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I have a 17 year old daughter whose acting very aggressively. She's been arrested and has two charges pending against her as an adult. She made holes in my walls, she doesn't listen to what I say to her. I have called the police and they called DFCS who told me I have to protect my other two children but no help for my seventeen year old. I don't know what to do. Her father was abusive to me and now I feel she is my new abuser.


Brenda Nixon, M.A. Replied: As I read your concern, I felt that your daughter is exhibiting deep anger over her father being abusive. At that time, she probably felt defenseless, confused, and unable to protect you. Is it possible to get her into counseling for her anger management? Also, you said she doesn't listen to what you say. May I ask if you listen to what she says? Children need us to model the behavior we want them to have, so if you carefully listen to your daughter, give her eye contact, and let her know that you are trying to help her, then perhaps she'll give a bit more effort to listening to you. When she's in a rage, don't mirror her behavior. Instead you must remain calm and use a quiet voice. Your self-control is a way to disarm her outburst. Your last phrase was interesting when you referred to your 17-y/o as your new abuser. If you fear for your -- and your younger children's -- safety, then you must put a stop to her abuse. It may be that you have to firmly tell her you will not permit whatever (hitting, cursing, talking back, running away) and that there will be consequences if she does so. Then give consequences closely related to the behavior. For example, if she hits you or her younger siblings, then you say, "In society when people hit, it's called assult and they go to jail. In our home, when you assult me then you go to your room and stay there. You may not be with us because you cannot control yourself." Honor yourself enough to set boundaries with her! Lastly, be sure you are not "teaching" her to hit through your own behavior. If you slap or spank your kids, they'll probably grow up thinking that physical outbursts are acceptable. It's better to use your words and express your feelings. There have been times when I've said to my daughters, "I'm feeling overwhelmed and I'm not in a good mood." Or I've said something like, "I love you but not your behavior." This eventually teaches a child how to express herself without getting so angry she makes holes in the walls, plus it gradually opens communication lines.
Posted On 2007-09-11 19:21:42
Julie Fisher Replied: Begin by asking yourself how you support your daughter's behavior. You may initially be taken aback by this question, but the fact that you have been in multiple abusive situations says that you have a tendency to allow this behavior in your presence. I completely agree that you need to protect your younger children — even though it must be very, very difficult to have to do it at the expense of your daughter. However, you need to understand that everything you do to allow your daughter's behavior in their presence, is another thing you do to support that same kind of behavior in your younger children. Until you are ready to say "no more" to the disrespect and abuse, you continue to teach disrespect and abuse to your younger kids and you support the cycle of more abuse. As her mother, I suspect that you have some part of you that understands where this behavior comes from and therefore, you feel responsible to some extent. However, that understanding needs to be funneled into teaching her that her behavior is not only unacceptable in your home, but it is not what you want for her long-term. You want more, and you expect more from her. Sometimes coming completely clean with a teenager is exactly the medicine that is needed. You might begin by admitting that you know that you allowed her to see the abuse when she was younger and that you know that was a mistake. Then you move to the fact that you cannot change the past, but that you DO have control over today and tomorrow. And then you move to what actions you're going to take to ensure that NONE of your children in your home ever see that kind of behavior in your home again. Then you don't back down — no matter what. This may take some inner strength - and some effort to muster it up, but this is a very critical juncture and one that will permanently impact you, your daughter and your other two children. It is YOUR choice. No one else's. Just yours. And when you look back, you will have to say "I made that choice." There can be no blame. You had a choice, and you made it. So what will it be?
Posted On 2007-01-08 13:01:41
Dr. Steven Kairys Replied: She clearly needs help that includes a more formal evaluation of her issues and a treatment plan. She should not be allowed to abuse you and there should clear limits and provisions for what happens if she does.
Posted On 2007-01-08 09:17:29
Mark Viator Replied: Your are very insightful to realize that your daughter has become your new abuser. Her behavior is one of an older adolescent going out of control. I am assumming that you are no longer in the relationship with her father. If you are, seek help immediately for you and your younger children. With regards to your 17 year old, here are a few suggestions. If possible, get her into some form of anger and impulse control counseling. If she witnessed the abuse that her father inflicted upon you, she could possibly have issues that need to be worked through. If she is not willing to go on her own, she may be forced to begin this type of counseling as part of her probation for her charges. While this is not the best case scenerio, she may come to some realizations once counseling has begun. Now for the tough stuff. You need to take care of yourself and your two younger children. Do not allow them, or yourself, to continue to be in danger and a victim of her aggression. Do what you can to try to seek help for your 17 year old, but at some point, you need to worry about yourself and your younger kids. Do not let them be victimized. If you have to, tell your daughter that she will not be allowed to live under your roof if she does not seek help. This pattern needs to be stopped. Good Luck.
Posted On 2007-01-07 10:20:52
Annie Fox, M. Ed. Replied: Your daughter's behavior is outrageous and unacceptable. Without knowing you I reckon that whatever is causing your 17 year old daughter to act out has been brewing for quite a while She's the squeaky wheel in the family at the moment, but please don't fool yourself into thinking that she is "the problem." Your whole family needs immediate help because the whole family has a problem. My strong suggestiion is that you contact DFCS and ask them about available family counseling resources. If that doesn't pan out, then go to your County Department of Mental Health Services and ask them for available family counseling resources. Ask at your daughter's high school (I'm assuming she's a student). Ask at your Health Care provider. Keep asking until you get connected with a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT). Talk by phone to the therapist and explain the situation. Listen to his/her recommendations which might include a private session with your daughter as well as a group session for the family. This family is spiralling out of control I strongly urge you to get professional help you all need ASAP. In friendship, Annie Fox
Posted On 2007-01-06 20:06:42
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