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17 yr old daughter staying out all night advice please going mad

(47 Posts)
sturdygirlwobble Mon 02-Sep-13 20:12:10

My lovely DD of 17 has started staying out all night. Since getting a job in a local restaurant the otherwise quiet homeloving girl has turned into a demon. She finished with her lovely boyfriend, started drinking and staying out all night. We are besides ourselves with worry. She has started to hangout with a lad from work who looks like a weed smoker and I have got some evidence to back this up.
We have explained that we need to know where she is and with who and details at best are sketchy. My relationship with her is the lowest it has ever been, her dad is a trooper and is keeping communication channels open. I just constantly feel cross at her and worry she is sleeping around and generally being out of control. Her dad is normally the tower of strenght but even he is down about it today. She is staying out yet again tonight for the second evening on the trot. Are we being unreasonable. She recently failed her AS levels and we think she is confused about her future but we have tried to talk to her calmly and show her the different options available.
Are we just finding it difficult to let go ? everybody elses child seems to be doing well and our daughter is behaving like a right problem child. We are at the end of our tether and utterly exhausted with worry...any suggestions

noddyholder Mon 02-Sep-13 20:17:52

My ds went through this phase It was so so hard. I lost it a few times which achieved nothing. I made a deal that he text me by midnight with rough idea where/what was happening. If he didn't I just treated him like a 7 yr old and turned off modem etc. I still treated him the same involved him in meals out cinema etc and just now and again used the 'disappointed' word but no shouting. He is 19 now and lovely he grew out of it I think part of it was trying to show us he was 'grown up'. One day I had had enough of his antics and took his key and said as he didn't like what we were providing and the rules etc he couldn't come and go as he pleased. He stayed at a mates 2 nights where he thought the mum was the coolest thing and her ds was allowed to do x y and z and lo and behold he came back and has been ok ever since. He is off to uni in 2 weeks and I am not as afraid as I may have been as he has been there done that got teh t shirt and I doubt he will go too nuts! Hang in there keep talking and don't be afraid to let her see you upset/cry It will sink in eventually.Has she got younger siblings?

lljkk Mon 02-Sep-13 20:20:24

How far off 18 is she?

Fairylea Mon 02-Sep-13 20:29:53

Hmm. Well I was that 17 year old. And I was always the straight a student blah blah but I ended up getting a job in a pub (lied about my age) and went completely off the rails for a while. Ended up having an affair with a married man of 32 (totally ashamed of that now) and also slept with the bar manager and used to walk home alone, drunk, in south London at 3/4/5am. I had no fear. I am lucky nothing happened to me and I am still here.

(As a side note I went on to become very sensible, had a very good career in marketing and I am now happily married with two dcs - I'm in my 30s now).

My mum didn't really know what do with me.

Looking back now the only thing that would have stopped me doing things a bit is simple things like making me do my own washing (mum always did it for me and I never had to take any responsibility for myself or what I wanted to wear), locking the door from the inside after a certain time so the shame of having to wake my mum up to get in would have been mortifying, especially as I used to sneak people back in the early hours and let them leave again before mum even knew.

Also, financially don't offer pocket money. My mum still used to give me money every Friday. Madness. Especially as I was working. Let her pay for things. If she needs clothes or things for studies, go with her, buy them for her. Don't give her cash.

It's very difficult because you don't want to push her away even more, I understand that. It's a very difficult age.

sturdygirlwobble Mon 02-Sep-13 21:18:03

Well thanks for the replies, wow its great to have a response from you all,. Well dd is 17 and a half and is the older by 2 years of 2 daughters. They both get on though at the moment 15 yr old bit confused and staying out the way of all of this. I dont give her any pocket money as husband lost job last year and found this job a few months ago to fund herself. We were delighted and the restaurant are delighted with her. She has had a tough year or so as her previous boyfriends mother died - she being an only parent. This resulted in us becoming very involved with this lad, and him becoming like a family member. I think she handled the fact she wanted to split up with him in a mature way. This was no easy decision as he is lonely. Her dad and I keep in touch with the boy as we feel he is still grieving for the loss of his mother and now his girlfriend, though he is made of stern stuff and is doing well. She says she has no problem with this.
I think that I am now very anxious and tearful all the time, due to worry but sleeplessness too. I feel so angry that she allows us to worry like this. Her dad has had a chat with her saying that its unfair, blah blah blah, she apologised, but did it again the following evening.
I know I should be the adult here and be ok but I am so hurt that she is treating us so badly and shunning us all. We are normally so close or so I thought. I am happy for her to pull away form us but didnt think it would be so selfish and upsetting . I worry she is getting a name for herself by sleeping around (we live in a small community ) and worse Std's. Am I being just rediculous my husband thinks though its upsetting we need to be there for her but let her get it out of her system

maggiebgood Tue 03-Sep-13 07:57:43

I'm just wondering if she's struggling with feeling that she's let the grieving boy down and she's judging herself, you know? Let's face it, she's not being very nice to herself, never mind anyone else. Have you asked her how she really feels about her (understandable) need to stop her previous relationship? She sound conflicted to me and may be in need of a bit of support herself. Mind you, that's not easy with a teenager, they push you away, even when they need you most. Good luck.

chocoluvva Tue 03-Sep-13 10:00:11

Oh my - that sounds very hard and very upsetting.

But please try not to take it personally - I can remember at 17 being told by my single-parent, DM that she worried when I didn't come back till very late, how she didn't sleep till I was in etc and thinking to myself ,'Well, don't worry DM. It's not my fault that you're such a needless worrier. I don't see why I should do anything just because you're so stupid that you worry about it.' blush blush

Your DD will not be behaving the way she is to get at you.

Perhaps if you can have a conversation with her as calmly and brisk and business-like as possible along the lines of now she's a young adult she needs to behave in an adult way - if you can point out that adults including you and your DH let each other know that they're safe when they're out at night...

Fairylea Tue 03-Sep-13 10:00:55

The one thing I would say is I don't think there's a thing as "getting a bad name for herself" anymore, even in a very small community (I live in one in south Norfolk now so I do know exactly what they are like).

I worked as a supervisor in a pub / restaurant until a couple of years back, supervising lots of late teens and early 20s and honestly, no one gave a hoot who was sleeping with who or not, and neither did any of the older adults. Elderly people care a bit but then to be honest if it wasn't that it would be something else they are judging teens over.

The main thing young people care about is having safe sex, just really drum that into your dd. Make sure she knows that only condoms offer protection against stds, and even then they are not foolproof. As much as you don't want to maybe even buy her a massive box of condoms and leave them in her room. Then at least she wont have to worry about buying any.

It's a totally different world out there now to when I was a 17/18 year old in the 1990s.

chocoluvva Tue 03-Sep-13 10:08:14

Also, continue to let her know that she is loved and valued - make a point of commenting positively on any tiny thing she says or does that's 'nice'. She will still want your approval deep down.

Let her know that you are happy for her when she's enjoying herself (up to a point obviously). If you acknowledge the joy of being young and fun-loving she'll be less likely to feel the 'need' to have a wild life-style in order to rebel against you.

I'm not sure whether this is relevant to you, but IMO parents who disapprove strongly of drinking, boyfriends, sexy clothes, fun etc are more likely to have rebellious teenagers.

StephenFrySaidSo Tue 03-Sep-13 10:17:10

sounds very similar to me at 17. mum hated my boyfriend and his family based on nothing but what she had heard from other people.

tbh her big mistake was letting me know she didn't like him, the relationship, his family etc. the more she objected and tried to restrict my time with him, the longer I stayed out, the less contact I made with her, the less she knew, the more she worried.

my advice would be to let this run it's course. let her work though whatever she needs to work through. let her know you and dad are there for her but (and I am a parent now- I know how hard this is) try and relax, at least outwardly, about this as it is most likely just a phase she needs to work out of her system. don't give her a reaction if you think that is what she is after. continue your relationship with her as you did before 'the change', if you two used to go for lunch then still go for lunch and chat, let her direct the conversation. if she wants to talk about him or her ex or anything then listen and let her say what she needs to say. one thing my mum still finds very hard is to just listen when I need to talk- she cannot switch of the 'lecture' mode and realise that as an adult, what I decide has to be my decision and not her instructions. it has made it so that at 27 years of age I cannot recall once ever just having a chat with my mum. I just cant talk to her at all now beyond what the weather is doing.

I know it is hard- I was no model teen but I think my mum handled it badly and was partly to blame for the way our relationship went. if I could go back in time and advise her I would tell her to back off and relax, if even just infront of me, and let me get back to being me in my own time. 17 is a tough time.

I would also say that DD needs to keep to the house rules that already existed before this started. don't introduce new ones though just to 'punish' her or to restrict her freedom because you cant cope with her having so much.

StephenFrySaidSo Tue 03-Sep-13 10:23:33

also, if possible, tell her about your teen years. let her know that you do remember being a teen and what it was like for you, if appropriate, share stories of your first love, first job, rows with your parents- use this as an opportunity to bond with her over a cuppa and some old photos with you both laughing hysterically at the stuff you used to wear and the stuff you got up to- don't worry about it giving her ideas of what she can get away with. it wont- she'll already be doing anything she wants to be doing- but at least if you share with her what you were like, she'll feel far less judged and more likely to share with you what she is getting up to if she thinks you will be relaxed about it and laugh/sympathise with her rather than shout and lecture.

IMO you are in a better position if you know what is going on in her life, even if you are having to pretend you're ok with it than if you tell her straight it's not on and she closes up and wont tell you. if that makes sense.

chocoluvva Tue 03-Sep-13 10:34:31

I think StephenFry's advice is excellent. Very hard to do, but probably spot on.

StephenFrySaidSo Tue 03-Sep-13 10:42:27

yes very hard to do- worrying is just about the most instinctual thing about being a parent. but to keep those lines of communication open is the most important thing here. you have to accept that at 17 she can walk out of the house when she likes, she can date who she likes, she can have sex with who she likes. you can hate it, you can shout and tell her she now has restricted freedom but physically you cannot enforce it. it is far better to know what she is doing and who with even if you don't like it than know nothing at all. when she's 25 and matured a bit you can tell her how much you hated these teen years and how much lost sleep she cost you but it wont benefit this situation now. as much as I hate clichés, it really is a case of 'the tighter you hold them the farther they fly'. I have seen so many variations on this with friends and family- the pattern is very predictable- which is good.

chocoluvva Tue 03-Sep-13 10:47:15

It's especially difficult with the first DC too.

noddyholder Tue 03-Sep-13 10:52:48

I agree that the tighter you hold them the further they fly. Now that my ds is back to normal we are closer than ever and he has already said he wants me to spend my birthday weekend in his university town so that he can see me and his dad and this would have been unheard of when he was acting up. Good luck with it I think I found it the toughest stage of parenting hands down esp as my ds had been the model child up until them and people were always coming to me for advice re their kids etc How the tables turned!

StephenFrySaidSo Tue 03-Sep-13 10:58:38

also OP- make sure you have someone to talk to about how you're feeling about this aside from DH as he is as involved as you- do you have any friends with older adult children who might have been through similar? even just someone to have a whinge with, even if they have no answers but just to give you hope that it does get easier. my eldest is only 8 so I have it all ahead of me but my best friend has two teens and I was so relieved when I was telling her how testing ds1 had been around 4 years old that she said her ds (18 now) had been exactly the same at 4 and that she felt exactly like I did. she didn't really know how she got through it but it helped to know that she did, because when you are in that situation in can be hard to picture how it will change or get better.

sturdygirlwobble Wed 04-Sep-13 16:29:01

I would very much like to pass on my thanks to you all for your kind words of support regarding this. You have given me so much strength to try and resolve this situation. I know I am perhaps too controling at times and am finding it difficult to let my DD grow up, I never thought I would be like this, there we are. I heed all your golden nuggets of advice and am putting on an oscar worthy perfomance of a cool parent(DH does this without thinking grrr). I have found all of your advice so helpfull and I am so glad I joined this forum.xxxxx You have all made me feel so normal and less lonely regarding the whole thing.
She returned from a couple of night away and think she expected fireworks but no I said hello, noted I was pleased about a couple of things. As a few of you noted, its one of the hardest things I have done. Underneath I truly could wring her neck......

StephenFrySaidSo Wed 04-Sep-13 17:11:18

I read another MNer say once that the secret to having your dcs feel thy can talk to you about anything is to never act shocked no matter what they tell you. Be shocked as hell but dont show it. React in private later. Mightnt work for some but i have to say i know a woman who does do this (whether intentional or just her natural way) an her teen dcs are very open with her about stuff i still wouldnt talk to my parents about. Its one im working on grin

sturdygirlwobble Thu 05-Sep-13 08:51:31

Thanks for all your wise advice. I didn't think I was so judgmental but think that her dad and I so busy commenting on wrong types if behaviour over the years in trying to teach them,we have probably turned into very judgmental people. Wow I Never thought this would happen to me. I was like dd when younger headstrong and strong opinions, somewhere in middle of this parent game I have totally forgotten this. I gave my parents headaches and they bless them never reacted now I think about it.

StephenFrySaidSo Thu 05-Sep-13 09:25:23


I think we all lose track of the big picture when we're busy trying to get them to behave properly as young children and then our actions become habit. I know I have reacted to situations without applying any logic and only afterwards realise that that actually isn't MY response at all nor is it the message I wanted to send to my dcs, but rather the 'default' reaction I've been leaning on (and probably an overhang from my own parents)

chocoluvva Thu 05-Sep-13 12:23:38

Oh well done - sturdygirl. I'm impressed. My mini lite-experience of being in a similar situation was of managing to smile and nod some of the time but blowing all my hard work every now and again by failing to resit the urge to rant. Then I'd kick myself. It's so difficult. However, the more you are calm with her, the more you manage to get over to her that you love her for herself, respect her right to make her own choices and have her best interests at heart with no agenda, the greater the positive impact/less damage will be if you do blow up at her. If she thinks that you're normally reasonable she will have cause to listen to you when you're not accepting her behaviour (and staying out at night without being in communication would at best be considered to be discourteous if she was an older adult living with you).

That's so nice of you to post such a nice comment to the posters on your thread. It's great when MN is genuinely supportive and you sound like such an open, undefensive person. I have also noted many wise words from MN-etters. Sometimes I feel sad that I don't have my mum to give me advice and feel the need to turn to an anonymous place, but I know there are things she'd have been 'old-fashioned' about. MN-etters have the benefit of being the same generation (usually) as ourselves.

FWIW - I think many of us have moments during our 'parenting journey' when we suddenly change direction. I know I went from trying to limit my DD's 'freedom' as far as I thought I could get away with for as long as I thought I could, to taking the opposite approach - of always asking myself why I feel 'uncomfortable' and trying to allow as much freedom of choice as is safe or compromise as far as possible. And I'm a heck of a lot less judgmental about other people's teenagers when I see them being reckless/dressed outrageously/clearly being sexually active/conforming to peer-pressure even though they sound/look rude/ridiculous/etc........... Many a wise and successful adult went through a 'phase'...... grin And many a teenager has troubles we don't see....

I hope your DD settles down again soon. In the meantime, you're doing well.

chocoluvva Thu 05-Sep-13 12:26:08

How do I manage to always sound so patronising blush confused sad.

It's not meant to be......sigh.

sturdygirlwobble Thu 05-Sep-13 14:15:57

Wow don't think that as i certainly didn't take to be patronising at all . I agree with u totally !!!!am learning quick about the judgmental bit. I was talking with a youth worker at work meeting. Unrelated as it happens to this but applies all the same. He says that young people branch out to be independent and given that they have the moral compass you have taught them they will experience for them selves how to make right and wrong decisions. I wanted to jump up and kiss him for showing me some common sense and some light in my darkness .......bit much in a work meeting sure they would have thought id lost the plot. Mn and that really helps . Its like learning a new language though....I can't tell you all how many times i have read and reread the posts to make myself feel better x

StephenFrySaidSo Thu 05-Sep-13 14:27:13

So glad you are feeling better about dealing with this op- it is like learning a new language as you say. Instinct tells us to hold onto them and protect them but they are to a point learning to do that for themselves otherwise they will never learn. I hope things between you and DD improve and this enlightenment grin helps her open up to you.

sturdygirlwobble Thu 05-Sep-13 19:06:30

Its a rollercoaster isn't it. Now i feel i have sound advice to fall back on thank you. Isn't it lonely when you feel you are the only one going through it? All our friends kids are high flyers (at the moment !!!) towing the line.etc...i never thought this could worry me as much as was a bit lively too when younger, but wow its lonely being alone with this, feeling like you are being judged. The advice i have been given reminded me of my own growing up and equally now i feel the last years my daughter is home , do i actually want her to remember me as being such a miserable parent who couldn't cope. My own relationship with my mother was dire during the late teen phase and i have always vowed i wouldn't have this with dd.

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