Patented Q & A Database


My daughter is 16yrs old, she will be 17 in a few months. My issue is my daughters attitude and mouth. She wakes up like she has an attitude and is quiet and to herself almost half the day. It is very hard to talk to her. If I'm letting her go where she wants to go or do what she wants, she is a happy little camper. I try to have conversation with her but it is like trying to pry open a manhole. She has been this way since 13yrs old. She trys to talk to me like I am one of her friends. A few times I had to get in her face and throw her to the ground. I also find myself using profanity and that is not me. I don't want to do that, but I will not tolerate disrespect. I have grounded her, taken away her phone and a week later she is back to the same mess. She is an Honor student and very active in sports. She is even a mentor to other students. I think she is crazy half the time. I asked her who was she talking to on the phone and she said "I don't need to know who she is talking to". I snatched the phone and hung it up. I wanted to shove it down her throat but I held my anger. I can't understand and I am just plain fed up. Please help!!


Lexi Welanetz, Psy.D. Replied: The only thing harder than being a teenager is being the parent of a teenager. Adolescence is a challenging time as children try to assert some independence. In fact, it is healthy for them to try and assert their independence. Unfortunately for parents, rebellion is the most common way for a teen to assert some independence. They are bound to make mistakes and so are we. It is up to a parent to try to help them minimize the damage while doing it and let them see the impact they are having to the world around them (e.g. tell them when they hurt you). No doubt you want to have your teen respect you. It's important to remember that when you get physical with your kid or scream at them, you lose their respect. So your inclination to not get physical is a good one. Losing privileges and consequences are far more effective. It's also important not to get overly emotional with her and get pulled into the drama. With that said, your daughter sounds like she has a pretty good head on her shoulders with a good set of values for her age, which is a true testament to you as a parent. Good for you! A few pieces of advice to navigate the land mine of parenting an adolescent: 1. pick your battles, 2. find places she can have some independence, 3. insist on respect and give respect, 4. when she crosses a line, then give her a consequence that "fits the crime" and take the emotion out of the interaction, 5. when she protests, don't engage in the fight, 6. try to remember how hard it was to be a teen when you were growing up and finally 7. (the most important one) point out more what she does right then what she does "wrong."
Posted On 2008-01-26 12:04:59
James Crist Replied: This is a difficult situation. On the one hand, she is clearly being responsible with school and seems to be well adjusted outside the home. On the other hand, her unacceptable behavior at home suggests a great deal of underlying anger and she seems to be doing a good job of provoking anger in you as well. As you wisely recognize, using physical force or profanity are not wise choices and are counterproductive. Are there family circumstances that may be upsetting her? It is also possible that she has a mood disorder. Especially since she won't talk to you, I would recommend counseling—a combination of individual and family counseling is needed. It sounds like a toxic power struggle has been going on at home. In counseling, you can also learn more effective ways of communicating with her. It's normal for a 16-year-old to want more decision-making power, but she has to learn more respectful (and successful) ways to negotiate that with you. And despite your best efforts, your ways of communicating are likely making it worse instead of better. The book Parent-Teen Breakthrough provides some useful advice for negotiating with teens. The book Parenting Your Out of Control Teenager also provides good information.
Posted On 2008-01-23 09:42:38
Maggie Macaulay Replied: Being uncommunicative, withdrawing to her room, accusing a parent of prying, and withdrawing emotional contact with a parent are all behaviors associated with being a teenager. You may wonder where your sweet child went! Your teenage daughter may seem distant and different, and there are things that you can do to create a closer relationship. The big piece for parents of teens is to know that their teen's attitude has nothing to do with the parent. It has everything to do with being a teenager. The more you can step back so that you are not reacting to her attitude (remember that her attitude is not about is about her), the more peaceful and in charge you will feel. This is the first step to open up the communication. Think about when you were her age, with the hormonal ups and downs, the insecurities, the self-consciousness, and the moodiness. No one could pay me enough to want to be a teenager again! The more empathy you can develop for what she feels like as a teenager, the more even you will be when talking with her. Another tip is to separate the deed from the doer. That will help you discipline calmly. You love her AND you may not like her behavior. Let her know you love her AND you want her to speak to you respectfully. Focus on the terrific things your daughter is doing in the midst of all of this. She is an honor student, active in sports and a mentor to others. That is wonderful! Also, take time for yourself. If you aren't taking care of you, you will be reactive. Commit to handling things with your daughter verbally rather than physically. Walk away if you need to. If the physical confrontations occur again, please seek some assistance. You love your daughter and want to be close to her. When we feel "fed up" we are wanting things to be different and are generally waiting on someone else to change. The change in your relationship with your daughter will come from you. That is the big gift in being a parent. We get to grow beyond where we are because the relationship with our child is so valuable to us. Develop empathy, understand where she is developmentally, detach from reacting to her attitude, understand that her attitude is about her and not about you, take care of you, and be there for her. Make being close to her the most important thing while communicating what you want clearly.
Posted On 2008-01-22 20:12:23
Press Esc to close