Family dynamics and dealing with a typical teen

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Josie, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I think I am dealing with typical teen behaviour here. If you disagree, please let me know.

    difficult child 1 started high school this year. Most of the people there came from 1 of a few other middle schools. She is new. I am advising her to join some of the clubs so she can meet like-minded kids and for her college applications. She says I am "hassling" her.

    According to husband, she treats me with a lack of respect. I don't disagree but it seems pretty mild and typical teen. I probably have a high tolerance from when she was definitely a difficult child.

    Our other daughter is chronically ill, housebound, and somewhat disabled. Her fatigue is so bad she can't walk down the stairs. I homeschool her. Obviously, there is a lot of attention focused on her and my expectations of her are much less than for difficult child 1. She struggles to get through the day as it is and adding more chores would not help anything.

    I am sure difficult child 1 feels this is unfair and it is. I ask her if she would want to trade places with difficult child 2 when she complains. Still, there is some resentment on her part, I am sure.

    I feel like husband and I need to make an effort to have one on one time with difficult child 1. I want to try to build a more positive relationship with her. husband thinks if she is treating me this way, I should not take her out for fun outings. I think if I wait for her behaviour to be up to husband's standards, we may never get to go.

    As an example, I am making difficult child 1 go to a program on teen alcohol use put on at her school with me. I want to go out to dinner beforehand with her so it isn't just me dragging her to this lecture. We probably will go to the mall, too. She is unhappy that she might not get picked up right away after school and is complaining about that. I was also asking her about the club situation at school which she didn't like. husband jumps in and gets on her for her disrespect when I am trying to do something nice for her, making the situation worse. husband says he can not stand by and see someone treat his wife that way.

    I get that, but it did make the situation worse. difficult child 1 ended up in tears. I was angry with him, where I really hadn't been angry at difficult child before.

    husband thinks me taking her to restaurants and the mall even when she treats me this way is contributing to the problem. What do you all think?

    She has a clothes budget and I'm not going to spend over that. Also, the only reason we would even go the mall is because we have a time gap between picking her up at school, eating, and the lecture. The school is far enough away that it doesn't make sense to come home.
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well...I would say that you have a pretty typical mid range teen girl with some heavy family dynamics going on in the house. That age is never easy and with all that is going on with your youngest to give oldest a bit of jealousy, well, I can see some drama coming out.

    I understand husband's point but I also get where you are coming from. I think you are dead on to have some one on one time with her with each of you. One thing I think is so important is for little girls...and big for them to know they are Daddy's (or Grandpa/Uncle/SO) heart. You get my drift.
  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hope, although I can see your husband's point I think I agree with you on this.

    I've always thought that if a child is acting out to get attention, then they need attention. Perhaps not the sort that they're seeking, but attention in some form or other. I agree with your approach of spending some one-on-one time with her, to ensure that she's not getting lost amid your other daughter's health and other issues. In my view, time with mom and dad shouldn't be a reward for good behaviour. Now in some circumstances, I can understand withdrawing from a difficult child for behaviour that is totally unacceptable, but your difficult child's behaviour sounds much milder than that.

    Maybe husband and difficult child need to spend some one-on-one time together. husband can explain why it hurts him so much to see difficult child treat you badly. (I can't stand seeing my wife treated that way. I hate the thought someday of your child talking like that to you...etc.) difficult child can know that you and husband love her and care for her.

    It's such a hard age, 14...

  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    While I think it is sweet of husband to want to "protect" you from difficult child's disrespect, he needs to back off. He can think and feel however he wants, but he is very wrong in this situation. He is actually undermining you and your authority with difficult child. It is NOT what he means to do, I am quite sure. When he steps in to tell difficult child that she needs to treat you with more respect it sends the message that you are not strong enough to tell difficult child that she is being disrespectful and to cut it out. It conveys the message that you need him to tell you when you are being disrespected and to tell the other person to stop it because you are not able to see it or to stop it.

    Neither of those things are true.

    Guys often don't see that they are sending this message, but it IS the message that kids receive from it. For you the attitude that she is giving you is typical teen and not a high priority. It is Basket C and getting some fun time to build a stronger and more positive relationship with difficult child is Basket A. in my opinion you need to sit down with husband and tell him that you love him and thesentiment behind his actions, but he needs to trust you to take care of your relationship with difficult child. IOW, he can say it in his head but not with his mouth. If you can explain that you are trying to work on the relationship and are ignoring behaviors that are unimportant in the overall scheme of things so that you can work on improving the big picture.

    I hope you can get him to understand this, and that he spends some 1:1 time with difficult child too - time that is fun, not time where he is focusing on basket C stuff.
  5. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    There is a line she crosses sometimes that I do find unacceptable. Sometimes I do reschedule things because I don't feel like being around her.

    Today was not that situation, especially since I want her to go to the alcohol awareness program. She would be more than happy to miss it.

    I like the idea of husband talking to her about her treatment of me when it is not in the heat of the moment.

    With so much of our focus on our younger daughter's problems, I don't want our only interactions with difficult child 1 to be negative. She will only be with us another 4 years. It doesn't seem like much.

    Back in the day, I couldn't wait for her to be in middle school so I could possibly send her off to boarding school! I am still very appreciative of how things could be much worse with her.

    Thanks for your replies.
  6. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    husband did ask me if I want him to just leave the room when this is happening. Maybe that is the answer. I thought I would ask here first. I know I won't get just the easy child parenting advice here.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Its very hard to parent..gosh its I think Dads want to fix things while moms are so emotionally attached. Now I am not an expert on daughters considering I dont have any and my grands are just itty bitty girls right now but I can see how the questioning looks get into their eyes when they dont get why one gets treated differently than the other. You should just see the looks of disbelief in Keyana's eyes at some of the antics Hailie gets away She just knows what it would get her tiny lil butt! I have seen her look from us to Hailie's parents and back again like she is just shocked. I give my "mommy face" Thank heavens for a easy child!

    I think you have a basic typical teen in your older daughter. All mid teens are aliens. I remember wanting to lock Jamie up somewhere until I could live with him again around that time. He was just hard to live with and he was a really good kid. Totally normal but irritating as hell. I think I wanted to kill him at least twice a week! LOL. J/K!

    You will live through this and in the not so distant future your dtr will emerge as a wonderful young woman who will adore you again. Just think, someday down the line she will come complaining to you about her teenager and you can smile knowingly.
  8. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I think both you and husband have a point. She needs to treat you respectfully obviously, he has a good point. Yet you agree with him, perhaps he needs to remember you both have the same goals (having her be more respectful etc). I also think that by spending time one on one with her, she might be less likely to be rude and whatnot, just by feeling more bonded to you as well as validated as just as worthy of attention as her high needs sibling. That can really hurt a child. Perhaps you can ask husband to give you a period of time, say 3 months, where he backs off and lets you work on things on your own with difficult child 1? Maybe he'd be okay with that if he could have some time to really think about how hard it is being a teen at all, let alone when you may feel jealous or bitter or neglected by a high needs sibling.

    What about a mom/daughter date night? I've just implemented that with my easy child. She is really a terrific kid. Even with a pretty awesome life going for her she craves and needs to feel special, perhaps more than some other girls might, but I think its completely natural. We have set a particular night (Wednesdays) to do something alone. No brother, no S/O, not visiting others etc. This week we went to see a movie together and roamed the mall even though we were just window shopping. She was able to point out ideas for Christmas gifts for herself etc. We have other ideas for nights that we aren't able to spend money (which is often). Even if we do things alone in the house, it will be here and I. Her brother and S/O know that on that night they give us our space and leave us alone. We have plans to go walking on some trails soon for our night. We will pack our cameras and go take pictures of the gorgeous fall colors etc. We can bring a thermos of hot chocolate and some snacks.

    The upside perhaps for you and your daughter if you can swing this, is not only will your bond improve and she can feel she is getting time without worrying about sibling rivalry etc. But also after a steady several weeks or a month or so you can probably find a way to start nonchalantly bringing up the back talking. "It's so wonderful to have this time with just you and I. I've enjoyed every single week!! I've also noticed you've not been so disrespectful. I'm sure we can work harder but the improvement means a lot to me. What should we do next week?". This doesn't leave her room to balk at the comment, it moves on from a compliment (and some guidance for future praise) to a plan for the next fun thing with mom.

    easy child is very easy child, but even still, I put no requirements through the week for our night together. It is not to be used as a tool, ie. taken away for misbehaving etc. Regardless of how rotten they may be, time with a parent can make a world of difference. I might alter a plan that cost money to something free, but I'd still focus our date night on her.
  9. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    My Hubby would do the same thing, and it often made things worse. Granted, Miss KT was not typical teen, but having him jump in when he didn't know the entire situation put me in the middle of open warfare too many times. I finally ended up detaching from both of them after feeling like a rag doll being pulled apart by two rotten little kids day after day after day.

    Things are better now, but still not perfect. Sending hugs and strength.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    One thing we did in a parenting group was to first define characteristics of a good boss, meaning a good employer. Then we defined characteristics of a bad boss/employer. We talked about how we would feel if we had a boss with all the bad characteristics that we had to work with. Then how we would feel if we had to LIVE with the bad boss.

    We then looked at our parenting to see how we could use more of the "good boss" characteristics, because in reality we are the bosses of our kids. They feel much the same way toward us when we are acting with the "bad boss" qualities as we would feel toward a bad boss.

    Every single one of us saw great improvement, relatively speaking of course, when we worked to use more of the "good boss" characteristics in our parenting styles. One mom INSISTED that the ONLY way to get her child to do anything was to stand over him (he was about 6) and direct his every single movement. She refused to see how anything else would work. Near the end of the program she finally tried letting him get ready for school using the more positive methods (not just this one, but several other things too) - she was shocked because he not only did everything, he gave her a big hug and told her he loved her, esp when she wasn't so angry all the time!

    I am NOT saying that you or your husband do what she did, just that sometimes we drift into bad habits as parents. Looking at ourselves and our parenting objectively, as though we were treating an employee the way we treat our kids, can help us learn to use better ways to parent our kids.

    Your husband might find that rather than imposing a punishment on her time with you, he can do other things to get her to treat both you and him with more respect.

    Just an idea.
  11. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ultimate solution would be for husband not to jump down her throat when he feels like there is disrespect, but to start a discussion about what was disrespectful and the explanation of his thoughts of why it is disrespectful. For goodness sake, not everybody views the world the same! It takes understanding of each individual.