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Please, anyone who can advise me about my daughter?

(152 Posts)
Janstar Thu 04-Mar-04 09:23:20

It's my dd1 again, some of you may remember the thread about her suicide attempt.

She has continued with the counselling, but we do not get far. She treats it all like an infantile game and it is only by accident she sometimes confides.

At home, she seems very much happier in herself, is doing lots of things with her friends, and has overcome a few problems she had with getting caught in the cross-fire of their arguments. At times she seems her old cheerful self.

But most of the time she is sullen and rude. I thought perhaps it was just normal behaviour for a 14 1/2 year old. But it is getting out of hand. She particularly upsets dh and me by constantly saying that she doesn't like dh. He is a wonderful family man who has been in our lives for 6 years now, he works hard to provide for the childrens' every need and did not bat an eyelid a few months ago when every penny of our savings went on the court case to protect the girls from their father. When his parents disowned me and the girls because of their false beliefs about me he dropped them from his life without hesitating, to support us.

The two of them have always had communication problems, dh's response is to read books about how to talk to teenagers in his very limited spare time, to bite his tongue a lot and work very hard at trying to find common ground with her. Her response is to pick fault with every little thing he says and does.

Last night she complained about him again, saying she just didn't like him and there was nothing that could be done about it, she made me cry this time. She had also made dd2 cry by telling her that she did not love her and wishes ds (3) had never been born.

The words 'thank you' and 'sorry' do not exist in her vocabulary although I have brought up my children to be polite. If I tackle her on any of these points she tells me that she doesn't care about any of it and doesn't care if we give up on her.

I understand she is pushing us but she is hurting us all and bringing the whole family down. I felt it was time to get a bit tougher with her. I have been very soft because I was afraid she would attempt suicide again. But I feel this is not helping her, she has become very selfish and uncaring about other peoples' feelings. At her age she is almost an adult and needs to take some responsibility for her own welfare and stop wallowing.

I had a go at her last night, reminded her of all the support she is getting from everyone here, how we would all do anything for her if we felt it would help her reach happiness, but that she could not go on insulting everyone and abusing their feelings. I said I did not want to hear about it any more, that she should take a good look at herself and her attitude. I said it would do her good to count her blessings and she said, 'what blessings?', that is the sort of thing we get every time. She did not come down for dinner and I did not go up and try to persuade her.

This morning I tried to talk to her again and mentioned one of her friends who is polite and kind to her younger sister, but she just stormed off to school, so rudely.

Was I too hard on her? Or is it time to get tough? It all feels so risky, I am afraid she will try suicide again, or run away.


WideWebWitch Thu 04-Mar-04 09:26:56

Janstar, I wish I knew the answer but I don't I'm afraid. I just wanted to send my sympathy anyway. Your dh sounds lovely and it sounds to me as if you're both doing all the right things. I hope someone with experience of teenagers can help.

momof2 Thu 04-Mar-04 09:35:37

Janstar - really sorry that I can't help here, I don't think you were too hard on her, but it must be very difficult to try and find the right balance between being too tough and overly protective.
TBH she sounds like a typical teenager in some of the things she said - I seem to remember using the same phrase myself at that age.
Sorry to not be of any more help Mof2

spacemonkey Thu 04-Mar-04 09:40:12

Gosh Janstar, I really do sympathise with you. I don't think you were too hard on her at all. You and your dh sound like absolute stars in fact.

My dd is nearly 13 now and is in full teenager mode, and your description of your dd's behaviour rang sooo many bells here. I have been dithering about seeing our GP about counselling for my dd too. Her dad and I separated 5 years ago acrimoniously, and this has had a huge impact on her. Her self-esteem is very low, and she seems to carry a burden of guilt about what has happened, despite my attempts to reassure her otherwise. My feeling is that 90% of her behaviour is normal teenagerishness, but it seems to me that during adolescence any emotional issues are greatly intensified, resulting in even worse behaviour and attitude

I can also sympathise with you about your dd's suicide attempt, not in relation to my dd but in relation to myself. I was a very troubled adolescent and attempted suicide when I was 12. Of course our circumstances are very different and I didn't see your previous thread, so I don't know the details. In my case it was entirely a cry for help and attention.

It seems to me that you and dh are entirely doing the right thing by continuing to be supportive of dd, despite everything, while at the same time not condoning the worst excesses of her behaviour. I haven't got any answers unfortunately - as far as my dd is concerned, I have a vivid feeling that I am buckling myself into a seat on a roller coaster ride that's going to last for the next 4 years or so.

Much hugs to you (((())))

M2T Thu 04-Mar-04 09:40:29

Oh Janstar - I think you are doing the right thing. I have no experience of bringing up teenagers, but I was one not that long ago. And a very difficult one at that.
She is saying things to specifically hurt you, I remember doing this too. As she gets older and sees you and your DH as real people rather than authoritative figures she will realise that she likes him and was very cruel. I didn't see this until I was 18 and moved out, then I was thoroughly ashamed of myself, as I could see that my sister (who was still at home) was still treating my Mum like that. It disgusted me. She is controlling you the only way she thinks she can.... with emotions.
My sister and I were always more like enemies than friends. If I put on weight she would immediately comment that I was a fat cow... etc etc.
I have younger brothers too and I remember quite clearly shouting to Mum that I wish they'd never been born, and I meant it at that precise moment of hormonal rage!! I have no answers as to why she is doing it, but it sounds like she has a massive chip on her shoulders that she'll get over as she matures.
I turned out okay and have a relatively good relationship with my Mum. And I love me wee brothers almost like they are my own children.

She's rebelling as all teenagers do, but just taking it to the extreme. Could it be hormonal? My sister was referred to a specialist about her behaviour. They thought it could be a hormone imbalance. Turns out she has Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Endemetriosis and fibroids. They put her on a large dose of hormones which seemed to calm her down.

Good luck.... she needs you to be harsh just now. Horrible as it is, she is getting satifaction out of seeing you hurt. I hope you can get this resolved soon.

Janstar Thu 04-Mar-04 10:11:54

Thank you so much. It is a relief to know that you agree with me that I cannot allow her behaviour to hurt everyone any longer.

It is so useful to me to hear other people's experiences of being normal teenagers. I had a strange upbringing and can't compare my own experience, so I have no idea what is due to the trauma dd has suffered and what is normal teenage behaviour. My own mum is dead, and MIL doesn't speak any more, and I feel very alone and scarily responsible. This makes your comments just about all I have to go on.

What does encourage me is that dd2 and ds are kind, thoughtful and considerate, so I am hoping that I can attribute dd1's behaviour to her father's influence. Now that is out of the picture perhaps we have hope that she will find it possible to free herself from this miserable way of looking at life.

I get very scared of the time running out. In a year and a half she could up and go, I am so frightened that I won't have the time I need to help her heal.

M2T Thu 04-Mar-04 10:15:21

Janstar - I'm sure she won't get up and go. As I mentioned earlier... I left home the second I could (18) and moved in with my boyfriend. Then my relationship with my Mum changed into an Adult to adult one. She is at the difficult transition where you still want her to be your baby, but also battling with hormones telling her she's an adult now. When did she start her periods, if she has??

spacemonkey Thu 04-Mar-04 10:17:24

Janstar, I recently read a book called "Get Out Of My Life, but first take me and Zoe into town" which I have found *really* useful in helping me to understand what constitutes "normal" teenage behaviour. I do recommend it, it even has a chapter about suicide.

Amazon link here


Janstar Thu 04-Mar-04 10:21:15

Ages ago, maybe 2 years? I don't treat her like a baby, I have two smaller ones so I'm not doing that, I don't think.

I try to talk to her as an adult. We often go out and leave her babysitting, and she goes out with her friends, we give her a good allowance and she manages her clothes etc budget herself. I trust her to decide when to go to bed, what to watch on TV, etc etc.

I'm always aware, though, that a mum can't really be interchangable with friends. You can only have one mum and no one can take their place. Not having one brings that point home with great force.

Twinkie Thu 04-Mar-04 10:27:05

Oh Honey - this must be awful for you a big hug from me (wish you were my mum, even with your gammy leg )

I think she is just pushing you - I did say to you before watch your behaviour and don't let this worry of suicide/fleeing get to the stage where you are letting her behave as she sees fit rather than how your family and society expects her to behave. I would severly reprimand her for the things she is saying about DH and about your other children - tell her you are very dissapointed in her and din't think she had it in her to say such horrible things and that surely isn't the daughter you know or have brought up.

She may also see the counselling as a game but the counsellor will be wise to this - they have seen countless adolescents and know all about what makes their little minds tick.

I do think she is rebelling but her extreme is greater than others due to what she has been through and the hold she has over you with the fear of suicide etc...

Sorry but to me it would be tough love time.

Good Luck (and get that leg better) XXX

spacemonkey Thu 04-Mar-04 10:29:29

As a former nightmare teenager myself, I can honestly say that you sound like a great mum janstar. You are not being too permissive, but neither are you being too controlling.

M2T Thu 04-Mar-04 10:30:53

Janstar - Oh I didn't mean you were treating her like a baby.... sorry if it came across like that. I just meant that she wants to be an adult, but isn't quite there yet, so is wrestling with adult hormones that she can't deal with.

Like Twinkie says.... she is pushing you to see how far she can go before you snap.

StripyMouse Thu 04-Mar-04 10:36:39

Just sympathy to offer here, no personal knowledge of parenting teenagers (although taught them for years). You sound like you have all been through enough already without all of this. DH sounds like a wonderful, supportive man and hope that his patience and kindness can hang in there a bit longer.
It would be easy to draw superficial links between her behaviour now and past (such as suggesting her rejection of new father figure is self protection as she got hurt last time round and believes she can’t afford to let it happen again etc. etc.) but it is not my place. What I do advise you to do is to go back and get more counselling. If the last lot didn’t work, then find another route. Her school should be able to give you several phone numbers of counsellors in the areas with specific expertise in family and teenage issues. Find the right one for both of you and it could make a huge difference. Handling it between yourselves doesn’t sound like it is working and from her past history, I wouldn’t brush this under the carpet - deal with it all together once and for all. I know it is easy said and very hard to be done, but it has to be the only way - leave it and it will get worse. There is clearly a lot bothering her and she is directing it all at your DH. Just one little thought (possible ray of hope) it is often said that we only have strong emotions (including negative ones) about people we really care about, so there is potential hope there for your DD and DH building up a working, positive relationship. Good Luck.

Janstar Thu 04-Mar-04 10:43:23

No, M2T, I know, I was just trying to clarify.

I know she is pushing me - I guess she wants to know that she will be loved no matter how difficult she is. It scares me trying to show love and yet let her know that her behaviour is just not acceptable. If she comes home again this afternoon and starts her normal borrowing books from her sister and then flinging them back in her room afterwards, damaging them; thrusting 3 yr old ds out of her room and slamming the door in his face; helping herself to things I am keeping in the fridge to make a meal then just staring at me when I moan about it (all I want is a simple 'sorry'...what do I do? I usually complain, and tell her not to be rude and ungrateful, but nothing changes. So I feel now like saying, 'stay in your room if you can't be civil'. But I am afraid that will make her feel even more awkward. Last night I called her an arrogant prig. I don't go in for name-calling, but this was premeditated and I thought it accurate.

Thanks for the book recommendation, Spacemonkey. The title alone sums up the attitude very well. I will def obtain a copy.

suedonim Thu 04-Mar-04 10:46:16

Gosh, teenagers! I'm on my third one, the first girl. Lots of what you say sounds very normal for that age, Janstar. It's been shown that teenagers actually lose the ability to empathise with other people's emotions and become very self-centred etc, which could account for much of her behaviour. Does she get PMT, that might be a problem, too. I must say, I don't agree that she's nearly grownup. She's got a long way to go, still. My own dd is 16 and I've seen a massive difference in her since she was 14.

She may be genuine in her dislike of your dh, no matter what he has done for her and how much he cares. If it's a personality clash, I'm not sure what you can do about it, perhaps someone else will have ideas. Is she jealous of him and the time you spend with him?

I suspect she's saying unkind things about her siblings because she knows it will get a reaction, although she may also be resentful about the attention they get. I don't think making comparisons, such as with friends who are nice to siblings, gets anywhere with teenagers, unfortunately, as they just see it as a criticism of themselves.

Have you been able to talk to her teachers and her friends/friends parents, to see what they think of her attitude?

Best wishes

Janstar Thu 04-Mar-04 10:49:34

Sorry about winking emoticon, not supposed to be there.

Stripymouse, she is still in counselling, and I think the counsellor is doing the best she can to build a relationship with her, but dd seems to view it as a contest to see whether she can outwit her questions. She describes it all as pointless, and every time we go she begs not to have to go back again. I've explained so many times the value of talking but she is sure that it won't help. I am so exasperated, she just won't allow anyone to help her. She always says the same thing, 'You don't care about me, you're just doing it because you have to because you're a mum or a counsellor doing it because you get paid' etc. She says my dh only does what he does for her because he loves me.

Last night I told her that if one of us laid down her life for her she would somehow reason to herself that we had done it for appearances sake. She will not accept that any of us love her and genuinely want to help her be happy.

motherinferior Thu 04-Mar-04 10:51:56

Janstar, hang on in there. You are you are you ARE a fab mum.

Dreading this myself; three year old dd1 announced grumpily the other day 'your house is not my home'...

spacemonkey Thu 04-Mar-04 10:55:32

I was sent to a psychiatrist and a counsellor when I was your dd's age, and I remember feeling the same as your dd. At that age I simply was not ready or able to confront or unravel my own feelings. For this reason I am a bit sceptical about how much one-to-one counselling can help a 14 year old. However, I do think that some form of group therapy or family therapy might be useful, but that's not based on experience, just hindsight.

Janstar Thu 04-Mar-04 11:00:54

Thanks, spacemonkey, this kind of experience is very useful to me. At the moment I go in with her, so I guess it is 'family' or part of, anyway. This was her choice.

Thanks, suedonim. My dd is quite old for her age, she grew up fast with her father's antics. But I know there is a child hiding inside I want so much to reach and support. It's so difficult, she shuts me out.

You may be right, she might dislike dh but I think it unlikely because everyone likes him, he's one of those people who is good through and through and the other two children adore him.

It's a good idea about asking friends' parents. I am not very close to them but there is one I see socially now and again (the father is an old friend of dh and they have discussed it). I shall have to have a chat with his wife.

Batters Thu 04-Mar-04 11:23:19

janstar, no useful advice I am afraid but lots of sympathy.

You are a fab mum - your love for all your children is so obvious. Hope that things get better soon.

Fizog Thu 04-Mar-04 11:30:32

Janstar, I don't have time to read the entire thread... but your dd sounds like me at her age. My DD's not a teenager yet (far from it) but I'm happy to reflect and be open about my behaviour with you.

If I can help in anyway just say or contact me offline.

On a happier note, I turned out ok in the end, I have a pretty good (but stressful) job and now get on really well with my folks I just gave my parents a really *REALLY* tough time getting there

The downside is that my parents still have a lot of problems in their relationship and if I'm honest the majority probably were triggered by me (directly or indirectly) and still live on.

Janstar Thu 04-Mar-04 11:51:29

Yes, Fizog. I had an unusual childhood and my mum is dead, I have never really had a mother figure or a normal childhood to refer to, so reading here about other people's experiences is proving very useful.

I hope you don't blame yourself for your parents' problems - I certainly wouldn't blame dd for any we might have. If we don't pull together for her that is our fault.

Fizog Thu 04-Mar-04 12:12:44

No I agree that it's not entirely my fault. They have very different ideas, and attitudes, about parenting I guess. So when I tried them (and I did) it really showed that they did not agree about, well, anything really.

I know I've said on another thread a while ago but I had such a problem with my dad; from about 13-15 it was really at it's worst. I absolutely idolise him now though, he's fantastic.

When you get a bit older you gain a realisation of exactly how much your parents do/did for you. It always makes me well up talking about my dad, even writing this because I really gave him a tough time and he was (and contues to be) so great and I've never told him.

I just know that when I was a teenager, I really didn't consider my families feelings at all.

Things changed with my dad after two things. Firstly he was called away from work as my school had phoned because I'd not attended (again), I walked around a corner on the school grounds and literally walked straight into him, he was so disappointed and angry, it was written all over his facce, I really did feel so guilty. He never shouted at me but just said he'd had to leave a very important meeting. Second trigger was he sat me down to talk about drugs, he was so cool about it.

My brother really suffered because of my behaviour too which I also feel guity about. He's cool now too and after years of passionately hating/resenting/competing with each other we get on fantastically well now

prufrock Thu 04-Mar-04 12:34:02

Janstar her behaviour does sound fairly standard teenagerishy - both from my memories of my own, and my current experiences of my 14 year old sister.
Could her expression of her feelings towards dh be because of her feelings about her own father? My Mum dies when I was samll and although my stepmother was in my life from 4, it was when I got to be a teenager that I started using the "your not my real Mum" lines, simply because I knew that was what would hurt her most, and I also felt very guilty about loving her, because in some wierd way it felt like a betrayal of my biological mother - a totally illogical thought process but one which she may be going through in spite of the way her father treated her.
Your comment about feeling that you were doing things for appearances sake touched such a nerve with me - actually I think I sometimes still use that one with my Mum Please don't take this as criticism of you - I am just trying to put myself into her mindset, but do you tell her how much you love her and try to demonstrate that by doing lots for her and emphasising how much you do? My Mum would constantly say things like "How can you say I don't care about you when I buy you clothes/take you to parties/spent all night looking for you when you ran away/etc etc..." which only made me feel guiltier for not being more grateful, and angry that I had to be grateful.
Sometimes I just didn't want to have a relationship with anybody, especially not my Mum. (And when you don't understand your own feelings being expected to talk about them with someone else is an awful ordeal) I would have liked her to just tell me that she was there if I needed her to be , but that if I wanted to just be a miserable cow then I could go and do it in my own room. There were many times when all I needed was a chance to wallow in my own bad mood without somebody trying to force me to be happy. Being miserable is a perfectly acceptable emotion - particularly for a teenage girl, and doesn't necessarily mean that she is suicidal again. Do you think that might work with her at all?
At the same time there are some of her actions which are unacceptable, and you are perfectly justified in telling her that.
Do you have anybody else that she could moan about you to? I had my mums sister, who would listen to how terrible Mum was and agree with me but subtly put me right, and I am now fulfilling that role for my little sister. I know you only have one mother, but sometimes the relationship there is so complicated that you need somebody else as well.

jmg Thu 04-Mar-04 12:37:48

Much sympathy from me and another book recommendation. On amazon here

IMO it is the best parenting book I have ever read and it is very balanced in terms of setting out the issues but also giving the 'how to change' discussion enough spece.

I really hope this helps. The premise in the book would be that your daughter is manipulating the whole family to get things her own way because the threat of suicide hangs over everyones head and colours how they deal with her. This causes everyone to go into aviodance mode - she gets to avoid doing the things she doesn't want to and you all try to avoid tipping her over the edge again.

The book says that this manipulative behaviour gets worse and worse as they get older and they move out into the big bad world where of course they are a small cog in a very large wheel and noone is that interested in falling prey to her manipulateive behaviour. As a result she retreats into a safe environment where she can manipulate away to her hearts content safe in the knowledge that here it works. The book does not suggest that any of this manpulative behaviour is conscious but that it has become ingrained over years.

I really do recommend that you read it - it did change the way I looked at bringing up my two children!

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