11-10-2021 01:15 PM
This is my first time here. I am a stay at home mother of 4, ranging from 9-15yrs. Boys and girls. My eldest, super smart, super athletic, super persistent at whatever she takes up, has now refused to speak to me for about 6 months, unless it is absolutely necessary. She comes from a loving, very normal family. She has never wanted for anything, I have put myself out so much to facilitate her and her siblings sports/academic/friend needs and wants. We are relatively 'strict' parents, in that the children don't always get what they want when they want it, but eventually either through saving or earning through actions, they are not left behind their friends (usually). We do have rules, but they are not at all unreasonable; chores, device use (a constant cause of nagging!) and the like. She seems to have come under the influence of a 'friend' at school and my husband and I believe that our daughter is struggling with her sexuality. Neither of us are in any way judgemental of anyone based on there sexual leanings, I have a best friend and a cousin who are gay (but we don't live in the same country) but our daughter will not talk to us about this. She is now living a life of deceit and I am now forced to spend my time contacting her teachers to see if she has turned up at school when she heads there early for whatever special class she tells us the school is running. She outright lied to us both yesterday and today as I have found out that neither class was being held. She has lied to us in the past but seems to have upped it recently. My husband has tried talking to her but he gets pushed out of her room, she refuses to speak to him about anything, but at least she is more open to talking to him (just not about anything to do with her actions). Her behaviour in the house is unbearably rude and totally disrespectful and it is hard to just ignore it when her younger siblings are around. It is like living with an alcoholic, we try not to but we are treading on eggshells. She is seeing a psychologist, which in itself has been a drama. We changed psychs because I didn't feel this one was having any effect, but the second one I got (who I thought from a communication & proactive point of view was a huge improvement), my daughter totally rebelled against. I am very lucky that the passenger seat car door is still attached!! Anyway, we gave her the choice and she choose to return to her original psych. This was 4 weeks ago, and whilst he tells me there has been some breakthroughs there has been no change in her behaviour at home. Her behaviour at the weekend was so obnoxious that I calmly refused to take her to training Monday evening (and only took her in the morning because I didn't get a chance to tell her Sunday. Telling her Monday morning at 5am would have resulted in the whole house being woken up!). The same for yesterday morning because she was awful Monday, yet she still came into our bedroom at 4:45am asking to go to swimming training. We refused and the fallout has been heartbreaking. We know that she is involved in a toxic relationship with this friend and we have no idea how to get her out of it. Or at least how to get her to be honest with herself about it so that we can support her. I am sorry this is so long, but I would appreciate any advice or words of wisdom. Please don't tell me to talk to her because we try, not daily anymore as I can only take so much rejection. We also let her know that we are there for her but it is just so hard. I am thinking of writing her a letter or sending her an email. I will try anything. Thanks for reading
11-10-2021 04:49 PM
Thank you for sharing this with us @Annco
It sounds like what you are going through is very difficult at the moment and we're glad that you can talk about it here. I am sorry to hear about your experience with your daughter and it sounds like a very difficult time for you, her, and your family.
I want to check in and make sure that you are supported during this difficult time. Do you have any supports for yourself? (e.g. friends, other family or professional support). Would you be open to us exploring some options with you? There are some helplines for parents that may be helpful. They are very experienced in these areas and can share some tips for you as well.
I want to share with you that your daughter’s behaviour sound very familiar to me. When I was younger, I was going through a difficult time and I found it really difficult to speak with my mum. We’ve repaired our relationship down the line and reflected on the time when it was hardest for us. Her experience sounds very similar to yours and I want to say that it’s fantastic that you’re so willing to try with her. I really appreciated the support my mum gave me, even though I couldn’t or wouldn’t express it at the time. I personally think that writing her something would be great because when I was in a bad headspace, it was hard for me to have conversations because I would get very emotional. Having something written helped me to not misunderstand things and I could read it over in calmer and quieter times. This might not work for you and your daughter, but I want to share that it is something that worked for me and my mum.
There are many members of our community that have been through similar experiences. You are not alone and we're glad that you're here.
11-15-2021 03:03 PM
Thank you for your reply, Emily-RO, and for your kind words. We have had a crazy week and weekend and, unfortunately, nothing has changed. I neglected to mention in my first post that my daughter has been self-harming. Like one of the posts I just read, when I found out about it, from her swim coach, my world as I knew it just fell around me. This was on the 18th June, not a date I will ever forget! I ended up heading straight to her school to speak to a school psychologist. This is a school of 4000+ students, and sadly the pshyc hardly blinked an eye!! He did assess that she was not a further danger to herself before she left school that day, and I spent the rest of that afternoon phoning around trying to secure a psychologist for her. We managed to get one, that is a drama and a story in itself, but she is hardly sharing any information with him, and this is months later! I know it is so important to get the 'right fit/person' to see your child, but how does one do that when you might have to wait up to 6 months to see a psychologist. And that is if you are lucky that they are still accepting new patients.
We told her last week and this weekend that we know she is gay (as I mentioned before, not an issue for either my husband or myself). She went to the beach with her 'girlfriend' on Sunday, after lying to us about how she was getting there and who she was going with. We texted that we know she is gay and this is fine with us, just her behaviour and lies are not acceptable. She texted back that she will continue to lie until we accept her going out with this girl.
We have never been given a chance to talk about this. She is still refusing to speak to me (until she wants something or it is absolutely necessary). I refused to take her to training at 5 this morning, not because she is gay but because she is lying to us, and told her she is not allowed to go. She still got up and planned to cycle there. Consequences mean nothing to her. I don't know who this person is any more, and haven't known for a long time now. We have told her that she is not to leave the house for school any earlier than necessary, she banged her way out of the house 25 minutes earlier that she should have. I said that if she leaves I will not take her to training this evening yet we are so afraid of pushing her back to self harm.
She has an appointment with a psychiatrist this week, I don't know what to expect nor do I know how to react to anything anymore. I try not to be reactive with consequences for horrible behaviour, but take a deep breath and talk to my husband so that she knows any boundaries we set are not just being set by me. But the boundaries don't mean anything to her anymore.
We spoke with her school principal earlier this morning as we just want to know what our options are for her schooling. I know that changing schools is not the answer, but we are just trying, for want of a better word, to shock her into listening to us. We will hold off on presenting anything until after she meets with the Psychiatrist. We are just at our wits end of the disdain and disrespect with which she is treating this whole family.
Once again, thank you for reading/listening to my story. I know I am not the only one experiencing challenges, which is both really sad and comforting.
11-15-2021 04:43 PM - edited 11-15-2021 04:45 PM
@Annco I can hear the distress in your words and I really feel for you - I'm guessing it would be so confusing and scary to feel like you don't know who your daughter is any more.
Can I ask if the school principal had anything helpful to say?
I think it's positive that your daughter is continuing to go to see her psychologist, but I'm sorry you don't feel like you're seeing any benefit from it yet - sometimes these things take time.
I'm wondering - do you think family counselling could help at all (if it's something you and your daughter would be interested in)? I'm just wondering if it might be a way of opening the lines of communication between you.
I liked your idea of writing to your daughter - did you decide to try it in the end?
From an outsider's perspective, I am seeing your pain in this situation, but also noticing your daughter's pain as well. I'm wondering if you have any ideas on what might be causing her pain, and what it is she might need right now to help soothe it?
This sounds like such a stressful time for you - do you have any support for yourself?
We have a one-to-one parent coaching service in case you'd be interested in talking things through with them. Alternatively, services like Parentline can offer a chance to debrief and talk about what's happening for you.
11-15-2021 05:07 PM
Thanks for your reply, Philippa-RO.
The Principal was very helpful. Pointed out things that my husband and I already knew, but we appreciated where he was coming from. Pointed out that maybe changing schools may not change things. We know that and we are just trying to come up with something to get through to our daughter as nothing else is working. We will think hard and long about it and it would be very much an absolute last resort for us as we are happy with the school as such and our daughter is a Grade A student (which is amazing considering all that she is going through. But she is nothing if not persistent and, when it suits her, motivated). Plus, the Principal also spoke to us from his role as a dad not just as the Principal, which we really appreciated.
We are also aware that a psychologist takes time, but even the Psych when I spoke with him feels that it might do no harm to give our daughter the option to change or stop as she is making zero effort to open up in any way with him. He admitted that it is unusual to not make more headway by this stage of visits.
In the early days I was applying to get in with a family counsellor, my daughter saw and said there was no way she was going to go!
However, last week I did sign us up with a family counsellor. Earliest appointment is Feb 3rd!!
You are right that our daughter is in pain, but how can we find out the cause or even help her when she won't open up to either her dad or me or her Pshyc? I don't want to put her friends in awkward positions. However, she did include one family in her deceit at the weekend, which was pretty unfair to them.
I have not penned anything to her yet as I couldn't get the space from my responsibilities to my other children as my husband was working all weekend. Plus I was too hurt and empty and not in the right headspace to put any words together that didn't sound like an accusation.
Thank you for the offer to speak with someone from Reachout. I made an appointment last week for a chat which is happening next week. I am praying we will have some breakthrough by then, but I pray for that every night and morning.
I do appreciate the advise and words of encouragement, thank you
11-15-2021 07:45 PM
Hey @Annco ,
I'm glad to hear that the principal was very helpful. Even though you knew a lot of the things they were bringing up with you, at least it can be of some comfort that you and your husband are not alone in trying to find the right ways to support your daughter.
Regarding the psych, I can imagine it feels disheartening to know that even in a professional setting, your daughter isn't engaging. It can be one of those things where you can make all the progress, but if they don't even meet you a portion of the way in the middle, it can feel really difficult to see or find the strategy that might work to help with your daughter opening up.
How can you find out what your daughter is feeling without being intrusive? One of the hardest things to work around as a parent. Without answering it, the most important thing is that we are accessible, available, empathetic and listening without judgement. We can't choose when or if they open up, but if the opportunity presents itself, we have to remind ourselves to be patient and not get carried away with a "Oh my goodness, they're finally talking, time to pry".
Take the time for yourself to balance out your responsibilities and continue doing your best in being present. I hope there's a breakthrough, too. Keep us updated if things change!
11-20-2021 10:28 PM
Hey @Annco ,
Welcome to our forum. I'm mum to a 17 year old young man and like yourself, a 15 year old girl. We've had some rather stressful times in our family too and have worked through some pretty challenging times and still have some work in progress. It seems to me that something has upset of traumatised her and instead of addressing it directly she's reacting randomly and withdrawing. Is she getting on okay with the kids at school and are there problems there? While you and your husband might be accepting of her sexuality, perhaps she's having a rough time at school.
We've had to work hard on keeping communication open with both our kids. Talking in the car is a great opportunity.
Also, is she talking with her siblings? Those connections can be really important or a close relative if communicating with Mum and Dad isn't going well. Our daughter had told her brother a few things and he's raised concerns but we didn't confront her as we didn't want to stop her from talking to him.
The other area to consider is protecting yourself and being respected. I'm not the sort of person who gives the whole "while you're living under my roof speech", but there is a place for that. You and her siblings need to be safe at home. I think sometimes it's good to call these teens out on their abusive behaviour. Quite a few of them seem to have a strong sense of ethics, but don't necessarily look in the mirror and see their own shortfalls.
Meanwhile, are you still connecting with your other kids? I know there are only so many hours in a day but the "problem child" can absorb a lot of love and energy and to the other kids it can seem like being good doesn't pay. My brother got into a lot of trouble in high school and I often felt invisible. As hard as it is to split yourself up, find time for selfcare and getting a bit of exercise to clear your head and stay health yourself, I thought I'd mention that.
Good luck and please keep us posted if it helps.