Subject: communication problems with my 12yr old
Question: Please advise me on the following…
my daughter will soon be 13 and since late we have been having major problems at home. she is very lazy, no matter what i try in getting her to do her chores, it does not work. no matter how many times i stress the fact of coming home to a dirty home it does not change. we constantly at each other to a point where i always ask who’s the parent? she is so secretive and can lie to my face without twitching. she always tells a fib and i find out the truth. she then turns it around in saying she is scared i will get angry that’s her reasoning for lying to me. all the times i tell her if she is just honest upfront there will be no need for me to get upset. what upsets me is that i must always find out at a later stage that she lied. that’s the part she don’t get. at the moment we are not on speaking terms as she upsets me so much that i don’t feel like talking anymore. as she reckons all i do is yell and am always in a bad mood. she does not look into why i am yelling or why i am in a bad mood. the tables turn and i am to blame for all her wrong doings. she skips her chores will rather make herself look pretty with outfits and make up roam around all the time and when it’s time for me to come home then only does she think to do her chores. her room is constantly untidy and she thinks nothing of throwing her things anywhere. i don’t know what to do anymore. worse is she has such attitude. i don’t even know her anymore. we were so close and always shared things. now the person she is at home is not who she is when she’s at school or out with friends. she always cleans her phone out, so i never know who she is chatting to and what about. the secrecy scares me and no matter how many times i try to be understanding she still manages to hide from me. i really need help as i feel we are growing apart and that is not healthy. i want to be able to communicate with her better and not be angry all the time. but how can i do this when she always manages to do something that upsets me? even now cause i took her phone away, I’m the bad one. i told her to earn it back but she has made no attempt in this. she just continues to break all my rules. am i doing something wrong here, am i a bad mother. please help!!!!
Answer: Dear Yolanda,
You may not like my answer however, I am hear to tell you the truth not what you want to hear. You are the parent. It is not her job to hear you and to please you. It is your job to hear her. From what you wrote this is what I can see is the problem.
“she does not look into why i am yelling or why i am in a bad mood.” Not her job to look at the why, she is a child. You are the parent. You need to get a grip. Obviously yelling is not working so stop doing it!
“we constantly at each other to a point where i always ask who’s the parent?” My point exactly. Who is the parent. How old is she? How old are you?
“i really need help as i feel we are growing apart and that is not healthy. i want to be able to communicate with her better and not be angry all the time. but how can i do this when she always manages to do something that upsets me? even now cause i took her phone away, I’m the bad one. i told her to earn it back but she has made no attempt in this. she just continues to break all my rules. am i doing something wrong here, am i a bad mother. please help!!!!”
You are not a BAD mother. You are however, off track. Let’s sort this out.
You are raising a teenager. Their first developmental task is to separate from their parents (secrets) and second to practice their social skills. First with the same sex (girlfriends) and then with the opposite sex (boyfriends. Both of which your daughter is doing. So the good news is she is on task.
You just need some additional support.
Parents often start wigging out because they sense their children are pulling away and they are not ready to let go. We grieve. It’s sad but the good news is when they are done being teens you will have an adult child who you will have a great relationship.
Okay so she keeps telling you she lies because she is afraid of you. STOP yelling. You are scaring her!
NO matter what teens say they still seek their parents approval and she just proved that to you however her brain is doing what her brain is wired to do….be with friends and pull away….move past this…accept and deal.
Next, LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN and practice LISTENING. She is not in this world to make your job easier or a better place. She is in this world because you brought her into the world and you owe her, she owes you nothing right now.
As for getting her to do her chores. Start by thinking about the things you like about your daughter. By the time parents write to me they often have so many negative feelings and labels that the relationship has seriously begun to deteriorate.
This isn’t going to be easy however I promise you it will be worth it to repair it.
1. She needs to pick up after herself. Tell her if she wants you to treat her like she is grown up then she needs to respond by acting grown up and grown ups pick up after themselves…do NOT respond to any back talk…let it pass on by and respond only by repeating the previous statement. Keep your cool! and then walk away! No eye contact, no rebuttal, get the last word by being quiet after you make your mom statement.
2. If this doesn’t work then let her know she has two choices. Pick up after herself or you will do it for her and keep her stuff for two weeks. STICK to it, do not fight over it.
3. Make her earn her privileges. Parents are making huge mistakes these days putting TVs, and electronic devices in their children’s rooms or allowing them to have free reign over the computers and cell phones. These are bargaining devices. They get to use them for so many minutes a day when they have paid their dues. I can’t tell you how many parents write me telling me their teens are out of control…because….the parents gave up control…over everything in the house….make them earn their free time and their toys…..that is how life works…who hands you everything?
4. Find time to do things with her that she likes to do, within reason. I don’t expect you to go skydiving if you have a fear of heights. You know what I mean. I don’t mean watching her favorite television show. I mean going and doing something fun that the two of you can have a good time and build some good memories. You are not her best friend she has friends. You do however want to build some fun times into all this parenting.
I think that you wrote me because you love her very much and you want to do things differently. I know you can do this however, these changes will not be easy. When you make the changes you will make mistakes…keep moving forward….keep ignoring her protests…..(teens are overgrown 2 year olds when it comes to changes)…..get back in the driver’s seat and stay there….listen closely and you will know when it is time to let out on the reigns slowly and with confidence.
M Kay Keller