I downloaded your e-book last night, read the whole book and the first week's part twice, and I'm ready to implement these techniques.
Right now, I hope it's not too late, because my daughter and I are in a crisis situation. I desperately need the help you're offering via OPS!
Here's the situation (it's complicated). She just turned 15 year and, up until recently, she has been a good kid. She makes straight A's in school (and she takes gifted level and one AP class) except for math; however, I should have seen trouble coming when she became increasingly disrespectful and defiant - up till recently, her defiance has involved not going to bed when she should and refusing to get off the internet. She is sometimes up till 1 or 2 am, including on school nights.
It's hard to say what my toughest parenting challenge is. Between her suicide threats, defiance, and yelling and cursing and recent drinking and sexual activity I don't know what to do.
She has been threatening suicide. Yesterday in the car, she threatened to jump out in front of traffic because I told her I would not let her see her boyfriend without my direct supervision.
How this developed is that a senior asked her to the prom, and I made the mistake of letting her go (so far, she had not given me any reason to mistrust her; she had gone with him and a group to an amusement park and a baseball game and they returned on time). They were supposed to go to an after-prom (a school-sponsored, chaperoned event), but instead they went to a wild party where there was drinking, pot smoking, and sexual activity. This was the first time (as far as I know) that she was exposed to drinking (she said she did not smoke the pot, but admitted to drinking). When she did not come home by 7am (the after-prom ended at 5am) I called the police. (All I could think of was her dying of alcohol poisoning somewhere).
Now she says I "ruined her life" (the boyfriend ignored her until yesterday). She's blaming me because she says he is afraid because I could have pressed charges on him for carnal knowledge of a minor (he is 19).
She has done everything short of sexual intercourse with him. (At least she is being honest). I had made the mistake of letting her go to his house; supposedly the parents were present, but it seems that they provide little or no supervision. I've told her that if she continues to see him, it must be under my supervision. She can invite him over here (which she refuses to do), or she can meet him in a public place (I will drive her and pick her up. This boy drinks, and has a reckless driving conviction, so there are safety issues too). Am I being unreasonable?
She says I should not have called the police; I tell her that it was his and her choice to lie to me about where they were going and what they were doing. And she has to regain my trust.
She's grounded for two weeks (this is the last weekend of this grounding), and has announced that she is "through" with me and will go out whenever she wants to. She also says that I'm not her mother, and when she is 18 she will have nothing to do with me.
Another problem is that she is very one-sided - she is obsessed with joining the army right after high school (which I think would be a disaster; we've clashed about that constantly - I urge her to go to college first).
She met the boyfriend in JROTC. I did not want her to join, but made the mistake of going along with it, and I don't want her in that program next year, because it is through that class that she met these new "friends" who drink, drug, and have sex. She says that if I don't let her take it next year, she will fail all her classes. I'd like to forbid her from taking it.
Part of the problem is that I'm a single parent (the father is not in the picture at all) and we live with my mother, who can't stand the yelling and caves in to my daughter to buy a little temporary peace. For example, yesterday I wanted to take the computer away because she was on the internet until 1am, Grandma said "let her have it for an hour" and daughter would not get off the computer. And I want her to go to a 10-day summer pre-college program (she could earn 2 college credits, and I think a change of scene would do her a world of good). She says "I'm not going and you can't make me" and Grandma says not to force her.
Should I drop out of graduate school (I'm working part time), look for fulltime work, and get an apartment? Or could your techniques work even if there is an uncooperative adult in the house? I'm concerned because you mentioned that in the ebook, and this child is expert at driving mother and grandmother apart.
Right now, as I write this, daughter is crying, yelling, and screaming because I am refusing to let her see the boyfriend today. She's howling that she wants to go to foster care. And, as has become her custom, she is screaming that she hates me and that I destroyed her.
Grandma is saying to let her see the boyfriend today, but I am standing firm. Although coincidentally there was an article in yesterday's paper about an 18 year old who was charged with a felony for consensual carnal knowledge (not even sexual intercourse or oral sex) with a 14 year old, daughter does not understand that I could have chosen to press charges on the boyfriend but didn't. In this state, carnal knowledge of a 15 year old by a 18 year old is still a misdemeanor. I've told her that I won't press charges, but that I will do my utmost to prevent sexual activity when she is not physically or emotionally mature enough for it. And this is an infatuation, not a committed relationship. I've installed monitoring software, and found that she is planning to "finish what they started" with the boyfriend.
I don't want to condone sexual activity, or underage drinking, but Grandma says that in not letting her see him, I will drive her to suicide or run away. I respond that I am not forbidding the relationship, but imposing reasonable restrictions, and after prom night trust has to be (slowly) regained. She manipulates by yelling, knowing that Grandma will take her side to try to buy a little temporary peace, and then her demands escalate.
Next time she makes a suicide threat, should I call 911? She has been seeing a psychologist for an eating disorder (was anorexia, but she gained enough weight that she no longer meets the criteria) since October, but as her behavior has worsened, the therapy doesn't seem to be helping.
I look forward to any advice you have. It's at the point that I am seriously considering boarding school. She has a violent temper, sometimes throws herself on the floor and screams, has thrown things, and has shoved me when I tried to get her off the computer. I feel that I cannot handle this child. Thank you for taking the time to read this!
You’ve raised at least a dozen points here …I’m not sure where to start. My preference, per each email, is to go into depth on one or two topics rather than provide short responses to multiple problems, but we’ll have to do the later for now.
First of all, if you have only read the ebook -- and not listened to ALL the audio files – then you are missing at least 50% of the total information. So please be sure to listen as well as read.
Second, your daughter is spoiled rotten. She’s 15-years-old and acting like a 5-year-old. This doesn’t make her a bad kid, just a misguided one.
Re: refusing to get off the internet
What is she doing to EARN computer privileges? And how long are you withholding computer privileges when she violates a house rule?
Re: threatening suicide
This is pure manipulation. And everyone is falling for it. Should you keep an eye on her when she makes these threats? Of course! But you must also put on your ‘poker face’ and “act” as though you are not worried. Otherwise, she’ll continue to use suicide threats (a variation of a temper tantrum really) as a weapon to get her way.
Re: alcohol drinking / pot smoking
This is covered in the Emails From Exasperated Parents chapter of the eBook …so I won’t waste our time going over it again here.
Re: …This boy drinks, and has a reckless driving conviction, so there are safety issues too). Am I being unreasonable?
Re: joining the army right after high school
As you read in the eBook, self-reliance is key. In these situations, we as parents ask ourselves, “Will this [in this case, joining the Army] foster the development of self-reliance – or dependency?” It appears to me that you will be ‘fostering the development of self-reliance’ here.
Re: grandma not on the same page
Please don’t get upset with me here S. But, how old are YOU? And you’re still living at home?! These questions are rhetorical (i.e., questions to make a point rather than illicit an answer).
This doesn’t seem very self-reliant to me. Remember, this whole program is based on “self-reliance.” It will be very difficult for you to instill ‘self-reliance’ in your daughter while – at the same time -- you are ‘dependent’ on your mother.
Re: Should I drop out of graduate school (I'm working part time), look for fulltime work, and get an apartment? Or could your techniques work even if there is an uncooperative adult in the house? I'm concerned because you mentioned that in the ebook, and this child is expert at driving mother and grandmother apart.
I think for you to continue to live at home will be the “kiss of failure” on several fronts.
Re: Next time she makes a suicide threat, should I call 911?
Oh sure ...and have them bring the fire trucks too.
O.K. I’m being a smart-ass. But I want to make a point. The real answer in “NO, of course not.” Keep an eye on her following the threats, but do not provide any intensity during this temper tantrum.
As you are finding out, this is just another traditional parenting strategy that has little or no positive effect (too often it makes a bad problem worse).
Re: boarding school
Way to premature for that.
Here’s to a better home environment,
Mark Hutten, M.A.