My 14 year old daughter is out of control! Help!

Nancy - posted on 07/19/2012 ( 8 moms have responded )

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She smokes weed and cigarettes, drinks, and hangs out with guys older than her. She has no girl friends. I see her with guys as old as 29! But usually she hangs out with college students and seniors in high school. I also think she has 2 tattoos. Her grades are not very good, mostly A's and B+'s, and she spends more time at work (McDonald's) than at home. She reads a lot and is in advanced classes yet skips a lot of school. Last semester of freshman year, she skipped 1-3 days a week. I talked to her teachers, and they said she always left school due to migraines but she always got her work done. I'm not sure about this but about 7 months ago I suspect she was raped. Ever since then, she has been much quieter. She asked me to be homeschooled, but she won't tell me why she wants to be homeschooled. I know she is bullied at school, being called ugly and a whore and fat, and it breaks my heart hearing about it. In no way is she fat (she suffered from an eating disorder for years) or ugly (I know every mom says thinks this about their child but she is very pretty) I try to talk to her but she thinks she can make decisions for herself. Since she was little, she has always done her own thing. I blame myself for that for always being at work ever since she was 1. I'll admit that she's very mature her for age but I also don't trust her judgement. I am so worried for her and I want to be a better mom for her but I don't know how.



English isn't my first language (Mandarin Chinese is my first), so please pardon the grammar and awkwardness of my writing.

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Kristi - posted on 07/23/2012

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Jo-Anne--

I didn't read all of the links you sent. There was some seriously good stuff, though, and I even signed up for the Aha newsletter. However, none of it convinced me that I should not set boundries and expectations. Like I said before you have great suggestions, as are the new ones. There is no reason these can't work with Tough Love. If a child of any age doesn't have boundries they will not exercise self control, there are no consequences so why does it matter. They will not survive in the real world without knowing what behavior is appropriate and what is not. There are rules everywhere you go. There are consequences to the rules. That is life.

Why should one not set rules in one's home? It is only fair to let the child know what will happen if they don't follow the rules. It's one thing to ask first why he/she is 1 hour late, but having a curfew is a boundary. If he/she is late because of car trouble, one shouldn't impose the "you're grounded for a week," or what have you, consequence. In this case, in most cases where a child is out of control, though, he/she is going to have to prove it because he/she already knows the whole playbook and is ready with a defense, and generally tears or the usual attempt at guilt, "You never believe me or Why don't you believe me, I told you I'm not doing that anymore, boo-hoo." When that doesn't work there are a wide array of excuses and "Such & Such's parents don't give her the 3rd degree, etc." If one cannot get the child under control then one will not be able to listen, connect, or help his/her child.

Setting limits for a child who is out of control is really not much different than setting them for one who"is in control." The bounderies are just tighter and the consequences greater. By this point, "Go to your room and think about your actions" or "You can't watch TV for a week" aren't going to cut it.

When a child is making poor, even dangerous decisions, that's when a parent needs to step in and make the decisions for him/her. Like the example I made in my other comment. He/She can make the choice between A or B or None of the above and he/she knows the consequences before he/she makes a decision. The choices are no longer, "Do I want to go out and get high with my girlfriends or the 29 year old who can also buy me beer?" It sounds like she learned a horrible a consequence already. I am in no way, shape or form saying she was asking for it or that she deserved it or that only and/or all girls who make bad decisions will get raped and nothing about it is right,but chances are higher when a woman constantly puts herself in high risk situations. This I know, I know.

In any event, I still think using both of our suggestions together would be the most effective.

Jo-Anne - posted on 07/23/2012

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Tough love does not encourage responsibility in teens. How can it? It imposes external conditions on them. Do this or that will happen. Behave this way or you don't deserve to be in my house. Teenagers who are behaving "badly" or are "in trouble" are often depressed, abused, bullied or suffering from self-loathing. Giving them consequences for their actions rather than understanding the reasons for them is just treating the symptoms. Kids who feel good about themselves and feel a sense of belonging to their family are resilient and avoid hurting themselves and those they love.
Here are a few things to read for an alternative (positive) view of human nature and our relationships with our adolescents:
http://www.intrapsychichumanism.org/arti...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con...
http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/karen_...
http://www.ahaparenting.com/Ages-stages/...
http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-to...
My teens know that I've got their back, I'm there to help them and they can always talk. Yes, both the conversations and the house are noisy and messy, but they're also amazing.

Jodi - posted on 07/23/2012

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First of all, you need not blame yourself for working since your child was young. This is what you had to do and you did it. It had ramifications and that is just the way it is. However, once you get into the blame game you become stagnate and unable to move forward in your life or the care of your child. So give up the blame and focus on the issues:

You suspect your child was the victim of rape 7 months ago. Have you asked her about it? Voiced your concerns? Probably not because as parents we are not equipped to deal with these kinds of horrific injuries to our beloved children. We feel that we have somehow failed them by allowing them to be injured in this way. What you are missing is that in not addressing this issue your child is re-injured, because she comes to understand that her status as rape victim is unacceptable to you, since you won't, can't, or haven't addressed it.

You need to address this potential trauma and you need to do it with the help of trained professionals. I understand that culturally you may not be open to psychotherapy, however, your daughter's injuries are traumatic and human and a good psychotherapist can help you both deal with the impact of violent crime on her psyche. There are resources in every community to seek low cost or no cost mental health help. Please seek out these resources for the sake of your child, for your own sake and for the sake of your child's future.

Vimi - posted on 07/21/2012

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Nancy ,

I suggest that you should send in rehab otherwise you have to face more problems with her
It is difficult step but you should take this immediately .
All the best

Regards

Vimi

Kristi - posted on 07/21/2012

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Jo-Anne--

Tough love is not punishment at all. It is setting boundries and reasonable expectations for a child/teen who needs to learn how to behave in an acceptable manner. Everything in life has consequences, good and bad. Teaching a child/teen that fact will help them in the long run because they need learn how to think before they act. It's better that they learn that now, instead of figuring it out after he/she just quit his/her job because things weren't going his/her way. If a child knows what is expected and is aware of the consequences, then he/she has the ability to choose his/her own "fate", if you will. The child is in control of his/her own decisions. Just because he/she might not like the rules and/or the consequences does not mean it is a punishment.

There is no reason a parent can't have a close relationship with his/her child when using tough love. Tough love doesn't mean you can't talk to your child and try to offer comfort and support. A parent isn't going to get a chance to build a child's self esteem or a chance to be understanding if his/her child is out partying and being irresponsible, not to mention disrespecting his/her parent(s). And in this case, nobody was suggesting she give her daughter consequences for being bullied and/or raped. When a parent(s) implements tough love a clean slate is given. Children need structure, tough love is a means of providing that structure. All of the wonderful ideas you suggested can fit nicely into such a structure. : )

Jo-Anne - posted on 07/20/2012

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I'm going to give a dissenting opinion here. I don't believe in tough love. It is a way of punishing kids for making decisions their parents don't agree with, but punishment is not effective discipline. Building up a child's self-esteem and a strong relationship with you is much better in the long run. Trying to understand her, supporting her and letting her know that you want her to be happy and healthy will make a big difference. Try to find some things you enjoy doing together, and see what she wants to do with her life. It sounds like your daughter is really suffering, and that is understandable. Bullying and rape can both lead to depression and even suicide, so these are serious issues that need to be addressed before she should be given any consequences. It would be great for her to have someone to talk to about it, and perhaps some family counseling to help rebuild your bond.

Kristi - posted on 07/20/2012

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Well, on an easy note, your English and grammar are better than a lot of people I see on here whose primary language is English, although sometimes I wonder. ; )

Next, stop blaming yourself. You aren't the only mother that has had to work and I'm certain you were doing the best you could. Besides, blaming yourself and beating yourself up for things that have been done and are over with, won't help you with your task at hand. Try to let that go and as hard as it might be, if your daughter tries to throw your decisions from the past in your face, don't let that stop you from doing the right things, now. (not saying you were wrong before, just that with tough love, kids will get angry and manipulate any way the can and since you already feel bad, you will start to second guess yourself now. Be on the look out for that!) Kristin broke it down pretty well. Tough love and counselling are going to be your best bets. Tough love is "tough" for everybody. But, you need to sit down with her and tell her the new rules of the house. Explain to her what you expect from her and what she can expect from you. Be clear on consequences. It might be a good idea to type up a little contract with everything you go over with her. If you decide to do the home/on-line schooling just include that in your expectations and let her know the consequences if she doesn't do the work. She will most likely try to rebel against the new rules but you must stand your ground. It will not work if you even give in "just this once."

Whether or not she was raped, she still needs to talk with someone because she obviously is having trouble with low self esteem and probably an array of other confusing emotions. Don't get just a regular family therapist, she needs someone who specializes in her needs and I would include her eating disorder as part of those needs. If she doesn't like or connect with one therapist that doesn't mean counselling won't work, it just means you and she haven't found the right fiit. Keep trying. Hopefully it will turn out she wasn't raped, that is a horrible trauma, I wouldn't wish on anyone. (been there, done that and 20 years later, I'm still suffering from it) Keep reassuring her that you love her unconditionally and that you will always be there for her if/when she wants to talk or cry or yell. (not at you out of disrespect, of course) I would also recommend you find a support group, as well. You are going to need people you can count on to help you through this, too. Of course, you can always come on here but I think you'll want a little live support, too. ; )

You may also want to look into a parenting technique called "Love and Logic." I think it will suppliment the tough love program nicely. It helps you get/maintain control, while at the same time, empowers her by making her own decisions. For example, let's say she wants to go out with friends. Instead of telling her no you would say something like, I will be happy to let you go with the friends that I have met (also giving her a curfew and other stipulations like who is driving, where she is allowed to go, etc) or I understand that you want to hang out with your friends so you can have a couple of them come over, if you'd like. So you have two options you're happy with and she chooses which option she wants or she says no way, but either way, she is "in control" of her outcome. I think you can get the workbook at the library. If not, check out Amazon or they may even have a specific website you can purchase it from.

You've got your work cut out for you but it's not impossible. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck!

Kristin - posted on 07/19/2012

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You need to take control of your daughter's life. There is no way I would allow my 14 yr old daughter to hang out with 29 yr old guys. MY son is 16 and i worked and went to school since he was born and we dont have the issues you are having with your daughter. Sit her down and ask her why she hangs out with guys much older than her and how it is inappropriate and wont be tolerated in your home. If she was raped and suffers from low self esteem than consider putting her into counselling to help her gain a sense of self worth. If she is being bullied at school that could be why she is skipping classes so maybe look into either switching schools or online schooling (as long as she is able to be motivated enough to complete the work.) You need to quit blaming yourself this is not your fault and right now you need to be strong and firm with your daughter so she doesnt continue going down these paths. I would be in constant contact with her on her cell phone, pick her up from work and drop her off, do not let her go out with friends unless you know they are approriate ages and behaviors. As for the smoking, drugs and alcohol do an intervention. Tell her is she continues doing those things she is no longer welcome to any freedom in your home as it is not tolerated. When I found out my 16 yr old son smoked weed at 15 I nicely marched him to the police station and let them throw him in a interrogation room and school him on drugs and the consequences of them. I then proceeded to put him on house arrest until I was able to trust him and be sure he wasnt smoking pot anymore. I also have him drug tested randomly and he knows if there is any in his system he will lose all his privledges which includes his job, his phone, his computer, the freedom to go to a friends house everything. Right now the most important thing for you is to be tough and be supportive. I tell my 16 yr old that the reasons we have rules and guidelines is that I love him too much to see him go down the wrong paths in life and he understands this. So far it has been a year and he has not smoked pot . Being a good mother sometimes means being tough and practicing tough love. You are not a bad mom and we all go through issues with our kids. Good luck

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