Options? Can't go on like this. Violence. Swearing. DH lost it. Long(49 Posts)
Have been here before saying we feel that we can't go on like this. But of course you do go on don't you? What choice do you have
We've had a quietish summer because dd spent pretty much every single day she wasn't out with a friend, in bed until afternoon, on the sofa watching films all afternoon, and on the internet all evening until late. We didn't try to make her go to bed, or get up, or tidy her room, or help around the house, or do any school work (despite the fact that she's got GCSE's this term and is likely to fail because she missed more than 1 in 4 lessons last year through truanting/lateness/bad behaviour). Or anything at all. Because she's so aggressively unco-operative that we've lost heart.
Back to school Wednesday, and you could feel her ill humour building as she started to contemplate not being able to do what she wants all day, every day for the next few months. She's been absolutely objectionable for a week. Yesterday it came to a head. She called DH and me 'fucking cunts' for trying to get her out the house on time for an orthodontist appointment, laughed in my face when I asked her to be home by 5 after school and said 'I'll be coming back at six. What are you going to do about it? Nothing? Of course you're not you stupid, sad, bitch', and then threw a wicker basket in DH's face when he took her phone off her after asking her to turn the music on it down at midnight last night and being told to 'fuck off you bald cunt'. He took the basket and threw it back at her and it hit her on the temple, causing a bruise. She ran at him and pushed him, and he pushed her back, so she landed on her bottom.
When I saw what was happening I rushed over and inserted myself between them, told DH to go into our bedroom and shut the door. Dd was shoving me and screaming by this point, and both the other dc's (8 and 10) were awake and upset. DD kicked two massive holes in the toilet door, tipped over shelving in the hallway, threw things at me, threw glasses across the room, all the time shouting that DH and I are fucking cunts. She then said she was leaving, so I locked the front door to stop her going out into the night alone. When she realised I'd done this she started threatening to break windows if I didn't let her out. She was so out of control emotionally I thought that she might actually do it, and I couldn't just open the door and freely let a distressed 14 year old out at midnight with nowhere to go - we live in a very rough part of London.
Anyway, I phoned 999 and unlocked the door so the police could get in. DD pushed me out the way and took off down the street as they were arriving. To cut a long story short, she came back within the hour, (though not until after they'd bough sniffer dogs around to look for her) and the police persuaded her to get in my car and allow me to drive her to my mums, where she stayed overnight. My sister got her to school today.
I can't and won't have her back here any time soon. I'm frightened for the whole family, including my DH, who has been the most patient dad in the world up to this week. He is traditionally a 'coper' and very even tempered, but the last few months have been shitty for him. We've had a cancer scare with ds1 (10) which still not resolved - he's got another ultrasound next week and question mark over whether the lumps in his chest need a biopsy, and whether they might be neurofibromas. He's got a very pressured management job and doesn't get home until 7.30 most nights. He then goes straight out 2 evenings and a full day most weekends, to cook for his parents, and wash and dress his father, who has had a stroke and has completely urinary incontinence. His mum has multiple health problems, can only walk with a zimmer frame at the moment and has been very depressed. He does a lot for them, ungrudgingly. On two of the days that he doesn't go out he usually has to do bedtimes as I work a couple of evenings most weeks. He's very tired and pissed of right now and has become unable to cope with dd's extreme disrespect towards him at the moment, despite the fact that he has been so patient with her up to this point. He's really, really good to her usually. Takes her out on her own for meals, takes her shopping, always tries to join her in family things. I'm frightened she'll provoke him into being physical with her again and he'll end up being arrested and losing his job. I've told him it CAN'T HAPPEN AGAIN. EVER.
But what happens if my mum can't take her any more? Do we have to have her back? I'm so sad and worried for my two younger children. DS1 is a very anxious child, and has started to do things that really worry me these last few months like perpetual hand washing, being very fixated on food and talking about weight gain (he is built like a strand of spaghetti). Yesterday I picked him up early from his first day at school because he was sobbing over a pain in his belly. Turned out he had done 100 sit ups the day before to try to get a six pack and had sore muscles......DS2 has autism and his reaction to stress in the house is to become very volatile and shouty himself.
I just feel like DD is destroying everyone's peace of mind and dominating the house with her moods.
What to do? We stopped family therapy with CAMHS because it wasn't helping, but I have today written to the consultant psych who supervised the therapy (and who seemed to think that dd has no diagnosable mental health problems) and described what has happened, and asked for advice. But in the end, what can CAMHS do? Therapy is never a quick fix.
Thanks for reading this. I know it's very long.
Gosh I feel for you!
My own DD was similar. I found the police and youth probation service to be the best/most effective agency. School tried their best but dd ended up with a montages move
How is she in school ?
Montages? Should say 'managed'
She's ... variable. She's popular with the other children and generally liked by teachers, but can be very, very unco-operative in lessons with teachers she perceives as weak, or in subjects she doesn't like. She's doing poorly in most subjects because she does no work at all and has missed a lot of school through truanting.
I have heard similar cases here on mumsnet where the parents got the DD into foster care. But you need to insist and say that you might hurt her if she stays or something like that.
Oh mini, I'm sorry. This sounds utterly miserable and hugely stressful for everyone.
From the outside, your DD doesn't sound like a teenager off the rails. She sounds like a distressed young person who is 'acting out' her stress, fear and anger... On top of the normal teenage problems, she has one disabled little brother, another little bro who is or might be seriously ill, parents who are stressed and worried sick, and a dad who isn't around much.
Your family, obviously and understandably, is having such a difficult time at the moment that you really need her to be well-behaved and helpful and grown-up. But she's being the opposite of this. Of course that add to your stresses.
She could almost certainly do with some sympathy, understanding and support. From her point of view, she might be angry with you because she wants to be able to rely on her mum and dad to sort out all her problems - but you aren't doing that for her now.
There is absolutely no criticism of you. I have masses of sympathy for you. You are having a really rotten time. I also have quite a lot of sympathy for your daughter, despite her awful behaviour, because it sounds like she's having a pretty rotten time too.
The circumstances don't excuse your DD's behaviour. She needs to behave decently even if she's feeling awful and under stress. Throwing things and calling you cunts is not even acceptable, even if/when you can see it as a kind of 'overflow' of stress, like a kettle boiling over. She needs to learn more positive ways of handling difficult feelings.
This is one of the major challenges of the teenage years, IMO. When they're little, they're used to mummy and daddy 'fixing' every problem. At this age, they have to be able to deal with the fact that lots of things can't actually be fixed, and that they have to find their own coping strategies.
You probably can't help your daughter to learn these things, both because there is so much else for you to cope with at the moment, and because you are already angry and upset and disappointed with each other. It really does sound like one of those situations where you need some outside help.
You are probably right that CAMHS isn't right for you/your daughter. But there isn't much else, so if they offer more help now, I'd say take it. If you are very lucky, there may be a young person's service/team that offers prevention/diversionary support - but a lot of these have been lost in local authority cuts. Your local children's centre might offer something. Your DD's school might too. You could perhaps find a young carer's project in your area: your DD would prob qualify for some support and involvement in 'time out' activities because of her brother's autism.
Incidents like Thurs night are terrible for everyone - really upsetting. But looking on the bright side, they can also be a turning point. Use it to ask for help and say really loud and clear that you can't cope. If Children's services haven't called you by Monday morning, call them. If you still feel you can't have your DD back, tell them so. You will prob face some pressure, but if you really feel you can't cope, keep saying so. There is no shame. Everyone has limits, and it is really important to be able to recognise yours and ask for help.
My dd went to stay with family this summer for exactly the same reasons.
I have felt like a terrible failure since.
It is like mourning a loss as we miss her terribly, but it couldn't go on anymore.
I too worry about what will happen if she can't stay with the gp she's currently with but I have to look after my younger ds also who has been affected by the behavior.
I hope you start to feel better soon and get some relief for your family.
Problem is Flow that she's been like this for about 2 years - long before problems with IL's got really bad and long before ds had health scare. DS2 has autism but really isn't that bad. He generally leaves her alone, is nice looking, liked at school, and an all round good kid. I don't think his behaviour is that difficult for her. As for seeing her dad - she can choose to go with him to IL's when he's helping. They live just around the corner and there are always cousins and other aunties there so it's no big sacrifice for her to go. The other dc's do.
She is popular at school, has nice friendships, is academically bright and has a loving extended family. She is cheerful and happy as long as she's able to do whatever she feels like.
Really she's not an emotionally neglected, stressed child. Or if she is stressed it is of her own making. DH and I would cope fine with DS2's special needs and even the demands made by looking after poorly ILs. It's just hard to do while being subjected to verbal and physical abuse by dd.
I will contact children's services though.
Is it possible that she is very bright, and therefore bored at school?
Does she have any ideas what she wants to do job wise or uni wise?
Do you have Young Minds in London? It's a charity based child counselling service and seems to have a better approach than CAHMS.
My son has just spent 7 weeks undergoing counselling with Young Minds and I got talking to a mum whose daughter had apts the same time as us and she said her daughter (and her) found CAHMS useless and the Young Minds approach was working with her daughter much better (she was self harming).
My son has really benefitted from his counselling - he had anger issues that were spilling into school and as he has just entered Year 6 I wanted to help him help himself before he goes to High School next year. He has found it really useful!
I sympathise with you greatly and hope things improve!
Mini, I don't think for a minute she's neglected - sorry if my post read like that. In fact, the fact that she's saving all her worst behaviour for you is probably a 'good' sign that her attachments with you are secure and she feels sure you love her even if she's horrible.
But she clearly is stressed. She might not be dealing with things you or I think ought to make her stressed, but in her own terms she is obviously struggling.
The thing about stress is that it is not caused so much by what's happening to you as by your responses to whatever it is. If you don't have good enough strategies or resilience to deal with bad stuff happening, or things not going your own way, then you get stressed.
She's losing control and exploding when she's under pressure or frustrated, and she needs to learn a whole range of other strategies to use instead.
14-17 is a really difficult age for bright, strong minded individuals I think. They have far less autonomy than they want, and have to go day in day out to school, where they'd rather not be.
I am absolutely not excusing her behaviour. It isn't acceptable and you can't live with it. But when i was dealing with similar behaviour from my own DS 1-5 years ago, I personally found that it helped me to have some insight into how things felt for him, rather than how I perceived them myself... Not least because when I understood there were some 'reasons' for his anger and frustration, it felt less personal. And I could say things that helped him recognise when he was behaving badly (which usually he couldn't do until afterwards when it was too late) like "I know you are angry, but it isn't ok to take it out on me"...
Anyway, I think I'm waffling now, so I'll shut up!
No, you are a good'un Flow and you've given so much excellent advice and support on this board. I really, really appreciate you taking the time to consider our situation and give us your thoughts.
I do try to put myself in her shoes sometimes, but when I do this I come away feeling shocked by her topsy turvy view of her life and ours. She seems to believe that she should have no obligations AT ALL - to anyone or anything. She takes no responsibility for anything. Ever. I mean quite consistently so. She is stressed because life making demands on her. She is resisting growing up with all her might. But I don't know why, and neither does she.
She is resisting growing up?
In all ways, or just in being responsible ways?
Did something happen 2 years ago, apart form her being 12?
Mini I think if your mum (with your sister's help) can't keep her for the foreseeable future you have to contact Children's Services and request a foster placement. She is a danger to the physical and mental health of your other children and you and your DH need time to re-group. They will be able to put in place more support for your dd too.
You really need to see about that family therapy again for you, your DH and the other kids to help you deal with your emotions about the whole situation and develop strategies to manage should she be placed back with you eventually. Also individual therapy for you would be good if you are not already seeing someone.
There is no quick fix and until you and DH are strong enough in yourselves to provide consistent boundaries do not have her back in the house otherwise you risk the cycle repeating again.
Yellowballoons - the aspects of growing up which are about having more autonomy she doesn't resist, and we have given her more freedom. She just wants nothing of those aspects which need to go hand in hand with increased autonomy: greater self control; increasing sense of personal responsibility; the growing ability to defer gratification. These last 3 she wants nothing of and doesn't seem to see the need for. She is like a massive toddler who won't take no for an answer and is driven by whatever impulse she feels at any particular time.
What happened 2 years ago? She started secondary and was expected to do homework, get herself to lessons on time, help out more at home, learn challenging things at school. And she just WON'T. She won't do anything she doesn't feel like doing. And anyone who tries to make her or takes issue with her lack of effort she bullies and screams at.
She has NO hobbies at all, because they require effort. She is very overweight, because not being overweight requires her to deny herself fizzy drinks and snacks, and also requires her to be active. Which she is not willing to do.
She is very musical but will not join a choir or learn an instrument, because it requires effort. Ditto drama.
What WILL she do? Watch tv. For hours and hours and hours. Day after day. Surf the internet. Talk on the phone/text her friends. She fiddles with her hair. Gets her nails done. Otherwise? Nothing.
Does she wash herself properly? Hate to ask really. Dont even answer if you dont want to.
Upthread I asked if she knows what she wants to do when school ends. Has she any ideas? Or does she think things will just fall into her lap?
Um soory I just have to say something, outsider looking in and all.
How's her self confidence? Your last post could sum up a lazy teen or someone struggling with self image and worth! I can't help thinking she sounds like a deeply unhappy young lady, and yes she is acting in an inappropriate manner and that can't go, but has anyone talked to her about how she is actually feeling?
Yellow I was wondering the same thing!
Op is her clothing appropriate to the weather?
I agree, I think she sounds like she has very low self-esteem and is very unhappy. Again, that's not to excuse her bad behaviour but perhaps to help explain it...
My own DS1 gets angry instead of being sad or afraid. It's like he can't bear feeling vulnerable, so he turns it into fury... He's getting better now, but it was awful when he was 14.
His worst outbursts were in response to me being angry with him: it took me years to realize that when I got angry, he got terrified that I didn't love him any more... and on some level I think he figured that if I was going to hate him because he was bad, he might as well behave really badly to get his worst nightmare over with sooner... Could something similar be going on with your DD?
Her self esteem is poor because she believes that looks are everything and spends half her life standing in front of a mirror, agonising over her appearance. She can't be persuaded that it might be a good thing to step away from the mirror and DO something to build her confidence, that self esteem is about more than how you look.
You know she really is well liked by children her own age. She never seems to be the one chasing friendships. Her friends are pretty and popular, but she seems like the dominant one.
Is she a Queen Bee?
If she is one or has been one, they can lose their sense of self along the way.
I am sorry to say I think it's time for you to put your DD into the care of social services. I don't see what else you can possibly do - this CANNOT carry on. Of course she will play the victim, no doubt try to rewrite history and say you abandoned her when she was troubled, chucked her out, never supported her or tried to help her - I have no doubt she will do all of that. But for the sanity and the physical safety of the rest of your family you have to stop this now.
Subliminal, it is simply not an option to "put your DD into the care of social services". As a parent, you do not get to choose whether you look after your child; social services/children's services make that decision. If they think your child is at risk of abuse or neglect from you, or is at risk from someone else - including themselves - and that you will be unable to protect them, they will remove that child 'into care'. If they judge your child is safe in your care, then they will not, however much you want them to. They do not remove 'bad' children, even if parents are not coping, though they may offer family support.
If you have other children, as Mini does, it can be even more difficult, because you cannot argue that you are unable to care for one child without at least raising questions about your ability to care for the other(s). Some parents who seek help with their teenager find themselves losing care of all their children. Or, if the younger children are deemed to be at risk from the teenager, parents may find the younger children are taken into care, and they are left with the teenager (who is very much more difficult to place elsewhere).
It is deliberately made difficult to get a teenager taken into care, because it's generally bad/worse for them, very difficult to place them, and very expensive. On average it costs £2.5k per week to keep each individual child in care. Teenagers are especially hard to place, and in many areas end up in bed and breakfast accommodation because there is nowhere else for them (tho that's probably less likely at 14 than 16). A teenager in care spends a lot of time with other teenagers in care, who inevitably have a lot of problems...
Parents who approach children's services for help with teenagers have to be very desperate - as Mini and her DH are. They are, perhaps unfortunately, extremely unlikely to find their teen is taken into care. Mini and DH would have to show that their DD is putting herself at risk, and that they are unable to stop her/keep her safe. Their only alternative - and even this may not work and is upsetting for everyone - is to point-blank refuse to have her back. The most likely outcome to that is that CS would persuade the grandparents or extended family to have her. If everyone refused, the girl might then be taken into care... But the whole family would be involved and upset, and it's quite possible that the girl would be worse off than before.
Most parents struggling with difficult teens find themselves struggling alone. There really is very little help available in most areas of the UK. What help there is tends to focus on helping the child deal with their problems, not the parent deal with their child.
That's why those of us here who have had similar problems tend to emphasise self care for struggling parents. Ask for and take any help that's offered, yes, but don't expect much. Beyond that, there are some essential survival 'techniques', which are hard to do, but in most cases your only option:
- Learn to detach emotionally; don't let them get to you; a lot of it isn't personal (even if it feels like it) - it's biological.
- Establish your 'bottom line' and challenge behaviour that falls below what you can tolerate, but don't 'sweat the small stuff'.
- Look after yourself - doing fun things, excercising, spending time with friends - even if you can only manage tiny slivers of it...
Most teenagers grow up and grow out of bad behaviour. There are a whole load of us parents left shell-shocked and even ill from coping with it all...
Mini, you've heard me say all this before, so sorry for repeating myself. But you asked originally "What are my options?" and I honestly think these are your best ones...
Mini, I've read your other threads and think you have done the right thing by not letting her back.
Your family needs professional help.
Your DD may realise the consequences of her actions and reform, or it may take more intervention, but you have to think of your whole family, not just your DD.
Your daughter sounds very anxious and avoidant with maybe a side order of attention seeking. The anxiety-fuelled meltdown is a wonder to observe. (Is there an emoticon for a grim smile?) I used to get them from my DS due to his autism which causes him huge anxiety, but kids can be anxious for all sorts of reasons, personality trait, stuff at home or school, or a mix of everything. The cheerful front outside the family doesnt mean shes not feeling it inside. Anxiety makes my DS rude and snappish and sometimes physically aggressive. I spend a lot of energy just keeping things calm at home, ignoring rude remarks, staying calm myself (or pretending to!), so that he can deal with school. (And I don't have all these other stresses to deal with!) DS is much worse at school but some anxious kids do it the other way round fine outside the house and hell on wheels at home.
And looking at all the things she wont do, and her reaction to responsibility you have a child on the spectrum . Sorry if this is a really stupid question but have you looked in to PDA?
And on re-reading
maybe youre going to hate me for saying this, but no-one else has so Im going to stick my neck out. This time the problem isnt your daughters. Its really your husbands. He may be a coper (and a very good one!) but what this incident tells you is that he isnt coping any more. Its easy to point at your daughter as the provocation but it really sounds as if he just has too much on his plate, and if it hadnt been your daughter, it could have been something else.
Fixing all your daughters problems or getting her right out of the picture wouldnt be enough. Your DH is doing too much. He needs to do less, to get some pressure off. Are your family, and his family, getting all the possible practical help, respite or whatever else you need from social services? Should other family members do more to help out? Something else has to give.
Kleinzeit - DH has 3 sisters and all 4 of them are taking turns to help. His parents need help to get up, with cooking, to get showered and to go to bed. All his sisters work and have family. He can't and won't do less than he already is.
'If it hadn't been this it would have been something else'. No. This is the first time in my husband's adult life that he has been physically attacked and sworn at. DD is not a little child - she weighs as much as DH and is only 3 inches shorter. That sort of provocation is extreme and rare. I have every confidence that DH won't react to her in this way again - partly because he was so shaken by the incident and partly because DD is no longer in the house and hopefully won't be returning for some time - hopefully not before we have had some help with the more extreme aspects of her behaviour.
re: PDA - I did consider this but other than the dogged defiance the Symptoms don't fit. She's more than superficially charming. She has close friendships going back as far as nursery.
I do think she feels unloved and jealous. Her behaviour has been so unbearable for several years now that I've withdrawn from her to a certain extent. I feel abused by her. She has attacked me so many times verbally and physically that I have become unable to detach. She is a very strong character and there are times I feel bullied by her (and then ashamed for feeling bullied by a child). I can and do show her affection but sometimes it's hard for me, and I know she senses this.
I havent read any of your other threads, so I dont know how much is relevant to this one.
Why do you think she feels unloved?
Who is she jealous of and why?
Is she using negative behaviour to get attention?
There is so much going on in your family.
Perhaps if she didnt get attention with negative attention, but got lots with positive behaviour, that that might change her?
She feels unloved because I don't kiss or hug her and Im not as as loving as I used to be. I know I ought to show her more affection but she's been so abusive for several years now I often feel frozen towards her. I'm frightened of her - she's a bully and very aggressive. It's very hard to rise above that. I find the only time I get to be loving to her these days is when she's ill and she stops being horrible and looks to me for a bit of nurturing.
She is jealous of my youngest Ds who has ASD. I'm very intensely bonded to him.
Sorry - didn't mean it to sound like I NEVER kiss or hug her. I do. Just not very often these days because we're always furious with each other....
Ohhh. Sad for all of you.
I am no expert btw. I have been through the teen years with all of mine, but I havent experienced anything of what you have had to go through.
I think I want to say two things about your post.
The first one is the easiest to say.
I think she needs to know that she is loved. That no matter how horrible her behaviour, and whether she is in your house or not, that you do still love her.
I dont know if you tell her. But there are other ways to do it to. Write her a letter, send her an email, buy her a little present, whatever you feel comfortable doing, to remind her from time to time that you love her.
Second thing, maybe not so easy to say.
"I'm very intensely bonded to him".
That looks quite [I was going to say bad, perhaps a better word is , actually I dont quite know what word to use.
Is she pushed out by you?
I initially read through this thinking CAMHS would not be able to help in this instance, but after reading your last few comments OP I think they could - I feel you and DD need family therapy to help you rebuild your relationship and allow painful feelings to be aired. I can't see any other way forwards that would provide real change. In the meantime I think you need the help of children's services. Good luck.
She creates so much conflict that it completely dominates our relationship.
Re: my relationship with my 8 year old Ds, I don't know if this is more common when a child has special needs. I feel very protective towards him. It's unfortunate that the thing I most appreciate about him - that he is incredibly productive and purposeful, just happens to be the polar opposite of dd, who is singularly unproductive. In fact her lack of any purpose is the focus of a lot of the conflict at home.
Disclaimer - I'm a CAMHS clinician.
Of the people in your household, whose personality do your kids have? Your side of the family, or your husbands?
Well, I do know a few Aspies who have long-term friendships, and she is certainly mightily avoidant! But no, of course she may not fit the PDA bill, it was a bit of a jump.
Selks Im glad to hear that CAMHS and childrens services might be able to help, the whole situation just sounds so painful for all of them.
Oh Mini, I do understand the withering away of love. Two or so years ago, when my DS was at his worst, I can remember thinking that he had broken our relationship. He swore at me, screamed 'cunt' in my face, defied everything, climbed out the window in the middle of the night, truanted, got excluded, took drugs, stole from me (over £1000, because I was slow realizing he'd gained access to my savings and slow taking the now-obvious step of locking things away from him), sold some of my things and DS2's, punched holes in walls and kicked through doors, threw things at me, smashed things, and eventually got so aggressive that I had to call 999... Each time something else happened, a line from a novel I'd read ran through my head: "A little less your mother loves you" . Finally I thought my love for him would never recover.
I was so angry with him and so sad. I bet you are with your DD too. It felt like a bereavement.
Mini, I am going to say something that I have no right to say - I don't know you and I may be talking total nonsense, but I have a hunch...
It seems to me that you and your DD are both reacting in the same way to the things that make you sad, and perhaps especially the 'loss' of your relationship with each other. You are both hurt - that seems quite clear to me as an outsider - but instead of 'doing' sad you are both doing angry. You are clearly - and you've said it yourself - furious with each other.
You are able to rationalise and verbalise why you are angry with her. She isn't, or only partly. I think that probably explains the mad frustrated fury.
I can remember thinking my son had nothing to be angry about : he had a loving home, material comfort, emotional support, many advantages, no abuse... I was angry with him for being angry - I felt he had no right. And what was worse, his anger felt like an implied criticism of my parenting and the life I was giving him; an insult and an attack. It became a nasty spiral, because he reacted angrily to my anger, and then I'd be angrier still because he was angry not sorry...
Does that sound at all familiar?
It took me years to work out that my DS's anger was actually rooted in sadness and fear. Each time I was angry with him, and especially if it was justified and he knew he was in the wrong, he would panic that I didn't love him any more, and get angry on the surface, instead of sad or afraid.
I also wonder, Mini, whether your DD is 'stuck' in the same way my DS was. He's bright, but underachieved very badly at school. With hindsight I think this was because the learning/teaching on offer didn't suit him: he's a 'doer' not a 'sitter still and listener'. (You can search for my past posts about school and 'activist learners' if you want to read more of my rants on this subject!) His self-esteem suffered very badly, he hated risking any kind of failure, and got out of the habit of an effort. His behaviour changed for the better when he left school...
There is something else about effort... Once a teen's self-belief has gone, making an effort becomes very scary. They are afraid they'll fail, and feel even worse, so they stop trying. If they're bright (like my DS and your DD) and if they have parents who have quite high expectations (like you and me, I suspect) then they also want to avoid disappointing you, so they again don't try to avoid failure. But then of course they inevitably do disappoint because they haven't tried, they get cross - with themselves for failing and with you for being disappointed... And the whole fear/anger cycle starts again...
If any of this sounds familiar, Mini, then I really do think you need to try to help her boost her confidence. She's behaving badly because she feels utterly awful - I bet you anything.
It's so tough having a difficult teen. I do hope your family can get some professional support...
Yes to all of this Flow. It really rings a bell for me - the ANGER.... I can't tell you! On both sides. Dd and I used to be so, so close. I would kiss her dozens of times a day. Lots of cuddles. Seems so long ago now.
And the not trying. I find this very very difficult to bear, but she seems 'stuck' in not trying. It's very frustrating and nobody at CAMHS even began to try o get to the bottom of WHY.
Well then, I'll tell you MY theory, because I have spent hundreds of hours thinking about this...
Kids have to grow up and break away from their parents. It's natural and inevitable. Many of them seem to do this by being horrible: it's as if they have to convince themselves they hate you and home life before they can leave it behind; so they behave badly and unconsciously make home a miserable place they want to leave, rather than somewhere they want to stay in forever and ever. (I got this bit of my 'theory' from this book . If you haven't read it yet, do!)
Kids who feel especially close to their parents seem to me often to behave worst. I think this may be because if the bond is especially strong, they unconsciously feel they have to try harder to break it, so they can grow up.
Parents who feel they were especially close to their child are understandably especially hurt when their child starts to reject them. (I know I was). It hurts less when you understand it's not personal, it's biological - but it still hurts.
Parents react hurt (one way or another, see below) and so withdraw or get upset or disapprove or punish... And then kids in turn react hurt, because they do not understand why their parent is hurt. After all, they can't help it; they way they are behaving is biological, not personal.
Quite a lot of us - children and adults - 'do' anger instead of hurt. It can all get very messy and horrible if both parent and teen are underneath hurt and upset with each other, but displaying anger.
Of course, young people do realise they are behaving badly, but they don't understand why. They don't understand the biological drive that means they have to convince themselves their parents and home are horrible, so they can leave... So they also often feel bad about themselves and guilty.
I assume the kids who felt especially close to their parents also feel especially bad when it seems to 'go wrong'. And people who feel bad generally act out ('bad', anti-social) or act in ('sad', depressed, self-harming). And the ones who 'act out' (and maybe the ones who 'actvin' too; i have no experience of them) therefore often add to their parents' confusion, disappointment, anger and hurt...
Kids who realise they are behaving badly, and who know they're making their parents sad/angry/whatever, but who can't stop themselves and don't know how to 'put things right' often seem to stop trying, and indeed in some ways seem to be trying almost to make things worse.
With my own DS, I thought of this as a "Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb" sort of phenomenon - i.e. I think he unconsciously thought that if I was going to be angry and disapproving anyway, and he was going to be in trouble anyway, he might as well be in trouble for something he understood.
The very worst behaviour, it seemed to me, occurred when DS felt me trying to 'pull him back'. It's a parent's natural reaction to respond to bad behaviour by trying to 'rein it in', but actually, punishments - especially grounding - that I used to try to 'draw him back' always resulted in worse behaviour and rebellion. It was as if he unconsciously feared I wouldn't let him go, so he pulled harder.
Actually, unintentionally, extremely bad behaviour in fact achieves its biological purpose, albeit painfully: the necessary 'emotional distance' is created, very effectively. Of course the problem is that either or both parent and child can sort of 'overdo' it, and behave sooo badly, or be sooo hurt, that the relationship never recovers.
That's what I think, anyway.
I don't want to leave you without hope, Mini, because there is some. My relationship with DS1 is recovering. It'll never be as close as it was, and that sometimes makes me sad - but actually, continuing such intense closeness wasn't actually possible.
I didn't find a single solution or 'fix' for DS's behaviour or my hurt or the emotional tangle we were in, but a few things helped:
- DS just grew up a bit, and gained more control of his behaviour. I think leaving school was a great relief to him, too.
- I understood the dynamics of it all a bit better - or at least had an explanation that made sense - so it felt less personal, and confused and hurt and angered me much less.
- I took the focus of my attention off DS a bit. When I stopped trying to 'rein him in', he stopped pulling away so much and behaved better.
- I gave myself a bit more attention, and did nice things for myself. That gave me strength to deal with the sh*t, but also helped take my attention away from him...
- I really pushed to get him doing something he wanted to do. As soon as he had something positive to do - something he saw as positive - he was much happier, behaved better, was motivated to stop the worst things he was doing, felt better about himself, and became generally more pleasant.
Mini, hope you are finding a way through. A quick question, apologies if its been asked before. Are you in a position you could consider boarding school for your DD?
I haven't read all of this, but I am afraid to say this is not abnormal teenage girl behaviour. It's extreme, but not out of the ordinary.
We two older daughters and experienced similar - they are now delightful young women, but the hormonal teenage years were very hard, sometimes in the way you describe.
What helped me enormously was a book called 'divas and door slammers' The strategies outlined in that worked a treat, but it was still hard work, and it sounds like you and your dh have a lot on your plate.
She is attention seeking as a toddler would if they don't get the 'right' attention - she doesn't care if it' negative attention. She doesn't realise this of course.
Some key messages from that book-
Remember, she is a child - so she needs boundaries, love and reassurance just as a toddler would.
Money and fear of missing out are excellent motivators or penalties (e.g we used to have a 3 warning system with dd2, if she got the final warning, her phone was stopped - I.e no more Facebook. We never needed the third warning).
It's bloody tough, but you will come through it. Please get the book and try it out - I can't recommend it highly enough . Our copy is still hidden - neither dd knows about it!
Mini and Flow
I have a question for you: how strict were you with your children when they were primary school age? Did you put a lot of discipline on them or - because you were so close - you did let them get away with a lot?
I am asking becasue I see a lot of similarities between your stories and mine.
I find that a really difficult question to answer, Palika. 'Strict' is a word that means such different things to different people, and different 'groups' of people have distinctly different parenting approaches and standards. I'm probably on the strict side when it comes to things like manners and mealtimes and taking personal responsibility for actions. And I'm probably on the lax side when it comes to things like tidying up and bedtimes. I don't think he 'got away' with much, until I couldn't 'make him'/stop him any more, at about 14. On the other hand, I didn't 'make him' do some things that many other parents would have insisted on, like homework for instance.
If I had only had one child, I might have thought it was my 'fault'; but luckily for me I have two, and DS2 is (mostly) a delight and not ever (yet) a challenge. The
... The only significant difference in my parenting of the two is that DS2 got less personal attention because DS1 was always also wanting it. The two most significant differences between their experiences, I believe, were not due to my parenting, but to (a) their personalities and (b) the fact that DS1's dad opted out of his life almost entirely, while DS2's is very involved.
I was going to come on and suggest boarding school too.
I'm not a great lover of the idea of it, but in your case, I think you and your dd would get the space you both need from each other, your dd would get the education she needs.
I've read several of your posts, and find it heartbreaking for you both, but also scary because we have been through similar, but not as extreme, with ds.
I'm not convinced that CAMHS family therapy would help much, as I've found the onus is on the family to find the answers. The therapists were very good at pointing out the positives, but it was a little frustrating because ds was and is in denial about how bad his behaviour can be. It did help us discover different ways to deal with him, so for that reason it was helpful.
Whenever I read your threads, I become more convinced that there is some issue with your dd, and I wonder if an appointment with a private therapist or psychiatrist might help to get to the bottom of things.
I really hope you get things sorted. I wish I could suggest something more helpful.
Flow, thanks for your answer. Your description of your DS very much reminded me of my DS14: very close when younger, very lazy (DS's teachers call him lazy and silly!) but high expectations from us parents.
He had 3 or 4 very angry tantrums this spring and early summer, which frightened us quite a lot.
Maybe teens who fit the above description get angry because they finally realise that they will become a failure in life (compared to parents, siblings and cousins) if they continue in their lazy ways. (DS has 7 cousins who are all ridiculously high achievers in multiple ways) And then they simply take it out on their parents.
DS's anger is now much better and he says that he was angry because he always wanted to play and hated to work. Now, he says, that has changed because he has become more 'mature'. (He really really wants to be more mature)
About good or 'faulty' parenting: I don't think this is the question here. We are all reeling and groping in the dark. Nobody has been trained to be a good parent and we are all learning on the job.
I have read at least 15 parenting books and always put pretty much everything into practice. And yet, I found it very hard and often still do. Two books that I found very helpful were 'Divas and Doorslammers' and 'Parenting out-of-control teenagers'. I made a pledge that these are the last parenting books I will ever read. Finger's crossed!
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