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Teen daughter going off the rails

(10 Posts)
houdini64 Mon 19-Sep-11 08:53:05

My 14-and-a-half year old has been great up until about 4 months ago. We had the usual grumps and sulking, but I always thought she was a pretty sound and sensible person. However, over the summer, things really started going a bit wrong.

It started when her friendship group (large, together since primary school, includes boys and girls) made friends with two new boys from another school. These boys were clearly exciting and different and soon we were hearing all about their exploits, which included downing a bottle of vodka and smoking weed. I took the opportunity to talk to my daughter about drink and drugs, and the damage they can do, and she reassured me that she thought the boys' behaviour was silly. I watched her and made sure she came home on time, not smelling of smoke or weed, so nothing in her own behaviour gave me cause for concern.

Then, she started going out with one of the boys. The one who drank the vodka, smokes weed, self-harms and is having counselling for his issues. ARGHHH. Bad choice, or what? She didn't tell me this, but I saw her relationship status on facebook had changed. When I asked her about this, she was embarrassed, but admitted they were dating.

That was three months ago, and since then we've seen changes in her which make us anxious.
• She came home stoned once with him.
• She's been smoking.
• She's started posting sexual images (not of her!) on her tumblr blog page (since tumblr is a public post and I know her post name, I feel no qualms about looking at it).
• She's been talking about self harming.

I've been talking to her regularly about all three things above (not the sex yet). But everything came to a head this weekend when she told me she was going to a friend's house for a sleepover, but when I smelt a rat and asked her to come home, confessed that she, the two boys and another (girl) friend were planning to go to the park in the dark and then go for a sleepover (she said not with the boys, but I don't believe that).

We grounded her for the weekend. Talked about choices, risky behaviour, and - a big deal for us - lying and trust.
She seemed relieved, at first, and behaved and I wondered if she'd felt pressured into going along with the plan for the sleepover, but yesterday she was seething with anger and resentment. Talking isn't always easy because she doesn't say much/won't look at me/clams up.

She's told me she feels depressed and I feel I should take that seriously, as she does seem down. But I also suspect that may partly be a ploy to distract us from focusing on her behaviour. Is that uncharitable of me?

I suspect she's close to having sex with this lad. I'm waiting for the right moment today or tomorrow to have a chat about that.

She's doing really well at school, and spent all Sunday doing homework. But a teacher friend of mine told me that schoolwork is often the last thing to go awry.

I don't know what to do.
I know this is normal teenage stuff - the moods, fags and weed, sex and lying.
I don't want to go in all guns blazing, laying down draconian consequences (punishments!) and make her feel even more resentful and give her justification for rebellion.
But I don't want it to get worse. She's a great girl, with many positive qualities, and a lovely sense of humour. She has a bright and happy future ahead. I just want to keep her safe, help her make good choices, and handle this appropriately.

Sorry this is so long. I've been up sleepless for two nights now, and am feeling sick with worry.
Any advice?

titchy Mon 19-Sep-11 09:13:07

I suspect my response will not be the same as most others - but I'd be grounding her for a lot longer than a weekend! You have to clamp down on this like a ton of bricks. Some things I think you can drop (pick your battles and all that) - moods etc, but any behaviour which potentially has long term consequences (sex,, drugs, maybe lying about where she is, depending on how safe your area is) you need to stop right now.

Sympathies - I have a teen too, though mine hasn;t quite reached the stage of fags and cider it won't be long! One thing I do when mine is being totally unresponsive (fingers in ears!) is to write her notes, and she writes me notes back. She responds to that - it's a lot more non-confrontational, and we both have to think about exactly what we want to tell each other.

Good luck.

AnyFucker Mon 19-Sep-11 09:18:32

She is 14, not 16, 17, 18

I would be clamping down very, very sharply

I would not be concerned about making her feel resentful

I have a nearly 16yo who has done (and also would have done without my timely intervention) some of the things you describe (the lying about where they were sleeping is an absolute classic)

The way she has lied leaves you no choice, I am afraid

For a while, you will have to assume you don't even know the full truth of wht has gone before and not believe anything she says

That is the price she pays for trashing your trust in her

If she can't make good choices to protect herself, you will have to make them for her (at this tender age)

harch I know, and I am sure there will be lots of posters who say my approach would drive your dd away, but that hasn't been the experience I had with my dd when there were issues like this earlier in the year

I really sympathise..it's such a worry isn't it ?

GnomeDePlume Tue 20-Sep-11 09:04:47

Agree with all the others but you absolutely must find a place to talk.

The place which works for me is in the car. Is that an option for you? Perhaps take your DD on a longish trip somewhere (does not need to be exciting!). The thing about talking in the car is that you are sat next to each other so there is no eye contact so it is easier to talk about the tough subjects like sex without either of you getting embarassed.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 21-Sep-11 15:09:05

I'd also be grounding her for a lot longer than a weekend as well. Take it all away from her; the FB certainly needs to be pulled for a start.

Your DD also needs to be aware that posting sexual images is a criminal offence, what goes on the net stays on there.

So she feels resentful of you eh; too bad. What are the true consequences for her actions?.

My guess is that she wants to rescue and or save this boy from his own demons but she has been manipulated by such an individual and is now being dragged down with him. I would talk to Parentline about this too, its no bad reflection on you to ask for outside help.

I would also make the school aware as well.

pinkchoccy Wed 21-Sep-11 15:22:20

Hi Houdini64,

I can really sympathise with you, I went through this with my son who met agirl at 14 who was in care, drank, self harmed etc . Unfortunately I could not keep control of my son as he was very mature physically and became very sneaky i.e. leaving the house in the middle of the night ....etc.
If your daughter will listen to you and be grounded and disciplined then you have something. This is a good sign. I would have moved house if I knew what would have happened with my son. The girl ended up pregnant and we look after our grandson full timenow. My son now 21 and nothings changed he is still leading a hectic lifestyle addicted to weed and in a volatile relationship that shows no signs of breaking the neverending cycle.
If I had my time again I would go to any length to prevent what happened. Talking more, being crafty with planning things to do that may interest your daughter. I have to go now but weed also has a huge effect on personality.
Hope everything works out for you.

houdini64 Thu 22-Sep-11 03:54:57

Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply. Parentline and writing notes are both good ideas, and yes - talking is so important.

We have been talking a lot with her, and although she has been cross about the grounding/no sleepovers any more rule, she is going along with it as she knows she has no choice.

I do worry that she doesn't have many interests outside socilaizing and texting. Any suggestions? She's not sporty and doesn't like drama.

LoveBeingAMummyAgain Thu 22-Sep-11 05:24:39

What ate her fab subjects at school/ career aspirations?

TanteRose Thu 22-Sep-11 05:36:11

Could she do some volunteering work?

agree that she is still a child and you need to be strict.

I have a nearly 14 year old DD who is taller than me, but I have to remind myself that she is still just a child and I have to keep in control of any situation that may arise

mountaingirl Fri 23-Sep-11 20:56:09

Dd is 13 and I'd dread something like this happening to her. Have you thought about approaching the boyfriend? If that was my dh he'd be warning him off her and if he didn't believe me I would!

Your dd sounds like a good girl and maybe will find security and relief behind your strict rules imposed.

I hope he is out of your lives soon.

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