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To be handling my teenagers badly

(36 Posts)
Menora Wed 24-Jun-20 10:27:26


Single parent work full time in NHS, stressful management job.

DD’s age 16 and almost 18
18yo was at college, doing work from home which finished early June and furloughed from part time job. DD16 never got to sit GCSE’s and has had no work to do whatsoever. We have pets as well

I am seriously struggling with keeping everything running, it was stressful trying to find food initially whilst everything imploded/exploded at work, I also was quite ill for a month I n March/April with pneumonia (managed at home by antibiotics and steroids). No family to help as they decided to shield, no partner and civil but not close RS with ex (father of DC). I do have friends and colleagues who did help with medication/food when I was desperate

DC are still treating house like a hotel and me like the hotel worker. I’ve tried rotas. I’ve tried turning off WiFi. I’ve tried reasoning. I’ve tried shouting. I am permanently now frazzled and on edge, every task I have to ask of them is met with resistance. I am sure they are bored of the house and monotony - we all are. They could go out, they don’t want to. I ask to do things with them, they can never agree and always seems to end in disagreements. I’ve bought them hobby things to do, tried to get projects going, spent time helping them with things etc. They won’t even walk the poor dog.

How do I break this cycle? I’ve taken a day off today to do something with them to try to build our RS back up. 1 DC refused the other agreed. When I got up after working late yesterday I realised how much mess there was from yesterday (dirty and clean laundry, pet bowls, blocked sink, rubbish, dishwasher) and when I asked for help before going out it descended into yelling down the entire street (embarrassing).

Now no one wants to do anything with me and gone back into their bedrooms.

I hadn’t bubbled up with anyone else although I technically can. I first asked if DC wanted to bubble up with any of their friends or families but nothing worked out. I was asked to by a single dad recently who I have been getting closer toover lockdown (socially distantly) initially the DC said they didn’t care either way, now they say me doing so is selfish, because they can’t do it. (Wouldn’t involve any kids mixing only me and him).

Feeling sorry for myself and resentful, as I am sure they are too. Even if we all make up, this will happen again in a few days time. I do not want it to be this way

How are you all managing with your teenagers?

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CorianderLord Wed 24-Jun-20 10:32:22

God they sound like right mardy madams. I don't have teens but I'd be locking away phones, laptops, games consoles. Everything. They need to walk the dog, clean up their own shit and help.

Bluebird3456 Wed 24-Jun-20 10:35:33

Ooof. I feel for you. I don't have teenagers but I didn't want to read and run. Can you sit them down and have an 'adult' chat, ask them why they feel they should be doing nothing while you do everything? Also ask them what would make this lockdown easier, if there's anything that would be reasonable you could agree to it on the condition that they pull their weight. flowers

steppemum Wed 24-Jun-20 10:35:34

huge sympathy for you, it sounds tough, and there aren't any easy answers.

At one level I would say be strict, make them help etc etc and give ways to do that.
At another level I know (I have 3 teens) that you are banging your head against a brick wall and that in the end the relationship is the thing that is going to matter.

Only helpful thing I can say is, who cooks? Because fmro today, it would not be me, or at least I would only be cooking for me. Who does washing? ditto, who does the clean bedding? ditto. In other words, if they don't pull their weight, they don't anything in return. But I know my 17 year old would just live on cereal and toast and shrug his shoulders.
Mine only help becuase that is what is expected and they know I will remove phones etc. But I am at home working, so I have more control/input.

steppemum Wed 24-Jun-20 10:40:09

practical thing that helped - I asked ds what jobs he would do, and realised that he will only do things that can be done at about 11pm. So he will hang washing etc, becauase he can do that at night, but won't hoover because that has to be done in the day hmm
I have found lots of things that can be done at night grin

he does now cook regularly though

Octagoneaway Wed 24-Jun-20 10:43:35

Total sympathies from me.

I’m hardly working as I’m furloughed again, stuck at home with a 13 and 15 year old. Their dad is shielding so only seeing them once a week for an hour or 2. He doesn’t seem to have a clue that the kids are struggling with that.

School work is such a battle, and I can’t wait to get back to work, just to talk to some grown ups.

I’m worried about one kid who seems to be becoming a hermit, and the other one is so shirty about everything. I could just cry.

My only advice is a calm chat when you think they’re in good moods. It probably won’t change much for more than an hour (in my experience), but at least they might understand.

Good luck!

Gatehouse77 Wed 24-Jun-20 10:44:27

I think a short sharp shock might work.
Go on strike for everything and focus on yourself. If they comment, say that's how you thought it worked in the house as that's how they behave 🤷‍♀️.
Go meet your friend - everyone needs something/someone outside the family to offload to.

They are being very immature for their age. If chores/rotas aren't adhered to what are the consequences?

Prawnofthepatriarchy Wed 24-Jun-20 10:48:17

Stop doing anything that isn't directly for yourself alone or the poor dog. Keep your own cutlery and china in your room and don't do any other washing up. They will soon get fed up of having to do everything for themselves, no clean sheets, clothes, etc.

Oblomov20 Wed 24-Jun-20 10:48:46

Total sympathy from me. My eldest teen doesn't want to do much. I made him play Ludo! It is painful.

steppemum Wed 24-Jun-20 10:51:19

another thing I do
list on table, choose any 2 jobs, first come first served, and all must be done by x time.

jobs are not unreasonable, the list seems to work better than talking.

I have also done a list on the fridge, one job each per day, but they can choose. So whole weeks worth up there, there choose what and when. Celebrate at the end of the week with ice cream sundaes

SierraHotel Wed 24-Jun-20 10:53:09

God it's hard isn't it. My eldest Dd is 15, she's a joy 90% of the time but bloody hell she can be mardy so I feel for you with two teenagers in the house. I think I would try laying it on the line with them, talk to them like adults and explain that you're not actually asking alot from them but that you're struggling. Good luck 💐

Laserbird16 Wed 24-Jun-20 10:54:29

It sounds like you've tried talking to them and they're old enough to not starve so I would do tit for tat.

No more cooking, washing up done etc. Do what you need to for yourself, keep your room nice and clean, look after the dog and your DDs can look after themselves. If they ask just be honest, you can't do it all yourself and they were suiting themselves so you've decided you'll do that too. You'd love to have nice family time but you can't make them.

I'd go bubble up with single dad too and your daughter's can get angry. You need someone to talk to who isn't rolling their eyes at you.

Starlightstarbright1 Wed 24-Jun-20 11:08:21

Are you cooking washing for them ?

I would loose my shit at them . I also think you are pandering to them far too much . I wouldn’t be buying them anything in fact give them a shopping list .

AndwhenyougetthereFoffsomemore Wed 24-Jun-20 11:08:32

Much sympathy: I have a 14 and a 16 yo. 16yo is actually being (mostly) brilliant: is doing chores first thing, keeping on top of his minimal homework, although admittedly spending 90% of his time in his room on a screen. 14yo has been freed from chores as she's been doing homeschool where 16 yo wasn't - but she is doing less and less schoolwork; doing it less and less well, and I've just sent her out for 10 mins to walk then we're brainstorming ideas to help her. I think she is exhausted and starting to display some signs of depression and isolation (she's seen a couple of friends but not doing much in the way of meet ups either) So really just expressing solidarity and hanging around for tips ;-)

Anonymum263 Wed 24-Jun-20 11:17:43

Yes, more tips please-2 teens here, one Y11 and one Y13! Y11 did absolutely no work once it was determined that GCSEs were not going forward, is now isolated, continues to self-harm, and is glued to screen. Y13 is worried about uni (as are we all). Y11 does nothing without huge argument..our relationship has deteriorated.

Sunnydayshereatlast Wed 24-Jun-20 11:27:12

Strike week op..
No cooking /washing /WiFi /and take the chargers off tech...
And mean it.
If they pull their socks up before next Monday all can resume as normal.
And I say this with 3 teen dc and 2 under 12's at home.
This tactic would happen in your shoes here.

Menora Wed 24-Jun-20 11:29:30

Thanks all. We are all frazzled I think!

I’m not doing their washing but it was laying around everywhere on the stairs, in the baskets I needed and on the line and inside the machine so I asked them to move it/sort it

I do cook or they would never eat barely anything, they are both very small framed and I’m wary of either of them ending up with eating issues and not taking care of their health (DD17 is the better one for this but DD16 has often not even brushed her teeth and I have to remind her hmm)

I worry about their MH, isolation is shit. I at least am working

OP’s posts: |
Menora Wed 24-Jun-20 11:31:57

It hasn’t helped that school have let down the year 11’s somewhat - they were pretty abandoned it’s like DD16 went from a school child who loved school and working hard, to a socially isolated unemployed adult overnight. I have not liked to see this transition.

I don’t want to waste away the tiny bit of childhood there was left by arguing about plates and socks.

OP’s posts: |
lafillette Wed 24-Jun-20 11:32:49

21 year old home from uni, 17 year old had A levels cancelled so both with no work to do. It's been very difficult so sympathise. It was a novelty to start with but wore off and I think the inability to see friends for a long period (although better now) has caused even my laid-back teenagers a degree of stress/depression. Who knows what the long term effects will be. Most people I know with kids of this age are saying the same, especially those with boys, so don't be too hard on yourself. I have been prepared to tolerate a bit more mess in their rooms than I normally would but no eating meals up there - we eat together at the table at least 5 times a week, no excuses - plus they need to do their own washing and clear up the kitchen after the endless grazing that goes on. I can get the older one to cook once or twice a week which is a help but the younger one not yet. They do spend more time on screens in their rooms than I like and I have resorted to turning the internet off late at night on occasion but they overrode that, however I think they got the hint at least for a while. One would stay in bed until mid-afternoon if I allowed it, which I don't - I WFH so generally call him about noon if I remember he is there (!yes I know!). On balance, I have lowered my standards a bit to get us through this period and cut them a bit of slack on the moods as I do think lockdown has affected the mental health of this age group more than some people are prepared to acknowledge.

giantangryrooster Wed 24-Jun-20 11:43:24

Poor you, I've been there (not locked up though) but getting through to a teen is next to impossible, if they don't want to help out.

I would sit them down once and tell them what they need to do in the house, that you are struggling too, that you all love each other but need to give each other space. Come to some sort of agreement.

10 sec. To two days later they will have 'forgotten' and this is where you have to stay strong... Ignore, ignore, ignore. If things (apart from pets) don't get done, not your problem. Then you live in your own little bubble and don't help them with anything. No prepared meals, no new loo roll when calling out, no band aid on anything grin.

If one does want to do stuff with you, do it, don't engage with making both want the same thing, this way they can play you and each other.

This takes a spine of steel and a good couple of weeks to work atleast, but remember they will soon leave home and be surprisingly good at coping now nobody is there to cater to their needs wink.

And finally do make contact with your single father acquaintance, you need to talk to another adult. You don't have to not have any contact, because your dds choose/cba to make bubbles with anybody.

Good luck locate your spine and ignore grin.

AndwhenyougetthereFoffsomemore Wed 24-Jun-20 12:45:09

OK: inspired by this thread I did some brainstorming with my teen: thought I'd share in case it helped anyone else, as she is currently sitting
Learning 1: first time I did it neither of us were in the mood: she sniped and refused to engage, I got cross and threatened to impose martial law. I sent her out for 10 mins walk and to think about things: she hated me but did it, and we had a really good chat afterwards as we were both in a better place. Don't try and solve problems when you are Too Cross already.
Learning 2: We discussed what she wanted and needed to get down and have worked up a day timetable: driven by her - which includes some exercise, creative time as well as chores and work. And she decided on her own rewards system to motivate sticking to it: her own, personal treat fruit bowl. Interesting as I offered ice-cream and she said she's really conscious of eating too much rubbish already and then feeling crap about it...
Learning 3: we've built in accountability (she conceded that she's not doing as good a job because the teachers aren't giving her grief for less good work) but not too much control for me ;-) - she's reporting into me BUT I'm only allowed to pick her up on one bit of work per day - the rest I have to let go.

Some of this may not work, but getting a written struture is something we've found really helpful in the past.

AndwhenyougetthereFoffsomemore Wed 24-Jun-20 12:49:02

Oh and for MY dd, going in all guns blazing and telling her to do x/y/z is hugely unhelpful pattern: she is amazingly self motivated but that also comes with huge stubbornness: the key is harnessing her own motivation rather than going sergeant major (ie we talked about how horrid it is when you are feeling like you're not achieving anything, and how that spirals, she knows that is true even if she doesn't like it!) That bit depends on your child, but at teen level, I'd hope to work that way rather than being too directional personally...

Menora Wed 24-Jun-20 12:51:52

Thank you these tips are helpful I do appreciate it

I went up to DD16 who I am most worried about and had a calm chat, she said she was ok and she had cleaned her room up and was sewing (part hobby part DIY). DD17 came in as well and we had a bit of a laugh. They didn’t open up too much to start so I said looks let’s all go get a McDonalds now as obvious we aren’t going out anywhere today now! Also it’s so hot. On the journey they were quite chatty and talking about how lockdown has made them feel and looking back on it. Also some future stuff. I said I want us to get along and also to stop arguing about the house and help me a bit as I am stressed too. So it’s calm for now....

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ohoneohtwo Wed 24-Jun-20 12:52:34

I am seriously struggling with keeping everything running,

I do have friends and colleagues who did help with medication/food when I was desperate

DC are still treating house like a hotel and me like the hotel worker. I’ve tried rotas. I’ve tried turning off WiFi. I’ve tried reasoning. I’ve tried shouting. I am permanently now frazzled and on edge, every task I have to ask of them is met with resistance.

Sounds like they have zero empathy or understating. It's less about managing them and more about expecting them to give a shit.

Talk to them. Ask them why they don't seem to give a flying fuck about you.

Is there any reason for it?

Menora Wed 24-Jun-20 12:59:03


The ‘feedback’ is that I am shouting at them to do things and once I have shouted at them then it’s game over

But this is because the other 20 times I do ask for things and I am calm, they give me the brush off and excuses and resort to shouting when I have reached my boiling point

Also they often say I come home from work in a bad mood - this is true I do. Because I come home with bags of shopping, to an un walked dog, stuff everywhere, and just once it would be nice if they made ME food after a long day!

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