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Thought I was going to have a heart attack. Can't go on like this

(84 Posts)
Shagmundfreud Fri 08-Feb-13 20:34:29

Tonight 13 yr old dd got me up against a radiator, swearing and shouting and threatening me because I told her she couldn't go to a friend's house. In front of her friend. Pushed her face in my face saying 'You think you're hard, what are you going to do about this then? What? What?' And instead of getting myself away and shutting myself in the bathroom or something, I pushed her away, slapped at her and shouted 'don't you dare try to intimidate me in my own home'. Shoved her down the hallway towards her bedroom and pulled at her hair to get her to move backwards. She weighs 10 stone and is STRONG, and I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

I shouldn't have done it. sad

She then stormed out the house. I now know she went straight round to SIL's. DH has come back from work and is now round there to pick her up. I spent the first hour breathless and sobbing after she'd gone. Phoned parent line in between comforting my other two dc's (7 and 9). (they stuck their heads round the door and fired a nerf gun at me. I looked at the bullet and saw they'd stuck a note to it saying 'We are sorry for you' smilesad).

I can't go on like this. We have tried to put some basic rules in place (hand over phone at 10pm on a school night, do homework, get to school on time) and she just flouts them day in and day out. Tonight's conflict started last night. I went into her room at 9.30 last night to remind her that she needed to be in bed at 10pm, and I would be taking her phone. However, I then got caught up and ended up not going in to take her phone until 10.15. At which point she was sitting fully clothed, straightening her hair. I said she had to go to bed, and to give me her phone, at which point she looked at me and said rudely 'You'll have to wait - I need to message some people' and carried on doing her hair. My response to this was to point out that I'd come in at 9.30 to remind her and that if the phone wasn't in my hand in 1 minute she'd lose it for the next day. I walked off and eventually she came in to the sitting room and threw her phone at me, arguing with me all the time about how unreasonable I was etc. Then she came and took it back off the table and went back up to her room.

DH took the phone when he came back and told her she'd lost it for the day, which resulted in her shouting in the hallway at 7am this morning. Anyway, she came back from school at 4pm and asked for her phone. As she was being polite and had apologised I let her have it. Big mistake. As soon as she had it she asked if she could go over to a friend's this evening, and when I said 'no' the above happened.

I can't take the verbal bullying and aggression and physical intimidation. She WON'T take 'no' for an answer from me. She's defiant with DH but not nearly so much as she is to me, where it's her 'rule' to challenge everything I say, and ignore pretty much all instructions. Tonight I really thought I was going to fall to pieces - I realised I'm frightened of her, and that she knows it and is being deliberately abusive to me.

I wanted to ask if anyone here would recommend family therapy for a situation like this. Really something has gone badly wrong and I'm struggling to parent her. SIL phoned me and said she thought that DD must be being bullied at school or something, for her to be so angry and so confrontational with me. I'm not so sure. I've not seen any evidence of it. I feel that we have a terrible dynamic going on - that dd is having a tough adolescence and its manifesting itself in a total reluctance to grow up. She is constantly pushing the boundaries Can't get her to see that growing up involves more freedom AND taking more responsibility for herself, and she can't have the first if she outright refuses the second. She's so profoundly uncooperative with us - I really do think it goes beyond normal teen laziness and rebelliousness. Things are really unhappy at home, and I'm wondering how long we can go on with this daily conflict - the shouting, refusal to follow even the most simple and basic rules, the attacks on me, the contempt. sad

Horsemad Sat 09-Feb-13 20:55:57

If she smacked a woman who wasn't her mother, the police quite rightly, would be notified.
Tell her what the consequences will be if there's a repeat performance and FOLLOW THROUGH with the threat.
Parenting teens can be hard but YOU gave to be in charge, NOT her.

FlyingFig Sat 09-Feb-13 20:56:24

As you know I'm right there with you, so at this moment in time have no advice but feel your pain and worry, your DD is so much like mine it's spooky sad.

I'm pinning all my hopes on my DD's CAHMS referral but have a sinking feeling this storm is going to take some riding out. But it's a start. DD is as my sister's tonight as we've all had enough and need the break.

Hope you're as OK as you possibly can be x

cjel Sat 09-Feb-13 22:36:23

horsemad dd didn't hit anyone!!

Horsemad Sat 09-Feb-13 23:06:34

Have re-read the OP and whilst the DD didn't hit her mother, she used threatening behaviour which is NOT acceptable under any circs.

I wouldn't tolerate it.

Horsemad Sat 09-Feb-13 23:09:18

Also cjel if her behaviour isn't checked how long until she DOES hit her mother (or anyone elses for that matter)?

Small bullies grow into large bullies if allowed. sad

flow4 Sat 09-Feb-13 23:18:50

cjel, I don't know why you've fixed on the word 'hit'. It is very clear from Shag's OP that her DD was physically violent and threatening:
"dd got me up against a radiator, swearing and shouting and threatening me" and
"Pushed her face in my face saying 'You think you're hard, what are you going to do about this then? What? What?'" and
"I can't take the verbal bullying and aggression and physical intimidation. " and
"I realised I'm frightened of her, and that she knows it and is being deliberately abusive to me".

Shag is also clear that she slapped her DD, pushed her and pulled her hair, and that this was "not OK".

Whichever way you look at it, this situation was out of control, horrible and dangerous. No-one (least of all Shag) has any doubt about that. It is also clear from her post that her daughter has been behaving like this for some time. It sounds like this is the first time Shag has lost it and hit back, and that's why she's come on here for help.

I absolutely agree with you that talking and listening are good, and I also agree that 'punishment' is probably useless. But the fact is, Shag can't do either of these if she's physically intimidated and afraid of her DD. The first step is to draw a line and establish a 'no violence' rule - including calling the police to help enforce this if necessary, and including no slapping by Shag herself. There has to be no violence before talking and listening can take place - or anything else at all - there simply has to be.

Shag, you haven't been back since last night. I hope you are OK...

zippey Sun 10-Feb-13 00:13:37

Im really sorry that OP is in this position, it must be awful to feel intimidated, and it would be one of my worst nightmares about bringing up a child. Feel free to brush aside my comments as I havent been in this situation and Im not an expert.

Im glad some people have picked up that it was the OP who was violent and not the DD. While the DD was behaving like a monster I dont think there is ever justification in lashing out to anyone, especially an adult to a child. The DD must feel humilated, esp as it happened in front of a friend, and I dont blame her for phoning childline. It sounds like she was upset. I also feel sorry for the OP and her DH and other siblings who have to live with this tense atmosphere.

I guess the first thing I would do is apologise to DD for the violence.

It feels like there is a big backstory, but Im confised why you are so restrictive over the mobile phone/seeing her friend etc? She's growing up, and at 13 she probably wants to be more independant. There must be rules of course but it might be wiser to pick your battles. For me, I would drop the mobile phone ban after 10pm, and make a rule such as you can go and see friends as long as homework is done/room is tidied, and be back back 9pm, something like that.

Like I say, Im not an expert and Im sorry if I come across harsh, especially as you are already going through a tough time. I think though there are two victims here and it might be an idea to investigate why your DD is so angry. Good luck.

cjel Sun 10-Feb-13 11:24:51

I focused on the physical as a lot of posters seemed to think that as dd had been violent she needs punishment, I am under no illusion as to the difficulties in trying to change things in this family and wanted to say that I don't think that the slap may be the worst thing, This is a mum and daughter at the end of their tether and that, in my experience someone has to step out and make the first move. As the parent it is our job to do that as a 13year old in this situation doesn't have skills yet to do that or she would be showing her feelings in another way. OP wanted advice and mine is to break the cycle of anger by reaching out with love. I found in my experience that loving texts and written things worked great. It had been suggested that dd is being bullied she is clearly unhappy and to add to it seemed a shame Thats all!!!!

zippey Sun 10-Feb-13 14:50:37

Cjel has some great advice about trying to counteract the hate with love. I think it will need a complete sea change in how you behave, esp if you are not used to it, but I think it will be useful in the long run. Cjels idea of texts are excellent. Also what about little loving letters, like the one you got from your other children in your OP. You might also need to thaw out on the strictness front. Some mother-daughter time may also be good. You dont need to do much, cinema just the two of you once a week? Or you could treat her to new clothes, so shopping just the two of yous.

supersec Sun 10-Feb-13 16:05:00

In my experience you don't exactly feel loving to a child who is treating you like this and this kind of extreme behaviour doesn't come totally out of the blue so it must have been building up to this for some time.

Any child who acts like this needs to have ALL their privileges taken away- phone, internet,money, everything except food, water and clothes.

It doesn't mean their behaviour will automatically improve but you have to do it and continue to do it, sometimes they can be like this for years.

I had all this with my son who is now nearly 18. The important thing for us was that he never "won". Children cannot succeed in intimidating you in your own house otherwise they have won and established "control" over you which is not a good thing.

cjel Sun 10-Feb-13 18:14:37

I know that feeling of not feeling loving !! I could have cheerfully strangled mine sometimes. that is why distance stuff like txts and cards are brilliant. The Ops dd as described is clearly struggling with life and unhappy. I don't think that thinking of it as a battle is helpful,dd is not a wild animal that needs breaking, she is a struggling child that needs understanding, just because her behaviour is appalling doesn't mean adults around her should behave the same. Any child who acts like this needs to be able to find another way of expressing herself which may include a third party, not more grief in her life. OP needs love and support as well and being advised to mistreat her child won't help. Mine did have rules and punishment but not when they were feeling this bad.

supersec Sun 10-Feb-13 18:20:21

It is extremely difficult when you have been attacked. What if teenagers won't come out and say what the problem is and discuss their feelings? Lots of teenagers are "closed books" and you never get to the bottom of their behaviour and the reasonsfor it.

cjel Sun 10-Feb-13 18:26:21

No way underestimating how hard it is and there are no perfect ways to parent thats why we struggle!! I would look at it more of a family fight rather than one attacked and one attacking, what I'm saying is that most teenagers will open up to someone . this dd went to sister in laws so she may feel happy talking there. Parents may be last people they will talk to but would welcome a chance if offered to unload to someone.

firstpost Sun 10-Feb-13 18:54:34

I recognise alot of my own teenage behaviour in your post, not something I am proud of now.

For me, it all came from a place of not feeling good enough, some low level bullying, a feeling that my sister was the favourite, struggling at school and a really strong belief that I was not loved or loveable. Bad stuff had happened to me that I didnt want my parents to know about sad All in all a pretty toxic cocktail when mixed with a healthy dose of hormones. My mother was herself unhappy, and responded to my anger and aggression with more anger and aggression and it become this battle that lasted until I left home really.

Other than hitting (I hit her back) They tried taking things away like TV, or memorably my bed was taken for a year. My take home message was, "dont care about stuff, it gets taken" not "I should behave better". They also had nice food and drink locked in their bedroom because I would take it, my sister had a lock on her bedroom so I couldnt take her clothes. I didnt have a lock. It made me feel so worthless and also whenever a room was left unlocked I would go and take - I became everything they said I was.

What I would say is if possible start afresh. A chat with no agendas, no mention of past wrongs. Let her know you have made mistakes too and you want to start again. Agree ground rules, flex exisiting rules if you need to. Tell her you love her until she really believes you. Tell her, that if there is something she needs to tell you that you will listen and not get angry. It may not be easy and therapy im sure would be a great platform for this.

You sound like a loving Mum, and for what its worth I have the most fantastic relationship with my parents now - something no one would have believed possible 18 years ago! smile

Shagmundfreud Sun 10-Feb-13 23:26:57

Gosh - thanks everyone for your comments. I was working yesterday and slept all evening on and off. So exhausted. More on that later. Today I was busy with family stuff so no chance to respond properly.

Didn't talk to dd much yesterday - was up and out early for work. Later in the day she shoved past me in the kitchen hissing 'child abuser', then went into my bedroom and emptied a box from my bookshelf onto my bed, raking through it looking for something. I asked her what she was looking for and she ignored me. I said politely that she needed to leave my stuff alone and she carried on raking through it, so I went to take it back. At which point she shoved me again with her body said 'stop talking' and marched out. I was in tears by that point and said to DH he had to talk to her, that I couldn't cope with this level of obstructiveness and hostility. He told her that if she carries on like this she's going to have to temporarily move in with his mum or mine (both are willing to have her), as her behavior is damaging everyone in the family. She ignored him and hunkered down in her bedroom for most of the evening.

This morning she came into the kitchen looking very sunny and said 'I've done something and you're going to kill me. Turns out she'd pierced her ears herself last night. She'd been raking through my stuff looking for cotton wool. I suppressed the urge to go 'Oh no! Why did you have to do THAT?' and told her she'd made a good job of it. (The reason we hadn't agreed to her having them pierced prior to this is because she gets keloid scarring and we were worried she'd end up with a problem similar to DH, who's had infected keloid scarring of the ear lobes for the last 25 years!)

Then I said sorry to her for pushing her on Friday, and for pulling her hair. Didn't qualify what I'd said or add to it in any way. We had a hug and that was that. No significant conflict for the rest of the day - maybe because her mood was so good. She's DELIGHTED with her pierced ears. She even came over to my mum's with us, which she hasn't done for ages.

DH has blocked fb and taken her phone for a week. For those of you asking why we have 'draconian' rules - well we don't. Her phone is out of her room at 10 pm on school nights because before we started doing this she was pinging people and being pinged ALL NIGHT and was horrifically sleep deprived. She really needs a break from her gadgets for the sake of her physical and mental health, and she has zilch self control when it comes to these things. As far as going to her friends' houses - well no, not while she's refusing to do ANY homework at all. Which she is, has been for months. It's the root of a lot of the stress - that she refuses to do the work she's set as school. Won't write homework down. Doesn't study AT ALL for tests. Her teachers are at their wits end with her - as are we. Room tidying - we have given up on this. And asking her to do chores. She is so astonishingly non-compliant in such a rich and diverse way, that we're in a state of utter exhaustion with her.

I want her to do the school work she's been set and not be rude to her teachers. I want her to tell us where she is, and not go off with friends after school without telling us where she's going or who she's with. I'd like her to comply withe the very tiny number of rules we have (like hand over your phone at 10pm, do your homework with the tv off and without accessing facebook literally every 25 seconds) without constantly challenging us, shouting, stonewalling. Every. single. time.

I agree with everyone who is talking about the importance of showing unconditional love, giving her more of my time, making sure she feels loved and accepted.

Except I'm struggling to do it, because I am FECKING EXHAUSTED with being shouted at, shoved, insulted, challenged. Day in, day out.

What makes things really hard is that I'm not 100% well at the moment, and haven't been for some time. I don't know what's wrong. Blood tests coming back abnormal. Tired, tired, tired. To the point that some days I'm dragging myself around from the minute I get up to when I go to bed. And having to deal with an autistic child too.

I know adolescence is shit and a big part of what's going on is that DD doesn't want to grow up. In the sense that she can't take responsibility for anything. And yet she is clearly powerfully drawn to other aspects of growing up - namely having freedom to do what she wants. Freedom I can't give her while she's still insisting on behaving like a toddler.

DD is clever, robust, attractive, has friends, a great sense of humour, is liked by all the adults at her school (even if they are exasperated with her), has cousins and close family near by who care for her deeply. I know she's struggling with her identity and with growing up, but I don't think she's really depressed or especially anxious. She is very angry, and I do wonder how much of this is about her not getting the attention she always enjoyed as a little girl - she was an only grandchild for 4 years on my side and was fussed over by my family to within an inch of her life. She is certainly getting a lot of attention now, and not all of it negative. DH is fantastic with her, really great. Takes her out on her own shopping and for meals. I want to do more with her, but while she's being so selfish and uncooperative I'm loathe to.

I've got an appointment with her tutor at school on Tuesday, and will ask for her to be put back on report, so it becomes the school's responsibility rather than ours to monitor her homework diary on a daily basis. I think we're also going to tell her she can't have her BB back until she completes a week's homework. Arsebook I personally want blocked forever.

I'm going to try reducing the number of things I ask her to do by 75% (yes - not even 'can you pick your school bag up off the middle of the hall floor so people don't fall over it as they come through the front door?' or 'can you flush the toilet after you've used it?', or 'can you not eat all the cereal bars I bought for the packed lunches please?') so there is less opportunity for her to be confrontational and defiant. Then I might be able to squeeze out a bit more spontaneous affection - if I'm not in a state of constant aggravation and resentment with her complete refusal to comply with anything I ask her to do.

And I will get back to CAMHS next week re: counselling. We really do need help as two or three more years of this level of conflict will destroy my marriage, my mental and physical health, and the happiness and well being of my other two children. sad

flow4 Sun 10-Feb-13 23:59:02

Glad you've had a better day today, Shag. I'm too tired now to say anything sensible, but I'll come back tomorrow smile

Horsemad Mon 11-Feb-13 08:10:19

Shag you already sound so much more on top of it than in your first post smile

You've had a chance to regroup and think about how to approach this, your DH sounds like he's onside too as well as extended family, which is a massive help.

You'll get through this, it'll be a long haul but you WILL get there.

I was a pretty horrible teen, hated authority etc but eventually turned out ok. Once people stood up to me (was over. indulged pfb) I realised my behaviour couldn't continue.
Mind you, for someone pretty intelligent it took me a long time to work it out!! grin

cjel Mon 11-Feb-13 11:45:55

Great too hear from you.Amazing you managed to apologise and hug. well done. Don't know what else to add except your health and her anger (whatever the cause) are an explosive mix. Brilliant if you could try and not notice bag in hall stuff. Almost impossible I know but they do say 'don't sweat the small stuff'!!
Hope you feel better soon good to hear you stepping out got good result. Also wanted to say amazing response to ear piercing - another shock!! Good idea to get school to deal with some of that stuff. Sounds as though you are going the right way . Wishing you all the best strength and patience and love!!

zippey Mon 11-Feb-13 13:26:57

Just wanted to say congratualtions for being the bigger person and the good outcome. Im sorry to hear about your health problems and I guess your rules are not that bad - all sensible - I did sense there was a backstory!

You come across as very honest in your assessment of the situation and it is clear you love your daughter very much. I wonder how she would react if you were to show her this thread?

ledkr Mon 11-Feb-13 14:02:33

shag just to say I've been feeling like you. Tired and fed up. It turned out I have a parathyroid tumour (benign) and am seeing consultant tomorrow.
Have they checked for that?
I feel shit and I'm "resting between teenagers" ha ha

cjel Mon 11-Feb-13 18:45:32

love the idea of resting between teenagers. I am just having a rest between grandchildren tonight!!!

ledkr Mon 11-Feb-13 18:52:09

Not for long tho. Eleven and two. Ill be an OAP before I get any peace. I e suffered three teen boys but think the girls are worse

thewhistler Mon 11-Feb-13 19:11:58

Well done and lots of support .

I know from my Ds that someone can appear charming and successful on the surface and have no inner confidence. So camhs. Sounds right.

flow4 Tue 12-Feb-13 11:48:08

Shag, you sound much more positive and in control. smile

It's an especially good idea to leave all the school/studying stuff to the school to enforce. As (I think) Maryz once wisely said, our relationship with our child continues far longer than our relationship with their school, and if 'backing up the school' causes so much stress that it starts to damage our relationship with our child, then it's time to back off and leave it to them.

The only thing in your post I'd perhaps pick up on is your reluctance to take your DD out and do more with her because she's behaving badly. I know that's the received wisdom, and it might well be what I decided to do too... Buuuuut... When kids are attention-seeking, it's worth thinking about whether they're doing it because they haven't learned that other people have needs too, and theirs don't always come first; or because they really aren't getting their share of the attention. If it's the latter, then maybe give her the attention she's demanding, and see if her behaviour improves. I reckon it's probably worth a try. smile

BTW, I've been feeling shit too... Over the past few years, I've been tested for diabetes (negative), heart problems (negative), sleep apnoea (negative), brain abnormalities (negative), liver problems (negative), breast abnormalities (all clear, just fibrous), blood/immune system problems (normal), various allergies (only rabbits and meetkats, or something equally obscure wink ), chronic sinusitis (yes), arthritis (yes), thyroid conditions (borderline), menopause (not yet), anaemia (yup) and vitamin deficiencies (D is low)...

Ironically, I started feeling even worse when my DS1 settled down and stopped behaving like a total dick! That made no sense to me - surely I should be feeling better because I was less stressed? - until a friend pointed out that busy, stressed people often get ill as soon as they stop for a holiday... hmm

I have come to the conclusion that having teenagers is very bad for your health and it would save the NHS a fortune if someone sorted out some parenting support, health-promoting massage and respite care for the parents of teenagers! grin

Horsemad Tue 12-Feb-13 14:34:25

Hear hear flow !! Couldn't agree more re. teens bad for our health grin

Shag hope small improvements are being made that will progress to BIG improvements smile

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