My husband and I have had a difficult year struggling with dysfunction and domestic violence. After our separation, I started dating someone, and my daughter found out from a message on my cell phone.
Even though the relationship has been over for seven months and I am supporting my four girls by myself, my 14-year-old daughter is extremely angry with me. She blames me for the divorce and for “ruining her life.” She is verbally abusive and has even pushed me. She will not eat dinner with the family or attend church or participate in family activities. Her disposition is nasty; she will not even look at me. I have had to call the police several times to get her under control.
She has turned my parents against me, and they lash out at me as well. I need to reestablish parental control, but I am afraid that my family is damaged forever.
Children of divorce can react with anger, and since you are the parent with whom she lives she will direct her anger toward you. Some of her anger is the same type of anger a person feels when she experiences a loss. Your daughter is grieving for her lost parent and family.
Outside intervention is needed since she will probably not listen to anything you have to say at this point. Be it a family member, a teacher, a minister from church or a counselor, someone needs to help her see that her anger is both misdirected and destructive. It might be a good idea to also get you and your other girls into family therapy since your other daughters are likely to be struggling to some degree with the family situation.
We can offer referrals for family counseling in your area if you need them. Another idea is to get your daughter involved in volunteer work because giving to others helps us forget about our own problems and makes us feel better about ourselves. Again, have another adult make this suggestion since she will be more inclined to listen to someone other than you at this time.
My sister is having difficulties with her 17-year-old son. He is an angry young man who resists people who tell him what to do. He does not take on responsibilities around the home, and he comes and goes as he pleases without parental permission.
His behavior changed about three months ago when my sister prevented him from leaving their home by blocking the door. My nephew physically pushed his mother aside and left the home without her permission. My sister works nights, and often comes home to find her house full of my nephew’s friends. What can I do to help? How can my sister handle her son?
Adolescents often rebel, but your nephew’s actions extend beyond typical teenage behavior. It may not be easy, but change can happen. The first step is determining when or why the problems started. What happened three months ago before his change in behavior started? Did a major trauma occur in his life at this time? Has he always been allowed to do as he pleases? Have there been any consequences for his behavior in the past?
It is important that your sister consider each of these questions to see if the answers can explain some of these situations and reasons for his behaviors. Sometimes challenging situations can cause a child to act out in ways he did not before. If he was always able to get what he wanted in the past, he is going to believe that should always be the case. If he never suffered negative consequences for his actions in the past (such as loss of electronics, grounding, etc.), he most likely thinks there will never be consequences.
Your sister’s work schedule is not her fault. But as long as there is no supervision while she is gone, she will have problems. Can she make other arrangements for her son while she is at work? Are there other family members who can get involved? Is there a father or a strong male influence who can talk to him about his behavior? Can she contact her son’s friends’ parents and tell them that their children are not allowed in her home while she is at work?
The bottom line is that she needs to reach out to as many people who can help as she can. If your nephew continues to be unsupervised, he will most likely continue to disobey her.
If your nephew is willing to sit down and talk with his mother, the two of them should have an honest conversation about what is happening. They won’t agree on all points, but it will provide a chance for compromise and hopefully establish a degree of respect for each other.
Your nephew at age 17 is not an adult and therefore cannot come and go as he pleases. With age comes responsibility. Your nephew is not taking responsibility for himself. Your sister can help by showing a little tough love; if she stops providing some privileges and luxuries for her son, he will quickly get the point.
We encourage you or your sister to call our hotline at any time to talk to a counselor and explore other options. The number is 1-800-448-3000.
I am a single mom of a 15-year-old girl. I am a police officer and I work nights. I am not with her most nights, but one of my older nieces stays with us so she can be with her. I have raised my daughter to have morals. We have always been active in our church, and she has attended a Christian school from kindergarten until the present.
I have a problem with her wearing inappropriate clothing, wanting facial piercings and gouging her ears. Though I tell her that I do not approve of these things, she goes behind my back to do them and then lies about it.
I recently found cigarettes in her purse despite the fact that I have discussed with her the harmful effects of smoking. I am an advocate of exercise and eating healthy. My girl is my life, and I don’t want to see her ruin her life with these harmful behaviors.
Adolescence is a stage in which teenagers start testing their independence. They start to make their own decisions, and you can’t tell them that their decisions are wrong. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, it is our job as parents to do just that. Our end goal of parenting is to have our children become successful young adults in society. We help them reach that goal by teaching them right from wrong.
We do this by providing consequences. They earn positive consequences for behaviors we want to see and negative consequences for those we don’t. If your daughter is making poor choices for herself, there needs to be follow-through from you in the form of negative consequences.
The tricky part is figuring out if your daughter is making poor choices or if she is simply trying to express herself and is finding out who she is. How does a parent determine if a child is making a poor choice or just a different one from what we would make? A good rule of thumb is safety. Ask yourself if this decision will put her in an unsafe situation. Sometimes we have to be supportive of their independence while in the back of our minds we are thinking, “What is she doing?”
This doesn’t mean that smoking and putting extra holes in her body are decisions with which you have to agree. Those do propose a safety concern. It sounds like you set an expectation that piercings are not allowed, and she broke that expectation. Thus, there needs to be a consequence.
Sit down with your daughter and decide together if there is a healthier, safer way she could express herself without doing permanent damage to her body. Temporary hair dye, a specific clothing style and even redecorating her room are all safe expressions of self, and nothing is permanently changed.
If you continue to worry about her rebellious stage, it sometimes helps to have someone other than you talk to her. Sometimes teenagers don’t want to listen to their parents just because they are their parents. Having someone other than Mom talk to her about her decisions might mean that she will listen.
My 10-year-old son is overactive at school. His teachers tell us that he won’t sit still, argues often with other children and is disruptive in class. This is despite the fact that he is smart. We have tried our best to talk to him, but I feel helpless about how to guide him. I am feeling very disappointed in myself, as our family is religious but our values don’t seem to be sticking with our son.
We recommend that you request that the school psychologist evaluate your son soon. Your tax dollars pay for this service, so it’s to your advantage to use it. Perhaps a behavioral Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be needed so that his goals are not only academic, but behavioral also.
Talk with his teacher to create a list of classroom skills that she expects her students to use. There are many skills expected of students, such as getting the teacher’s attention; staying on task; asking permission; following instructions; and accepting consequences. Find out the particulars of each skill, and work with your son on developing it.
For example, help your son practice raising his hand, holding it in the air and waiting patiently until he is called on. Help him see that if he can master that skill, his needs will be met more quickly and he’ll avoid getting in trouble.
Practice each classroom skill with your son, and be sure to watch for any improvement in his behavior. Praise him for even small improvements.