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Teenage daughters - advice sought

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Schoolbird, Dec 11, 2015.

  1. Birdie64

    Birdie64 Occasional commenter

    help! I am at my wiits end with my two teens - one very bright, one severely dyslexic, one academic, the other definitely not, both (or just one) constantly lying and stealing from me and from each other, unable to share anything. Today has been the final straw...they asked if they could eat the chocolate lollipops I had bought for the children at school, I said no...I got up this morning and all of them had gone! All of them!! When I asked who was responsible they both said it wasn't them...the lying is really getting to me. Just when I had begun to feel better about work too!

    The elder daughter is in lower sixth and is very sullen and moody, defiant and argumentative, she has always deeply resented her younger sister. Their dad is working away from the uk and we only see him in the holidays; the elder daughter didn't come with us at October half term, preferring to stay at home under the watchful eye of a close family friend. I get that she is becoming more independent but she is making life extremely hard for me and her sister...the atmosphere at home is dreadful. Their dad is undiagnosed aspergers ( by general consensus of opinion by those know him well and have some professional understanding of the condition inc. the GP, teaching colleagues and a counsellor). Is she showing similar traits...or is she just a normal teenager? She's very young for her age group (August birthday)...is that part of it?

    The younger daughter is usually more transparent but has umpteen problems with trying to fit in at school. She isn't as academic as her sister but she shines elsewhere but she has no motivation at all wrt to school. The school has tried hard to engage her but all she is interested in is make up and short skirts! She has caused problems for herself at school being the gobby one who has an answer for everything.

    I'm trying hard not to see all this as my fault - i am, effectively, a single mum here in the UK and the times we spend away are always nice times because everyone is pleased to be somewhere warm and sunny altogether. I have had a terrible time at school and have extricated myself from that. Over the years I have had recourse to antidepressants for periods of depression and anxiety but I have always done my best - the counsellor I have been seeing says I just have to be good enough and I think I have been - the lying and lack of respect for me and each other and property is making me question it all.

    Those of you teach this age group...do you have any advice for me? I am used to ks1 where the children listen and want to please...what do I do with my own two who seem determined to cause as much pain as possible? What sanctions do I use? Any advice would be welcome because I don't know where else to go with this.
  2. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    Lock up lollipops overnight!
  3. Noja

    Noja Senior commenter

    You sound really stressed so the first thing to do is try and see this for what it almost certainly is...normal crappy teenage behaviour. I remember someone telling me that teenage rebellion is nature's way of making sure you get them out of the family home (ie they behave so badly that you make them leave in some way and then they become adults) Remember when they did toddler tantrums and it felt like one after the other for ages but really it was about a year - well hopefully you will look back on this and smile too.
    In the meantime, I would be really calm, really kind and nice but accept no ****. Stop doing things for them, don't give them money, lifts whatever, until they behave in an acceptable way (and be flexible with the word acceptable - makes it easier!) Mine are in their 20s now and delightful but it wasn't always so.
    ScotSEN, Schoolbird, foxtail3 and 2 others like this.
  4. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Good advice given already, l think. I'd just add remember that, however long the days/weeks/months appear to be now, the teenage years are actually quite short and will be over before you know it. Keep modelling good behaviour and it will stick.
    ScotSEN and Schoolbird like this.
  5. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    If you get upset when you talk to them, perhaps write a letter instead. I couldn't communicate verbally with my daughter for a period of time and wrote to her telling her that I would always love her, no matter what, but I didn't always like her behaviour.

    I felt it was my fault too- how could it not be when I'm her mother, was my reasoning. You've done your best! Keep reminding yourself of that.
    Schoolbird likes this.
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Is it your fault? Does it matter? We're all products of generation after generation of parents (aka just ordinary people) who bug g er things up and make mistakes. In addition to all the right decisions they make, of course! Their dad's to blame too. And also responsible for some of the good bits! So stop with the guilt.

    Lock up the chocs. Tell them that one or both of them are little s h itz but you can't punish either of them without knowing the culprit. The punishment would be replacing the lollipops and an apology for lying. But, if they can't bring themselves to own up, you'll just have to lock stuff away in future.

    And then carry on as before.

    My daughters are now 26 and 27. I don't even remember (if I ever even knew!!!) the half of what they got up to. It did include:

    But they're both hard-working women these days. Just yer average punter.

    This is the bit of the tunnel where the end isn't yet in sight but you're speeding toward it nonetheless. You stick to your values and let them know it and they'll come round.
    Dragonlady30 and Schoolbird like this.
  7. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    The best thing to remember is that no matter whet they do or what hurtful things they say, it isn't personal. It will feel like it but remember that they are happy with you on holidays so what they rebel against is not you - it's the boundaries and situations of every day life. Secondly, they will grow out of it. What you write just sounds like teenage stroppiness and they'll probably be horrified at the their own behaviour in a few years!
    grumpydogwoman and Schoolbird like this.
  8. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I was this obnoxious teenage girl that you currently live with - my mother and I argued and fought all the time - going to university was my salvation. It took many years to rebuild our relationship but we did (both very stubborn). I did a great deal of naughty stuff but I did grow up, go off to university, etc., so there is hope at the end of the tunnel.

    One piece of advice, to add to the already good advice above. Sometimes I acted up as it meant attention from my mother, e.g., bad was better than nothing. As a teacher now, I try to also comment on the good and not just the bad.

    good luck!
    grumpydogwoman and Schoolbird like this.
  9. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Print your original post and responses and leave them somewhere to read.
  10. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    Yep, they'll turn into lovely girls around 24. Stick with it but stand your ground and have house rules.
    I once screamed at my daughter to "pack a bag and leave!". She took me at my word and spent a couple of nights sofa surfing with her things in a black bin liner. It was very upsetting at the time but she came back with a new found respect for me. Mind you, she was 22 at the time - those teenage years go on and on.
    grumpydogwoman and Schoolbird like this.
  11. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Did you not raise these children or have they just arrived this term?

    Dunteachin likes this.
  12. Birdie64

    Birdie64 Occasional commenter

    No, no I've raised them...but they are aliens who inhabit the bodies of my children! I don't recognise these young people...give 6 year olds any day, especially silly if they belong to someone else!
    ScotSEN likes this.
  13. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Alien is right. I know I felt my parents couldn't possibly be related to me. I'd have been delighted to find I was the spawn of aliens as I felt the rest of the world had got things comprehensively WRONG and I was the only right thing in it!

    (Not that I have changed much but 'alien' does describe it well.)

    When they get responsibilities and bills and a few GENUINE hard knocks (not like Primark not having the top they craved and them having a meltdown) then they become ..... adults.
    ScotSEN and Schoolbird like this.
  14. bluelemonade

    bluelemonade Occasional commenter

    I have two girls, very different. One has lived and studied at the http://www.hmt-leipzig.de/en/ and as a result has a first class degree in music for free! And the other a first in fine art. There is dyslexia in the family, not from my side, but their father. Unless there are serious issues such as self harm which one of mine had, then just try and get on with it. Dyslexia can be a gift as well as a learning difficulty. It is when you are stopping your daughter running round the A31 in her night dress you need to worry, still, all can be overcome with a little patience and a sound mother.
  15. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    In my neurobiology classes we've been looking at how the teenage years are ones where the brain goes through a period of neurogenesis, where the brain is effectively reorganising itself and many of the functions that were being handled by the cortex in childhood are being transferred to the frontal lobes, which provides the more adult ability to reason effectively. This neurogenesis can temporarily interrupt the way that the brain functions, kind of like having roadworks on a motorway, meaning that teens may regress to almost toddler levels in some areas of congnition, like reading facial expressions (teens are more likely to interpret expressions of fear, shock or sadness as anger, for example) or controlling their temper. It can also throw the reward-consequence balance out of whack, meaning teens are more likely to indulge in risky or impulsive behaviours, even if they know they're 'bad', to provide an instant reward without processing the potential consequences. Then there are social shifts, such as the recognition as peer groups as being the primary source of self-esteem and validation, rather than parents or those previously considered to be authority figures, which is thought to be something that happens in preparation for the increased independence expected in adulthood and is compounded by the interruption in normal cognition and reasoning skills. Add the hormonal surges which govern the physical changes seen during puberty, particularly the production of cortisol and serotonin which is though to have an effect on mood (especially aggression and depression) appetite and sleep patterns, and you've got a pretty little mess.
    The biological, hormonal and social changes tend to overlap, but aren't dependent on each other and may run either concurrently or more consecutively, which is why some kids sail through puberty and others transform into little devils for a few weeks/months/years and others fluctuate between the two extremes.

    Sorry if this is really boring, and doesn't actually add any practical advice whatsoever, but I thought it was an interesting lecture and it may provide reassurance that it's nothing you're doing, and it's not necessarily anything they're doing deliberately to punish you or antagonise you either, but that it should be temporary!
  16. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Not at all boring. The sort of thing every parent should have in mind.

    Cliches such as Kevin the Teenager are firmly based in reality. There is, as you say @Orkrider2, very good reason for this behaviour.
    Schoolbird and ScotSEN like this.
  17. Sid_Pubes

    Sid_Pubes Senior commenter

    It sounds to me as if you have two normal teenagers, which is not to say that they do not need to be told very firmly when they behave unacceptably, although it is best to do so as calmly [and hence as ungainsayably] as possible.

    They also need to know that you have rights as well, among which are the right to being treated with the courtesy and consideration they take for granted as their right.

    And the other thing to remember is they need you most when they appear to need you least, but that they need you at those times to support them in the way that they want to be supported, not for you to tell them what to do. I used simply to ask my teenage daughters if they needed me to do or be anything, and if so, what. And if, as happened as often as not, they told me to go away and leave them alone, I did, reminding them that I would be there if they needed me. And, at the ages of 39 and 34, they are still speaking to me - something in which I take a foolish pride.

    In short, I suppose I am saying to you stop looking for a solution - there isn't one. Just take each day at a time, and remember to remind them that you, too, have rights, needs and wishes, as deserving of respect and fulfilment as theirs are.
  18. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    The mistake is to adapt too much to them. Better that you remain pretty staunchly true to yourself. The rock to which they can alternately cling and strike themselves against forcefully. You're stable. They don't quite know who they are yet.
  19. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    I was an only child....parents worked running a series of shops and I know I was a rather lonely child. I was always determined not to have an only child based mostly on that (partly based on maybe the erroneous impression that siblings would love the "bones of each other") How wrong can one be?
    There are 6 years between my 2 girls (I lost a baby in between and I had a lot of trauma and near months of bed rest and taking care to have daughter no 2)
    I have to say I had no idea of how much jealousy could exist between siblings. I swear my 2 were capable of counting the number of rice krispies in their bowls to see neither was was gaining an advantage. I have photos of the elder holding the younger as a baby and I have to admit that the concept of sisterly love doesn't leap out at you! I know I have explained to the elder that she had 6 years of undivided attention from us her parents and also grandparents and that was something her younger sister would never know - she would always be one of two and would therefore have "to share".
    I don't really see that my words worked.
    There have been some occasions when I have seen some light at the end of the tunnel...... they have come together at moments of upset and stress - especially when I was taken so ill with my brain haemorrhage...... and I cling to that resolutely. The problem lies in the more normal day to day stuff. They seem to have little empathy towards each other. They are poles apart with one with seemingly insoluble health issues and the other a complete workaholic. What frightens me is that it seems ever more likely that neither of them will have family which might have served to bond them together more. My mother had just one sister (10 years younger) who was very influenced by her 2nd husband (10 years younger than her) in her early 60s they moved from the area the family had been based in for generations down to Devon - I remember my mother crying because her sister didn't see fit to give her their new address. This 2nd husband changed a very independent and competent woman into a much changed person and someone under his thumb - and he even managed quite some fancy footwork ploys on my mother who experienced several financial thumpings because of him. Probably the last straw for me was when she didn't come north for my mother's funeral. I was terribly upset by that but still felt bad for the embarrassment shown by her elder son, my first cousin who did come alone to the funeral. Although I determined never to speak to her again; - unusually for me - and maybe out of consideration for my cousin - I did ring her a couple of times over the next few years before she died. I did attend her funeral - out of respect for my cousins. I couldn't really forgive her though for how she , a sister, treated my mother. I so do not want this to happen to my 2 girls.

    I have written them both letters for when I am gone. They lost their father and there were all sorts of issues surrounding that - so they have shared quite some upset. I shall just have to cross my fingers that they find a closeness at some stage. I don't feel I can do much more.
    Schoolbird, ScotSEN and Dunteachin like this.
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter


    What many misfortunes have befallen you. You certainly seem to have emerged from it with no little fortitude and sense of humour. You're not usually quite so sad. Time of year though. People have to remember it's as much a time of sadness and regret as unalloyed joy and family strife is felt more keenly at Christmas.

    I'm an only too. And very glad to be so. Families, eh.

    Schoolbird and ScotSEN like this.

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