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Family row scheduled for this afternoon - help me prepare myself(320 Posts)
This is not the way I would prefer to deal with this, but unfortunately my husband scheduled a family row (aka "We will discuss this tomorrow") with my teenage daughter. I need help to work out what we hope to achieve and what is reasonable to expect. Please.
The background: I am trying to keep this as brief as possible. DD is 16 and is currently (was, before everything shut down) being assessed for Autism. She also suffers from sometimes very bad depression and very high levels of anxiety. She is very bright (was hoping for straight A's for GCSEs, but with all that is going on, who can tell...) but her passion has always been for performing - she normally spends around 20 hours a week on top of her school week dancing/acting/singing etc.
Lockdown obviously changed her life dramatically. As well as an abrupt end to her schooling and the cancellation of several performances she had been working hard toward, her "extra curricula" life changed. Her dance, drama and singing lessons all went on line, so she could have continued them as normal, but she finds the online format very difficult, and says that she no longer feel as though she is being taught and corrected, merely given activities to do. She has stopped singing and drama completely, and goes to maybe 3 or 4 dance classes a week. At most. The rest of the time - she plays on the computer or sleeps.
And this is the source of most of the conflict - she plays a game with people in the States, so goes to bed at about 4am and gets up early afternoon. Yesterday we didn't see her until 6pm. She hasn't been outside since the week before lockdown (she was isolating the week before as she had mumps) except occasionally in the garden. Her contribution to the household is to cook one meal a week and wash up once a week (these are her official "tasks") which I don't think is very much, but she thinks is hugely unreasonable. Yesterday it was her turn to cook, and she decided to make macaroni cheese (which my husband can't eat as cooked cheese makes him ill) and refused to heat up a jar of ready made sauce alongside it for her father so he could eat.
And EVERYTHING we say to her she has a comeback for.
I want her to live more "UK centric" and sociable hours, to become more involved in preparing for her future and to help out a bit more. To lead a more normal life. She says she can't see what difference it makes to us, and we should leave her to do what makes her happy. DH wants to confiscate her computer.
Am I being unreasonable to want to make changes (I am willing to compromise, and in honesty her happiness IS very important to me) or should we just leave her to get on with it.
I think I would have my husbands back in this
That's incredible selfish to cook something he can't eat
Going to bed at 4am is a definite no from me. Unacceptable. God knows what’s she’s doing online.
And making the mac cheese was nice but as her dad can’t eat it, either thoughtless or a finger up to him.
Take the router to bed with you.
I have an autistic 7 yr old daughter. Don't confiscate the computer, you need different behaviour methods for autistic children. It won't work, she won't learn from it but she will probably spiral in worse anxiety without anything to help her.
My dd often becomes more unmovable (can look like stubbornness) when she isn't coping well. She can display behaiour that seems selfish, spoilt etc. But its a signal she isn't coping and needs control.
I imagine she is finding lockdown very difficult and is very anxious. I would be looking to compromise as much as possible (not always easy With ASD child!) on the game. It won't be immediately obvious to her why her hours aren't acceptable and why she should perhaps alter them.
I really think you should be seeking and taking advice from others with ASD children. It is a very different way of parenting.
You need to have your husband's back here. Confiscate the computer.
Lockdown is noe excuse for the way she is behaving. She should still be doing full days of school work; how exactly is she managing that while she games all night?
And her chores are to cook one meal and wash up dishes just once a week? Has it always been like that? That's really quite poor parenting. She is old enough to be doing a lot more around the house, and if she isnt bothering with her school work then she should be.
Take the computer. Enforce bed time. Enforce wake up time. Ensure she is doing her school work to the best of her ability. And get outside for a family walk!
If she wants to complain about having a bedtime then remind her that you gave her the responsibility of getting herself to bed and getting up, and look what she did with that. If she wants to be treated like a young woman then she needs to act the part
nope the rules in our house are you join us for meals you participate in family life you pitch in with the running of the household.
Next meal make something she definitely would not eat and tell her you can't see the difference it makes it makes you happy.
I'd back your husband up, confiscating the computer or at least setting a cut off time where the internet goes off so she can't play games late into the night would be a start.
Compromise with your husband. DD loses computer privileges for x amount of days for not cooking a meal that DH can eat. Then when computer is returned have strict times and change wifi password so she cannot continue playing
MN always advocates harsh punishments. However, if you take this game away from her completely, what does she have left? What incentive will she have to behave any better than she is now? Personally I would set limits on the gaming and make it conditional on better behaviour, then you have some wriggle room. Otherwise if you take it away completely what "threat" do you have left?
I'd be implementing a strict routine and taking the router to bed with me as suggested by a PP. It sounds like she's been getting away with far too much, anxiety and depression can be exacerbated by a lack of routine.
I'd ignore any protests. It's not a family row it's where your daughter will be told what is and what isn't acceptable. She sounds like a selfish madam for refusing to make her dad something he could actually eat!
Is there a compromise in there somewhere, between the need for some structure and her wanting to exist in a parallel universe?
From her viewpoint, she has lost most of the joy in her life, so does it really matter what time she is up?
But at the same time, not sure that taking her computer off her is a great idea either.
Maybe you could do a list of meals that she is able to cook? DD1 has a few that she is able to do, so she mostly does these, but maybe you could suggest a list of those that the whole family could eat with assigned days? She might appreciate having the predictability of knowing what to make.
What about allowing her to be on New York time or whatever on the weekend, but during the week, she stays in GMT?
I wouldn't confiscate the computer because then she won't be able to do any school work.
I would set an online curfew time of (say) 10pm on school days.
But also, she is probably struggling massively with being locked down and cut off from the things she likes (friends / drama / dance etc). So she needs to have some way to connect with friends and something that is hers and makes her happy. If playing online with friends until 4am is her only social connection, then let her do that 1 or 2 nights per week. If you cut her off totally, that will not be good for her mental health.
I think confiscating the computer is too extreme. Teenagers are having a really tough time at the moment so cut her some slack. However I would lay the law down on computer off at midnight say (can you police this?) and she has to buck up with helping out a bit more. Maybe give her suggestions for meals to cook on her night to do it. Warn her of the consequences if she doesn't do it.
I think she needs some tough love to be honest. She needs to be sat down and told this isnt going to continue. Give her more jobs to do. Give her a set time on the computer. Turn off the wifi at a certain time (some wifi have settings that mean it wont go back on til the morning. Also change the password if she knows it. Look up your settings). She is playing the game told 4am because you allow her. She is sleeping til the middle of the day because you allow her. She is being a teenager without expectations, so she is going to act up. She needs a more solid routine put in place for her by you and you need to be tough.
Of course talk about her mental health. Talk about what she feels would help her. Explain why you are concerned. But at the end of the day you are the parent and she is 16, and she needs you to force the changes. Teenagers arent great self motivators.
Don't have a row! Have a conversation. I know so much easier said than done. But don't shout, even if she does. Let her speak and explain her points of view. It might even help to get out some blank sheets of paper and pens so she (or you) can note down her thoughts/feelings so it's clear she's being heard.
Explain what you expect of her and why. She will probably already know this but ask her what she thinks. Why does she think she should be able to live in the house doing/contributing nothing while you do everything. What would she do if she was living in a house with other 16 year olds who did nothing and she had to do everything. Maybe write a list of absolutely everything you all do, to show her visually that what she's being asked to do is not a lot.
Explain the reasons why you want her to have a reasonable sleep pattern. If you think she will respond to it, do your research and show her information on the suprachiasmatic nucleus and the effects of cortisol release vs melatonin. Explain exactly how it affects you - because your job is to help her become a happy, healthy and productive adult and lockdown won't be forever.
Acknowledge that she's finding lockdown hard and tell her that you are too. Ask her what you can do (within these boundaries) to make it easier.
Leave her to get on, most teenagers have taken the lockdown as she has BUT she needs to be more involved in family chores and get on with them without such drama.
From an autistic parent with an autistic niece I’d say that you should get some online advice from ASD parents. Treating your kid as a “normal” child and enforcing struck boundaries may not work out well. I struggle horribly with routine changes. Just wading in and confiscating her PC may result in her anxiety going through the roof!
You need to support your husband here.
I do feel sorry for her - especially if she's being assessed for Autism, but it's not an excuse to refuse to cook for her dad, to stay up until 4am and to refuse to leave the house for months.
Does she like routine? Can you start a new routine with her that includes getting outside each day for some form of exercise, cooking and preparing a meal AND computer time. I don't think there's anything wrong with a teenager using screens a lot at the moment as there's very little else for them to do, but her current routine sounds unhealthy and will only exacerbate any depression and anxiety she may have.
I say this as someone who struggled with anxiety and depression as a teenager and who has since been diagnosed with ASD. Routine is vital for me but I have to make sure it includes exercise, a shower and a healthy diet, as well as time for me to get online/read etc.
I don't agree with taking the computer off her but I do think it's important to enforce some time off screens too.
My NT DCs did the washing up every night at that age.
Stand with your DH.
Discussed an issue once with my DS, and asked him what he would do if he was me regarding sanctions / punishment to him. He gave me a perfect answer (forget what now!) which is what we did, and he could see why, and that it was fair. But he was NT.
She says she can't see what difference it makes to us, and we should leave her to do what makes her happy. DH wants to confiscate her computer.
Guess you get to be the happy medium! You do X,Y,Z then you get (some) computer time. Eg
Cook 2 meals a week which we can all eat;
Put your washing into the washing machine twice a week and switch it on;
Hoover 2 rooms a day;
Get 30 minutes exercise a day, so that you don't die;
Join us for a family bike ride/walk once a week;
Eat with your family each evening.
The gaming is difficult as it's great that she has an activity which she enjoys. DS is similar, or would be if I let him, though his friends are in the UK, fortunately.
I would restrict her to two or three nights a week, at weekends, allowing her a break to recover her sleep pattern, and to get her jobs done. I would be making it clear that she has weekends to game and enjoy herself, if she completes the list above - as a minimum - during the week. If she doesn't then no computer at the weekend.
I don't see a problem with her waking/sleeping hours - a lot of teens are like this at the moment, and if that is her way of communicating (USA time) then what else can she do?
However, the food thing was rude and selfish and that needs addressing this afternoon.
This is a very difficult time for teens, esp ones who are prone to depression and anxiety. Don't cut off her wifi etc, talk to her and reach some sort of compromise with food/chores etc.
Presumably she doesn't have any school work at the moment, being year 11?
I think lockdown is very difficult at this age and the activities that help her cope have been taken away from her. Acknowledge this, that life is difficult but that as a household and family you need to all compromise. Being online until the early hours needs to be stopped a bit, put limits on it. Sometimes I think having a frank talk can help as everyone can have a say but keep it calm. Listen to her and ask her to do the same.
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