way about her. However, I also see her as someone who has struggles and quite possibly a borderline personality disorder or something else. I am getting her help, she is on meds, and I am feeling very alone and frightened as I am a single mom. Her father 'says' he loves her etc, however makes very little time for her. I worry that I am not coming down hard enough on her and excusing her bad behaviour (my family believes this to be true) however it is an extremely difficult thing to parent an older child with mental health issues. I did say to my mother that I am doing my very best, that my ex-husband created an extremely challenging family dynamic after we separated 7 years ago by undermining me, painting me as the villain who caused the break of the family, and then more or less abandoning his kids. I work full time and feel overwhelmed alot of the time. I told my mother as much, I feel like it fell on deaf ears though. I am not feeling like going back to visit my family with my daughter as I hate the way she is treated. I also worry that I am enabling her and allowing her to run the show. Sorry for the long post. I am very confused at the moment. Does anyone else feel 'stuck' in a similiar situation where it is hard to figure out who is wrong, who is right?

Parent Community Champion

Re: Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

Hi @canadianmum - first of all a massive welcome to our forum and community. So pleased you've found us. 


I am so sorry to hear about your daughter and her difficulties over the last year with her mental well being -that must have been so painful for you both -  but great to hear that she is making so much progress. Sounds like you've been an incredible support for her Heart


That's such a tough one with your mum and family wanting things to be 'perfect' rather than talking openly about the struggles and pain we all know exist in every family. 

As you've said being a parent to a teen with mental illness is extremely difficult to say the least and you're doing an amazing job as being her support and her advocate in a situation where she is mistreated by other family members. 

Make sure you have some support for yourself as well - is there anyone you can talk to or get support from at the moment? 

Knowing what or who's right is something that comes up a lot on this forum, and I'm sure some of the other members can jump in and give some you some support  on this - @taokat , @Sister , @Moggy3kids 


But the important thing is that you're listening to your daughter's needs, supporting her as best you know,  speaking to professionals, and as you've said, she is making positive progress.  Heart


Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

Hi there @canadianmum

It certainly is a hard journey parenting teens , let alone those that present with mental health issues. I think the hardest part for us as mums is taking a step back and accepting that none of what is happening is our fault. It sounds like you are doing all the right things as far as accessing support for your daughter , however I agree with @gina-Ro in that you also need to access support for you . It sounds as though the family dynamic is causing you more anxiety than positivity at the moment and it is perfectly okay to remove yourself from those situations if that is what is needed for the best self care for you and your daughter. I also think we tend to walk on eggshells a lot of the time with our teens that are struggling with mental health as we are afraid of tipping them over, yet they still need to know we care about them enough to put in the same limits as we would if they were well. Let her know its ok to feel angry and sad yet it hurts you when she lashes out. You are doing an amazing job, I could not even fathom doing it as a single mum. 

Active scribe

Re: Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

Hello Gina Ro and thank you for the welcome! 

I am getting support from a wonderful counsellor who helps me to process all this stress, complexity, and grief. I also have a loving fiance, he is my sounding board and also has a child with mental health issues.  For me right now the hardest part is the rumination - I feel anger both at my daughter and my mother. They are very similar in that they feel completely free to speak their mind and I am often hurt at what they say to me in a critical way. The difference is of course, my daughter is my responsibility and she is still only 18 so I am compelled to try to take her side. I have decided, in light of this, to bow out of an upcoming family get together and instead of making excuses I will be completely honest with my mother and family and say that it is too stressful for me to attend. I am already have heart palpitations at the thought of speaking my mind and doing something that could be perceived as selfish. But, at the same time, I am cognizant of the fact that most of my major issues and stumbling blocks in my life at this moment have come from an overwhelming desire to please my mother and family, to not 'bite the hand that feeds you' as I have been told over and over, and to refrain from rocking the boat. 

Thanks for listening! Have a wonderful day!

Community Manager

Re: Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

Hi @canadianmum,


I'm glad to hear that you are seeking support for yourself and that your fiance is so understanding and supportive. 


It sounds very painful to be on the receiving end of a lot of your family's anger/frustration. @Moggy3kids makes a good point about ensuring that the pain you are experiencing when your offloaded onto in acknowledged and heard too. I can hear how difficult things have been for you and it sounds like you are doing so much to support your daughter Heart It's great that you have found these forums and have a safe space to share the anger and pain here with people who understand and can relateHeart


It takes so much courage to speak your mind to your family and be honest about your reasons for not attending the next function. 


Have you got anything planned for some self care/me time today?



Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

Hi @canadianmum, how have things been over the last couple of weeks?


It’s such a difficult situation because it’s really difficult to support opposing views at the same time. I often feel caught between my family and my daughter because she can be stroppy when we visit and my parents only see the behaviour. It can be easy to be swayed by their views and become caught up in who’s ‘right or wrong’ sadly. Sometimes the behaviour is unacceptable but I also am aware of the bigger picture with my daughter and her triggers etc, and it can be a fine line at times.


We’re adults and parents in our own rights, yet I’ve had to learn to back myself despite my mum’s differing opinions on how I should parent. I’ve taken a leaf from my brother’s book - he listens to my mum, decides for himself then confidently tells my mum what he has decided and she respects that and lets it go. 

I’ve found if I explain what’s going on for my daughter and am calm and confident in getting that across, I’m heard.


I’ve also spoken to my parents about being just grandparents to my daughter and enjoying that instead of taking on a parental role as well. Do you think that might be a conversation you could have with your family? I admit it’s not an easy conversation to have but we could support you in preparing for it. It can really help diffuse that pressure on you and change the family dynamics. 


It’s not an easy job and I feel for you being in this position. I hope you’re looking after you in all this too. 

Active scribe

Re: Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

Hello Taokat,

Thanks so much for asking how we are doing. In some ways, much better, my daughter is working now and seems to be on a more positive bent these days. I live 4 hours away from my family, so  that is helpful when establishing healthy boundaries. Since the incident in July, I have spoken with my mother on the phone a few times but have not visited, nor do I plan to do so for a while. I have also had a chance to go through things in my own childhood with my therapist, who has suggested that my mother has narcissistic tendencies. This realization helps me in many ways, as I realize that her ability to change is limited. I do speak my mind, more so about other issues, than I used to - while staying calm and positive to prevent her from going into a rage or accusing me over the phone. Anyways, within all of this I am looking after myself through exercise, meditation, and am feeling quite good, actually. There is nothing worse than the panicky feeling that your child (or children) are horribly flawed and doomed. Unfortunately for me, my family makes me feel that way. Not much I can do but maintain a distance and choose carefully whether I want to expose me and my daughters to that negativity. I feel much better about myself as a mother now too, I guess healthy boundaries have a way of doing that. Thanks so much! And have a good day.


Re: Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

@canadianmum I am so glad to hear you are working with your therapist. It's so important to remember in this world we're not just parenting children, but also our own inner children as well. It's wonderful to have a safe space to reflect on your own inner child, and some of the afflictions she lives with, as well as your Daughter's. We're always here to listen as you need Smiley Happy Meditation is incredibly powerful - do you use an app or do it on your own? 

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

I just love this @Breez-RO " It's wonderful to have a safe space to reflect on your own inner child, and some of the afflictions she lives with"


And I'm so glad that you have sought some help from your therapist @canadianmum. That can really help give us some understanding and clarity, and realising your mother isn't likely to change must help you deal with the situation that is. 


It sounds like you are making great choices to look after yourself and your daughter and protect yourselves from unhealthy people. It's so sad when those people are family, but as you say, healthy boundaries make for a healthier self. 


You're doing an amazing job! 

Active scribe

Re: Difficult teen girl...I feel caught in the middle with family...

Bree-Ro - So true about the inner child...I tend to forget about her at times but the silver lining in dealing with the difficult situations in my family is that I am forced to reflect upon her and consider her Smiley Happy

With meditation, I have tried different things, and depending on my mood, I might just lay on my back and count my breaths, or sit cross legged and repeat a mantra or word, or lay with my legs up the wall. I like having some bansuri/yoga music playing which is easily found on youtube. Sometimes I set a timer - for anywhere between 5-10 minutes. Sometimes I also stretch. I try to calm my mind. This can take the entire time. I find meditation fascinating, the more we need it - the harder it is to do. I believe that it is the most profound thing we can do for our health. I heard that headspace and calm are good apps, but personally I prefer to just close my eyes, and breathe.