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I need to give my DD (13) more freedom, but I'm terrified

(27 Posts)
CoffeeandPastries Mon 27-Jul-20 21:18:39


So a bit of background, DD is likely on the autistic spectrum, but doesn't have a diagnosis and was never officially assessed. She was seen by a SALT when she was about 4, but I was told that all was fine and if anything, she was a little bit ahead. She was also assessed for dyspraxia as she can't ride a bike or swim and used to have a real issue with stairs, but again, the assessor thought all was fine and it was to do with her core strength.

She always had mammoth tantrums at home and at pre school, but by year 2, she controlled her behaviour at school, but not at home. She struggled a lot, socially. Just couldn't seem to keep a friendship going and very sadly, never really made any friends in primary - apart from the occasional, short lived one here and there. Academically, all was fine. She's an
incredible artist and writer, but still, life was tough during those years.

She started high school and.....then there was light smile She found "her people". A group of mainly girls, who are from all different kinds of backgrounds. Some are very similar to DD, some just like DD. She finally had a group of friends and she blossomed.

However, because she didn't have friends until now, she's not really had much practice with her independence and she's way behind and as a mother, so am I, because I never had the opportunity to give her more freedoms iyswim. She never did the walking to a friends house or walking into town with friends etc. I tried to give her things to do to gain her independence, like go to the shop on her own and get a small amount of shopping, but she would always freak out and need help.

Anyway, now she has this group of friends, she wants to jump straight into the deep end and doesn't understand why, for example, I can't just let her into town for the whole day. She should be at her age. Of course she should, but she's still very immature for her age and she is naive and she lies very easily. It's something we've really tried hard to stamp out and I think it's got slightly better recently, but I have to be able to trust her. Well, more than I do right now.

I know I need to start letting go, but honestly, how can I do this when she appears so disorganised and naive.

I'm genuinely looking for advice. I really don't need flaming. I have tried so many things and honestly, this is the short version, but bottom line is, things can't go on like this. She needs more freedom.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated.

Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
Aquamarine1029 Mon 27-Jul-20 21:27:29

This must be so hard for you to navigate. Obviously, she needs to exercise her independence, yet she definitely has a ways to go.

What about starting slowly and setting up some very clear guidelines? For example, she can go into town with friends for 2 hours, and she can only go where previously agreed and must meet you at a designated pick up location on time, no exceptions. You could also out tracking on her phone and let her know you've done so. Explain to her that trust and more independence has to be earned, so she will have to follow your rules if she wants more freedom.

Aquamarine1029 Mon 27-Jul-20 21:28:37

* put tracking

reefedsail Mon 27-Jul-20 21:30:18

Could you do the equivalent of some travel training?

Break down what she will need to do when out with friends (navigate town, cross roads, go into shops etc) and practice each thing as a discrete skill- with you and then alone.

sleepismysuperpower1 Mon 27-Jul-20 21:31:17

could you start with half a day or a few hours in town with her friends? If it would make you feel better then you could drive into town whilst she walked with her friends, and run some errands/do some shopping whilst she went around on her own, so you are nearby if she needs you but not smothering. Then do slightly longer when you are still in town, then the same length of time but you are at home. You also need to set some ground rules, so phone must be off silent at all times, you might decide to download a GPS app onto her phone (like life360 for example) etc.
all the best x

Aquamarine1029 Mon 27-Jul-20 21:38:45

You know, op, I believe what you're dealing with really isn't all that different to any parent with a young teen who is trying to gain more freedom. No 13 year old should have the run of the streets, whether they have special needs are not. All 13 year olds need clear boundaries and rules that must be followed in order to gain more privileges. That's what I did with my now adult kids. Start small, if they consistently follow the rules, the get to do more over time. Break the rules and there are consequences.

CoffeeandPastries Mon 27-Jul-20 21:45:40

Thanks so much for your replies so far.

I really did think people were going to say I just needed to let her go, why hadn't I etc.

I have tried several times with the "meeting in the middle", I.e, yes you can go into town, but for not all day. Maybe on an hour or two initially, but she just says nobody else has a curfew and I can trust her etc and then says she's too embarrassed to go if she can't go for the same length of time as everyone else, so we end up back at square one.

Thank you for the app recommendation @sleepismysuperpower1

OP’s posts: |
SoulofanAggron Mon 27-Jul-20 21:45:57

I would just let her join in with her friends and do what they do.

Definitely if you insisted on picking her up at an allotted time while her friends stayed out it wouldn't go down well, she'd be really embarrassed and resentful.

I think it's unlikely she's the type to turn to crime particularly or anything like that.

Aquamarine1029 Mon 27-Jul-20 21:49:08

I have tried several times with the "meeting in the middle", I.e, yes you can go into town, but for not all day. Maybe on an hour or two initially, but she just says nobody else has a curfew and I can trust her etc and then says she's too embarrassed to go if she can't go for the same length of time as everyone else, so we end up back at square one.

I think you need to stand firm on this. You should tell her that her refusal to compromise and act maturely is showing you she's not ready for freedom. If she wants more independence, she has to earn it by following your rules, it's as simple as that. I would say this to any 13 year old, not just your daughter.

Cinderbelly Mon 27-Jul-20 22:00:31

I’ve put a family tracker app on all our phones so DS 13 with asd, can see it’s about safety not a punishment for him. I would say yes to the shopping and offer to buy all the girls lunch and then drop them home at the end of the day.
DS was very similar to your DD I’m primary, but really flourished getting the bus to school in yr7 and knowing that we trusted him to do that.
Also agree with pp, in that this is not just an asd issue, lots of teens at this age crave independence they’re not ready for and have to compromise on how things can be achieved (meet for lunch, accepting lifts, tracker apps etc)

waltzingparrot Mon 27-Jul-20 22:06:46

I was always happy to use the little white lie to help them through the 'I'm the only one who had to come home early'. So they had to be picked up 'for a dental appt' or going out with family friends etc. I preferred to do that than have them stay and sulk/cry at home. After all I did want DC to learn how to be safely independent, so wanted them to experience being out.

CoffeeandPastries Mon 27-Jul-20 22:10:19

You should tell her that her refusal to compromise and act maturely is showing you she's not ready for freedom. If she wants more independence, she has to earn it by following your rules

This is what I said the other day, almost word for word.

I do understand that a big part of this isn't unique at all. It's a dilemma that we all face to an extent. I guess I feel as though we're late to the party and starting much further back, so it's extra hard to navigate.

OP’s posts: |
Lougle Mon 27-Jul-20 22:11:36

DD2 has ASD (13 next month). Perhaps our circle is quite sheltered, but she meets with a couple of girls in our village and the Mum of the girls doesn't yet feel confident to leave her girls, so we meet at a point and they roam from there - we're in the vicinity, but they're free to roam.

There are lots of things you can do... You could sit in Costa coffee while she is in town with her friends. You could agree a check-in system. Life 360.

If you're walking home from somewhere, encourage her to walk ahead to home and tell her you'll meet her there, etc.

Echobelly Mon 27-Jul-20 22:16:30

I think you need to look at things 'backwards' - not 'what can she do now', but 'not does she need to be able to do in X years' and work towards it, even with autism. And have trust she can overcome mistakes

Friend whose son is on the spectrum and also has dyspraxia started going to secondary school and had to make his way there and back - first day he had trouble working out how to get home, but with a phone, he could sort it out.

Maybe friends will give her the confidence to cope because she will want to be more like them, and that might be the best incentive she could have to learn to manage things.

RealMermaid Mon 27-Jul-20 22:17:47

If she's with a group of girls who you think are pretty decent, I don't really see the problem with letting her go for the day. If they have been going into town all day as a group for some time then allowing her to join them isn't such a big deal as they'll all be together. I would understand more if she wanted to go on her own or they weren't good friends/you didn't trust the other girls? What specifically are you concerned she will do if you let her go for the day (possibly with you going shopping nearby as a fall back plan?)

user1471457751 Mon 27-Jul-20 22:21:05

I'm not surprised she doesn't want to go for only 1 hour. I don't think that's a reasonable compromise as it just makes her stand out from her friends. Either she tells them the truth and looks like a 'baby' or she risks her friends thinking she doesnt want to spend time with them. Why can't she just check in with you throughout the day e.g. regulars texts?

parietal Mon 27-Jul-20 22:28:31

My DD is 12 and travels to school on public transport everyday / walks to a friends house 10 mins away. but I wouldn't let her go to town all day without an adult, and I don't let her go to a new location alone (a parent always goes too on the first trip to a new house).

do you know the parent's of the new school friends at all? I bet they aren't all letting their 13 year olds do anything they want all day.

Can you go into town too when she does, and go to different shops then meet up for lunch / snacks in a cafe after 1 or 2 hours/

BackforGood Mon 27-Jul-20 22:38:33

Another here who has had 3 x teens who don't have SEN and were all pretty confident and had had lots of experience of more limited independence at 13, but none of them would be off for a full day in the town centre at that age.
Don't beat yourself up about it.
On a practical note - you've had some great suggestions here - the 'reason' she's got to come home early / or arrive late.
I would also let her know you want her to build up her independence, and ask her to come up with some suggestions of how you can compromise.
Ignore the "everyone else is allowed......." every teen has been using that since the term teenager was invented and probably before that. grin
Explain then reiterate and reiterate and reiterate (almly) that, once you know you can trust her to do X, then she will be able to do Y. However, if she lies or tries to do Z then she loses all the privileges she has built up.
It really is similar to toddler tantrums - the more consistent you are, the quicker they learn there's no point.

corythatwas Tue 28-Jul-20 01:00:20

I do think you need to see it from her pov and help her to navigate what's going to be a socially very awkward situation. You can't really expect a 13yo to say to her friends "I know you're all allowed to stay out for longer but I'm more immature than you so I can only stay out for 2 hours". She needs to be allowed to save face not only before her friends, but in front of you as well. Give some thought to it, think constructive rather than punitive.

CoffeeandPastries Tue 28-Jul-20 10:17:01

Some really good advice - thank you.

@RealMermaid, well I don't know them that well tbh. A couple are equally naive and I wouldn't feel happy about them being at their house because I got bad vibes from their mums. I don't mean just not my kind of people, but that I suspect a degree of neglect with at least one and I wouldn't feel comfortable with my DD staying over.

We've had a couple over for sleepovers and one was incredibly bossy and was treating DD a bit like a toy. She wasn't mean, obviously I wouldn't have stood for that, but I do think she takes advantage of her a bit. Again though, I know these are regular concerns for most parents, but I'm thinking in terms of getting DD to do things because she's naive and is desperate to keep her friends. She has actually broken down several times crying to me that she's so scared that she will lose them and she can't believe that she finally has friends sad It's quite heart breaking, but seeing the desperation in her makes me really worry about what she would do and put up with, in order to keep these friends.

OP’s posts: |
CharlOtteSometime Tue 28-Jul-20 10:23:19

My DS is 13 with no special needs and I wouldn't allow him to just hang around in town all day.

There's compromise to be had here. A mixture of her always being contactable on her phone, you dropping her off and/ or collecting her depending on where she's going, and standing firm on the 'no aimless hanging around' for hours on end.

Tiny2018 Tue 28-Jul-20 10:25:59

Hi Op.
My daughter has just turned 14 and there are many similarities to your story with your daughter. Mine struggled to make friends early on but has also now found her group.
We battled for months over what is acceptable in terms of her going out.
In the end, I relented and allowed her to go in at the deep end. She would get the bus to town, even went with friends to Gay Pride last year for the whole day.
Her expected time home is 8pm, she has never been late, in fact is often hours early.
Basically she learned to navigate these things by herself with restrictions from me such as expected home time and the fact that I will call occasionally and check in on her.
She has really flourished and is now quite confident. Any time she leaves the house I am fine now, as she has proved time and again that she is trustworthy and sensible.
More so than myself if I'm honest 😂
Hope this helps x

CoffeeandPastries Tue 28-Jul-20 10:54:41

@Tiny2018, wow. That must have been so hard for you! You must feel so relieved now though.

DD was actually walking to school on her own, as we were only a 5 minute walk away, but we moved during lockdown and she will need to get a bus from the next village from September and she's dreading it. She doesn't think she'll know what to do - and is also worried about bullying, as one of her friends was bullied for a while on her bus and so it's stuck with her as a thing.

OP’s posts: |
CoffeeandPastries Tue 28-Jul-20 15:01:11

I know you're all allowed to stay out for longer but I'm more immature than you so I can only stay out for 2 hours

Yes, I do really worry about how she handles those kind of situations and I hate to think of her constantly feeling like the odd one out....the one who can't etc. This is why I'm trying to make her see just how important it is that I can trust her first and that she has to start somewhere in order for this to happen.

2 hours with friends in town, I don't think is too mortifying, as long as there is a good excuse in place. I.e I have an appointment at x time. It wouldn't be like that forever, but as I keep saying, she has to start somewhere!

I do have anxiety and I would always be the worrier, but with this layered on top, I can get myself into a bit of a state whenever I have let her go. For example, when she first started walking to school on her own, I was so nervous, I felt quite sick. She had to cross a very busy road too. She was also temporarily bullied en route for the first couple of weeks by these horrible year 9 boys angry who made fun of her and used to make disgusting sexual references. I stamped that out straight away with the school. Was very impressed how swiftly they handled that actually, but anyway, it's certainly been a bumpy ride to get to this point and she's come such a long way. I desperately want her confidence and independence to keep growing.

OP’s posts: |
BackforGood Tue 28-Jul-20 16:29:46

Another thing I would think about, is finding something outside of school she can do as a hobby. this not only opens up another potential ppl of friends - which therefore reduces the "desperation" to remain friends with the school friends, but it also gives her other perspectives of different people. It also has the hidden advantage of some of her time being taken up with said hobby, (when you know where she is and who she is with) which leaves less time to fill with with "hanging around town" type things which are more worrying.

I know this means finding 'the thing'.
drama ? Martial Arts ? Guides or Scouts ? Cadets ? Volunteering somewhere (though this is trick when young). A non-team-games sport such as climbing or sailing or triathlon ? Some sort of coding club (do they exist?).

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