Supporting teen & Rebuilding trust after lies

(17 Posts)
Gallen Thu 14-Nov-13 10:05:11

I have name changed. Advice over how to handle 17 yr old dd would be very welcome, especially from teachers or other parents of teenagers.
I'll try not to give away too many identifying features.
We have withdrawn privileges like money, car use and mobile phone data from dd after she repeatedly lied to us. This was serious stuff and she is not showing genuine remorse, although of course wants her privileges back.
In the ensuing, difficult, discussion, it emerged she hates me and dh, thinks I'm too controlling, she feels we praise elder ds more and she can't wait to leave home. She also thinks we're forcing her to go to university (we're not, in fact we think she would benefit from taking time out after A'levels as she clearly isn't sure what she wants to do).
Her mental and physical health isn't great - she has a hidden disability which she hides from her friends, was recently diagnosed with a minor learning disability, and also is missing her brother who is at university abroad. She also appears to have an eating disorder.
She is going to see a counsellor (this is private to her so I don't know when), and I have spoken to her sixth form mentor who was going to explore options around post sixth-form life with her. Obviously we don't want her to become a NEET so she needs a plan.
She's barely speaking to dh and I, and we feel she needs to earn her privileges back, while at the same time supporting her to improve her self esteem and set goals. She did talk to her doctor about six weeks ago, who identified many changes in her life and advised her to find new interests.
The good thing is, she's going to school, working for her exams (she has some AS level resits coming up), and has good friends . She does lack focus though and much prefers socialising over spending more time studying.
I guess the advice we are looking for is how me and dh take it from here and rebuild trust on both sides. She is bright and we were horrified at how manipulative she was when she was lyong to us, so this is going to be hard and take time.

Stricnine Thu 14-Nov-13 12:02:40

I'm not sure what I can offer will be of much help - but do have a 17 year old DD and while she (so far) has been quite easy, I think we've been lucky!

Can you back off even if you don't think you're controlling she obviously does - and the need to lie means that she feels you would disapprove of whatever it is she's lying about... hope that makes sense?

Definitely restrict money and have consequences for behaviour but really pick the main key points that you want to address - it's good that she's still going to school.. support that as much as possible.

Could she maybe go and stay with her brother post exams as a 'carrot' for good behaviour and commitment to studying?

Or would she be prepared to do either a part time or voluntary job to try and see the world from a more adult perspective? and might give her more ideas of where to go and what to do in the future.

This is a very scary time for teenagers - they have to learn to fly on their own, and make their own mistakes and although it's hard to watch them, there comes a point where we have to let them sink or swim!

Palika Thu 14-Nov-13 12:29:51

Gallen,
I am sorry to hear about all these problems. There is another thread here at the moment 'lying and lack of remorse' that has many posts on lying and how to deal with it.

It seems to me that parents have very different views on lying - some find it absolutely unacceptable and feel very hurt (like me) and others find it not a big deal, even a laughing matter.

I feel in your case, the emphasis needs to be on building up a positive loving foundation for your relationship. Maybe do something nice together and once everybody is in a good mood have an open and loving conversation. I know, easier said than done...good luck!

Gallen Thu 14-Nov-13 14:00:05

Thanks. I have been tracking the other thread. The lies were serious and repeated, ones which few parents would overlook.

I am going to try to arrange something jointly this weekend and hope communication will re-open. We're far from that though - although she says she is sorry, it's not real remorse and she's clearly furious still with me and dh for our own perceived bad behaviour - I.e controlling and judging her. There is a grain of truth in this in that she does need supervision and boundaries otherwise her school work would suffer, but quite a bit of this is also being blown out of proportion and possibly an attempt (perhaps unconsciously) to deflect approprium away from herself. It's very hard and we are all very sad hmm

Gallen Thu 14-Nov-13 14:04:36

She has tried to get a job, with no luck.

She pooh-poos our ideas - e.g voluntary work and in the present climate other helpful hints would be dismissed as judging and controlling. We can't win. I think there definitely is a big element now of standing back and letting her sink or swim... Then risk her A'levels going down the pan.

Palika Fri 15-Nov-13 11:02:03

Gallen,
can you give a few more details - what has she lied about? Why do you think her A-level will go down the pan? It's easier to give advice.

It's all anonymous - nobody will find out who you are.

flow4 Fri 15-Nov-13 11:02:47

Gallen, I had serious lies and a huge breach of trust with my DS1 a couple of years ago, when he gained access to my savings and stole a large amount from me over several months to buy drugs (and junk food). I felt furiously angry, betrayed, desperately upset, and thought my love for him was damaged beyond repair. sad I can tell you these things from my own experience... No 'answers' - just insights I gained that might perhaps be useful...

I needed the 'upsetting' behaviour to stop. While he was still lying and behaving like a dick, there was just no way I could forgive him or start to rebuild trust.

I found I was thinking about it all the time and it was 'colouring' all my interactions with him. I was angry about that, but it was done and there was nothing I could do about it, so the associated anger sort of attached itself to other things instead. I recognised that wasn't fair or helpful, but it took me a long time to be able to stop doing it.

There was a vicious circle of anger for months: I was still angry with him, and he was angry with me for being angry because he felt he'd 'confessed' and it was 'over', and I was angry for him for being angry with me when I felt he should understand and be contrite...

I had to put measures in place to make another similar breach of trust impossible (I changed accounts and put locks on doors). Then I was free from the worry that it might happen again, and could start to feel and act more positively towards my son generally.

It has taken a very, very long time. Almost two years on, I still do not entirely trust him, and I'm not sure I ever will... Something precious was broken, and I have had to deal with a sort of bereavement about that. sad I do now know I love him (again?) though, and I was not sure that I would, so that's good.

He does still sometimes lie. Truth is obviously not as important to him as to me - or not yet, since he is still only 18. It's sad to realise my child doesn't have quite the values I'd hoped he'd have; but it's also an important lesson, perhaps, that he is his own person - we don't get to mould our children as we perhaps imagine we do when they're little!

He is, however, developing moral values that I can respect. He's made some good choices and come a long way. That's a relief. I think one of the worst things about a child breaching our trust is a huge fear that it means they will 'turn out bad' - and it's good to know that they can recover from even enormous mistakes.

Good luck. smile

Gallen Fri 15-Nov-13 11:42:47

Pal - details of the lies would out me... Dd knows I use MN and may be tracking the forums.

Flow - you are describing the situation we are in now - anger and lack of trust on both sides.

Dd thinks that because she has apologised, that's enough and we should lift the sanctions. However, the sanctions are appropriate and we feel she needs to value her privileges and win them back - just saying 'sorry' isn't enough especially as she still says she hates us.

Dh and I are going to back off while still having some very firm boundaries in place. I do feel bereft, as you describe Flow.

We will just have to accept that if she flunks her A'levels because we are not reminding her to work all the time, it is her choice.

My nightmare is that she ends up never moving out because she doesn't have grades to go to a decent uni (which she is capable of) or can't get a job.

I do hope this is a phase which will pass, but I think it will take months or years. This is by far the hardest parenting situation we've encountered.

I have taken comfort in some of the advice about lying on the other thread, particularly that if we don't have control, we can still have influence. It's definitely not irretrievable.

flow4 Fri 15-Nov-13 12:14:06

No, it's definitely not irretrievable. smile

I take some comfort in thinking that whatever it is that has made my son 'challenging' also makes him 'strong willed'. He isn't following the path I imagined for him when he was younger, but I do now believe that he will find his own path, and that it will be fine in the end... smile

Gallen Fri 15-Nov-13 13:26:33

Flow, your support is invaluable, thank you.

I hope I can return to this thread next year and let other people know that it all worked out in the end.

In the meantime, dh and I are trying to do what you suggest on the other thread and look after ourselves.

One positive is that he and I are working in tandem on this - he was almost sick when he found out she had been lying so convincingly to his face.

Palika Fri 15-Nov-13 14:11:00

How is the situation in the family? Are you still sharing meal times etc? Does she needs you for social interaction? Or is she shunning you?

When my son lies or hurts us in other ways we do two things: one is that he does work for the family. As we have a lot of land there is always plenty of mud to shuffle grin

I find that this helps best for both of us to let go of the anger. I personally could not move on without seeing him working so hard - it really helps.

The other is that we exclude him from the family for a half a day or a day. He has to stay in his room - and that is REALLY hard for him and he always comes out VERY contrite.

Without the exclusion he often stays angry as you and flow describe and we are angry because he is not contrite enough.

Obviously, every child and every situation is different - I just throw this out here in case some of this may be useful.

flow4 Fri 15-Nov-13 15:07:33

Glad to be useful, Gallen. smile

Pal, what would you do if your son refused to shovel mud or go to his room?

That, I think, is the bit of the jigsaw you are missing... There comes a point for many parents where their children pass beyond their control; when you say "Go to your room", and they say "No!" It's easy while they will still comply, but it's a whole different ball-game when they won't. You need a whole different approach, which is what I talk about...

Gallen Fri 15-Nov-13 15:29:50

The household is now just 3 people as her brother is away. I can't remember the last time we shared a meal in the house - she has been avoiding us, going out, or shutting herself in her room, where she will undoubted be on social media or text to her friends.

Sometime we turn off the wifi to make her emerge, but that does nothing to improve relationships.

Not only do we not have control, she is battling to have it all herself.

I read dh some of Flow's comments on the other thread and we think they fit our situation. If we impose more control, it will make things worse.

So, it's a case of picking our battles and trying to back off with everything else.

Pal - your comments in the other thread about lying behaviour not changing after the age of 7 really worries me, as I think it may apply to her.

She's a butter-wouldn't-melt girl and an incredibly convincing liar. In my heart I think that isn't going to change . I can't work out what has gone wrong as she is so different to her brother. Maybe that it's the battle to be different - she hates being compared - that is behind this behaviour.

Palika Fri 15-Nov-13 17:11:09

Pal, what would you do if your son refused to shovel mud or go to his room?

Flow, I really don't know - I do not think I have all the answers.

I have been many times at a point where I have been totally desperate, crying at night and not knowing what I should do. Then, the next morning I get up and have an idea...

Why I was so desperate? Because I had to micro manage my DS every day when he was younger - he did not know from one day to the next that we have certain routines each day. Nothing worked: school achievements, friends, sport - everything was like a building site...(and sometimes still is but it is much better) And his excessive dawdling, chaos and mess drove me to utter distraction.

We slowly slowly got better by doing numerous healing approaches to heal what I thought was ADD or ADHD. But I was very worn out...

Then puberty set in and at first it looked easy compared with the nightmare of primary school age. But I was happy too early. This summer he developed the most frightening temper tantrums and was even violent to his dad on occasion. That scared the sh.. out of me.

That's when I came onto mumsnet.

We tried this and that and finally adopted a policy of zero tolerance with expressing aggression - no eye rolling, no groaning no nothing. We are still working at it but the temper tantrums have largely stopped (and my fear as well)

DS does not get forced to do anything at all. Everything is discussed, debated and then agreed and put into writing into a family contract we have. Everybody signs it and we keep to it to the letter. (comes from the book 'Parenting out of control teens' and we find that extremely valuable)

Luckily DS has never refused to do what is in the contract. If he does I will be again at the end of my tether, cry again and wonder if all this child bearing was actually worth it...

So, no answer there, flow...

Palika Fri 15-Nov-13 17:20:19

Gallen
about the lying - do read the book Nature Shock - you can go online onto amazon and use the 'look inside' feature. Read the whole chapter on lying - it's not so frightening. they actually suggest good solutions that we have used with DS to very good effect. His lying is much much better.

Also, trying the 'praising method' - praise the slightest little things, like 'thanks for doing this', 'you hair looks nice' (not big things like 'you are great' - that backfires) It's also in the book and also in Divas and Doorslammers. A fantastic 'method' to build a better rel ship again.

We do the praising thing a lot as it is so easy to get into a negative nagging spiral. At first DS knew it was a 'method' and protested. But he really loves it...

Gallen Fri 15-Nov-13 18:01:21

Is the book Nurture Shock? I'll order a copy if so. We already have 'divas and doorslammers'

You are so right about the praise and we do need to do more of it. I think things will sort themselves out eventually - we all want to be happy again.

flow4 Fri 15-Nov-13 19:20:01

It's very hard to praise when you're angry and upset. But pal is right it's worth it. I can't shake off the feeling that a lot of teenage bad behaviour is rooted in feeling bad about themselves - and I'm sure that despite all the bravado, behaving badly often makes them feel worse - so I think praise is a good way of breaking that cycle and starting to make them feel more positive.

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