I don't know what to do now - teen in meltdown

(12 Posts)
avastmehearty Tue 06-Aug-13 05:01:36

Ive namechanged for this as details could out me in RL.

DD is 18 and in the final year at school here in Australia. She broke down the other morning in tears, feeling so sad and useless. I've kept her at home today, and taken time off work to talk to her when she was ready.

It's better if I make a list.

1. She hates her body and wants to lose weight. Eats crisps, etc. Will not exercise.
2. She wants a part-time job, yet does little to get one. Resists every effort on our part to help, e.g. driving her round to take in CVs personally. Will not follow up on applications by personal visits, as "they won't work". Work is not easy to come by so a real and persistent effort is needed. All this after asking for help from us. We've also said to consider working during exams year, to concentrate on study, to simplify her life, but this has been knocked back.
3. She's afraid of not doing well in her exams, even though she is doing well. She wants to do extra practices with me, then turns down any I offer.
4. She wants a boyfriend and doesn't have one.
5. She's variously shown interest in teaching, social work and nursing, but when given info about them by us, gets sad and angry that we disapprove. We don't, but know the ups and downs of these jobs, and felt we should say so, e.g. if you're out of nursing for 10 years in Oz, you have to do the degree again; general nursing is no longer in demand in the UK. What she is rather good at is Art, but she is afraid of not having work when she finishes her degree. Money is a big focus for her. We are comfortably off and one day she will have it all, but she worries terribly.
6. She wants to go to uni in the city, then organises open days in the sticks. When we point this out, it's our fault.

She seems mired in endlessly going round in circles, refusing all solutions, or going to do things "tomorrow", never doing them, then hating herself for it. I should say she's sad rather than petulant, but I feel desperate. I've thought of counselling, where she can speak to a dispassionate person, but she refuses the one at her school, though I'm looking into the one at our doctor's practice.

What to do? I'm at my wits' end. sad

I'm aware that this post seems quite analytical, but the problems are so intertwined that numbering them seemed the best way of making order from the chaos.

Sorry to sound harsh but she is 18 and needs to take some responsibility. I would sit down with her and draw up a plan to address the issues and tell her how much support you are going to give her but impress upon her that the changes are hers to make and as much as you can support her you cant make the changes or take decisions for her.

Feel free to ignore though, my eldest is 13 and I go through phases of wanting to kill her so may have the mind of a teenager all wrong.

Parsnipcake Tue 06-Aug-13 05:25:37

My teen is just like that. I think you have to step back, be sympathetic but not try to fix or suggest things, because they are inevitably wrong! If she feels supported she may work it out for herself. It's so hard. It to show them where they are going wrong isn't it? My 19 yr old recently said to my 15 yr old ' I hated mum and dad when I was your age, but now I realise I was just an arsehole and they were right, if I had listened to them I wouldn't have a job as a pot washer on minimum wage' - he seems philosophical about things and I think they do mature and take personal responsibility eventually.

Parsnipcake Tue 06-Aug-13 05:29:27

Oh and my 19 yr old has just finished the first year of his art ( sculpture) degree ( pot waging is his holiday job). He isn't money focused but a lot of his mates earn a fortune with sideline teeshirt printing businesses etc - there is plenty of money if you are happy to go down the commercial route ( rather than the angsty philosophical route of my ds!)

avastmehearty Tue 06-Aug-13 06:53:42

Thank you all for your replies. Madame's robust approach is one that appeals, and I can see how giving a fix is unhelpful, as suggested by parsnip

Anyway; slight progress today. I drove her to two shopping areas and sat in the car park while she took round her cv. (Not as nannying as it sounds,as public transport is shite in Australia). She's also, of her own accord, applied online for two certificated courses; responsible serving of alcohol, and coffee making for hospitality, which will strengthen her cv. My eyes popped when I saw these courses, each is only 3-4 hours and could have been knocked off months ago!! These will happen in the next fortnight, so immediate goals, which is good.

Thank you all again.

icecubed Tue 06-Aug-13 07:18:24

The best chat I ever had with mum when I was 18 was alkng the lines of.

DM "I haven't had a teenage daughter before I am trying to help but I don't always get it right can we try and do it together"

me " maybe"

tbf I still to this day remember thinking fair enough she has a point!

lemmingcurd Tue 06-Aug-13 07:24:31

I was like this when a teenager re the work situation. Sounds like she has too many options and doesn't know which way to turn for fear of making the wrong decision. She is also very insecure. What I would've loved to have at that age is just a lot of reassurance. Whatever decision she makes will be OK as long as she makes one, or tries something, iyswim. She can always leave or change to something else.

Kleinzeit Tue 06-Aug-13 21:19:49

Yes to the insecurity and uncertainty. It also sounds as if whatever she tries you are immediately aware of the downside – there’s no demand for nurses, she could have done the hospitality course months ago, she shouldn’t organise open days in the sticks… That’s why she thinks that whatever she does, you don’t approve. I understand that’s not what you mean, you just want her to know the pros and cons, but it could come across in an off-putting way. So when she suggests something or does something, no matter what, stop telling her about the downside and try not to point out what she is doing wrong!

livinginwonderland Wed 07-Aug-13 07:42:11

She sounds scared of failure and insecure. I was exactly the same, and still am to a certain extent. Stay optimistic about things and try not to point out all the negatives to her choices - I know it's hard but all it does is make her think "yeah, my decisions are really bad so there's no point in trying". I know that's not your intention, though.

I'm 24 and applying for jobs. I work PT but I need something with more hours as DP and I are saving to move and we want to start a family within the next couple of years, and it's HARD. There are thousands of applicants for hundreds of jobs, and you need a lot of experience or a stroke of luck to get a good job around here. When you just get knockback after knockback, it's depressing and it does make you feel a bit of a failure, even though you know it's just the bad job market.

Good luck to your DD smile

avastmehearty Wed 07-Aug-13 07:58:25

Thanks to the new posters, and I agree you're right about not "helpfully" pointing out the down sides.

One of things I find difficult is the fact that I made all my own decisions about schooling from 11+ onwards and never discussed them in the sense of asking for advice, merely announced what I was doing. My parents were very traditional working class who never queried a school, or even went there. This doesn't mean I made great decisions, but they were always entirely mine, so I feel so ill-equipped to advise. Also back in the day, there were no fees, and close to a full grant. Those were the days, when doing a degree was a three-year party.grin

Anyway, DD is much cheered by having applied for part-time work online last night and getting an interview tomorrow. She knows she'll be one of many, but is undaunted.smile

mumeeee Wed 07-Aug-13 11:45:36

Hi OP seems that things are looking up. I was going to say just be there for her. Let het do things herself and don't point out the down side of jobs. I know this is hard though. DD2 is 23 and has got herself into a bit of trouble by doing something silly. I want to sort stuff out and help her but I need to step back and leave her to sort the problem out. I spoke to her on the phone last night and gave her some advice but that's it, smile

orangeandemons Wed 07-Aug-13 17:11:13

If she's good at art, I would push her perhaps down the design route. Fashion, product design, textiles, graphics etc. There are lots of jobs in these areas, everyone I was at uni with in these disciplines all have jobs

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