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Ungrateful, unpleasant thirteen year old daughter

(64 Posts)
Dolorosa Tue 02-Feb-16 13:32:23

I've been provoked to join Mumsnet just to ask for help and advice about my thirteen year old daughter. To be honest, she has always been a little stubborn and stroppy - from a toddler - it's just her personality. She's the third of four, and pretty different temperamentally from the others.

She started turning into a teenager, I swear, at age eleven. Over the last few months, however, she has become completely unbearable. She verbally bullies her brother, who has mild autism and is getting agitated and tongue-tied around her, she is violently rude and abusive to us her parents when the fit takes her, and virtually no gathering of the family in the same room passes without some kind of nasty tantrum from her. She has also started making huge difficulties about getting out of bed in the morning to go to school (she claims nothing is wrong at school), and either refuses to go altogether (we've had the school intervene as best they can), or makes me waste half my morning running her about the place. I have to take the other two children separately then come back for her, as it's not fair to make them late because of her.

She has a snide, snarling, nasty tone of voice and will say spiteful things just to hurt us - all of us, my husband and me, her brother and sometimes even her little sister. And it's never provoked, she just seems to want to be vile. She also swears, repeatedly and unrepentantly – including in front of her much younger sister – even though I have made it very clear that this is totally unacceptable. My husband and I never use bad language, so it’s certainly not something she learned at home!

What really gets to me, however, is that she complains all the time about the house we 'force' her to live in. It's a minor manor house, set in grounds and woodland, a little under a mile from a decent village with a shop and no distance at all (a short bus or car ride) from the city where she goes to high school. She has her own, very large bedroom with her own en suite bathroom. But because we 'live in the country' we're depriving her of being able to visit her friends (I never make any fuss about driving her all about town to see her friends when she asks me to), and because our house is so big it's difficult and expensive to heat (we do our best) so it's a 'piece of crap' and the reason why she can't get up in the morning. There are reasons why we have no choice but to live here at the moment, and we also have severe financial and other anxieties as a family which I won't go into but make me hope desperately that we can continue to put this 'crap' roof over her head. All she wants, however, is that we go and live in what she calls an 'ordinary house' and she practically accuses us of child abuse by making her live where we do.

She complained this morning - as I drove her to school an hour late - that she couldn't get up this morning because of the house, and I ended up telling her that it was upsetting to me to work and worry to provide her with things, only to have her throw it back in my face. Her parting shot was, "That's because you don't provide me with much."

To be clear. She has, as I've said, her own bedroom suite. A laptop. Internet connection. iphone on unlimited contract. New clothes emblazoned with gloomy band motifs. Cash whenever she wants it to buy drinks and crisps. A home cooked meal on the table every night, not that she eats it half the time. A taxi service by me for her social life. Am I missing something?

As for spending time as a family, when she and her nearest brother were small I was forever taking them on day trips and suchlike. I did my very best. Nowadays, I couldn't contemplate organising a family outing, because my daughter would ruin it.

Obviously I do a lot of hand-wringing about what I've done wrong (other than living where we do of course). My husband and I spend pointless hours discussing her - pointless, because nothing changes, and no conversations we try to have with her amount to anything positive. It's draining, and emotionally exhausting, and I'm beginning to feel I've completely failed in the most important job of my life - to bring up a happy, pleasant human being.

I know a certain amount of teenage bad attitude is fairly common, although her older brothers were/are nothing approaching this. But has anyone else dealt with continual complaining from their children about their basic life circumstances? I feel sometimes as if I’m going mad.

briss Tue 02-Feb-16 13:35:13


she sounds delightful! (not)

I would be taking the laptop and phone away for a start plus restrict her cash. And end the taxi service.

She sounds terribly spoilt (your house sounds lovely btw)

BoboChic Tue 02-Feb-16 13:39:58

She hasn't got much freedom. I realize you may not be able to do anything about this but it may be the fundamental problem.

briss Tue 02-Feb-16 13:52:45

I've just read the OPs post again and I can't see anything which makes me think she lacks freedom.

We live rurally and you have to drive everywhere. My dds are not like this. I tolerate the occasional outburst but I would never ever tolerate persistent swearing, being told things are a piece of crap and in no way ever bullying (of her brother).

Have you asked her what will make her happier? When she's calm?

Alternatively, buy her a pony grin.

briss Tue 02-Feb-16 13:54:31

I would take the laptop and phone away. Wake her up at 7, breakfast at 7.30, leave the house at 8. If she doesn't comply then leave her and take the others to school. Stick to this every morning.

Put your foot down.

insan1tyscartching Tue 02-Feb-16 13:57:23

At thirteen she's desperate to fit in and so your house, in her mind. is something that stands in the way of that. Whether it's because it's bigger better or different to her peers or away from the area where her friends can have the freedom she desperately wants. That said it in no way entitles her to behave like a brat and so I'd be laying down the law and issuing consequences that will bite pretty quickly if she is dependent on her phone/laptop etc for keeping in touch with her friends.
I'd also be thinking very carefully as to whether some of her behaviours and traits could be explained by her having autism herself as it's very common for girls to go unrecognised (as they present very differently) until thing seem to start falling apart around puberty and entry to secondary.You might want to see your GP about that.

OTheHugeManatee Tue 02-Feb-16 14:03:54

Her diamond shoes are pinching her? Poor thing.


I agree with PPs that she needs some consequences for her unpleasant behaviour. You do a lot for her. Withdraw it until she can be civil and get up on time.

Dolorosa Tue 02-Feb-16 14:07:56

Thanks for the replies. I know that she's a bit restricted in terms of freedom, but the village shop (and her village friends) are within walking distance for her and honestly, town is not that far away. I kind of feel that if we moved into the middle of town she would find something else to complain about... Again, she has a point that the house is pretty cold in winter, but we don't stop her using an electric heater in her room as much as she wants - just can't afford to have the central heating on as much as we'd all like! The rest of us get by with jumpers and duvets, lol.

Looking back over what I wrote it does look as if she's spoiled. Trouble is, taking away her privileges (phone, cash, internet etc) means an ALMIGHTY, toxic row until they're restored. I know it's weak on our part, but she doesn't accept discipline with any kind of grace.

I'd love to buy her a pony... smile Unfortunately, we're in a holding pattern of not much money at the moment while we try to get a new business up and running. Financial worries don't help the general situation, of course, and it's probably why I'm particularly touchy about her ingratitude for the things she does have.

BoboChic Tue 02-Feb-16 14:11:26

Have you tried discussing the freedom issue with her?

My DD is 11. Since late September, just after she started Y7, she has been allowed to walk to and from school on her own. She has a mobile and a laptop and generally manages all sorts of things without any input from me (though I know where she is supposed to be at all times). She had been desperate for those freedoms for a while. She would go spare with frustration in the life you describe for your DD. Some wouldn't. But you can't help personality.

Choughed Tue 02-Feb-16 14:11:32

She needs more discipline and less treats. But if she's always been explosive I think you need counselling as a family.

What's her behaviour like at school?

BoboChic Tue 02-Feb-16 14:12:28

She may be explosive because she is justifiably frustrated and no-one is listening.

Epilepsyhelp Tue 02-Feb-16 14:13:29

I grew up on a fairly isolated farm and had a huge amount of freedom, cannot understand that assertion. I think some teenagers just absolutely lose the ability to emphathise and can only see the world as it appears to them through their own needs and wants. I would take away any privileges and just let her get on with it without paying much attention. Be ridiculously nice if she ever does/says anything positive.

insan1tyscartching Tue 02-Feb-16 14:21:04

Discipline isn't supposed to be fun you know. My dd probably feels just as narked as your dd at having her phone removed the difference is though that and bluster from her much less an "almighty row" would result in her losing it for even longer so she keeps her mouth shut and puts up with it.
When she starts, you add " and that's another day you've lost it" Ds who was always much braver than dd once manage to increase his grounding from one day to four but he learned his lesson and never did it again.

merrygoround51 Tue 02-Feb-16 14:46:55

Bobo Have you read the OP, I can't see a lack of freedom being the issue, she has everything you outlined above.

I think the issue is probably that she is hormonal and generally stroppy and unhappy. She sounds like she is pushing and pushing and looking for you to provide some guidance. You keep giving and giving but nothing is making her happy. In saying this, you need to keep an eye on any bigger issues with school and friends.

I think you need to grasp the nettle and penalise your daughter for this behaviour.

I was very like your DD in that I was given everything I wanted, we ate out all the time, I was brought shopping etc and it got to the stage where nothing made me happy and I was stroppy, rude and frankly turning into Veruca Salt!

My Mother one day said enough and it all stopped and funnily enough she is here beside me and says she did the following;

Sat me down and explained why my behaviour was unacceptable and how much it hurts her and the family (I remember the pure anger I felt)

A stop was put to the free flowing money - i got small allowance for doing jobs around the house. If I did more I got extra

There were lots of other smaller actions Mum took and I was a horror for a while but we did get through it and are terribly close now/

BoboChic Tue 02-Feb-16 14:54:39

Contrary to popular opinion on here, I don't think teenagers are difficult. I think their parents don't understand them.

Dolorosa Tue 02-Feb-16 15:00:19

The school report no behavioural issues there - which is certainly one good thing. Re the idea that she might be manifesting autism herself, the main thing we keep coming back to is that she seems to have very little empathy at the moment. But is that just a temporary teenage thing? I really hope so. I do try to listen to her frustrations, but there is really absolutely nothing we can practically do about them at the moment - except for attempt to lessen them by driving her whenever she wants to go. There's nothing stopping her walking to and from her school bus stop either, it's within walking distance - she would never ever make it in the morning though, and she almost immediately started asking to get a lift back in the afternoon too (her brother used to stoically walk).

I realise that a lot of her attitude towards the house in particular is because it makes her feel different from her friends at school. She goes to a large comprehensive in the city, and everyone in her immediate friends group lives in flats or smallish 'normal' town houses. I suspect she wants to fit in with that, as much as anything.

I know we're not doing well with discipline. She's just so startlingly aggressively rude that it's left us reeling a bit - our two older boys, including the one with autism, just behaved with normal teenage surliness, and were never unpleasant people! We need to find a different approach.

Well, talking about this has certainly helped me get perspective and girded my loins for picking her up this afternoon! Back into battle lol

merrygoround51 Tue 02-Feb-16 15:00:50

Bobo there is of course a bit of both, parents need to understand how to handle their teens which is why the OP has posted.

However freedom is clearly not an issue so I dont know why you persist in saying it is.

ConkersDontScareSpiders Tue 02-Feb-16 15:02:57

What would you do then? Just out of interest?

GNRmama Tue 02-Feb-16 15:04:03

I think you're going to have to stand your ground a bit firmer in afraid, what incentive does she have to change if she still has all the treats and privileges she's used to? Good luck!

TJEckleburg Tue 02-Feb-16 15:07:56

Maybe what she's missing is feeling like you love her? Children are not just born with a stubborn and stroppy personality, they grow one based on their upbringing. I can't see a single word in your OP that is nice about her - just lots of justification of why you are a perfect mother who has given her everything she could materially want and she is a horrible child. And you talk of discipline and "battling" with her - how about trying to empathise with instead?

SeekEveryEveryKnownHidingPlace Tue 02-Feb-16 15:08:10

Oh bobo what on earth are you talking about? The girl lives in a house she didn't choose and wouldn't choose - in common, I would think, with the majority of 13 year olds! The question here is how to move forward and not let the fact that she'd prefer, at the moment, to live in town, make for a horrendous next 5 years for the whole family! Not, how can we make OP see that she, like most parents about of course from you, is getting it all wrong and should live a life that's a bit more like yours.

RaptorInaPorkPieHat Tue 02-Feb-16 15:21:37

Have you read the book

Get out of my life but first take me and Alex into town

It's often referred to here (I have it on my laptop kindle reader - don't want DD to see it lying around) and it's quite good to dip in and out of.

DD went thru (haha, she's still going thru but not as bad) this general disenchantment phase. It doesn't matter what her life is like, it's just shit. It's like wanting curly hair when it's poker straight or blue eyes when yours are green. You live rurally (what sounds like an amazing house) if you lived in town she'd find something else to complain about, it's all about the grass being greener elsewhere.

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 02-Feb-16 15:21:39

My DD has been similar she has complicating factors too (divorced parents, Ex has verbally abusive alcoholic GF who was ow who he introduced to DD via a sleepover after 3 days of leaving).
Firstly some one on MN suggested I read 'get out of my life, but first take me and Alex to town'. I found it hugely helpful in understanding teen and preteen psychology.
When you put the punishments in place it is horrific, but you need to stand by your guns and escalate if necessary. Very hard the first time, but it gets easier each time you do it.
I also counteract the very selfish behaviour for example 'DD please clear the table' 'I'm only clearing my own stuff' 'That's absolutely fine, if we are only looking after ourselves tomorrow I will wash, cook and clean only for myself'.
I am consistent in the face of lying and stealing (I've had both). The first month of taking this policy was horrendous, but we seem to have turned a corner now.
I actively praise even the slightest improvement in behaviour and attitude no matter how tiny.

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 02-Feb-16 15:22:39

Ah cross posted with Raptor the book is really worth reading.

slug Tue 02-Feb-16 15:44:07

How to change the wifi password

It's my ultimate threat for 14 year old DD actually second only to threatening to kiss her father in front of her friends

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