Advanced search

14 yo DSD behaving like a cow - leave her to it or force the issue?

(25 Posts)
matana Fri 14-Oct-11 08:41:40

We've always had a very good relationship with her and her sister and 11 months ago had a DS who they absolutely adore. We have always treated her and her sister equally, and since DS came along have been extra careful to do the same. We didn't drop maintenance payments in line with having another child, for example, because we can afford it and didn't want my DSDs to feel second best.

But recently DH had cause to speak to DSD1 about her attitute, which has been getting steadily worse. She's always been quite self centred and thoughtless, but it reached a peak recently when we bought her a little something back from holiday. She opened it, looked down her nose at it, put it to one side and said nothing. So my DH explained to her that if someone buys you something you say thank you regardless of whether it's up to your high expectations or not.

After that she refused point blank to travel up north with us for her auntie's 40th birthday, saying "You can't make me". She instead stayed the weekend with her 16 year old boyfriend and his family because it was his birthday. Her mum and stepdad went away for the weekend.

Anyway, DH has spoken to ex numerous times who always seems to try to be amicable and "trying to sort it out". But she always says that they don't have problems with her. We know this isn't true because her sister tells us how much she argues with her stepdad.

The upshot is that both my DH and I have offered to meet her several times to sort things out. We are told by DH's ex that DSD1 is very upset, says DH hates her and is refusing to go to school some days. Clearly we don't want this to continue, hence the reason we have told her we want to see her to talk, listen, find out what's wrong etc. We've expressly said we miss her, love her, want to make things right. All we get is a text that says "Still upset. Don't want to talk in case i say something i'll regret." This has now been going on for 4 weeks.

Anyone else experienced this? What did you do? Did you keep trying or leave them to it and hope they will come around some time before their 18th birthday?

DH is so behind himself because we've always tried to do right by both girls, compromised on things as DSD1 has got older, allowed her to see friends on days she's supposed to be with us etc. I am upset too as i hate to think we're causing her so much upset. Besides that, i want her to see her brother.

matana Fri 14-Oct-11 08:44:21

*beside himself, not behind!

PenguinsAreThePoint Fri 14-Oct-11 08:57:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

3littlefrogs Fri 14-Oct-11 09:04:43

I agree with penguins. Relax a bit, let her know you love her, let her come round in her own time. Being 14 is hard.

matana Fri 14-Oct-11 09:15:05

Thing is we've tried giving her space. She said give me time, we left it without contact for 2 weeks. We got back in contact and she's 'still upset'. It hasn't all been 'big summit talks' either... i've offered to take my DS to see her and have a walk. Refusal in response, though she does say she misses him.

I think i could reconcile myself to leaving her to it were it not for the fact that she is not the sort of person to 'come around in her own time' if she is not made to face an issue. She's very much like an ostrich in that respect and always has been, regardless of age. I suppose i don't get it. She's apparently extremely upset. She will not take steps to resolve the issue, so remains upset.

I don't believe you should excuse bad behaviour and bad attitute on the basis she's a teenager. We have given her lots and lots of allowances. Teenagers still need to know there are boundaries, that's how they make the transition from child to adult. As i've said, we've been pretty laid back so far, arguably too laid back it seems.

ConstanceNoring Fri 14-Oct-11 09:19:13

I agree with what penguins has said too.

Teenagers can be bad enough but when they find they've got some pawns to play with in their 'I am a teenager, life is hard, no-one gets me' game then the difficulties are compounded.

I think it is not so much about you, it's about her wanting to do other things. But she is making it about you and being dramatic in the process 'don't want to say something i'll regret' . grin She has nothing to say because really she is just sulking and putting it on you, and I dare say she's doing the same to her Mum and StepDad. The only difference is that she can't deprive her Mum of her presence because she lives there! But she can do this to you as the NRPs.

All you can do is tell her you are sorry she is upset, when she is ready to talk about it you are all ears, will promise to let her have her say and get it all out so that you can do something about it. You love her and the door is open blah blah, and of course your DS is missing her too.

Teenagers eh, - watch too much 'stenders and Hollyoaks if you ask me wink

RosieAndGin Fri 14-Oct-11 09:19:56

You could be describing my not so Dd, 15 years old and a complete pain in the butt. Tantrums and dramas all the way, if she gets anymore me me me she will implode. I do however understand its her age, hormones racing everywhere, and accept that deep down she does love us and she will come out the otherside eventually.

I often wonder where my sweet kind little girl went, and sometimes have a glimpse of her grin but those glimpses are very few and far between.

Just keep doing what you are doing, and it will work itself out.

ConstanceNoring Fri 14-Oct-11 09:22:56

x-post a bit

Can the ex elaborate about what she's upset about? Or has she not explained to her either?

If it goes on too long then perhaps DH and his ex can get their heads together and tell her it's no good keep saying you're upset when no-one knows what the hell about - how is anyone supposed to fix it?

matana Fri 14-Oct-11 09:33:07

Rosie - thanks, that does make me feel better. It's frustrating because i'm not someone who dwells on things. I'd rather deal with them and move on and as most adults are like this too i've never had the challenge of someone who just wants to wallow! Even when i was a teenager i'd much rather have gone off to bed with a kiss, cuddle and 'sorry' to my parents than lie there awake all night crying. But that's me and i accept that people are different.

Constance - thanks also. She hasn't told her mum what's so upsetting, other than saying "dad hates me/ doesn't like me". But i do suspect there is also some secret squirrel going on and her mum is unwilling to tell us things her DD has told her in confidence....

ragged Fri 14-Oct-11 09:41:21

Anyway, DH has spoken to ex numerous times who always seems to try to be amicable and "trying to sort it out". But she always says that they don't have problems with her. We know this isn't true because her sister tells us how much she argues with her stepdad.

I really don't like this paragraph because it implies that the bio-mum is somehow conspiring to perpetuate the bad feeling ("seems to try") comment. Rather than rightly taking a neutral position.

As for arguing with the step-dad and how much of a problem she is in their household, it's their call whether they find her a problem, not yours.

I agree with those that say you're making battles where none need be.

If your DH was my mate I would advise him to keep the door open for communication; stop asking "What's wrong?" and move on to several times a week inviting her to new things, sending her funny text jokes, sending her cute pix of her little brother, etc. It sounds like you're pressuring her to sort things out and she needs space to figure it out for herself.

brdgrl Fri 14-Oct-11 10:13:18

I know a lot of people don't agree with this, but I really, really don't think kids should be allowed to 'opt out' of visits with their non-residential parent.
It is inappropriate, IMO, as a kid in an "intact" family would have no such choice. It gives teenage kids too much power in a fight, and it also gives them too much opportunity to paint themselves into a corner.

If your DH lived with DSD, this could have all been resolved, because frankly she would have had no choice but to get on with things. By letting her avoid the visits, the adults in this situation (and I guess I'd hold her mother, as residential parent, particularly to task for this) are allowing drama and lasting hurt to spiral.

I'd insist on the regular pattern of visits. If she wants to spend them pouting, that's up to her, but it is closer to the "normal" dynamic of father-daughter teenager relations.

matana Fri 14-Oct-11 10:21:34

Thanks brdgrl - we have struggled with and debated this over time. I really do understand what you're saying. My DH was of the same opinion as you but we talked it through and were swayed by the argument that we would be setting ourselves up for arguments, tantrums and sulks which non resident parents can ill afford. As it is, we've got the tantrums and sulks anyway, so maybe you're right!

It hasn't helped that DH's ex sought advice from CAB about whether we can make DSD go places, do things with us etc (not the route i would have gone down but that's what she chose). Her big mistake was in telling DSD that, at 14, she does not LEGALLY have to do anything or go anywhere with us. My DH suggested to ex that this was somewhat naive of her. And beside, sod the legalities of it, what about MORALLY?

Anyway, we are where we are. And that's a very difficult place.

brdgrl Fri 14-Oct-11 10:31:22

Well, admittedly, I can see it being a bit of a nightmare to insist on it if the residential parent won't work with you on it, too. (And I should point out that this is not something I have personally had to do, so I may be unqualified in my opinions! - it just doesn't sit right with me.)

Her big mistake was in telling DSD that, at 14, she does not LEGALLY have to do anything or go anywhere with us.
Really!? I hadn't realised seems crazy to me. (Definitely not telling DSD/DSS!)

glasscompletelybroken Fri 14-Oct-11 11:29:50

I agree with brdgrl on this - you can't let children make these kinds of decisions that then affect the whole family - it's giving them too much power.

She's being sulky and a typical teenager but is able to get away with it becasue her parents don't live together - I don't see how that will help her long term tbh.

I do think it's relevant what her mother is doing and saying as she could be helping with this situation. My view is that BOTH parents need to tell her that contact is what it is - it's not optional. Of course it's reasonable to make exceptions and let her do things with her friends on special occassions like her boyfriends birthday, but generally speaking if she's supposed to be at her dads then that's where she should be.

ragged Fri 14-Oct-11 14:38:12

OP: has your DH fallen into the trap of admonishing her frequently during time they spend together? Is that the total of their relationship as far as she is concerned? Because it sounds like it might be...

If I brought "a little something" back from holiday as a gift and she clearly didn't like it, I wouldn't respond with a sarky "You should say thank you" Instead I'd say "Oh dear, it's pants isn't it? I'm so sorry! I'll try to do better next time." And laugh it off. Maybe because I think it's very important to get gifts for people they actually like, else don't bother at all.

Legally, I think from 12yo, she has a huge say in where she lives and who she spends her time with. I thought that I read that from the age of 12yo a "child" can request to be fostered rather than live with their parents and SS would be very obliged to take the request very seriously. This is a good thing, imho.

OP & her DH will get nowhere by coercing a teenager to spend time with them. Recipe for supreme resentment, imho. Tbh, I think some of you are talking as though a 14yo should be treated like a 4yo.

matana Fri 14-Oct-11 15:00:53

No, ragged, he has not fallen into that trap and i don't know how you have surmised that from what i have written. In fact, i don't remember the last time he had reason to do so - probably a couple of years ago. Over the years we could have said more no doubt, but our time is precious with them both.

We certainly do not treat her like a 4 year old. When she initially told us it was her boyfriend's birthday the same weekend as her aunt's, we suggested she see if her mum would allow her to travel up (direct train, we'd wait the other end) on the Saturday, so she could still spend Friday with her boyfriend. She liked the idea. Her mum didn't. That said, DSD was still planning on coming up until my DH had words with her.

I make no apologies for having different values and a different parenting style to you. I believe children should have manners, as well as freedom of expression.

glasscompletelybroken Fri 14-Oct-11 17:14:26

ragged the point is that children whose parents aren't seperated can't throw a strop and refuse to spend time at their parents house everytime they don't get what they want. It's ridiculous to suggest that the OP is trying to coerce this teenager into spending time at their house - it is an arrangement that has been put in place and she shouldn't have the power to pick and choose on the basis of where she will get the most fun on any given occassion. Real life isn't all fun - it's about responsibility and concern for other people, increasingly so as you get older.

I don't think it's treating her like a 4 year old expecting her to show some manners and consideration - it's actually saying that she is old enough to know better.

Matana I aggre completely with you - I have 4 children of my own and 2 dsd's and I wouldn't be treated like that by any of them.

ragged Fri 14-Oct-11 18:07:18

I don't want to make too much of that one (single? unusual?) incident.
But on the face of it, he prioritised manners over open and honest communication.
And now your DH wonders why she doesn't want to spend time with him.

ragged Fri 14-Oct-11 18:09:10

What exactly has the girl's mother advised you two should do to improve things (school refusal, etc.). Is her advice anything different from what you're already doing?

matana Sat 15-Oct-11 15:22:59

Sounds like you're trying to get a rise out of me, but i don't feel the need to justify our parenting. In nine years i think we've done a pretty good job on the whole so my conscience is clear. I asked for advice on what to do now a situation has arisen and have had some helpful replies.

Her mum doesn't have any advice. She has talked to her, but no advice. She too is at a loss.

One thing you suggested was constructive though - i sent her a pic of our DS. Unfortunately no response though.

I guess we'll wait it out, as much for our own sanity as anything.

brdgrl Sat 15-Oct-11 15:58:01

it is quite right to prioritise manners over what passes for 'open and honest communication' sometimes.

good luck with it, matana, keep us posted?

incognitwooohooo Sun 16-Oct-11 10:18:02

Message withdrawn

matana Sun 16-Oct-11 19:46:28

A bit of a breakthrough perhaps. DS came down with bacterial tonsillitis yesterday. DSD sent me a text to say she hoped he was ok and to let her know. Much more like the sweet, kind girl i know. I've told her she can visit him at his CM later this week because she lives close by.

scotchmeg Sun 16-Oct-11 21:18:51

My teo pennies: 14 year olds are drama queens by nature. When their parents are together they get away with very little as, short of running away from home, they have to be there. When their parents are seperated they get to make an easy choice to just stay at the house where the trouble isn't.
The other parent will often revel in not being the parent who the child is annoyed with as well, compounding the problem.

I don't agree with those who said that she should be allowed to egt away with being rude about the present. She is still a child and still "in training" as far as manners go. However, not wanting to go to an old relitives party and preferring to stay with a friend is normal and should be tolerated.

Can you text her or email her to say you have thought about everything and realised that you have completely forgotten what it's like to be a teenager. Now you've had chance to cool down you realise that she is growing up quickly and has a right to an opinion. You realise that it can't be easy for her to have a new brother and to be in a difficult year at shcool and that whilst you have certain expectations, you want to make things easier for her in future... or something like that.

Once you got her back at your house regularly and all isback to normal, you can address her in a light hearted way and lay down some ground rules for her AND she can lay some down for you.

scotchmeg Sun 16-Oct-11 21:20:43

I'm a bit worried though that if this behaviour is sudden, there might be something else going on... a relationship (possibly turned sexual?) with a 16 year old boy is tricky to manage.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: