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14 year-old daughter has completely changed for the worse...

"hi mark my name is j____, i have a 14 yr old daughter, we've always been pretty close. since starting 9th grade she has completely changed, ditching class, smoking cigs, experimenting with drugs, disrespectful, lying etc… she’s not happy unless she is with her friends every waking moment. the fist couple of times she told me that she hated me i tried to tell myself that she didn’t really mean it, but each day its getting harder to believe that. the way she looks at me just tears my heart out. ok im not the perfect june cleaver kinda mom, but im not the mom from the movie psycho either.

i have been taking your "out of control teen course" where i have come to find out that i am an over indulgent parent, this is fixable, i just don’t know how to approach someone who {im truly starting to believe} despises me so much. how do i look into those eyes and not only not cry but try to connect with her?"


Hi J.,

First of all, your daughter does not hate you – she is angry with you and probably hates how the relationship has been going (as do you). If you died tomorrow, I’m sure your daughter would be devastated.

If you are a single parent, or if your husband tries to be the “good guy” -- then you are, by default, the designated "bad guy." Your child probably directs most - if not all - of her anger and rage toward you. But her anger is displaced. She is upset about many different things for many different reasons. Thus, as difficult as it WILL be, do not take her attacks personally.

If you dropped out of the picture (e.g., packed up and moved to the moon), I’m sure your daughter would take her frustrations out on the next caretaker that came across her path. Thus, her “hate” and “despising” have more to do with what is going on inside of her rather than what is going on between the two of you.

As hard as it is to do, grieve the loss of the daughter you once had. Work the OPS program one week at a time. And trust that things will work out for the best in the long run.

When your daughter is older and becomes a mother herself, she will have a “change of heart” regarding her connection to you. In the meantime, you take care of you.

Mark Hutten, M.A,

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