Thought I was going to have a heart attack. Can't go on like this

(84 Posts)
Shagmundfreud Fri 08-Feb-13 20:34:29

Tonight 13 yr old dd got me up against a radiator, swearing and shouting and threatening me because I told her she couldn't go to a friend's house. In front of her friend. Pushed her face in my face saying 'You think you're hard, what are you going to do about this then? What? What?' And instead of getting myself away and shutting myself in the bathroom or something, I pushed her away, slapped at her and shouted 'don't you dare try to intimidate me in my own home'. Shoved her down the hallway towards her bedroom and pulled at her hair to get her to move backwards. She weighs 10 stone and is STRONG, and I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

I shouldn't have done it. sad

She then stormed out the house. I now know she went straight round to SIL's. DH has come back from work and is now round there to pick her up. I spent the first hour breathless and sobbing after she'd gone. Phoned parent line in between comforting my other two dc's (7 and 9). (they stuck their heads round the door and fired a nerf gun at me. I looked at the bullet and saw they'd stuck a note to it saying 'We are sorry for you' smilesad).

I can't go on like this. We have tried to put some basic rules in place (hand over phone at 10pm on a school night, do homework, get to school on time) and she just flouts them day in and day out. Tonight's conflict started last night. I went into her room at 9.30 last night to remind her that she needed to be in bed at 10pm, and I would be taking her phone. However, I then got caught up and ended up not going in to take her phone until 10.15. At which point she was sitting fully clothed, straightening her hair. I said she had to go to bed, and to give me her phone, at which point she looked at me and said rudely 'You'll have to wait - I need to message some people' and carried on doing her hair. My response to this was to point out that I'd come in at 9.30 to remind her and that if the phone wasn't in my hand in 1 minute she'd lose it for the next day. I walked off and eventually she came in to the sitting room and threw her phone at me, arguing with me all the time about how unreasonable I was etc. Then she came and took it back off the table and went back up to her room.

DH took the phone when he came back and told her she'd lost it for the day, which resulted in her shouting in the hallway at 7am this morning. Anyway, she came back from school at 4pm and asked for her phone. As she was being polite and had apologised I let her have it. Big mistake. As soon as she had it she asked if she could go over to a friend's this evening, and when I said 'no' the above happened.

I can't take the verbal bullying and aggression and physical intimidation. She WON'T take 'no' for an answer from me. She's defiant with DH but not nearly so much as she is to me, where it's her 'rule' to challenge everything I say, and ignore pretty much all instructions. Tonight I really thought I was going to fall to pieces - I realised I'm frightened of her, and that she knows it and is being deliberately abusive to me.

I wanted to ask if anyone here would recommend family therapy for a situation like this. Really something has gone badly wrong and I'm struggling to parent her. SIL phoned me and said she thought that DD must be being bullied at school or something, for her to be so angry and so confrontational with me. I'm not so sure. I've not seen any evidence of it. I feel that we have a terrible dynamic going on - that dd is having a tough adolescence and its manifesting itself in a total reluctance to grow up. She is constantly pushing the boundaries Can't get her to see that growing up involves more freedom AND taking more responsibility for herself, and she can't have the first if she outright refuses the second. She's so profoundly uncooperative with us - I really do think it goes beyond normal teen laziness and rebelliousness. Things are really unhappy at home, and I'm wondering how long we can go on with this daily conflict - the shouting, refusal to follow even the most simple and basic rules, the attacks on me, the contempt. sad

thewhistler Fri 08-Feb-13 22:29:00

So sorry.

Ds only bullies us when he is being bullied or is v unhappy and worried. If she is 10 stone she will be getting a lot of flak. And she may hate herself.

Family counselling sounds a great idea. Go to your Dr and get on the list.
Surround her with love and time, if you can, take her shopping for something small.

follow through the punishments.

Use assertiveness techniques. "I can understand why you feel like that but I am not changing my point of view." Said 20 times, calmly, it becomes difficult to argue with.

And ultimately make it clear you will call the police and ss if necessary because she cannot have the right to turn your family upside down.

Remember, you have responsibilities towards your other dc, DH and yourself, not just her. So she needs to fit in to that world view of yours. You need to take a step back and somehow ensure she is nor centre stage because atm she has all your attention. Give her some, as above, to support her, make it clear you love her and always will, but there are others too.

And discover from the school what is going on there and whether there is any counselling available for her.

Maryz Fri 08-Feb-13 22:32:34

Hey Shag, things don't sound as though they are getting better sad. You do need to have a "no violence from anyone" rule, and call 999 if she is genuinely aggressive. You'll only have to do it once, most likely.

Don't worry about childline.

But make sure you don't let your dh deal with her in any way physically. I used to have to keep dh and ds1 apart, because I was worried a violent episode from ds1 would result in SS making dh leave hmm

TotallyBS Fri 08-Feb-13 22:41:01

MaryMother - the child is big for her age and gender AND she is verbally and physically abusive to her mother.

And you find it offensive to suggest that being bullied at school isn't a plausible explanation for her behaviour???

abbierhodes Fri 08-Feb-13 22:43:42

I agree with the comment about taking a hammer to the phone. she certainly shouldn't have any privileges whilst she is treating you like this.

you were wrong to give her the phone back. but you know that now. So when she gets in, take control. I'd take away pretty much everything exept her school uniform.

and as for the idea of texting nice messages- do me a favour! she already sees yu as the weak link.

i'd seriously give some thought to reporting her assault to the police.

cjel Fri 08-Feb-13 22:46:50

madam . Not questioning you judgement, just passing on my 30 odd years of experience that it does not always have to get worse if they can get the right support, Am sure you base your judgements on facts but wanted to try to reassure OP that it is not always the slippery slope.It is possible to have wonderful relationship quite quickly. Saw thread on here earlier about how many people had wonderful 17 year olds even though they were horrid 13 yr olds. While the violence is not acceptable it doesn't mean that dd will go on to attack family in their beds. Was answering a woman who is at the end of her tether and wanting support not stories of how much worse her situation could get. She wanted ideas to help. I have been pushed and smacked by my dd when she was a teenager, dealt with it in house no police no ss and never had panic buttons. She is married marketing manager with 2 dds of her own now.This is a sad and angry 13 year old she can be helped and supported through this not just punished, she could be at the end of her tether too with no one to turn to. DS-inL said she was being bullied so to bully her with police etc will be no help at all.

cjel Fri 08-Feb-13 22:52:27

abbierhodes If you could take it as a favour it would be great.!!! trying to extend the line of who is bossiest and who won't back down isn't working. YES I am not saying she should be allowed to get away with this treatment but as I just said 30 years of experience has shown me all people need to know they are loved,especially sad confused teenagers who may feel no one loves them and they don't love themselves. when things are this bad face to face always has anger and texting diffuses it, allows both sides to take stock and IT REALLY DOES WORK!!!!!

abbierhodes Fri 08-Feb-13 23:00:39

cjel, I don't agree that the firm approach isn't working, I believe it simply isn't being seen through properly.

I've plenty of experience with teenagers myself and they need firm clear boundaries.

Yes, lots of positive communication in genersl is good. But grovelling to them during a major incident such as this will do far more harm than good, believe me.

cjel Fri 08-Feb-13 23:17:14

I don't know what to believe you about!!! I never said it should be about this situation, I always said she should not be allowed to get away with that behaviour, and rules are a vital structure of any family that all members have to abide by but to move away from the cycle of fear intimidation and hate something else has to come in and telling them how much you love them when they can take it in and hear it really does boost them. It is a really good way of breaking through and doesn't in any way change the rest of the rules or punishment being enforced.

flow4 Fri 08-Feb-13 23:50:42

Oh shag I'm sorry it's been so bad today. Come over here where you'll find lots of support and practical advice, and no judgement. smile

Family therapy sounds like it's worth a try.

I definitely agree with Maryz on the 'no violence' rule. You really do need to draw the line. If she threatens you like that again, please do call 999.

Don't worry about Childline or her calling the police. My DS called 999 in a similar situation when he was the same age (he'd been screaming in my face, then he called me a c*nt and I lost my temper and slapped him). They attended promptly, asked me what had happened, I told them, they said "That's fine" and went away again.

I would suggest removing a major source of the conflict by controlling her phone use 'remotely' rather than physically trying to take it away from her. If she is on a contract, you can phone the provider and ask them to put a 'temporary block' on her number. You can then phone again in the morning to reinstate it. You can do this as often as you like (at least you can with Voda)...If she's not on a contract, I suggest you get her one (your own phone company should do 'add on contracts for about a tenner a month) so you have this facility!

You can tell her this will be happening every evening, and you don't need to go through the same conflict each bedtime. No doubt she'll rant and rave, but it will be done. And because phone company customer services depts tend to close at 10pm, there is no way of undoing it until the morning, so sooner or later she'll stop ranting! hmm

Other straightforward, no-nonsense practical 'tricks' like this work well with teens too:
DC steals --> Fit a lock on your bedroom and keep your money/valuables there
DC eats all the nicest snacks and treat foods --> keep treats in your locked bedroom
DC uses the house phone to call friends when you're out --> Take the handset with you... Etc.

When you're trying to set limits and boundaries, teens are very good at spotting any tiny chink in your resolve and aiming straight for it - taking the p*ss, basically! hmm So these techniques work because they're simple and clear-cut, and there's no room for argument.

And have we told you recently to look after yourself? smile Sounds to me like you need a treat or some time out... Hope you can get it! smile

I am wondering whether some of it is her trying to keep face in front of her peers. It is half term soon; is there any chance at all you can go away somewhere (taking her with you), stay with relatives if necessary, just to separate her from her peers for a few days and break the cycle.

The other suggestion I have (although I'm not going to me a mum of a teen until two weeks' time) is to choose your moments wisely when discussing her behaviour. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but I have the best communication with DS1 if we talk about expectations and behaviour when he is calm and in a good mood, rather than in the middle of a conflict / disagreement.

MadameCastafiore Sat 09-Feb-13 08:54:15

Seriously you think calling the police on someone who is physically attacking you is bullying?

IAmLouisWalsh Sat 09-Feb-13 09:02:34

Have you spoken to school about her behaviour there? Is it just at home? CAHMS might help, or family support depending on your area.

I would be removing phone, laptop, everything. Even her bloody shoes.

Poor you sounds awful, I am not a mum of a teenager yet but I have worked with difficult teens for years. At a calm moment call a family meeting and put out the problems to the family. The ask DD what she thinks is a reasonable recompense for behaving that way, ask her what she thinks are reasonable terms, put then pen in her hand and get her to write it down,

"DD you know it's wrong for us to shout and fight with each other and you understand it's only done with anger. You are 13, I am your parent and I love you and I want you to be safe and happy, therefore and there are things to follow while you live in this house you you don't seem to think they are fair can you suggest what is fair, lets work together to come up with a plan?"

have your set things that you are not willing to negotiate on, ie phone off in bed by 10pm etc, no friends houses on school nights etc and negotiate the rest with her, is she allowed out later on saturdays etc? if she is good in the week can she get some extra credit on her phone or something. The ask her what should happen if she breaks these rules, what is a reasonable punishment. she needs to feel like she is taking some responsibility.

Oblomov Sat 09-Feb-13 09:20:42

I am so sorry to read this Shag. Ds1(9) , SN has done similar, only not quite so violent or extreme, so I am reading with interest , because I fear I could be in your situation before long, if I'm not careful.
You have had some great advice already.
How are you today? thanks brew

cjel Sat 09-Feb-13 10:11:17

my worry about calling the police is that 13 really is still quite a young child. Childrens anger is usually because they are frightened and don't know another way of expressing themselves. We don't know what is causing her reaction as it is not what an adult would think of as normal and my concern is that if she is finding hard to communicate her feelings threatening her with the might of law is extreme. At no time have I said its to be ignored but I do feel from what OP said that it will solve nothing. IME calm understanding always has better results. Listening is great and I love the idea of going away, even the Saturday shopping just the two of them would help maybe with the sister in law?. If she is this angry it may not be easy to get her to open up and family support would be great but yes I do think police is a waste of time at the moment. I also think that whole family could be included, perhaps 13 yr old feels left out and would secretly love to be included with younger ones but feels peer pressure to grow up quicker than she wants. Until someone can get to a position where they will hear her it wont be resolve. I also think its really positive that dd went to family member and not local drinking den or park to see mates. Sounds like frightened child to me not lost cause.In which case causing her more fear with police is bullying

flow4 Sat 09-Feb-13 12:05:56

cjel, I agree with a lot of what you are saying. But the 'bit of the jigsaw' you are missing - as anyone who has not actually seen an angry teen lose control would miss - is that they are frightening and can be actually dangerous. This stage is difficult (and confusing) because smaller children are no physical threat even if they are angry, but they reach a point around this age where they become a physical threat if they lose control. Imagine being attacked by an angry adult who has few inhibitions. That is in fact what a parent is facing - not emotionally but physically - if their teen attacks them. Can you see how dangerous that could be?

So a parent in this situation calls the police because that is the best way to keep everyone safe - including the teenager who has lost control. No-one should call the police as a threat or punishment or to frighten their teen... But if you need to do it because a situation is out of control, you should not hesitate.

The people here who are advising the OP calling the police - well, many of them, including me - are doing so because they have been in this situation. It took me over a year of being threatened and frightened before I called the police, because I believed, just like you, that it would not help. But it did.

As I explained to my own DS afterwards (when he was saying things like "I can't believe you called the police on your own son): "I can't control you any more - you are too big and strong. You need to control yourself. And if you don't, then I have to call for re-enforcements. Because this family is a place where everyone needs to be and feel safe".

Maryz Sat 09-Feb-13 12:09:33

13 is actually quite a good age to call the police, cjel (though I agree with a lot of the rest you are saying).

The police won't arrest or prosecute a 13 year old. And calling them might just give them enough of a fright that they can stop themselves next time (because there will be a next time they are so angry they don't know what to do with themselves, all teenagers get really angry at times).

The no-violence has to be for everyone though, including adults. So a parent can't put their hands on a teenager and force them into their room, for example, if you are trying to insist they don't push and shove their parents and siblings.

The no-violence rule is to protect them from themselves as well as to protect others from them.

Maryz Sat 09-Feb-13 12:11:10

Or what Flow said smile

If ds1 had really hurt one of us in one of his rages, we might have forgiven him, but he would never have forgiven himself, and he dislikes himself enough without having the added burden of having done something really awful, if that makes sense?

Weissdorn Sat 09-Feb-13 12:18:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cjel Sat 09-Feb-13 15:19:28

Flow and Maryz. I have been in situation with DS and DD so do understand how scary and how it seems like the end of the world at the time, but I was trying to reassure OP that there are ways of helping,her DD isn't abnormal in the scheme of things, and that the thing OP was asking for was ideas. A lot of people were coming on and saying call the police, she must be punished, be strong and keep trying to 'win' this battle. I wanted to convey that fighting and battles and punishment is not the ONLY way forward. Of course police are available but sometimes it can make things worse.As weis just said talking and more importantly listening is the only way forward. It may be in a coffee shop in a counselling room or police station but really is the only way.

Maryz Sat 09-Feb-13 15:26:50

Yes, I agree with that, talking and listening is important.

But it is also important for everyone to be safe in their own home. The first time I almost called the police (I had the phone in my hand) was when ds attacked ds2; he had him up against the wall with a hurl sad. The second time he got hold of kitchen knives and I did call them. The alternative might well have been one of us getting badly hurt or killed.

All houses with teenagers should have a "no violence under any circumstances" rule.

Just as all houses with adults should have a "no violence under any circumstances" rule - if we all did, the incidence of domestic violence would be reduced.

I'm not saying police are the answer in this case, btw; it doesn't sound as though Shag was actually afraid, more upset and angry. But if it gets to the stage that a parent is afraid a teenager will hurt someone (indeed if person is afraid another adult will hurt them), then 999 is the only step to take.

cjel Sat 09-Feb-13 15:29:25

Just re read OP and realised that DD wasn't physically violent . Although OP now feels crap for what she did, it was her who was agressive and violent to DD!!
Not being critical in any way, as I said I've been there and got the t shirt but all the harshness directed to DD ? There are a lot of 'she wont stick to rules' etc and after school, bedtime, and early morning is hell so I stand by what I say that txt msgs from mum telling dd she is loved and asking to spend time together is a great way of breaking this pattern of horror between them. Got to e worth a try OP says nothing else is working!!!
Wishing you all the best it is a horrid horrid time, You will work through it you sound a great mum to be considering options but don't discount what SIL says because you haven't seen evidence, it may be why she is so

Maryz Sat 09-Feb-13 15:32:14

Yes, I've just reread the op as well blush.

No violence on either side is the answer in this case!

That's why I mentioned above about not physically trying to force teenagers into their room, for example. As our children get older it's important to realise they will do as we do, not as we say.

cory Sat 09-Feb-13 19:15:32

Sorry to hear you're going through this Shag.

I have seen a fair bit of violence from younger children- dd and db- but thankfully both of them stopped when they got to the age where they realised the strongest adult in the house would not longer be able to control them and that they could seriously hurt someone (round about age 10 for both of them).

But I have always made it quite clear to dc (in calm general discussions) that if they ever did use violence once past that stage, then I would have no option but to call the police, for their protection as much as my own.

12yo ds and I had a conversation along these lines (triggered by something in the papers) recently and he was quite shocked at first, but he got what I meant when I said:

"You are now so big and strong that you could seriously hurt me; if things went wrong you might even kill me; that would ruin your whole life; as the adult it would be my responsibility to make sure that didn't happen. I would call the police because I love you and want to keep you safe from something that could wreck your life."

cory Sat 09-Feb-13 19:16:41

Sorry, forgot the sad and the thanks. Hope things look up for both of you. Family therapy might not be a bad thing.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now