linwalker's picture

I need serious help or a kick in the rear!

I have two girls ages 15 and 16 and this past year has been nothing but panic attacks and anxiety/stress and I just don't know where to turn. Here's the kicker.. My husband is a recovering addict who has also slipped a few times this year, we went through 4 or 5 years of hell a few years back with his addiction and I'm sure it's left some permanent scars.

My 15 year old is more mature than my 16 year old and this causes me a lot of anxiety. She has her permit, but by far is not ready to get behind the wheel of a car for a while. She has snuck out of the house on several occasions, hangs out with a 13 year old friend and they have both been caught at underage drinking parties (some thrown by parents!) Then 3 weeks ago my 15 year old gets picked up by my husband at a friends house at the pickup time arranged.. she was completely smashed. So drunk It took every ounce of restraint just to get her to bed so we could deal with it in the morning when she was sober. 15!!!

I do give my girls consequences.. Spelled out!. My 16 year old knew if she crossed a line, her prom was OUT..dress or no dress, and she still snuck out with her friend from the friends house and they were drinking. This time my husband and I found the party (college kids) and called the police and she was detained in a police car for 5 hours. All that night I had no idea where she was except that I had heard she was with friends who were at a college party (small town, everyone knows everything here).
I spent that night crying and of course pacing, my husband brought her home finally around 9. The trooper said she had barely registered on the breathalyzer but her 13 year old friend was very drunk.

This past monday I installed ADT and my girls were told no more sleep overs unless they were here. The 13 year old's mom grounded her for about 2 or 3 days.. I do NOT want my daughter hanging out with a 13 year old and was hoping her mother would support and even appreciate my concern. The 13 year old is NOT a bad kid.. I just think my 16 year old NEEDS to be with kids her own age and that being around the 13 year old is holding her back from maturing. There has to be some glimmer of hope here because of her not registering on the breathalyzer and they were there for hours, she said she was not drinking because she was trying to get her friend to stop drinking.

Both of my girls are manipulative, sneaky and when they don't get what they want they are plain nasty. I've taken cell phones away many times and I stick with it to no avail.
Yesterday my daughter asked if she could get her belly pierced and I said "no" and she called me a beep beep beep ..C U Next Tuesday!

I know a lot of this stems from them going through some of the pre-teen times with their dad strung out on crack/cocaine and I've taken every step imaginable to protect them and educate them, I never allowed my husband home during active addiction. He has been clean for a little over 3 years with two slips, both times he suffered consequences and we both go to counseling. The kids have been to Alateen, counseling, etc. I know it's a coin-toss as to how this could play out.. they could both LEARN from what they seen their father do to our family or they can say to hell with it and end up down the wrong road despite that. I have sat down with them and explained how MORE likely they were to have a drug or alcohol problem since it runs on both sides of our family. I have had my sister (recovering heroin addict) talk to them..
I took parenting classes a few years ago because I realized through my husband's addiction I was overcompensating and creating some of the problems my kids have (unknowingly at the time of course) and I have learned a lot. It's been years since I have screamed, yelled and just threw out punishments. I now create consequences and have tried to teach them that each action has a consequence and I try to follow through.
Where we stand now is difficult, both girls are aware that I don't trust them and that trust is earned and I've SLOWLY begun showing them. Last night my daughter wanted to go with her boyfriend to his house (parents home) to watch a movie..I gave her to 11 and from 10-10:45 she spent that 45 min texting me, begging me to let her sleep OVER?? Of course I stayed vigilant and said NO once and reminded her of the 11pm curfew with the consequences.. but of course inside I was full of anxiety... worry that she would just say "to hell with it" She did come in on time but she had a horrible attitude and there was just NO talking to her. This was first time she was allowed out since her last escapade at the college party.

Now my 15 year old.. she's way trickier and more manipulative she is now trying to talk me into letting her go on a weekend camping trip with 2 18 year olds!! Her friens mom said "NO" and I have heard them plotting her to stay over here because as she told her friend "My mom will give in and let me go"
I will NOT. I just don't know how to deal with the constant nagging and justifications these kids come up with. They compare punishments and both tell me I am not fair.
My husband can easily say "NO" ..state consequences and walk away, but they are in my face 24-7. And I know you will all think I'm crazy but I feel guilty.. like I am stopping them from having a teenage life. I think that's because I was actually a good teenager. My parents would tell you that, I did a bit of drinking, never did drugs, snuck out once and got caught and never did it again. I respected my parents, when my mom cried..that was worse than any punishment they could offer up. Today's teenagers are very different.
A friend of mine who's daughter USED to be friends with my 15 year old told my 16 year old that "Maybe if you were honest with your mom about where you are going, she would let you go" That's not true.. I will NOT condone my daughter going to a college drinking party or sleeping over her boyfriends house. She threw that in my face "Well Sue told me if I was honest with you, you would give me more freedom and I see that's not going to work". My sister does this also. I hate when other parents try to parent my kids and put false ideas in their heads and I've said that to my friend and my sister. NO just because she comes to me and says "I want to go to a college party where there is drinking and drugs" she won't earn enough points with me to get permission to go. I explain to her I appreciate her honesty. AM I WRONG?? When is it crossing the line to "smothering"? If I say "NO" my girls will carry on, manipulate, threaten things and it DOES get to me. They don't do this with my husband, but I know that's because I am more around and probably more of a push-over and they know it. I try not to give in and for the big things I don't. My 15 year old will NOT go on a camping trip with 18 year olds.
My dad seems to think if you give teenagers enough rope they eventually hang themselves and that maybe I should slightly back off and let them make the mistakes, I just can't seem to take that approach yet it worked with me growing up? My husband says teens are not different today.. parents are. Maybe he is right.
Today is Thursday..every thursday I begin the bouts of anxiety over the upcoming weekend and I'm tired of living like this. My husband and I cannot even go out to dinner or a movie w/out fear they will take off. I just don't know what to do or IF I'm doing things right.. if I was it wouldn't feel so horrible?


acitez's picture

I had an idea. I think Dad should sit the girls down and say something to the effect of "We are going to start speaking to each other with respect. That means words and tone of voice. The person who gets to judge if it was respectful is the person who is spoken to." Then the adults express appreciation that the girls listened to the plan, and go on with the day.

Make an effort yourself to say please and thank you and excuse me in a pleasant tone of voice. Ask "will you" instead of giving commands. Don't comment on personal appearance or say ANYTHING that would be rude if you said it to someone that was not your daughter. If you need to say something about her behavior (other than the respectful speech) just state it as a rule. "The rule is no drinking." "The rule is no public nudity."

Here's the real kicker. If somebody is disrespectful in their speech, it's like you've got ear-buds in. You just don't hear it. Maybe one time every two or three days you say "Hey, you want to give it another try?" but apart from that you're completely deaf to anything that is less than respectful.

I've got to warn you, this is a technique of extinguishing behavior, which means that the bad behavior will increase dramatically just before it quits completely and forever. It might take a week or two. It is really important that you don't criticize the behavior you are trying to change, you just ignore it.

I've done this kind of thing with other behaviors. It does work, and it's based on solid psychological principles.

Doing the right thing often feels horrible.

acitez's picture

As I was thinking about my suggestion, I realized that it would be even more effective if I completely changed the advice in the Here's the real kicker paragraph.

Here's the real real kicker. Instead of being unable to hear them speak at all when they speak disrespectfully, you just are unable to hear the disrespect. Respond as if they had been genuinely polite.

For example, your daughter rudely commands you to give her the car keys. "Here you go, honey. . . . You're welcome." DON'T BE SARCASTIC. Just act. Remember, word and TONE are both important.

Or, if she can't have the car right now, "I'm sorry, dear. I need to be running to the store in just a few minutes. Is there somewhere that you would like me to drop you off?"

You don't have to respond affirmatively to everything, just politely. A polite no is still a no.

You might want to offer an informational letter about what vulgar and obscene words actually mean. Coarse language is so common that your daughters may not even realize that their words are offensive. "[filtered word]ed off," "screwed," and "crap" are so common that kids don't know they are rude. As far as see you Next Tuesday (very cute), I'm pretty clear she knew that was rude.

I would love to see how this works.

It is very important that dad be the one to present the plan. There is something in that dynamic that will make this work.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

You said that you feel you can be more of a pushover than your husband. First of all, you both need to be on the same pg. No pushovers allowed. These girls have totally learned to manipulate you to the max. They have shown you no respect, and they have given you no reason to trust them. No matter what you do, they still try everything in their power to get away w/ things. It seems when you really put your foot down though, they listen. They may get an attitude, but they listen. That's a start. Take away everything you can think of (cell phone, car keys, computer, etc). Make them do things around the house (laundry, clean dishes, vaccuum...). Force them to show responsibility. Get them involved in activities they enjoy (sports, clubs at school, etc). Make sure you know where they are at all times. If you have to get councelors, teachers or other parents involved to help you, do so. Don't let your daughters run your life. If they do earn some time w/ their friends, be there w/ them. Set rules that they can only go out after school, but not at night, and ABSOLUTELY not overnight. Have the boyfriend over your house ONLY, and be there. Don't let your daughter out w/ him alone. For every rule your daughters follow, reward them in some way. Take your daughters shopping for a new outfit or maybe go out for lunch together. Make family time a priority. Your husband shld be included in this. Don't let your daughters set the rules. You and your husband must set the rules and stick to them. For every rule that is broken, set a consequence. Gradually as things get better, and your daughters realize they are not the ones running the show, you can slowly give back things. Don't do this, though, until you feel confident that you can trust your daughters completely. Also, if they happen to fall back to their old ways, go back to taking EVERYTHING away again, not just one thing. They need to learn that you mean business. I think counceling as a family wld also be helpful. Maybe, too, have your daughters attend rehab sessions w/ your husband. Let them see and hear first hand what others have been through, and maybe this will be an awakening for them. Yes, your daughters are teenagers, but they're also going down the path towards destruction. Nip this in the bud NOW before the situation gets that much more out of hand. Your daughters will thank you in the long run.