Floundering a bit with dd, not sure what's normal or not.

(20 Posts)
PhilPhilConnors Sun 17-Jul-16 11:06:24

Dd is very nearly 14.
Recently she seems to have turned into a typical teenager, and I'm finding it difficult to know how to handle certain things. I have ASD and never did "normal" teenagery things like pushing boundaries, drinking etc.
I'm also aware that some others think Dh and I are overprotective.

The things I'm worried about at the moment are:
Drinking. We are not drinkers at home, maybe two or three times a year, at these times we will let dd have a small glass of wine with us.
Recently at a family party, the teenage girls in the family all got rather drunk, sneaking away bottles of wine, making cocktails in water bottles. Dh and I weren't happy, but didn't feel we could say anything as all other family members were happy for this to happen and it wasn't the time or place to make a fuss.
I would like to know if others feel this is normal, and how we handle it with dd?

The other thing I'm worrying about is dd's boyfriend. He's 14, same school year, seems a nice boy, they get on well etc, he treats her well.
Dd came home angry the other day as he'd smoked weed. I am very black and white about drugs and can't see any way that this is acceptable. Dd says it was a one off, and that she was angry with him, but has said that the group he hangs out with smoke weed.
My instinct is to tell dd she can't see him, but she's at school with him.
I haven't a clue how I should be handling this.

OhTheRoses Sun 17-Jul-16 11:09:00

14, boyfriend, weed, getting drunk. You are right. Firm boundaries.

ApocalypseSlough Sun 17-Jul-16 11:13:21

I'm not a big fan of teenagers dating but what does that entail in your DDs case? Seeing him in school and cinema/ parties or sleepovers? If it's the former leave it, it sounds like she's not impressed and so long as you're ensuring she doesn't have opportunities to join in (very late nights- long days home alone --or not--) it sounds ok.
Ref the family party and drinking, again so long as there was supervision- they weren't allowed to carry on partying elsewhere it didn't turn into a mixed sleepover elsewhere that all sounds par for the course. A safe environment to try drinking and endure the consequences. Are they all the same age?

PhilPhilConnors Sun 17-Jul-16 11:28:18

They hang out after school, no sleepovers and no late nights. She doesn't like the smoking, and I do trust her, although I worry about peer pressure.

Re. Drinking, ages 12-18. They were supervised loosely.

Dh and I were both non-partying, boring teenagers, never gave our parents a minute's worry, and naïvely assumed our children would be the same. This is very far out of our comfort zone!

lljkk Sun 17-Jul-16 11:45:07

I have teenagers, including a 14yo DD.

If you are too black & white in your thinking then she may not confide much in you; if she doesn't confide, then she will fall back on only a mix of native values, impulse & peer pressure to decide what to do in these situations. If you want to influence her thinking as much as possible, keep her talking to you... which means don't shut her down with edicts and simplistic perspectives. Share with her why you dislike teenage drunkness & any drugs, but don't try to tell her how to think; encourage her to think for herself and to think full stop, rather than go with impulses or peer pressure. That means she may disagree with you, but thinking for herself is a good life skill overall. Try not to ban anything or anyone, and if you do ban anything, talk talk talk about it (even though it may come across as incessant annoying hysterical nagging on her part).

I wouldnt like teenage drinking (lots alcoholics in my family) but kids have to find their own way to some extent in all the decisions they make & that includes about alcohol, they need room to make some mistakes. Was she just tipsy or totally bladdered?

The boyfriend sounds perfect imho. They need to practice at small healthy minor relationships. Where they can dump each other at a moment's notice but in meantime have practised compromise & negotiating what each side wants in a relationship. It is good thing if you can get her to talk to you at all about the boyfriend. You can keep slipping in the messages about how to keep relationships healthy in her life, and she shouldn't take on a boyfriend with problems, she can do better than that.

Lots of people in her life (not just the boyfriend) will make decisions you don't like. The more you listen to help her reason thru what she thinks of their behaviour, and to empower her to do what's best for her, the better.

PhilPhilConnors Sun 17-Jul-16 12:07:30

Lljkk, that's really helpful, thank you!
She does confide, but me being black and white is limiting that.
Re. The drinking, she was totally bladdered. Unfortunately no hangover, so no natural consequence!

We talk about red flags etc, so I hope on some level that it will sink in.

lljkk Sun 17-Jul-16 12:30:59

What a shame the alcohol didn't hit her harder.
My 16yo has started having small amounts. I fear I am not getting anywhere, but I will keep making noises about why small/moderate drinking is fine but heavy drinking is Stoopid, when it comes up in conversation. DS will be in 18 in 18months time so then it will be mostly out of my hands what he does, at least now I still have a chance to limit the harm. With DS it's the whole "invincible" self-image of teens. When he ignores my advice & then gets sunburnt or ill or whatever, he sees that as a one-off rather than "Hmm, maybe I should have listened to Mom after all". Total Argh.

Something I picked up from a sex-ed talk of all places... the type of kids who come a cropper over drugs-sex-crime, most typically have 2 strong traits:

A) Lack of aspiration, they don't have a Plan A that is better than doing stupid self-harmful things
B) Lack of self-esteem. They don't think they deserve better. sad

So the more you can encourage aspiration & encourage their self-esteem, the more you protect them. Sadly, B) is an issue with my DS sad.

PhilPhilConnors Sun 17-Jul-16 12:45:31

She has a plan, but unfortunately doesn't work well under pressure, so when she does well, inevitably teachers put more pressure on which means she goes to pieces, but that's something that I probably need to talk to school about.

Self esteem wise, I'm not sure how to tell. She tends to be confident and stubborn strong-willed, which has meant that she doesn't really put up with others' rubbish.

ApocalypseSlough Sun 17-Jul-16 13:21:42

Not putting up with other people's rubbish is a great definition of good self esteem! grin
She sounds like a good 'un. Just keep the lines of communication open.

PhilPhilConnors Tue 26-Jul-16 20:46:24

Update of sorts.
Another blowout tonight, whenever DH and I make a decision that she disagrees with (tonight's was us not letting her camp with her boyfriend and his friend), she argues and argues and ends up in a state and telling us how shit things are.
I have offered to treat her the same as the boys (which will mean no sleepovers, far less socialising, much les freedom).
We have made what we think is a normal, rational parenting decision, and she blows up about everything else.
She then scratched her arms and proudly showed me, telling me it made her feel better. (I know proudly seems the wrong word here, but it did feel like a proud "there, look what you made me do!")

Smartiepants79 Tue 26-Jul-16 21:04:36

I think you were very right to say no to the camping. Her and 2 lads in a tent?? Sounds like a very vulnerable position to be in. She is only 14, I'd not be comfortable with that until 16 I don't think.
I would read the scratching thing as a response to frustration and a possible attempt at emotional blackmail.
I don't think you sound particularly strict. Just normal boundaries. She is still just a child after all. She needs guidance to make he right choices. I would try not to be too vocal and judgy about the boyfriend. She sounds like she basically agrees with your opinion and will get rid if he doesn't come up to scratch.
But accept that she will make mistakes and try her luck. Stick to a set of basic rules that you and her dad agree on. Like the no camping/sleepovers just yet. Curfews etc.
Make sure she knows she can come to you if things don't go the way she plans. Trust your instincts a bit more, you sound like you are doing the right things.

PhilPhilConnors Wed 27-Jul-16 17:12:53

Thank you.
She's fine today and has apologised.

aginghippy Wed 27-Jul-16 17:33:46

That sounds good Phil. She can have some perspective on her behaviour. Unfortunately, teenage blowouts are quite normal.

I agree with pp that you are doing the right thing and your boundaries are reasonable. My usual strategy is to stick to my boundaries and say as little as possible until things calm down.

BackforGood Wed 27-Jul-16 23:14:59

Another who says you need to retain your boundaries - and I tend to be on the "give them some independence" side of the scale.

My dd is 14, almost 15, ans she wouldn't have been allowed to drink more than a few sips at a family party - so you were far more lenient than me there.
Re the boyfriend smoking weed, I'd talk with her about what she could do, or say, if people were trying to pressure her into doing something she doesn't want to do (be that alcohol, cigarettes, drugs of any sort, or some kind of behaviour). she sounds like she's got her head screwed on, and has principles, but it never does any harm to think in advance how you could react to pressure fro peers.

Re the camping - again, of course she shouldn't have been allowed to go.

Yes, at this age, they like to flounce off, to shout, to tell you how unfair you are / life is, but deep down, they know you are right and what they are asking is unreasonable.

PhilPhilConnors Mon 01-Aug-16 19:38:47

The fuck up continues sad
Another sleepover, another ranting couple of days.
It was her birthday, we went out, ds1 was a pain in the bum (doesn't like going out - he was a bit moany and worried about dying as we were eating out), but we went, we ignored him (in a supportive way) and we all enjoyed it (even ds1 once he'd eaten and hadn't died). We did what she wanted, all got on, it was great. Get back home and she lays into ds1 about something and made him feel really small, so we told her off (like we would do with any of the other DC) and she goes off crying because her life is shit.
Today she's barely spoken, says she's scratched her arm again and that we don't care.

The things I don't back down on are:
1. I can't change the boys or how they react to things, but we do our utmost to make sure it doesn't affect her.
2. If she's naughty, we pull her up about it.
3. We make the parenting decisions.

2 and 3 apply equally to all the DC.

I know I'm not perfect (who is?), and I'm happy to negotiate, work out other ways to do things, but she won't talk other than to say she hates it at home, hates her life etc

Giving her freedom doesn't seem to be working, and having sleepovers is triggering off these awful times, so we've told her that she won't be having sleepovers, the Internet will be switched off at 9.30 (will be tonight, she can earn more time other nights), there will be no parties, as we can't rely on her not to drink too much. We will also expect her to spend more time with us as a family.

I've been very careful to validate her feelings and be respectful.
The times she kicks off are when we've made a decision she's not happy with, she's been told off or she's been on a sleepover and is tired. She says she's like this all the time but hides it, but we see her so much happier than this, genuinely chatty and loving.

So, still not sure what the hell I'm doing and how to sort this.

GeorgeTheThird Mon 01-Aug-16 19:48:51

The teenage years are difficult for most of us I think. Would it help to read a book? One that is often recommended on here is "Get out of my Life but first take me and Alex into Town".

My boys are 17 and 15. I didn't allow drinking until 16. With DS1 he drank before his birthday by about 6 weeks. DS2 hasn't had a drink yet. So you are more lenient than me there.

How old are your other children and how do their issues affect your DD?

nagsandovalballs Mon 01-Aug-16 19:56:08

I would massively kick off if I was forced to have family time. She isn't going to be happier for it and will just make your lives a misery, leading to a cycle of arguments and bad feeling that will drive a wedge between you further.

You need to sit Down when you are all calm and decide with her what she is allowed to do at 14, what she will be able to do at 15 and what she can do at 16. Look at being able to reward where you can. Ask her for her opinions and get her to think about what she thinks is safe and reasonable.

I think internet off at 9.30 is a good idea. Also changing the password regularly and allowing her to 'earn' the passcode.

PhilPhilConnors Mon 01-Aug-16 22:32:41

Thank you. I'll buy that book and have a read.
The boys are 15, 11 and 5.
She and the 15 yr old generally don't get on, they're nasty to each other in what I consider a normal sibling way, but it does get waring at times!
It affects her in that ds1 and 2 tend to be very controlling and both like to be in charge, although this applies to dd too, and me when there's too much going on! There are frequent clashes, but when I look at my own family when I was growing up, and other families, I wouldn't say it's anything out of the ordinary, and she is very sociable so tends to escape from it a lot, although I think this adds to her feeling that she's different to us and possibly feels left out.

She had a long bath and calmed down and is spending the day with us tomorrow and Wednesday.
Nags, that's a good point, but I wonder if a bit more structure and me being a little more in control would help? Not complete control though, maybe a bit more negotiation, sitting and talking about what can and can't be done?

Thank you for answering, not sure what I'd do without MN sometimes blush

GeorgeTheThird Tue 02-Aug-16 08:04:43

I think the thing with teenagers is not to be too black and white as the answers are constantly changing - 14 is very different from 17. Try to keep talking. Maybe find time just for the two of you to do something like go for a coffee once in a while, even if she isn't very chatty I think it will help her to know that you value her enough to make the effort.

Mummydummy Tue 23-Aug-16 14:38:16

I agree with the not being too black and white advice. I discussed drinking and drugs with both my children and said that they needed to understand the issues about being able to be in control of their situation, not getting out of their depth, looking out for themselves and friends, legality etc. I have also explained that I trust them to be sensible but I do also need peace of mind knowing they are safe so maybe some general discussion as suggested above about what you'd generally expect or allow is sensible. Some deals about being kept informed etc. I myself have been very open about some of the issues I encountered or saw people encounter when I was growing up to illustrate some of the reasons I have the views I have. I've also acknowledged that they will make mistakes and I will support them when they do. Its part of growing up and will happen (which is where not being black or white is important - otherwise they might hide and be secretive and get in worse messes). I think your DD is pushing at boundaries a bit at 14 (more than my DD did) but you need to keep the dialogue open and have a reasoned basis for what you would or would not be happy with.

On the positive side I think you should be glad your daughter has been open with you about her boyfriend (his taking weed etc and her response to that seems sound), you should be proud of her for her judgement, and I agree with your decisions about camping etc. Tell her you will let her when she's a little older and with more girlfriends around for mutual support (girl code).

Also, reading your posts (but not in detail) she does sound very hormonal! Sorry, but my daughter got a bit shouty/reactive for the year or two after her periods started but now is breezy, calm and kind. So maybe give her a little slack for her over reactions? I try to forgive and forget some of the moody behaviour and not hold it against them for days... As my Mum used to say, never go to bed angry with each other.

Good luck! It sounds like hard work right now but do savour the good bits too.

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