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Hello, I am a 35 yr old mother of 2 teenagers. My daughter is 15 and my son is 13. My daughter is a bright child whom is very obedient towards me and her father, but lately she has started going out with a young man whom is also 16 and she has gotten out of control. She is verbally abusive towards me and my husband, her schoolwork is neglected and she is very temperamental. She is starting to lie and is always throwing things in our faces about how stupid we are. That we don't let her do nothing. I'm very concerned. Please help me with my out of control daughter. Concerned mom


Trish Booth, MA Replied: Your daughter's behavior certainly requires action. Because your daughter has been obedient and a good student in the past, she knows what behavior she needs to return to. That will make the process easier. You also need to keep in mind that grounding her and preventing her from seeing her boyfriend will not work as well as using him as the reward for appropriate behavior. The first thing is for you and her father to meet with her to outline the behavior you expect to see. Be sure to talk in terms of the behavior you want rather than what she shouldn't do. You can even write this down. Then explain a system of rewards that is based on contact with her boyfriend because this will be the most powerful motivator. For example, if she does all of her homework by a certain time, she can talk with him on the phone that evening. If she behaves appropriately toward family members through the week, she can go out on a date on Saturday. She must earn every contact with her boyfriend that occurs outside of school hours. The first couple of weeks of this new routine is going to be very time consuming and hard for you and your husband because you will need to track homework, record behavior, and enforce rules. However, once your daughter understands that you will enforce the rules and seeing her boyfriend depends on her positive behavior, life will get much easier. If you find that this approach doesn't bring the desired results, consider getting some help from a counselor who specializes in adolescents or families.
Posted On 2006-05-30 17:15:02
Keith Muhleman Replied: Dear Concerned Mom, You have every reason to be concerned. Your daughter is experiencing growing pains that come with the fear and anxiety associated with becoming an independent adult. Like you, she wonders is she is prepared and the only way she can act out her preparedness is to "act grown up" which means emulating adult behavior she sees in the media and in her environment. There is a self importance involved with this that also reflects a self centeredness that is really very normal for a 15 year old. You need to avoid confrontation while being the parent - avoid the impulse to yell and instead give a reason for your action (not reaction) in response to her action. For example, verbal abuse should not be tolerated, it is not necessary in the real world (maybe reality TV, but that is another form of acting out aggression). Make it clear that there are limits and there are consequences when the limits are exceeded then carry out the consequences. No questions. This is a show of adulthood on her part. Apply your 35 years of experience to understand that she will make mistakes, but make them constructive mistakes by giving her the discipline required for her to make sound future decisions. You did not say much about the boy she is seeing...that adds a layer of emotion and involvement that could be contributing to her anxiety about growing up. Do not think that what you are doing is controlling her...resentment grows there. Shift your thinking to bringing discipline and order to a very chaotic young life...and remember what that age was like for you. Keith Muhleman
Posted On 2006-05-30 14:49:07
Mark Viator Replied: Seeing a child change suddenly from exhibiting good behaviors to troublesome behaviors can be very upsetting for a parent. While the "finger" can be pointed at the boyfriend, chances are there are other circumstances involved. While disrespectfulness should never be tolerated, your daughter is not exhibiting any behaviors that are not uncommon for adolescents. Most believe that their parents "do not understand them and are stupid" Most believe that schoolwork is not that important. Most will lie from time to time. The challenge here is let your daughter understand and experience some consequences for her behaviors. Let her know that you and your husband will not allow the verbal and disrespectful abuse. Set up a series of consequences that your daughter will have to experience if she does not follow your reasonable and age appropriate rules. Remember that she is an adolescent. She wants to experience some individuality and freedom. Give her a chance to earn this. Chances are that once she feels as if she does have some freedom, the need to act out will diminish. One final note, if the boyfriend does appear to be such a bad influence, then limit the contact between him and your daughter. Hopefully, your daughter will realize that this boyfriend is causing her to get into more trouble and decide to find better friends. Good Luck
Posted On 2006-05-27 08:15:21
Annie Fox, M. Ed. Replied: It may be that your daughter who has always been "very obedient" has reached a point where she's asserting her indepedence. This is normal and natural... but being verbally abusive to her parents, blowing off her schoolwork, and lying definitely sound like warning signs that something else is going on. You seem to be attributing these changes in behavior to her connection with her boyfriend. If that's the case, then he may, in fact, be a negative influence on her and you're going to need to intervene. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself: Are your expectations for your daughter's behavior clear? What consequences have there been for her neglected schoolwork, rudeness, lying, and other unacceptable behavior? What do you know about the young man? What family rules do you have in place for your daughter vis a vis dating? Don't allow her to push your buttons (and I realize that that's easier said than done, but you need to stay calm and think clearly... as the adults in the family). Don't let her get away with lying and "throwing things in your faces". She's not in charge here, you are. But it sounds like you're at a loss. It also sounds like you believe that your "out of control" daughter is the problem. She may be making the most noise, but it's clear from your description that your whole family has a problem (and I'm sure it's affecting your 13 year old son as well.) You need help regaining the authority and power that comes with your role as parents and protectors of your children. I would strongly suggest that you waste no more time and get help from a licensed marriage and family counselor. This situation willl only get worse if it's ignored. Do your whole family a favor and get counseling. It will help you learn to communicate more effectively on all levels. Good luck. In friendship, Annie Fox
Posted On 2006-05-26 17:05:11
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