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Adolescent Child Won't Open Up


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Old 13th September 2017, 12:42 AM   #16
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Doesn't sound like anything is abnormal to me. Typical preteen stuff. My mom had to tell me to bathe until I was about 10 or 11. When I was 12 I got my period and shortly after that I became aware of boys in a whole new way. Suddenly I was spending hours bathing, grooming and preening. The new complaint was that I was hogging the bathroom and my mom probably longed for the days when I was a dirty little tomboy who needed to be reminded to bathe.

You keep mentioning lecturing her and not being able to get her to open up. What do you mean by opening up? My impression is that you want her to tell you why. Why does she behave that way? Why doesn't she listen? Why doesn't she remember? Just why? Sorry but your kid is incapable of answering those questions. Kids don't know why they do the things they do. Heck even a lot of adults can't give in depth reasons for their behaviour. Kids don't have the self awareness, the experience, the tools or the vocabulary to be able to identify their feelings and actions and then discuss them. They just say things like, I don't know, I forgot, i didn't feel like it, etc. Or if you continue to hound them into talking they will start trying to figure out what it is you want to hear and feed you that. Stop pressuring her to talk to you. She doesn't know what it is you want her to tell you.

The best thing to do in this situation is to set rules and consequences. Consequences should not be extreme no should fit the crime. Does she get an allowance? Take off fifty cents or a dollar for every day that she forgets to bathe or brush her teeth. This will help her remember to do these things. Kids don't forget things that matter to them. If you don't do the allowance thing then create another consequence. Something like an early bedtime or restricted tv/internet access. Let her know that she has the power to determine the outcome by her own decisions. Lay off the lectures and asking her to open up. That's just a fruitless and painful excercise for both of you.
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Old 13th September 2017, 1:55 AM   #17
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I would agree.

She was pretty mad the other day. She complained that she was tired of using plastic bowls because I had not washed the dishes yet. Then she asked "Can we wash the dishes now." I made it clear to her that I was her mom and not her maid, and that SHE could wash a bowl at any time, there is no reason to complain to me about that. Then SHE got to wash the dishes this time. I still helped, but stiiillll....
This is an unfortunate outcome to what could have been a bonding experience and positive reinforcement. Yes, I know she grumbled, but she did offer get in there and do it. Her positive approach was met with a negative from you. It's so important for a child who's at risk to get positive outcomes from making good choices.

I think that saying "sure, lets get the dishes done together" could have created a talking opportunity over the sink. Not a negative talking opportunity, but a happy, friendly, conversation type of opportunity. Opening up to you will not happen while there are negative vibes holding her back.

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Old 13th September 2017, 2:47 AM   #18
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-when she continually told me she did not have any homework and later I had spoken with the teacher and found out that she did. For 6 months of school she hid her homework and lied straight to my face every day when I asked her. I found it all stuffed in a back compartment of her bag.

-she continually plays with children who are bad news. There is a group of kids that live near our apartment who tear up the landscaping, dig crap out of the trash to destroy, and make a lot of noise. I have asked her repeatedly not to play with those kids. She does anyway.
No matter what you say, she's going to play with those kids. Because she knows she's not supposed to do it, of course she won't tell you about it. Hence all this secretive behaviour. If we want honesty and openness, we need to create an environment where they feel safe being open and honest.

Instead of forbidding her from seeing them these kids, perhaps you can work towards a space where she can begin to trust you and will then start sharing her thoughts about what they do. Then you can discuss (without judgement) what she thinks of the stuff they do. Rather than forbidding her to do stuff, encourage her to think through what she does and make better choices.

When you're talking to her about bad choices, don't ask "why did you do that?" It's a really hard question to answer. Instead, as "what were you thinking about at the time". And then patiently work through the answer.

None of these changes are going to happen over night - and you're just entering the terrible teens - but giving her a space where she can be honest without negative consequences is good. And if there really must be consequences (eg, if she's hurt someone or done something illegal) discuss the consequences with her. Kids can actually be more inventive and harsh in their consequences than we are.
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Old 13th September 2017, 3:50 AM   #19
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it's great that you got her a notebook to write in, but i suggest you get some post-it's and write to her.

my SIL uses them. she writes notes to the kids before she leaves for work, before they get up and away and after they go to bed.

no confrontations.

"DD, i'd like you to take your clothes from the dryer and then feed the fish. there's pizza in the freezer for later and don't go outside till i get home"
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Old 13th September 2017, 1:53 PM   #20
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I don't ask her "why"

I just want to know what she clams up every time there is a problem. I didn't ask her, obviously I am here asking why.

It seems to point to negativity from the responses in this thread.

I am not negative. I am not here to be her friend, but her parent and I will make sure she knows respect.
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Old 13th September 2017, 2:39 PM   #21
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I would agree.

She was pretty mad the other day. She complained that she was tired of using plastic bowls because I had not washed the dishes yet. Then she asked "Can we wash the dishes now." I made it clear to her that I was her mom and not her maid, and that SHE could wash a bowl at any time, there is no reason to complain to me about that. Then SHE got to wash the dishes this time. I still helped, but stiiillll....
So you do not wash dishes, but you get upset when she forgets to brush her teeth?
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Old 13th September 2017, 2:41 PM   #22
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If her father was so horrible that you went to all these lengths....has it occurred to you that she may have some traumatic stress from whatever he did that was so awful? Is she receiving counseling?
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Old 13th September 2017, 3:01 PM   #23
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So you do not wash dishes, but you get upset when she forgets to brush her teeth?
I think knabe makes a very good point here. I first want to say I am not getting down on you about not washing the dishes because I understand you probably have a lot more important things to deal with.

I truly believe that if you want to get 100% out of your daughter, you must always lead with 110% effort. The most successful and respected bosses are the ones who are always working harder than their subordinates.

If you want an employee to be on time, you must always show up 15 minutes early to have that expectation. You must lead with example. If you are late but expect punctuality from those working for you, using your position as a means to justify your tardiness is only going to create a lack of respect.

I truly get it--it's unfair. She should do things and understand the immense pressure you are under and cut you some slack. But children, and humans in general, are not always so empathetic and able to understand your reasoning. But they will follow your actions.
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Old 13th September 2017, 5:43 PM   #24
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My first instinct..

Is what Knabe said. Gently, do you know what she endured while in her father's care?

How involved is she in other activities. If we don't want our kids doing A we need to provide them with a B that is viewed by them as " more fun".

Yes, you need respect but you can't command that.

I don't believe in coddling but I do not know what this child has been exposed to and I also think we have to provide them with positive activities that teach them responsibility.

Best of luck to you !!! You need support as well!
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Old 13th September 2017, 6:17 PM   #25
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I don't ask her "why"

I just want to know what she clams up every time there is a problem. I didn't ask her, obviously I am here asking why.

It seems to point to negativity from the responses in this thread.

I am not negative. I am not here to be her friend, but her parent and I will make sure she knows respect.
Good that you don't use 'why' when asking questions. Many do, and it's a trap.

The clamming up is a self protection technique. Like a tortoise going back in it's shell. Hence the need to create a space where it's safe to be honest. Like when my 18yo came to me a few weeks ago worried about pregnancy risk. I was so glad she wasn't scared of what my reaction might be and knew she could be honest. (Luckily it all worked out OK)

You reaction to her suggesting that she helps you do the dishes was actually negative. Banning her from seeing her friends is a negative reaction as well.

I totally understand you being a parent and not a friend, but don't make the mistake of thinking that respect can be demanded. Respect is something we earn from the time they are babies and which we need to maintain it throughout their lives.

There are lots of resources on parenting difficult teens out there. Have you tried any of them?
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Old 13th September 2017, 6:29 PM   #26
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I had an extremely challenging time with my youngest son, he too had an abusive and manipulative father and our divorce and custody issues, were a lot like yours. My son lived with his dad for about 18months, before coming back to me.
I took my son to several counsellors, the very last one was the guy that awoke the change in him.
He was put in special education (for naughty kids) and the director of the place was a deaf psychologist, he was very patient with the kids (I think not being able to hear them helped!!-the place was like a circus) and discussed their issues calmly and explained complexities of peoples behaviour with them.
This got my son very interested in psychology, he read my university text books on psychology and diagnosed himself as having a borderline personality disorder, he diagnosed his dad with the same!!Haha!! (His dad was actually diagnosed officially when he was younger but his mother doesn't believe in labelling people so ignored the diagnosis.)
From then on my son has worked very hard on himself so that he "never becomes like his father"


I guess what I'm trying to say is there may be hereditary conditions your daughter has picked up from her father, residual trauma from her time with him and that sometimes you need to try different counsellors or therapists until you find someone who can gel with her.
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Last edited by mrs rubble; 13th September 2017 at 6:31 PM..
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Old 13th September 2017, 7:42 PM   #27
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Somewhere there isn't enough parenting for this child. Who had all this time sounds like the husband now you have a damage child. She has turned to animals but doesn't take care of them. Hmmm, she lacks what you haven't shown her yet how to take care of non-personal things like life forms. How to take care of ones self. Show her and teach her until it sticks in her mind. Stop trying to be her friend your her mom act like one!
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Old 20th September 2017, 2:25 PM   #28
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I am very sorry! The possibilities of what could be the reasons why your daughter behaves the way she does are countless. Maybe she struggles with shyness or some learning disability. Or, maybe she is very sad. Maybe she behaves the way she does because she is very innocent. I do not know what is happening inside her but I am glad that you thought of counseling. It could be that she needs it for a longer time. It could be that there is not much a very big problem that is affecting her. One thing that could be helpful for you is to walk outdoors every day. I’ve been told that that helps us a lot in many senses. Physical activity could be very helpful for both you and your daughter, even for bonding. There are gyms and recreation centers that offer activities for families. Walking outside together does not involve paying money so, that is always a nice idea. Demanding that she talks or pressuring her to talk may not be always a good idea because it could make her feel worse. Maybe she longs to be left alone with her thoughts for some time. A diary that she can know with great assurance that no one will read could be very helpful too. Maybe one day she could invite you to read it. Another idea is doing crafts together. The two of you could do crafts like jewelry-making. It would be nice that you sit with her and do not demand that she talks. Coloring is also very helpful. There are many fun coloring books and very nice coloring pencils kits. Also, you could try reading a book to her and invite her to put her head on your lap. Someone who is a professional can provide you professional guidance. I have some ideas that could help or not help at all. But my hope is that things improve a lot and that you yourself make sure you are doing well. Your daughter will benefit a lot if you give her hugs often. May God guide you and bless both of you!
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Old 21st September 2017, 6:23 PM   #29
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It's NOT normal to forget to take care of a pet. She just knows you'll do it. I took care of the horses my whole childhood and no one had to ask me if it got done.

Maybe a different counselor would be better. She's no doubt traumatized by everything that has gone on and it just seems like family counseling is in order to talk all that out together and to be sure you are handling her in the right way. When a kid is having problems, it's the whole family's issues as a rule. If you don't change, she won't change. So you need family counseling to sort out the dynamic.

For daily chore type stuff, I recommend you just get one of those dry erase boards and make a schedule and have her check off once she's done her chores.
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