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Please tell me this is normal - I'm treading on bloody eggshells with dd1!

(23 Posts)
Itchyandscratchy Fri 26-Dec-14 21:17:38

Dd1 is 13. I thought I was prepared for the start of the teen years (I was an absolute nightmare!) but dd1 is driving me crazy and I feel sick with a horrible nervous twisted stomach feeling.

We feel she's spending too much time online so we try to keep a control over the use of her phone and the family ipad. She broke her smartphone so we replaced it with a brick but this doesn't stop her trying to text friends at every opportunity. She'll lie about online time - say she's going to tidy her room (ha! Should've known) and find out later she's been on the ipad, constantly chatting. We limit the time she is online in the week and sometimes at weekends too. She's had a bit of bother online with girls from school and I think she's a bit more sensible and will shut off rows now but I still feel she's online too much.

She wanted an iPod touch for Xmas which we were considering until we found out she'd lost the old one (a nano) but not bothered to tell us. She seems so blasé about her belongings and clothes which I find really spoilt but her room is a shithole: clothes, paper and tissues everywhere; make up and pens with lids off and ruined. I refuse to run around after her and instead she is forced to tidy if she wants to go out or have friends round etc. but it's all under duress and I am sick of my own voice nagging at her.

The worst thing about all this is that we found out she's been self-harming. The first time we thought - and she told us - it was a one-off, but it reoccurred and this time we told school and she went to see the school nurse, was seen by one of the pastoral heads and it's helped (she says). She says she finds things (life generally) very stressful and she goes online and finds emo-type pictures to post on instagram which portray a tortured soul. But again, I'm finding this infuriating rather than sad - she's acting out what she thinks is 'depressed' behaviour but shows none of the more serious symptoms of depression. She's the life and soul with her friends, has a good appetite, can be lovely... But I am constantly either 1) scared to set the normal boundaries and reprimand her as I think she'll cut herself if there's too much of a confrontation 2) angry with her as I feel she's manipulating us; she only wants to be with her friends, whatever we arrange, do or say to bond as a family. Even when she's 'nice' I'm suspicious of her.

I hate feeling like this. I'm very aware this is a control thing, and I've never felt I couldn't control either her or dd2: the boundaries have always been strict but reasonable; they've both been lovely up til now. Please tell me she's just being a teen. And it'll all be ok eventually?

Tinofroses Fri 26-Dec-14 21:35:38

Itchy I don't know I have just put up thread about my own dd . I'm worried about her too although she is keeping her room lovely and tidy and works hard in school. She is just in bad form last couple of days and sleeping lots.
I hate the phones and the internet for them. She is constantly glued to it.

Itchyandscratchy Fri 26-Dec-14 21:50:11

Thanks for replying Tinofroses. Agree, phones/online stuff is a complication we could do without. It's like her friends come with us wherever we go and I'm sick of it. Dd1 is bright but not working very hard so she's being pushed to put more effort in, which is very reasonable I think, but she acts as if she's being asked to scale mountains and complains about the 'pressure'. It's ridiculous.

I feel with the online stuff that because we didn't have it much, if at all, when we were their age, it's kind of crept up on us and we've allowed a certain amount without realising how damaging it can be. I can see how addictive Facebook and MN and other stuff can be for us, and we're adults so to expect teens to be able to self-regulate is really hard. But that means we're constantly telling them to limit it or get offline and it gets bloody tedious. I can see how some people give up telling their kids. I feel like dd is holding us ransom though.

SavoyCabbage Fri 26-Dec-14 22:05:21

I'm with you there. I hate that we are the first people to have to navigate out way through all this. The messaging and the videoing each other and all that. It's a minefield.

My dd is only 11 so I'm not quite there yet but I am thinking about it. There are the two problems. The safety issue and the taking up your whole life problem.

TweeAintMee Fri 26-Dec-14 22:15:11

Have boy teenager...not quite the same but some issues are similar. The only advice I can share is to try and make more family time where the option to withdraw is not available (not all the time, just more of family time) i.e. so she has to be 'herself' and she has to be 'present' in the real world rather than one manufactured by her imagination.

Give her a chance to be with you one to one (even if she is not talking and has her headphones on). When she rejects time with you, keep offering it e.g. a little one to one at night before bed, so you show an interest in her and her own world.

Don't criticise her. Praise the good as often as possible. Encourage sport as much as you can - i.e. more about performance than image.

And brace yourself ....you are at the beginning of the roller coaster.

Itchyandscratchy Fri 26-Dec-14 22:19:34

The safety thing is much more manageable, I think. At school there are regular sessions about online safety and I'm confident kids are told about what constitutes safe behaviour with what to share and not share, etc.

What worries me much more is the free access to one another's every feeling and thought, so they convince each other they are depressed, alone, misunderstood etc. The photos I see dd1 sharing are so self-indulgent.

And sadly, it's all happened very very quickly; almost overnight. A few months ago she had pictures of 1D on her walls and sketchbooks full of pretty faces and scenery. Now she thinks she alone discovered Nirvana and her bedroom floor is littered with dark sketches of skulls and tear-brimmed eyes! It was an almost text-book transformation. I'd be able to laugh about it if it wasn't for the self-harm, which is also being done by probably 25% of her friends (I work with teens). It seems to have taken over from eating disorders as the method to show inner pain and teen angst. I don't mean to sound glib, but it does go round in waves. Doesn't stop me worrying myself sick though.

Boysandme Fri 26-Dec-14 22:25:34

Just popped on to echo the rollercoaster message. DS (14) can be absolutely lovely or a right little disrespectful not very nice person who constantly causes stress with his DB, DH and me.

It does seem to go through a few awful weeks then gets better then somehow goes bad again and hopefully then gets better. I have times when he can be quite horrible and whilst I always love him, at those times I find his company hard work. We wind each other up constantly at those times.

At the moment though and for the last month or so he has been absolutely lovely, great company, kind, caring, humorous, thoughtful and appreciative as I know he can be. Only the occasional argument with DS2 too. Whilst I'd love it to be forever, I am under no illusions that the rollercoaster carries on, I just hope we keep this high for as long as we can smile

Good luck op.

Itchyandscratchy Fri 26-Dec-14 22:26:07

All great advice, Tweeaintme. We've been trying very hard with the human contact time as we'd noticed she's much happier when she's been around 'real' people, and worse when she's been in her room, online. I'm going to try much more with the physical activity stuff. She really likes her PE teacher and the teacher has worked miracles getting dd to try new stuff. She's discovered she likes badminton so we started playing as a family in the summer but then dh had a knee operation and we stopped playing. But I'm determined we're going to start again in the new year.

God it's soooooooo much easier when they're little!

Boysandme Fri 26-Dec-14 22:28:55

Cross posted OP.

Self harm is a real issue and I have seen many messages from DS telling friends not to do it. I agree that they can convince themselves that they are depressed, when it is normal teen angst and they do seem to be very self indulgent in their feelings. No words of wisdom but I get it.

Itchyandscratchy Fri 26-Dec-14 22:35:30

Thank you Boysandme. Ironically, I saw some messages dd was sending to one of her friends, begging her not to self-harm anymore - just 2 weeks after dd1 had last done it. I hate to salt, but I think they feed off the drama of it. Life online seems so much more dramatic and exciting. Real life is very ordinary - thank god. But I see so many kids whose lives are truly awful, day in, day out, that it saps any sympathy I have for dd who really has a lovely life.

It does help to share these posts, it really does. To know other parents are dealing with difficult teens is a comfort. Thank you.

Itchyandscratchy Fri 26-Dec-14 22:36:27

say it - not 'salt'

Jbck Fri 26-Dec-14 22:38:08

Itchy I could have written your exact post sad

DD1 same age and everything you have said about your DD mirrors her current behaviour. She has today broken the spare charger for her 5th gen iPod touch, she lost the first one. Lied to us and tried to hide the fact.

DH isn't coping well and they battle constantly, I hate the tension and it tears me in two.

I suffered from depression for years and can completely identify with what you say about the 'trendy' aspect of SH and all the angsty FB status', it all seems fake. Apologies to anyone with genuine MH issues.

Sshe has spoken to support teacher and it helped with the SH but I honestly feel it was a fad thing anyway. She has a few scars and it seems like they are treated as badges of honour, they only did it to have them. I hope to God I'm right and not ignoring a real cry for help. I offered to take her to GP and she said yes then changed her mind. hmm

Sadly I can only offer a hand to hold as we are struggling too. Happy to be a support on here.

I tried a few websites recommended on here, will look for bookmarks to see f they help.

Stay strong.

SanityClause Fri 26-Dec-14 22:53:25

It is hard.

DD1 (15) has self harmed. She also used to write "I am not okay" on her hand, all the time. I have been really worried about her. I know she has spoken quite a lot to the school nurse. I'm not sure if it's about her feelings or mental health, I just know she really likes her, and they have a laugh and a chat. It's reassuring to know she has an adult to go to if she needs to, and doesn't want to come to me (which teenagers don't always want to do).

I know she has called Childline in the past, when she has wanted to talk.

She seems to be over the most difficult bit, now, which was around last Christmas to Easter time.

I used to express concern, without prying, and I encouraged talking to Childline or the school counsellor. She seems to have got the help she needed.

Sometimes, re the behaviour, you need to take a step back, and realise what lovely people they really are. We are none of us perfect. Is your DD generally a good person? I imagine so. So, perhaps accept that she's not perfect, but mostly good. If you can look at it like that, you stop thinking about the bad bits all the time. And I think your relationship with her will improve.

smoothieooo Fri 26-Dec-14 23:10:22

I'm on the roller coaster with DS2 (14) who thinks he knows everything and talks to me like shit (although was fantastic yesterday and very grateful for his Xmas presents). I know it's not for everyone but I got a book from Amazon called 'Get Out Of My Life (but first take me and Alex into town)' and it really helped me to understand a lot of what is going on in his head and why he behaves as he does.

But just when I think I've truly had enough, I get a glimpse of the lovely, funny and loving boy that I know him to be. Never lasts though - and he's back to making his (older!) brother cry with his horrible behaviour, lying to me about inconsequential stuff and refusing to do anything as a family (God forbid his friends might see him with his mum). His dad left 2.5 years ago and they see each other regularly but it's probably a contributing factor.

Itchyandscratchy Fri 26-Dec-14 23:13:38

I'm so sorry you're going through this Jbck. Feels as if we're struggling along in the dark doesn't it?

And you're right, SanityClause - she is a lovely girl, but I've been focusing on the negative things. It's hard though when she's being so selfish.

But she adores her little sister, who looks up to her and I think time together, no matter how wide the age gap seems right now, is also important.

Thanks for the advice and support. Some hand-holding sounds good at the moment :-)

avocadotoast Fri 26-Dec-14 23:21:24

OP, I don't have much advice to offer, but when I was 14/15 I self harmed a couple of times. I knew one or two of my friends did it (and they really did have mental health issues; I didnt, tbh) and felt very sad and thought it would help me feel better.

Obviously I know very little about your daughter but it sounds like she was on a similar level to me. No real depression to speak of, but teenage angst mistaken for something worse.

For me, it stopped when I showed my mum what I had done and she was so upset. It shocked me into stopping straight away.

I just wanted you to know that your daughter isn't the only one to have been in this situation. I hope you have a resolution soon flowers

GnocchiGnocchiWhosThere Fri 26-Dec-14 23:39:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GnocchiGnocchiWhosThere Fri 26-Dec-14 23:40:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Itchyandscratchy Fri 26-Dec-14 23:54:32

Thank you both. I'm pretty sure she's not depressed and the self-harm thing is part of the fad. It's so awful though - the very thought of her hurting herself for effect. But thanks for the kind words and flowers x

Jbck Sat 27-Dec-14 00:19:53

Just checked on my 'baby' sleeping with her panda. She spent ages earlier playing with DD2 who's just turned 7 and they were playing Barbie's n silly games with little animals and it was lovely.

Sometimes she is adorable and she loves Mummy hugs but sometimes I feel stifled by her need for physical closeness, following me about and needing to touch me all the time but I guess it's all part of the no longer a child but not yet an adult thing and they are struggling in that sense.

Don't know if your DD likes Black Veil Brides but DD has recently started posting sayings from them like 'arms are for bracelets not scars' suppose its a step in the right direction fad or not smile

Take care.

constantlyconfused Sat 27-Dec-14 00:44:16

I hate this "fad" I suppose the real issue is knowing whats real and whats for show.
My DD doesn't self harm but lots of her friends do. They come over in freezing weather in vests showing their marks then fall out with each other usually publicly "shes cutting for attention mines genuine pain".They post pics of their bracelets to show the cuts and post deep quotes like "im messed up no one will miss me when im gone" and argue about who has the worst life.
DD has mental health issues and severe anxiety and does not share that with anyone not a soul . CAHMS is the orthodontist etc it pisses me off she is the bloody crutch they all put on and she doesn't need it. Her last sleepover involved hiding razors in fear for her friends safety.When i ask what would you like for dinner her friends reply "we dont eat eatings cheating" .They blackmail their poor parents "do it or i'll cut" . What an awful position to be in wondering if you say no will they mutilate themselves.
Rant over blush

Feellikescrooge Sat 27-Dec-14 03:30:08

Because obviously it is fun to cut yourself! I am a teacher, and mother, and feel that the problem is less that teens regard self harming as a fad but more that parents seem to. I have rung parents because their DC has revealed they are SH only for the response to be " yeah they do it for attention". Duh! Of they course they do, the point is why? The pressure pupils are put under for exam results/ looking right etc are hugely increased these days. Even 6/7 years ago things were a lot easier, you can see it every day at school.

anthropology Sat 27-Dec-14 07:57:38

Its extremely hard navigating the self harm issue in teenagers but please dont dismiss that she might genuinely be struggling with expressing her feelings and if unchecked it might escalate . 13/14 is the age where teenage hormones are in turmoil and unforeseen mental health issues present themselves. As parents we are not prepared and struggle to understand and no-one prepares teens for what are healthy and unhealthy feelings or responses in school. Good advice that they talk to other adults, with some expertise. Depression is an illness, so a lovely life doesn't keep a teen safe sadly, if they can't cope emotionally. At 14 No one believed my DD exhibited signs of clinical depression, as she covered it well, but after several years of hospitals and relapses and for me meeting many young people struggling, worth looking into if they need support and asking the right questions. As another poster suggests, try to remember what they are doing right as well as wrong and boost their self confidence. We accept adults suffering from depression, so its important to keep in mind that like any other illness, it might affect someone in your family. Its a difficult line to tread but I nearly lost a teenager, and know others who have, so think vigilence is worth it.. Young Minds website and self harm uk, are helpful for ways for parents to talk about it with their teen. Good luck everyone.

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