Lost it with early teen dd: I snapped & said some ugly things. HELP!(37 Posts)
Hi, I'm new, not sure I am in right place - I would like some responses/advice.
I'm 42 and have one child, a daughter, soon to turn 13.
My daughter and I have always had a close and loving relationship, despite incredibly difficult circumstances including domestic violence from her dad, a brief stay in a mental hospital for me due to acute stress reaction (i.e., 'nervous breakdown'), and, following that, eight years of custody dispute and counting, plus my mother's suicide a couple of years ago.
Currently my daughter spends only 5 days each fortnight with me. Up until very recently she wanted to have at least equal time with me, possibly even my reinstatement as her 'primary carer'. But over the last couple of months she has been treating me horribly. I feel bad saying this about a little girl not quite 13, but there's no getting around it. She is frequently abusive verbally, says things she knows will hurt me dreadfully, and many times has come very very close to actually hitting me.
The aftermath is even worse in a way: she weeps hysterically, begs my forgiveness, tells me she loves me, insists she is a 'horrible person'. This apology phase can go on for hours until she is reassured that I will always forgive her, that I don't hate her and never will etc.
One of the worst aspects of the problem is that all of this behaviour closely resembles the abuse I used to get from her father, and makes me feel not only hurt but really ANGRY. I never thought I would be capable of feeling so angry towards any child, let alone my own.
Most of the time I keep my hair on, but lately I've been rising to her bait more and more often and I despise myself for it afterwards. The last fight we had was awful. I can't even remember what got us started, but it was the usual sort of thing at first: she hates me, I'm a loser, an embarrassment, an idiot, a failure. She loves her Dad and stepmother more than me and they are quite right to despise me. Etc. We were in the car and I couldn't take it any more. I pulled over and told her that her father and stepmother ought to be ashamed of themselves for many reasons, but in particular, that in my view they were in part to blame for my mother's suicide.
The thing is: my daughter didn't know her Granny was a suicide until this outburst. I always told her that Granny had died of natural causes. I'd intended to explain about the suicide when my daughter was 16. But in this great wave of rage against all the pain I've experienced, firstly from her father, and now from her, I suddenly couldn't stop myself. I'm not even sure why I snapped like this. Was it just to shut her up? To hurt her? Or was there a better but misguided reason beyond this? in the sense that For so many times I have wished I could make her understand why it's been so hard to get over Granny; why sometimes things are so hard for me; why I am on anti-depressants ... in other words, so many times I've wished she could know of my grief and give me a bit of a break with the verbals, the nit-picking, the shows of contempt ...
After this fight, for the first time ever my daughter went back to her Dad's before the appointed time.
I love her desperately. I cried for about an hour yesterday, just sobbing out the words sorry sorry sorry, feeling dreadful. Then feeling guilty too because I was actually relieved she had gone away.
I repeat: I love her so much. I just want her to be happy. But I'm also scared of her power to hurt me and thus, yes, it is a relief to be here on my own at home.
But how much have I hurt her?
oh my goodness - what a difficult situation
I'm going to report your post and ask MNHQ to move it to the Teenager topic.
There are many wise mums over there who will hopefully have good advice.
thanks TanteRose, I appreciate that. I wanted to post in the 'teens' section but couldn't seem to get into it. Thanks.
She lives with her dad 9 days out of 14?
We've moved this for you - bumping
Wishing you kindness and some kind of resolution
I'm sorry about your mum OP. You have done nothing wrong, you have had a lot to deal with don't feel bad. Your daughter will understand and come back when she's ready.
Your Dd sounds similar to my eldest she says some awful things to me sometimes, and then apologises. I try to ignore her most of the time with these outbursts but I too can get cross with her.
My dd is in a family with no breakup and it is pretty stable I think it is just their personality and a bit of teenage anst thrown in.
I'm so sorry for the loss of your mother. Suicide is a very difficult death to deal with, both for yourself and for your DD to find out the circumstances of the loss.
It does sound as if your daughter has had a very rough time of it over the last decade or so and it must have all started when she was very small. And just going on your post, you seem to have quite similar reactions too. Has your daughter had any help from the school in dealing with all this?
I do want to say gently that I don't think it's a good idea to blame anyone for the suicide of someone else. Are you receiving any help yourself at the moment, do you have anyone to talk to IRL?
Maybe you could get some more focused therapy on anger issues.
Teenagers are going to make you angry but that was an awful thing to say to her in the middle of a row.
I think most people will, at some point in their life, say or do things in the heat of the moment that they regret. I know that I have. My eldest dd is really challenging and can be very hurtful emotionally and physically. She's always sorry afterwards.
Usually, I manage to stay in control, even if I end up raising my voice. A few times I've said or done something that I immediately regret. I deal with this by apologising straight away (or as soon as we are both calm) and explaining that I was wrong and that I'm only human; I'm not perfect and that I get it wrong sometimes too. We then discuss how to move forward from this.
I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing for our kids to see us get angry/make a mistake as long as we show them the right way to deal with it (eg apologise and admit the mistake).
She needs to understand that her actions have consequences (in this case you were pushed too far and said things you regret). You can't undo what was said (obviously), but you can both learn from it. You've already apologised, but it would be worth having a proper discussion next time you see her.
Explain that you've been under pressure and you're sorry for how she found out about her Gran; you had planned on telling her when she was older and should never have told her the way you did, but what's done is done and if she has any questions you will answer them whenever she's ready.
Is it possible that she's still seeing this EA behaviour in her dad's new relationship? Or is mirroring what she saw when her parents were together? Or is she finally dealing with the fallout from everything she's possibly witnessed/heard over the years and can't cope so is lashing out? (I don't mean to overstep the mark and apologise if I have).
Also, she's at a difficult age anyway and may just be dealing with all the changes her body is going through, etc. Try finding out if there's something else bothering her, and if she can't talk to you, she might benefit from counselling (if she would agree to it). Good luck.
You say she has started treating you as her father treated you. Do you think he has begun treating her that way?
Telling her that her dad was responsible for your mum's suicide needs rectifying. That was below the belt.
Teens are often a nightmare. I think you need to stop taking it so personally, hard though it is. She's having a go at the person she trusts will love her through everything. Cut her some slack.
Plan something nice for you both and keep talking.
Yes keep talking to her teritobin, that's the key. My DD seemed to turn into an entirely different person when she turned 12, I couldn't believe it. I remember not talking to each other for 24 hours and I was so upset. I made the first move, and of course she was equally upset and broke down in floods of tears saying everyone in the family hated her. You've both been through so much, I think you're doing wonderfully well and can tell by your post that you try really hard and usually get it right. As others have said, wait till calmer then have an honest discussion about it all. She loves you, it'll work out.
THANKS so much for all the support. I feel a lot better. It was a terrible thing I said. Really out of bounds. I can't take it back, though, and weeping, worrying and feeling guilty accomplishes nothing on its own. Next time she comes, when the time seems right and she's receptive, I'll do exactly as biscuitz suggested and apologise in a calm way and tell her she can ask me about Granny any time but if she'd rather not talk about it, that's okay too.
Hesterton, I do suspect her father talks to her the way she talks to me. He's a bullying person. He needs someone to kick around. He punishes dd with charming stunts like forcing her to go to bed at 6.30 pm before the sun has even gone down. Or telling her he's deliberately going to leave her new bike outside so it gets stolen. Or giving her 20 minutes to sort through a pile of washing or else she can't go to her school graduation dinner, etc etc. It's horrible. And there's not a damn thing I can do about it, or at least anything I can do that hasn't already been tried. I tried for mediation last year: he wouldn't come. I applied to the family court with an affidavit documenting all this stuff and am still waiting on a judgement.
Dad wouldn't be abusing the stepmum, though. She makes a lot more money than he does and his living situation has improved dramatically since he met her. Can you believe this, though: a con'turt-appointed psychologist actually said that dad's violence towards me was merely 'situational' and wouldn't happen to wife no 2 because 'she does not allow it'. As if I 'allowed' him to smack my face or push me over or drag me around.
I won't get started on the court saga, though: I've kept journals on it since 2009 and seriously, it's about 80,000 words long. Enough for a good size novel, if anyone ever wanted to read such a dismal documentation of legal idiocy.
My dd left me to be with her dad at that age. I described her behaviour to my family as that of a heretic. It was the beginning of the summer holidays. She came back when she needed new shoes and stuff for the new autumn term. I welcomed her back and carried on.
Several years later (when she was about 18) she told me that her father's flat was so filthy and he was so depressed that she wanted to be with him to look after him.
So you don't really know what's going on in their little struggling minds. I'm not saying it could be anything similar, just that they have their own little minds at that age and don't quite know how to deal with..... growing up.
Crossed post OP. DD has been to uni and is now living at home again, and her 'daddy' is something that she just deals with as he has never changed. Despite her attempts. I had no idea of this at the time. Following her return home she continued to stay with him on alternate weekends, until she realised she was flogging a dead horse (metaphorically). We are very close now and she's brilliant.
I meant returned from that summer at the age of 12 that she spent with him. She has stayed with me ever since and after finishing uni is still here. Her df is to a large degree a persona non grata but she respects him as her df.
she respects me even more
re: 'the heretic phase': with my dd it's like Stockholm Syndrome (when abused person identifies with/defends abuser). Even though Dad and stepmum are overly strict or even just sadistic (see post above), dd sees them as 'normal' and me as 'silly' ('silly' is when she's in a good mood with me). I've suffered depression/anxiety, I've been in 'silly' situations, and, above all, I'm poor.
Money is a BIG part of our problems right now. I used to have a great job, then I had my breakdown, I lost custody, my heart was broken. I spent all I had and lots of my parents' money on lawyers who got me no-where. When I began to represent myself in court I got dd back for 5 days out of every fortnight.
At first, when dd was younger, she didn't care that I live in a small, very run-down flat. But now she does. She's got into this school for gifted kids - which is marvellous!. She's really popular there: also marvellous! For some reason all her friends have millionaire parents! Not so marvellous....
Says she is way too embarrassed to ever have a friend over to play or stay. This frequently leads to boredom, since she's no longer happy to play with me (I LOVED playing with her btw , I really miss it. Ironically my ability and willingness to do fun kids' things with her is now a liability - a further proof that I am 'silly' since adults with proper jobs and money don't waste time on such things, or so dd seems to think!).
I'm going to be worse off than ever over the next few months, too, because I have to have a fairly major operation and won't be working for at least a month, by which time my boss may well have replaced me (it's a casual teaching position).
When we were quarrelling the other day, dd said 'I used to cry when I had to go back to dad's. Now I cry when I have to see you.' I said I couldn't bear to think of her crying full stop.
I just can't get anything right at the moment.
I just can't get anything right at the moment.
That's part and parcel of being the parent of a teen! We have all felt that way. I know I have.
Also teens feeling embarrassed by their parents is entirely normal. It's part of growing up and establishing their own identity. If it wasn't about your flat or your willingness to play, it would be something else.
teritobin sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now.
Thanks ageing hippy! (btw am intrigue by your tag or pseudonym or whatever it's called: I'm an ageing hippy myself).
I know you are right about the teens embarrassed by parents issue. I cop the whole lot of the embarrassment stuff though, which can be tough.
I suspect the following remark will not be popular - but while I do feel really contrite and wish I could take back what I so brutally said to my child - I still feel angry with her. She may only be 13, but she's very smart and she knows how to hurt me. Why should a child who knows what she's doing have a licence to torment her mother just because she's a child? Ah, well, I guess she doesn't really know what she's doing, though. A lot of the stuff she says sounds like something off TV. A lot of stuff she says is plainly echoing Dad/stepmum's views of me, which are hostile and contemptuous.
I love my daughter so much though! So, so much. I think we are rvery different, too, which I love: it's amazing to see my baby, whom I breastfed until she was two years old, turning into this amazing young woman.
I love her, in some ways, for what I lack. The thing with my daughter is: she's a winner. Despite the awful experiences she's had due to my mental health issues and her father's craziness, she wins and just keeps winning - for example, getting a scholarship for a 'gifted' school, making herself so popular with girls from much more affluent backgrounds, always trying her hardest with everything. I'm not exactly a winner these days. 'Winning' for me these days has boiled down to just surviving.
In a perverse way my daughter's rages and hurtful behaviour are actually a compliment: she knows I love her so much I would always forgive her, and everyone needs someone with whom they don't have to be perfect.
I just hope she can forgive me for breaking the news about Granny's suicide in such a horrible way.
I'm afraid I don't have much sage advice to add, I just wanted to offer sympathy and support.
Teens ban be incredibly difficult and you've both been through your (more than) fair share of suffering.
You sound lovely from your posts, very pragmatic and realistic and also aware of when you might not have done the 'right thing'. Parents all over the world feel like they're not getting it right, it's really tough being a parent, without the added pressures you have.
I'm so sorry for what you've been through and are going through and I really hope you can both move on from this. This situation will get better, with the right guidance and I hope you can find that on here and in RL.
Telling her that her dad was responsible for your mum's suicide needs rectifying. That was below the belt.
That needs rectifying straight away imo.
I'd like to rectify it straight away, but I can't. I did tell her I was very sorry before she left the other day, but I was upset and crying, and the main thing that I remember DD saying was that she just wished everything could be 'normal'. So not making a huge thing out of it seems best?
My main point, when I did this awful thing, was not so much 'it's your dad's fault', although it started that way: it was more about wanting her to know why things have tough for me over the last 2-3 years, and why I haven't been able to just get over' Mum.You don't 'just get over' kissing your mother's cold, bluish face before a policeman zips up a body bag and takes her away forever (of course I didn't tell DD about that part).
In my case, the grief and guilt just gets worse. At first I thought of nothing but my daughter and how to keep things 'normal'. Now I feel differently. Sometimes things are NOT normal and never will be normal and one just has to accept that. It's possible, too, for a non-normal situation to have its merits. Life is not always beautiful, easy and fun. Some of the best times ever I've had with my daughter have been when we've laughed and laughed about our troubles. It's lovely when that happens - it's like God, like a lovely clean, new feeling: you feel like you could put up with anything.
But back to ways and means of rectification: DD finds it impossible to speak to me from her Dad's place anyway. She feels like we are being listened to, so I never ring her any more. She clearly prefers that. I've thought of writing her a letter but Dad/stepmum would take it off her and read it first. I just emailed Dad and said if she is upset still she doesn't have to come to see me again next visit unless she really wants to ... but that's wrong too, because that forces her to make the choice. I'll probably have to send another email retracting the email...I just wish he would talk to me on the phone like a human being. If we could just have a human conversation. But he won't. He won't talk to me except to issue orders. I am not exaggerating. If I try to say anything myself he just hangs up.
Not least of all is the money issue: this causes lots of rows. I live in Australia, and we've had a ghastly heatwave, about 40 degrees (100 degrees farenheit) every day for days on end, and I've got no air conditioning. I spent too much at Christmas and am still paying it all off.
The anniversary of Mum's death is on the 25th January. I just can't think of anything else right now. I can't get out of bed. If my dd called me up and sai she wanted me and wanted to come, I'd get up like a shot, but there's just this silence.
How are you teritobin? Just wondered if you'd had a chance to sort things out with your DD? X
From what you say, her father is abusing her and she's reflecting it. Why is she even allowed to be with him?
What a sad situation.
Join the discussion
Please login first.