17 year old daughter has no direction for her future

Andrea - posted on 03/17/2017 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I am at a loss. My 17 year old senior has no direction at all. She has struggled in school since 2nd grade. She has made it this far (with tremendous difficulty ) and I see her early marks are not great (one F, one D and 2 As). When I spoke with her about it, she just got defensive. I do all I can to help (probably too much) and her intense apathy is frustrating me to no end.

She has a part-time job (and of course she hates it). She is moody and bitchy (she says she loves me and I'm sure she does but she has a horrible way of showing it ). Why should I help her if she just doesn't care?! I am at my wits end. It's giving me ridiculous stress. I have had to leave the room because I can't stand to be near her right now for fear I might say something I regret. Why doesn't she care?

She has no idea what she wants to do when she's older...which I suppose isn't the.end of the world but it still scares me a bit. When is she going to grow up and mature and start caring and taking responsibility? I'm afraid for her. I know I'm overreacting right now because the sting of seeing her grades is fresh...but still. Anyone been through this and on the other side with some words of wisdom??? Help.....

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Elaine - posted on 03/25/2017

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Hi Andrea,
You obviously love your daughter deeply and want what is best for her. Your concern and caring is apparent. I hope it helps to know that your daughter is pretty normal for a teenager. Not all kids do well in high school, they are dealing with a lot of issues besides academics. They are trying to fit in, they are trying to navigate, they are trying to be accepted and they are trying to figure out who they are. It is a rough time. School comes easy for some, others have to work super hard and still may fall short. Grades do not define someone. Sure, we all want our children to do well and have the best options upon graduation, but most kids figure it out and make their way.
Talk to her guidance counselor. She may have struggles and needs some tutoring. She may need to talk to the school counselor for other issues. Let her know how much you love her and accept her so that she can share openly if something is troubling her. You said academics have been hard since a young age. She may need the extra help because it is really really tough for her.
Most 17 year olds do not know what they want to do when they are older. That often goes for 18, 19, 20, 21 year olds! It is a journey and for some kids, it takes longer. Eventually, they figure it out, often by trial and error, falling into a job opportunity, etc. She will be ok.
Most kids don't like to work. They want to be home and they are not crazy about the restrictions of a job. But working is good to teach responsibility and accountability.
There is a difference between empowering our kids and enabling them. We need to point them in the right direction, but we cannot rescue and control them. It is not always easy, but letting them deal with consequences is the path to them becoming adults who can be responsible and cope. I wish you and your daughter well.

Sarah - posted on 03/18/2017

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I have a daughter who just turned 18 and at times I am at my wits end too. It is part of her becoming a grownup. My daughter can be rude and moody to me- comes with the territory. Do I have to tolerate her rudeness? No, but sometimes it is an indication that she just need a bit of space.
My daughter actually gets really good grades but she still is considering about 8 different options for her future. She will figure it out and while I know that my Molly has an academic plan in place, it would be ok if she didn't want college. Maybe your daughter would prefer a trade like cosmetology, fitness instructor, nurses' aide...something that she could take a 6 month course and try it out.
I assume she is in HS and the guidance office probably has some aptitude testing she can explore.

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Aduckie76 - posted on 03/21/2017

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I am and have been going through the same thing with my 15 year old son. He just has no ambition. He has lack of respect for me and his father. In his words, I am controlling. If anything I am far from controlling. I wonder sometimes if that I haven't been controlling enough. He just doesn't care how his actions affect the rest of the family, as long as he gets and does as he pleases. His words are so hurtful and I try to bite my tongue and I am trying to walk away when it gets to heated.

Dove - posted on 03/17/2017

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There is nothing wrong w/ anything that Ev said... while some of it is certainly blunt... it is all total reality from her speaking from experience... which is exactly what you asked for.

I, on the other hand, can not speak from experience as my older two are still only 15 and are doing quite well... but I can still give an opinion. If you know you are doing too much for her... ease up on that. Make sure she is aware that once she turns 18 (or at the end of the current school year... which ever comes last) she will be responsible for paying X (whatever you both deem reasonable) amount of rent and doing X (again, reasonable) amount of things around the home to continue to live there... and start letting her sort things out on her own. Graduating from high school is certainly important, but it's not the only option... If she ends up needed to repeat her senior year you can let her know that one of the stipulations to continue living in the home is either passing grades for the senior year... or getting her GED by X date.

If she's always in a bad mood... it could be something deeper... depression, anxiety, some other mental/emotional health issue, etc... You could see if she'd be willing to speak to a counselor (either through school or her PCP referral) to help her starting sorting things out.

Start pushing the adult responsibilities on to her a bit, but also give her time to adjust to each new change... she'll figure it out.

Ev - posted on 03/17/2017

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{{I am at a loss. My 17 year old senior has no direction at all. She has struggled in school since 2nd grade. She has made it this far (with tremendous difficulty ) and I see her early marks are not great (one F, one D and 2 As). When I spoke with her about it, she just got defensive. I do all I can to help (probably too much) and her intense apathy is frustrating me to no end.}}
-----I have a 20 year old child who had struggles through school from First Grade on. He brought home a lot of bad grades before they got better. It is not that he did not care--he had a learning issue. He worked his butt off to get to a 3.1 grade point for senior year. Have you ever thought to have her checked for learning issues? If that is not the case, maybe there are a lot of subjects she does struggle with and might have needed help such as a tutor instead of being spoken to about it.

{{She has a part-time job (and of course she hates it). She is moody and bitchy (she says she loves me and I'm sure she does but she has a horrible way of showing it ). Why should I help her if she just doesn't care?! I am at my wits end. It's giving me ridiculous stress. I have had to leave the room because I can't stand to be near her right now for fear I might say something I regret. Why doesn't she care? }}
-----Maybe she really does not like the job but has to keep it as there may not be any around she can go to for a change of jobs. Be glad she still works there! She could up and quit! And understand that girls this age do get moody a lot. It is part of their growing up and kids sometimes think they have it all figured out. Leaving the room is good when you can not stand her attitude but you must address it when both of you are calm. I am sure she cares but it might be in the way you are acting and reacting to her that brings out her moodiness.

{{She has no idea what she wants to do when she's older...which I suppose isn't the.end of the world but it still scares me a bit.}}
-----This one really makes me want to crawl under a rock. The first part about having no idea what she wants to do when she is older and you saying it is not the end of the world is so true BUT when you added it scares you that got me. It is her life. Of course at 17 she is not going to know what career she wants or if she wants to even go to school for 4 more years. NOT ALL KIDS who do get into college end up with the career they first thought they were going to do. Some never finish. Let her explore her world and see what actually is out there before pushing the all ever finality of trying to prepare for a career through college or other means. Maybe she does not want college. Maybe she wants to work for a while and learn from life before going back for finishing her education. Get a grip woman!

{ When is she going to grow up and mature and start caring and taking responsibility?}
-----Where did you get the idea that by 18 years of age that a kid had to be all grown up and mature. Yes, they are grown up but that does not make them a full grown up yet. They need TIME to grow and mature. You were not magically mature and ready for the world at 17 or 18. I would say she is taking some sort of responsibility because she is working a job and she still is going to school despite some of her grades.

{ I'm afraid for her. I know I'm overreacting right now because the sting of seeing her grades is fresh...but still.}
-----I am glad you admit to being overreacting but it is not the end of the world. And one F and one D will not mean she does not graduate.

{ Anyone been through this and on the other side with some words of wisdom??? Help.....}
-----As I said, my son suffered from learning issues and he got help from school in resource classes. You might want to find out what is going on with your daughter before you actually decide she is blowing things off.

Michelle - posted on 03/17/2017

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I say you need to step back. You are smothering her and that could be one of the reasons she is showing apathy.
You helping her all the time isn't actually helping her in the long run. It's not teaching her to be self motivating. If you want her to be showing initiative then you need to give her space and find her own way.

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