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Actions and consequences

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Actions and consequences



My name is Rupert.  My wife and I are struggling to teach our 14 year old daughter that her actions have consequences.


We recently came across the saying "You can't change someone who doesn't see an issue with their actions."  While this would be a wonderful cop-out from trying to get through to our daughter, as parents we just don't have that luxury.


Right now we are at our wits end.  Our daughter simply will not make the connection between her actions and the consequences that come from them.  Our frustration levels are at an all-time high because nothing we say penetrates.


We believe she is hanging out with the smokers of the school and know that one of her "friends" is a possible marijuana user.  Our daughter has even offered to source marijuana for someone and simply brushes off our concerns.


She spends copious amounts of time on social media and treats all of us (her parents and her brother) with complete disinterest.  She will not partake of family events and getting her to keep her room tidy and help out around the house is impossible.


Nude selfies she sent to a boy have been spread around the school and she still hasn't made the connection between her actions and the outcomes.


If we take the WiFi away as punishment, she threatens to kill us, hurls abuse at us and even smashes items in the house.


She refuses to speak to any counselors, therapists or psychologists. We would like to take her to the doctor to get her tested for drugs, but that would involve me physically having to drag her into the car.


She has run away from home and we had to involve the police to assist with tracking her down.  She is convinced that if we put her into foster care that she will not have to live by any rules and that she will be left alone to do as she pleases.


My wife and I are completely at a loss where to turn next.  We simply cannot get through to our daughter that her actions are unwise and are having a very big negative effect on our little family.


Home life is horrible as there is no joy left in our house.  We feel absolutely helpless as parents.  The coaching hasn't helped.  We have looked at boot-camp programs but they are prohibitively expensive and I doubt their effectiveness in our situation.


So we have this child that we cannot control.  We cannot help her.  We cannot communicate with her.  We cannot get through to her.


We are considering helping her move out the house at 16 and going it alone, as we simply have no other options.  No-one has been able to give us any useful tips at all. We've been to parenting seminars, spoken to psychologists, spoken to the school staff, tried the ReachOut coaching - nothing has made a single bit of difference.


Do we just have one of those children, a "bad-egg", the kind you see on the news being arrested for their involvement in some terrible crime?  Is it inevitable that our daughter will end up there?


I don't know that posting this will help at all, but if there are any others out there with children like this, you are not suffering alone.



Super contributor

Re: Actions and consequences

Hey @rupe1012001


Welcome to ReachOut Parents. Thank you for sharing your situation with us.

I'm so sorry things are so hard for you and your family at the moment. You sound like you're at the end of your rope so I'm really hoping this community of parents who have all been through or are going through stuff that's not that different to what you're experiencing right now.


In my personal and professional opinion, I'm confident saying no, she's not just a bad egg. Because I don't believe kids are. But, as you well know now, that doesn't mean things are going to be easy. 

One perspective that can be helpful is to think back to when she was a baby and how she communicated with you. She couldn't tell you what she needed, because she didn't know how, so she cried and you had to guess.

Teenagers are a lot the same. They have no idea how to communicate to you what they need so they 'act out'and wait for you to guess.


Sometimes it can be really helpful to separate things out a bit so the wrong things don't get lumped together.

For example, her naked shots ending up being shared around the school. That would have been devastating for her.  Even if she's conveying a view of 'who cares' I can almost guarantee you she does. It would have been a horrible betrayal of her trust. No girl sends a nude pic hoping it will be shown to a bunch of strangers.

She's definitely guilty of poorly placed trust but is she being told that the person that shared her pic is more to blame than she is? Because according to legislation, he is. 


I'm sure this feels like a small thing in among many other things but it can make a huge difference to how receptive a teenager is to hearing what they need to do if they feel like they aren't to blame for everything.


I've seen parents have really good outcomes when they start choosing their battles and letting some things go. For example, you might decide that it's not ever ok with you for her to speak to anyone in the family disrespectfully, but on the flip side, you might decide that her room being a mess isn't ideal but is something you can live with.  What that means is you now have one thing less to fight about without sacrificing what's important.


Does any of this sound helpful?

When you say none of the things you've tried so far has helped can you identify where they've fallen short?

Is it that you see no change in her behaviour or that they don't appeal to you as an approach?


The main reason I ask is so we don't suggest things that you feel won't work.




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Re: Actions and consequences

Hi @Ngaio-RO


Thanks for the welcome.


We've tried dangling a carrot in front of Halo, offering a reward for good behavior. We've tried punishing her for bad behavior.  We've tried restricting access to things she values, like social media.  We've tried a chores board, we've tried getting her to speak to someone, we've tried to get her to speak to us, or her brother.


So far, nothing.


When we uncover undesirable behavior we try and explain the consequences that can come from it but she does't see it.


Regarding the selfies, yes, she is well aware that the other person is more to blame.  It was also explained to her that she needs to shoulder some of that blame.  But the suggestive pictures continue on social media, even when we ask her to take them down - a few days later a new one is up.


Lying is a constant - we cannot trust her at all.


Some days are good, like the old Halo we know.  Some days are really bad, like she's been taken over by something.  It's a real roller-coaster ride and it's taking it's toll on the rest of her family.


I hear you about picking which battles to fight.  That is certainly something we can try.  Right now she's agreed to see a counselor so hopefully they can make some headway with her.


Time will tell.



Star contributor

Re: Actions and consequences

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@rupe1012001 Sounds like you have trialled a few things which is pretty awesome, you really care and want her to move past this phase. I can imagine it would be an increasingly frustrating experience for the whole family.


"It was also explained to her that she needs to shoulder some of that blame.  But the suggestive pictures continue on social media, even when we ask her to take them down - a few days later a new one is up."

In regards to this can I ask why you feel she should shoulder some blame? I think it's important to note that young women (and men) should be able to express themselves without being harassed or disowned as she was with the nude photo. I am sure she has learned a lot from that painful experience, it was probably incredibly shameful for her and she may be projecting further as a result, which I can imagine is hard to watch as her parent.


The counsellor definitely sounds like an awesome next step. Are you and your partner able to get away for some self-care? Walks, meditation, movies etc? It's definitely important to look after yourself during this journey as well. 


Also in addition to ReachOut parents, Parentline is pretty great if you're ever really stuck, they have a tonne of experience up their sleeves Smiley Happy


Active scribe

Re: Actions and consequences

Hi @Breez-RO

My daughter sent the photos to her then boyfriend. According to current legislation, this is transmitting child pornography.

I didn't mention that in my earlier emails so you aren't aware of the full details.

Hopefully the psychologist can give us some insight into her behaviour.

Taking care of oneself is hard. Both of us work, we have to try and run a household and manage two kids. I'm sure other people are capable of handling this with ease but we struggle. Throw in mounting bills and life's pressures keep mounting.

However, these are issues we will just have to resolve.

Super star contributor

Re: Actions and consequences

Hi @rupe1012001, welcome to the forum. 


I can understand you must be frustrated feeling your daughter hasn't learnt from her awful experience. I doubt she expected her photo to be shared around the school, and she has no fault there - that belongs to the boy who shared it. That would have been so humiliating for her. From what I gather your daughter has stopped posting nude pictures, so that is a good thing! If you're concerned about suggestive pics she's still posting, I suggest printing off some info from Legal Aid about sexting, and leaving it in her room for her to read over in her time.


You're most certainly not the only parents struggling with issues raising our teens, so don't feel like you're the only ones. It's the reason we're all here on the forum, sharing our frustrations, experiences and things that have worked Smiley Happy


I'd say one of the main things that has worked for us, has been me learning new ways to parent, learning about the teenage brain and what's going on with my daughter. We can do that without our teens being engaged with a counsellor which is great, as my daughter was very resistent to help for many years. It can be really hard, and really exhausting, but patience and persistence has really paid off for us. It sounds like you've given a few things a go, so I hope I'm not repeating things you've already tried. 

Prolific scribe

Re: Actions and consequences

Hey @rupe1012001 - how have things been?
Active scribe

Re: Actions and consequences

With the staying in a room and not helping out with household chores and keeping her room tidy sounds very much like my daughter!! Even though she is pretty helpful when she needs to be ie: an example of damage of a recent storm we had here on our farm and assisting with helping out with our farm animals. I found that things were better when I learned to compromise with her and let her choose what she chores she wanted to. Bathroom, backroom tidy and front verandah sweep out and feeding of animals on the weekends. My compromise that even though hay had to be out to the animals in the mornings, I'd be happy to let her do her chores over the weekend when the time suited her but they had to be done by the weekend finishing. And they are. I guess something you could try? Let her make a rule and choose her chores and compromise together? And my daughter's room? I learned it was her space and she was able to live in as she pleased. Hard for me to do as I am a cleaner and I like my house in order. I learned also that when her room started to smell she would clean it up in her own time. There are also a few girls at her school I would love for her to stay away from and she does anyhow as she has made her own mind up about them. I also learned never to tell my daughter she couldn't speak or see them as knowing her she would find every way possible to go against my own wishes. I am thankful she has made the choice to stay with a group of fantastic kids at school and away from the troublemakers. I have never been in a situation with my children being involved with police and troubles so unfortunately, I can't help there. 

While we want our kids to talk to us sometimes it is best for them to come to us and we should be prepared to drop everything to listen and be ready with a shoulder to cry on. Teenagers really do struggle at this time and we parents are so helpless because much of what they are going through is so much different to when we were younger ourselves! We are forever learning!!

Sometimes I wish there was a parenting book on the day our children were born, but we find the answer along the way somehow. It is hard. Very hard~!! with children lying...I haven't met one child who hasn't lied and lying usually has a reason behind it. How do we find it? Through communication. It takes a long time...

Hang in there, Dad and Mum!! Well done for reaching out! That's the hardest part I believe! REaching out. Hopefully, you can all find the right path to take soon.  Smiley Happy

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Re: Actions and consequences

All good thanks.  We got her in to see a professional psychologist and she was marvellous.  My daughter did have some issues that needed resolving and we've seen a big improvement.


Giving her space helps, but we still have lots of frustration with her being selfish and lazy.  We try not to let it get us - alcohol helps!!

Super star contributor

Re: Actions and consequences

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Hey @rupe1012001, it's awesome to hear that your daughter has seen great improvements through finding the right help. 


That frustration around our teen's being self-centred and lazy is completely understood and I'm sure many other parents will relate to that one as well! I'm lucky that my daughter is now 16 with her L's, so I have that leverage now. Because she wants to drive and get her hours done, she is much more motivated to listen and help out! 


I'm glad you've found something that works to help you get through haha. 


If you've got any communication tips you've learned that you'd like to share with the community, please feel free to jump onto this week's discussion on Communicating with Teens here Smiley Happy