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Things have gradually become a lot worse...

Dear Mark,

I would be grateful for any advice you could give me regarding my daughter, E___:

E___ is just 18 and has a younger brother (M___) age 15, she lives at home with both parents (myself & my husband) - we are both doctors and I have worked during their childhood.

She has always been very bright & done well academically at school but has found it hard to make friends. This is in contrast to her brother who finds schoolwork hard going but is very popular and easy-going. This led to problems in their childhoods, as various nannies & carers have found M___ much easier.

We have had a turbulent few teenage years but things have gradually become a lot worse with a number of problems -

Driving: she has the use of a car and has had 2 serious accidents - both her fault; and around 6 minor bumps all of which she refuses to take responsibility for. She has been on an advanced driving course and her car use restricted.

>>>>>>>>>> What does she do to earn car privileges? What is she doing to earn some money to help pay for damages to vehicles? How long is her use of the car restricted (should go no more than 7 days)?

Stealing: strongly suspect she has taken cash from me, husband & brother, also I am worried she has taken trinkets etc from shops - I have no proof and she vehemently denies it though.

>>>>>>>>>>> No proof = no consequence.

School: she has always wanted to be a vet and has an offer from the Royal Vet College (which means she has to get prescribed results in her A levels, which start on Monday) - she started to get fed up with the continual exams we now have in the UK education system about 18 months ago, which has led to a gradual decline in her work to such an extent that we don't think she will get the grades she needs.

>>>>>>>>>> If poor academic performance is a source of parent-child conflict, then please see the recommendation outlined in “Emails From Exasperated Parents” (online version of the eBook).

Her 18th birthday (May 2) was lovely - we had a celebration with relatives and then she went out with her friends, but since then she has become very angry and resentful - she often tells me what a bad mother I was, always tired from work and shouting at her - which unfortunately may be partly true. She makes hurtful personal remarks to all of us. She over-reacts in response to trivial comments and swears at all of us. She has become intractable over house rules. She now says she no longer wants to be a vet & doesn't care about her exams.

>>>>>>>>>> Re: hurtful, personal remarks— Use the strategy “When You Want Something From Your Kid” (Anger Management chapter of the online version of the eBook).

We did have some success with your methods, but we are very worried now - she is 18, & supposedly an adult, so we feel we have to give her some leeway, but how do we draw the line - can we put a lot of this down to exam pressure?

>>>>>>>>>> As long as she is living in your house, she should abide by your house rules. So in this sense, there is no “leeway.” Leeway = over-indulgence. How is she preparing to launch (i.e., to leave the nest)? What is the deadline for her to be out on her own? Remember, we want to promote the development of self-reliance – not dependency.


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