At my wits end with teenage daughter(5 Posts)
This might be lengthy thread, so bare with me as I tell my tale of woe....My (D)D is turning 17 on Saturday and once again, there is tension in the house, which might make it an unhappy birthday. Although this isn't the first time we have had this sort of tension in the house-the last time no-one spoke to each other for a month!
Let me start at the beginning, to give some perspective on this, she has always been a bit odd & difficult from about the age of 10. She used to take herself to primary school by herself (while I walked a little further back with her younger brother who went to the same school), but walking home she was by herself-doesn't sound like much of a problem-except one day one of the mums who lives down our road stopped me one morning on my way home and told me that my daughter had started walking into her house and sitting in her kitchen with her children, the mum said she didn't mind as y DD was a lovely girl, nice manners but just thought i would like to know. (we don't know the family). When i asked my daughter about it, she said she didn't know why she did this. I stopped letting her walk to & from school by herself. I was embarrassed & confused by her behaviour. Fast forward to age 11 when she started secondary school and a new rule came into play. We live about 10mins from both the school, so this rule seemed reasonable. School finished at 3pm, so she had to be home by 4pm or if she wanted to stay out longer, she had to come home first, let us know where she was going and we would tell her to be home by a certain time. Did she follow this rule? No she didn't. she would just go off to her friends house sometimes still not home, by 6pm-which meant I would be walking the surrounding area looking for her, we know they were local, but not addresses. Sometimes i found her, sometimes I would have to go home and wait for her. She would then come home like she hadn't done anything wrong, then we would try to explain to her that this wasn't acceptable and explain the danger she was putting herself in by not letting us know where she was. So, we would ground her, she would have to come straight home after school. She ignored this as well and would continue to do as she pleased. This sort of behavious continues on for a couple of yrs! When she was about 14/15 it got to the point, where i would have to go meet her from school. I had tried everything else to try to get her to understand that we are the parents and she was the child, and that there are rules that need to be followed to keep herself safe.
She has always seemed that she sees things differently from other kids i knew. She had a difficult birth & was starved oxygen for a little bit-but met all her milestones at the (correct) age. She was always the odd one out in groups, never got invited to parties when she was younger, she has dyslexia-which i had to pay privately to get diagnosed (her school wouldn't test her). I have had her tested for Asperger's but she doesn't rank on the Autism spectrum. Although, the testing did discover she has a problem with her memory, where she finds it difficult to grab important bits of information quickly.
Anyway, let me get to this years issues. At the end of January on a Friday, she didn't come home for 2 days! We called the police, she was officially on the missing persons list. Through looking through her phone (which we had confiscated the day before) we found some names of her friends and found out that she wanted to go shopping after college and stay at their house. (we would've let her if she asked). Anyway, it turned out that she didn't end up doing that, because the friend hadn't asked her dad if my DD could stay, so instead of coming home, we discovered the NEXT day from the police about 12.15pm that she had stayed at a boys house and the boy had sent her home on the bus (its one bus from his house to ours) she did not come home until 4.30am Sunday morning!! We were all tired , so I hugged her & told her that i'm glad she is safe and sent her to bed. We would discuss it in the morning.
In the morning (still Sunday), we asked her where she was & she wouldn't answer us. We let the police know that she was home and they sent some one round. She spoke to them-only if we weren't in the room. She told the police officer that after the boy had put her on the bus, she still didn't want to come home, because she knew that she would be in trouble (a regular excuse when she hadn't come home from school all those times before) so she just rode the buses, from the beginning to the end constantly-until she was hungry and THEN came home!! (I phoned TFL and got them to check her oyster card to see where she had been-she rode 13 buses that day!) I phoned the doctor and basically begged for help, because this type of behaviour now & previously wasn't 'normal'. I was signed off from work for 3 wks due to stress, the doctor spoke to her-again by herself (she will not open up to us) and suggested that she be referred to a psychotherapist!! She didn't say one one to anyone for a whole month!! Not one word. That can't be healthy, right? She sees the therapist for about 5 weeks and then we are referred to family therapy, where she says she wants to be treated more like an adult. To me that means treating people with respect, having manners & admitting when you have done the wrong thing and apologising for when you have upset people-especially family.
Anyway, towards the ed of our sessions, we come up with a plan of how to make HER life better. She wanted to join police cadets-we organised that for her. She wanted more independence, so we asked, what she would like to do. She said she wanted to go swimming by herself, absolutely fine. There is a swimming pool about 10 mins away. we looked up sessions and said come home straight after (as we are still trying to re-build the trust between us). She didn't come home until 2.15pm when she she should've been home by 12.30pm! (I had a job interview the same day, so already a bit stressed) when she got home, asked where she was, she said she had to go to college to hand in coursework. by the way, she would've had to pass our house to go to the bus stop to get to college. Asked her why she didn't say anything before swimming, she said it had to be handed in that day. Bit flimsy as an excuse, but at least she said something(!) I told her I would phone college and ask them if she was there (have checked up on her before) so I gave her another opportunity to tell me anything, in case she was lying. I phoned college and spoke to the person she saw, who told me that yes, she did come to college-but it wasn't to hand in coursework, it was to hand in a permission slip to go on a trip the next day! She had forged my signature!! I verbally gave my permission for her to go on this trip as this was a trip that had been postponed from before Christmas for working so hard in college to get all her coursework done. So again, all she had to do was ask me to sign the slip and i would've done it!! Instead she has to scheme & lie to get what she wants?!
We have tried, screaming, shouting, crying (she has seen the effect her behaviour has on me), compassion, understanding, talking, consequences for her actions(i.e. confiscating her phone, tv, etc. groundings) We have had therapy (she is very good at telling the professionals what they want to hear so that they say there is nothing wrong with her).
I am at my wits end mumsnet, HELP!!
Not saying it to be dramatic, but have you considered that she might have psychopathic/sociopathic traits? Might be worth googling the list of traits to see if it sounds at all familiar.
There are a number in the population and they arent all serial killers or monsters, they just dont quite have the same view of the world as other people.They tend to just do whatever is the easiest way to get what they want, and dont really care how it affects other people.
Forging your signature to get a guaranteed "yes" instead of just asking when you might have said "no", and staying out doing whatever with no thought to the fact you might be worried and no care that the police were involved are the two things that make me wonder.
It's no wonder you're at your wits end with all that happening.
Now this might seem a bit out there, but has your daughter been tested for epilepsy? The absence type that presents very subtlety. It can cause behaviour problems.
Now I'm not saying that your DD
has epilepsy it's just a suggestion.
Well done keeping your independent, wayward child safe all these years!!
She is seventeen before the week is out. Herein lies your salvation. You've almost made it to her being totally self reliant. Many on MN will tell you that they left home at 17.
Perhaps you can relax your rules and work on providing your daughter with an adult to adult relationship in your home. Change the goal posts. Talk to her perhaps and ask her what sort of relationship she wants with you? This might relieve your stress - not being responsible for a child, but working on a relationship with a young adult who is different and longing for independence from you.
I can see she is vulnerable. You might have very good reasons to not let go - but all sorts of people make up society and your daughter might more easily learn about how to keep safe if she isn't always dreading coming home.
I don't underestimate the effort you have put in. And the success this has achieved. Is it soon time to reassess and reengineer the relationship?
You must be at your wits end. I hope YOU have support, in supporting your daughter. Is her Dad any help?
I don't wish to sound harsh - but I think your daughter may have a point.
She is nearly an adult but you are imposing rules on her that I wouldn't impose on my nearly 14 year old. All teenagers lie - scientifically proven fact! The more rules you impose on them - the more they will lie to do exactly what they want to do.
I know there is a lot of history here but you need to move on your dd is almost an adult. You are imposing rules on a 17 year old so that you learn to trust her??!! - she is not a baby anymore! Trust is not gained this way with 17 year olds. Her freedom should not be dependent on her coming home from swimming on time, she changed her mind, no big deal, would be nice if she could let you know next time with a quick text ....requested with a smile, without attitude and disapproval.
At the moment she doesn't feel you treat her in an adult like way and I agree with her. Going to the swimming pool without you is pretty normal. Visiting friends after school is pretty normal. My 14 year old dd will visit friends after school occasionally - she'll let me know, rather than ask permission - if there is a good reason why this is not a good idea we'll discuss - I don't own her time.
I think you need to move to the idea that your dd just lets you know what she is doing and unless you have a damn good reason, like an appointment, lack of money etc you allow her to do what she wants to do, a text to let you know where she is etc would be good to.
And as you've discovered the shouting and screaming never work with teenagers - they want recognition that they are growing up, they want to be treated with respect, even if sometimes they are not capable of returning the favour. She is too also old to be punished, you can't force her to do anything she doesn't want to do. You just need to back off, be there when needed support and sympathise, it's too late and she's too old for control.
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