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Newbie introduction and seeking advice. ( long )

(9 Posts)
nimbusgb Thu 20-Jan-11 12:50:40

Hi

First time posting here. So I'll introduce myself before launching into the 'challenge' we have on our hands.

I'm the Dad; Mom and I are married and have been together for 28 years although married for only 19 of those. We are ex South African having moved here about 13 years ago now. Although I was born here I spent most of my life in South Africa and it was still 'home' until perhaps a couple of years ago.

What might be called middle class, ( bottom end of it given the current economic climate! ), well settled, homeowners , 2 Kids. Eldest, a daughter just turned 18 and our son just turned 15. I work in IT, never had the chance of an university education but have managed to do OK. My wife is a qualified pharmacist ( with a BSc ) in South Africa but gave it up when we moved here in favour of more unskilled jobs so that she could be at home when the children were home from school. we have a boat in Greece and have holidays abroad probably twice a year. We are certainly not as badly off as a hell of a lot of people ( there but for the grace ..... )

We live in rural Sussex and consider ourselves very fortunate to have found our home and to have settled where we have in a clean, crime free and largely quiet Sussex village.

We are I suppose on the conservative side of the parenting model and are complimented on our kids behaviour and manners in company and when on their own and interacting with adults. Both children are, or were doing well at school until recently.

And therein is the nub of the problem.

12 months ago our daughter was engaged and focussed. She was planning a career in teaching and was intent on getting a university education, becoming a teacher and emigrating to Australia. We were fully behind the idea. Oz is a glorious place and the opportunities for a youngster are great. we would have moved there had our ages not been against us when we emigrated from SA. She has a brilliant artistic talent and has, after getting a volunteer assistants position at the local school, discovered a real talent for educating youngsters. I will always cherish the excitement she displayed when she came home to tell us how she had finally succeeded in getting a 'challenged' youngster to read a few words during one of her early sessions in a classroom.

She has 2 paying part time jobs, one in a supermarket 1 night a week and Saturdays and the other behind the bar at the local pub, pulling pints on Friday and Monday evenings.

As her 18th birthday got closer she got more and more rebellious ( hey who doesn't ), less and less engaged and the tension around the house has increased. Never to unmanageable levels but the odd shouting match and ensuing make up between wife and daughter.

That is until 2 weeks ago at which point just 2 weeks short of the start of final 6th form exams she announced that she was dropping out, had no intention of going to uni, didn't care if she was poor the rest of her life provided she was doing something that she enjoyed. She intended doing a 6 week 'make-up' course and starting her own small business based around that.

To say we were stunned is to understate things slightly. After much discussion we appear to have convinced her to complete 6th form at least ( It's not very 'adult' to quit at the last fence after all )

She declared that she needed some space and has went to stay with her 'bff' ( two weeks ago ) a younger girl with considerably more permissive parents. Initially this is meant to be until Feb 2nd but I can see writing on the wall that does not look promising. She is apparently still attending lessons. She did say she would text my wife once a day before bed time and when she failed to do so on Sunday last, wife started to worry, a call was made which ended up in the daughter saying some pretty nasty things.

My wife is continuously on the verge of tears. I am confused and hurt by the complete rejection and angry that daughter has not even felt the need to drop a line ( or email or text or facpook poke ) to her brother.

At a bit of a loss as to what we can do to get to the bottom of things. Her being 18 doesn't help!

TeenageWildlife Thu 20-Jan-11 13:04:16

Hi Nimbus - somebody will be along soon with some proper help, but I couldn't just read your post and not say anything.
What did go through my mind is that your DD seems to have been "perfect" until now. My DD is 18 but she was digging her heels in from about 13 and we had our tough times until 15. Maybe teens need to strike out for independence at some point and your DD is just doing this now?
Or maybe this friend she is staying with is influencing her in this way?! Is the friend continuing with her A levels and Uni?
It is very hard to let go and let them make their own choices when they are not our choices. And it doesn't matter what class you are or how many holidays a year you have, we cannot control them nor should we try to.
Hopefully Custy will be along in a while to say something more useful.

dementedma Thu 20-Jan-11 13:11:03

Oh dear. I am the mother of teen daughters but have no experience of your situation really. Is there a boyfriend on the scene?
I'm so sorry I can't offer any helpful advice - teens at that cusp of independence stage are very hard to reason with, and other than trying to keep the communication channels open there is little you can do.
The lack of contact with the brother could be a jealousy thing? My older DD (20) went through a phase of being hideously hurtful to her younger sister (17) to the point of refusing to answer any question addressed to her or even acknowledge DD2s presence in a room. Being "independent" is cool but then sometimes very scary and admitting that she might have been hasty in the move out could be hard. has she painted herself into a corner a bit there?
I hope someone wiser comes along soon to help you out, but in the meantime, welcome to MN and be sure there will be sympathetic ears out there!

TheVisitor Thu 20-Jan-11 13:14:52

It sounds to me (although I may be wrong) that she wants more to be treated like the adult she is, and has gone the wrong way about it. Are you still fairly strict with her comings and goings? She is an adult now and needs to make her own choices. Keep the lines of communication open with her and let her come back when she's ready, making her own choices even if she doesn't agree with you.

TheVisitor Thu 20-Jan-11 13:15:50

She doesn't agree with you should read you don't agree with her.

nimbusgb Thu 20-Jan-11 14:34:56

to answer a few questions ...

i wouldn't say thet the friend is a good influence but then she could be worse i suppose. If her friend packs in school I expect that the wrath of Hell would descend on her from her parents! Which makes it all a bit more confusing.

I agree that beyond a certain point you just have to trust that the guidance you have given them in the early stages will hold good going forward. The difficult thing to accept is that all of a sudden she simply does not want to talk to us at all.

Yes I agree that she wants to be treated as an adult. This is a young lady who can ( and did ) cook the entire family Christmas meal, at her own insistence and on her own. But has yet to load a washing machine, clean a loo or take on some of the real responsibilities of adulthood. The challenge from my side is that throwing your toys out of the pram in the manner she has is about as far from 'adult' as you can get.

How strict are we? Free use of my wife's car, we were on the cusp of buying wife a new car and handing daughter the keys to the Pug 206. No 'curfew' as such but we would like to know roughly when she'll be home or in for dinner or having friends around so that we can cater. We have never prohibited her anything really, the situation has not even arisen. Our home has always been the preferable spot for her to gather with her friends and her friends call my wife 'mummy M*****h'. She comes and goes as she pleases, there is very litle pressure to actually do any schoolwork, she has always sailed along. She got a belly button piercing at 16, I voiced my disapproval but I accepted it when she went ahead with it.

Disagreements I can handle, that's what life is about but to sort them out you talk, negotiate and a lot of the time concede. You don't run away.

I am not trolling for sympathy, if someone came along and told me that we were just awful parents I could take it if only they knew how to fix it! In my heart I know that we have probably been pretty much 'average' as parents!

I have managed to invite daughter round for supper on Sunday. The plan I think will be to steer clear of any confrontation at all. Wife and I will need to plan it a bit before then.

ajandjjmum Thu 20-Jan-11 14:48:05

My ds and dd both spent a couple of months at school in SA when they were 17, and in turn, we had some SA young adults over staying with us.

Without a doubt, the SA way of parenting is less accepting of what we would term 'typical teenage behaviour' - and that is absolutely not a criticism at all. In the view of my kids, it's a little like in the 50's here - no hanging around on street corners, alcohol, late nights etc. For what it's worth, my two LOVED SA, particularly DD who is adamant that she wants to go back to live.

I wonder if your dd is going thru' the 'normal' teenage rebellion 2/3 years later than most kids of her age? Unfortunately, because of her age, she is able to go to extremes that we may all find easier to handle with a 14/15 year old. And she earns her own money, which must help.

I'm sure you'll get through this, and your normal lovely dd will return. But I sympathise with you and your DW - it's really tough at the time. Hope Sunday goes well. smile

nimbusgb Wed 28-Sep-11 17:26:28

reviving this thread save adding to the story ......

Since January DD has finished A levels ( thank the stars for that ) and got a mediocre pass, she turned 19 this month and moved out of home and in with her boyfriend. She has bought a brand new car, getting in to 12k's worth of debt on the strength of a job she had for a week. She subsequently quit the job saying she couldn't bear it any more leaving the owner in the lurch on the day the woman DD was replacing was going on maternity leave. Lets just say that he's not exactly what any father would want for his daughter but not as bad as some. I was going to say not a criminal but he does ( at 20 ) already have one 12 month drink driving ban.

DD has been gone for about 5 weeks now and has all but cut off contact with us to the point of being quite vindictive. She was working at our local pub 3 times a week until last weekend, no more than 200 metres from our home, she made every excuse to not simply pop around and just say hi! She did put in an appearance on her brothers 16th birthday 2 weeks ago, promised him a gift and has not been in touch since. Any attempts to try and find out what we can do to improve the situation, to get the communication going are simply brushed off and ignored. On DS's birthday a promise was made to be in contact more often followed by 2 weeks of silence.

I am at the point where I think we should stop trying and let her get on with it. My biggest concern is that when the wheels do fall off she will have convinced herself that we are not prepared to help.

My biggest concern now is DS and his feelings about the situation, getting my wife into a better place mentally ( not bursting in to tears 3 or 4 times a day ) and not waking myself up at 2 am worrying about DD, her future etc. This is not the place I expected to be when I held her in my arms for the first time 19 years ago!

Maryz Wed 28-Sep-11 21:51:07

I think you need to write her a letter, a non-judgemental letter. Tell her you love her and miss her, that you respect her right as an adult to go off and live her own life, but that you hope that she doesn't feel the need to cut you out completely.

Tell her that she is welcome to call around and see you or her brother whenever she likes.

Is there an upcoming family event (birthday, grandparents anniversary, something like that) that you could ask her to come to?

And then having written and sent it, stand back a bit. It is incomprehensible what she has done, but I'm sure she has her reasons, and no matter how wrong they may seem to you, they probably feel very justified to her. Constant calls and texts and "how could you do this to us" messages (whether actually spoken or inferred) will only make thigs worse. A weekly text saying "hope things are good" and positive family news will get a better result than "when are you coming to see us" texts or tearful calls.

When I read your first posts I thought "drugs", specifically cannabis, and I wonder whether there is any chance her b/f is into dope? Just wondering.

She sounds to me as though she is independent, which is good. She has a job, she is not doing anything illegal and while her choices may not be yours they are still valid choices. You need to be careful not to try to force your opinions onto her at this stage, you will drive her further away.

What you mustn't do is go back over it all continuously in your heads, allow yourselves to apportion blame, destroy your lives now because of regret for what might have been. Accept that to some extent you are grieving the daughter that you might have had (if that makes sense), but try to come to terms with it. Get some family counselling to try to talk about it all, and to let yourselves realise that the past is the past, and you are where you are now and can only go on from here. Regret and recrimination (as your wife is discovering) are very emotionally draining and often counterproductive.

Huge sympathy to you, though. I know what it is like to have a successful achieving child just chuck it all away, and to have to stand by and just watch them. It is soul-destroying, but you have to accept and learn to live with it, and hope that in time things will improve. In the meantime, just try to keep the lines of communication open and also to avoid making things worse by demanding more from her than she is ready to give.

Good luck smile.

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