Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Blessed Mama, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. Blessed Mama

    Blessed Mama New Member

    Hello all.

    I'm new here, and couldn't find an Introduce Yourself section, so I figured I'd start in here. I'm familiar with message boards, but know that each one is unique.

    I'm a single parent of a 16yr old daughter who is having a hard time, and giving me a very hard time. The most frustrating part lately seems to be that each time I think things are improving, we take a step (or several) backwards.

    A little backstory:

    My daughter first exhibited defiant / rebellious / disrespectful behaviors beginning around the age of 12. Prior to my having any real behavioral issues with her, she had been diagnosed ADD and had been on Concerta for a long time. I opted to try going without the medications, and shortyl there after, the negative behavior began.

    Fast forward to now - in December 2010, she suffered a "non-violent sexual assault" at the hands of a male family friend who she has known her entire life. She was initially quite reluctant to press charges, but then did, and then it came out that he had also been accused of a very violent sexual assault on a younger girl.

    My daughter turned 16 in February 2011. By around April, it came to my attention that she had been smoking marijuana. Then she informed me that she was a lesbian, and started dressing in boys clothing. She wound up cutting off all of her hair (which was mid-back length) to a buzz cut. She called 911 one night in early May from a friend's house saying she wanted to harm herself. She was intoxicated at the time. This was followed by a 5 day hospitlization at our state hospital, in the youth ward. Her self injuring behavior escalated (cutting herself, banging her head against a dresser resulting in bruising and swelling of her face) and she was hospitilized twice more - one 7 day, one 10 day stay. After the last hospital stay, she asked to move in with her aunt and uncle. She behaves when with them, but has been teary and emotional. She is currently on Celexa and Trazadone. Her therapist believes she suffers from ADHD and Depression.

    Her behavior has fluctuated between good and bad on her visits home. As recently as Thursday, she gave me a very sweet letter apologizing for her bad behavior. Tonight, she was swearing and refusing to come home.

    We have been through the Department of Youth Services, I've called the police on her several times, DCYF has been involved. She is not willing to proceed with the investigation of the abuse charges, and so the trial has been tabled for now. She was held back this year in school (her second time being held back), and is going to have to repeat her freshman year.

    I feel like I am at the end of my rope. Her father is an alcoholic, currently homeless and unemployed. He goes months without contact, and then reappears. I've tried explaining to her that she does not need to be spending unsupervised time with him, as his lifestyle is not safe at this time, and we wind up arguing. I very recently found out that a friend of mine, whom I've trusted, allowed my daughter to smoke marijuana at her house, and even smoked with her. Her excuse? She doesn't feel strong enough to discipline. I'm disgusted.

    My daughter has been in counselling even prior to these recent events. I'm on the verge of losing my job due to time missed from these episodes and the hospitizations, etc. I'm a single parent with limited resources. I do admit that it feels difficult to enforce certain punishments when I am at work, and I don't have a vehicle (and have been depending on the friend who betrayed me for transportation).

    All I want is for my daughter to be happy, and to succeed and not have to struggle unnecessarily. I'm feeling very burned out.
  2. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    Hi - Blessed Mamma ,

    I appreciate the positive attitude in your user name. Our survival depends also on nurturing ourselves, getting help fom the local charities and churches especially finding young adults who will be an older sister, mentor for our kids. They need to be given a vison for the future and explore their ' possible selves'.

    Please check my reply to coniemc ' I am new to this site etc'

  3. BeachPeace

    BeachPeace Guest

    I am glad you found us - the people here are very wise and kind.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Even before you mentioned it, I was going to ask if she took drugs. Chances are the up/down flip/flop behavior is drug induced. Although she will only fess up to pot, it's a good bet she is doing much more. Drugs can also cause a child to start cutting and feeling suicidal and acting crazy. My daughter did this. I am not sure there is much you can do unless she wants to quit. If it were my child, and I had the ability to send her to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC), I'd do that. At least she'd be off the street and away from bad influence. But I'm not sure you can force her into one at her age. If you can, make sure it has a drug rehab.

    Keep us posted and welcome to the board (although I'm sorry you had to find us)
  5. Blessed Mama

    Blessed Mama New Member

    Thank you for the kind welcomes :)

    Despite these difficult and trying times, I do still feel blessed to be a mother, and to have my child. At the heart of a her, there is still a sweet, wonderful, intelligent, sensitive girl. And I manage to see glimpses of that girl, if not more, on a still fairly regular basis.

    I also feel fortunate that while she has taken on a new, and not necessarily wonderful group of friends recently, she still loves and cares about her old "good" friends, and confides in them. I have actually been alerted to some of her moods and behaviors by those friends, and they continue to stand by her. This is something I deeply appreciate, and one thing that gives me hope is that she has not been angered or cut ties despite knowing of times when they've been worried and told me things.

    We did discuss today setting up a house rules contract. I told her that this is something we are going to work together on, and that it will include the rules, boundaries, consequences, privileges, and rewards. She is aware that she will not get her license as long as there is even suspicion of continued drug use. And she said she would like to take another trip to NYC. I told her with 3 consistent months of good grades and good behavior, we could go and she could invite a friend.

    I am so thankful for having found this board.
  6. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Just dropping in to welcome you. Sounds like she's having a very difficult time of things and that she's been incredibly affected by what happened to her. I know it's also got to hurt you to know you can't take all the pain away for her. *hugs* to y'all.
  7. MuM_of_OCD_kiddo

    MuM_of_OCD_kiddo New Member

    Hi Blessed!

    I think with all the things that have happend to her - specifically the "non-violent sexual assault" - that is a lot to work through for a 16 year old [and then again - maybe not, all depending on what actually happened, and what her previous sexual activity level was] on her own. I see where you mentioned her being in counceling? How is that working for her? I think she needs to hear from someone other than family and loved ones [that is assuming they know what happened to her] - that this is not her fault, that she is not to blame, and there need to be no shame, disgust or hatred and also that not all relationships to men will be like this one. Possibly a change of location for her might be appropriate as well if there is somewhere else she can go to and live for a year or so, while she works this through? If the current councelor is not working for her, encourage her to go somewhere else and find one that will be better for her!

    And as far as your job, home etc - as a single parent, you owe it yourself and her too, to make this your priority in preserving. In this economy you are doing no one a service by putting your livelyhood at risk! And at 16 she is old enough to understand that. If you are going to set new rules, consequences etc - do yourself a favor and put it in writing - give her a copy and keep one for yourself to come back to when you need to. Sometimes we get so frazzled and rattled, we tend to forget what we had planned to do, how we wanted to react, and sometimes we simply get too mad and stressed. As the person in charge of your home, it is one of your perks to call the shots - when you get too upset or angry - send her to her room for a time out or a mini grounding and let her know that you will get back to her with your decisions and results of her breaking the rules, after you get yourself together and had a chance to think about this [of course don't tell her the last part]. Delayed response time worked very well for me, and I didn't feel worried about coming at my own son with a unreasonable "gut over-reaction". Plus it sometimes help to let them stew a bit too...

    The one thing - when you set consequences - you MUST be able to enforce them. So don't pick things that you know you can't do, or that you have no means of controlling! Think about in advance to as far as you are willing to go. In the example I gave in my previous post you responded to, where I made him walk home 2 miles - that was not spur of the moment, and I gave that some serious thought. I made sure that we were in reasonable walking distance and he would be able to find his way home. I also made sure that it would be a long enough walk to really be uncomfortable for him and to wear him out enough so it would tone down the negative energy of being p.o.ed. And most of all, I would have never done this if he was 10 or 12 - so pick an age appropriate punishment and pick one that will really A inconvenience her or B is rather unpleasant all over. Being sent to her room which is crammed full with TV, DVD player, cell phone and a computer isn't punishment. You take those things away one by one - and not just give them back the next day either - they need to be earned again if she pushed the ante.

    To sum things up, I think she really needs help working through her experiences with some of the adults in her life, and perhaps you need to look for better role models for her too. She needs things to do that keep her mentally and physically busy, and nicely tired at night. Is she working? A part time job might teach her new things, gets her meeting new people, and might get her motivated on the money end too. You might want to offer her some melatonin if she has problems going to sleep [which would be my guess - her mind being in overdrive and not being able to shut down to rest and recover]. Maybe you should consider getting her enrolled in a self defense class. She will learn self protection, self awareness, respect for the teacher, it is a sport which might tire her out a bit, and it will build confidence and self reliance. She will learn to become empowered in a healthy way and walk away from seeing herself in a victims role. This might be very appropriate for her. Anything that lets her build self esteem and confidence can only be good for her at this time! Kick boxing, running, anything that makes her more fit and confident might do the job.

    Hang in there, I don't see anything in what you wrote, that cannot be overcome with time, patience, a bit TLC and her wanting to do better for herself.
  8. Blessed Mama

    Blessed Mama New Member

    Hi MuM!

    She actually started with a new counselor recently, and is doing the DBT therapy with her. She liked her old counselor, but did not feel a connection with her. She feels a real connection with the new one, which is wonderful.

    I do believe the worst part for her regarding the assault was not as much the act itself (which was traumatic for her, of course) but the total sense of betrayal. Again, this was someone she's known all her life, and the father of two friends that she views as brothers. She felt an unjustified sense of guilt, like she had contributed to taking their father away, which was not the case. He did this, not her, and that's something I've been trying to reinforce with her since she told me about it.

    Fortunately, she does have a rather strong support system. I come from a big family, and despite her father being a loser, he does have a wonderful family. She had truly devoted grandparents, aunts, and uncles. She's actually staying with her aunt and uncle during the week, at least for the remainder of the summer. And she did express a desire to get back in to Judo, something she was involved in for about 3 years, which I am encouraging strongly.

    We are doing a house rules contract which will include the rules and expectations, the consequences, privileges, and rewards.

    I've been on the fence about moving, because she has taken up with a group of friends that I'd rather she not associate with. But again, she does still have contact with those old friends of hers who make good choices, and has recently said she missed them, and wanted to spend more time with them.

    She does not have a lot of sexual experience, at least in respect to actual intercourse with any boy. I know she has done some things, but she was hesitant even prior to the incident with the former family friend. And of course, now she is dressing like a boy herself, and stating that she's a lesbian.

    She has a HUGE issue with insomnia. Night time is usually when she has her episodes because she can't sleep and her mind races, and she 'keeps thinking about negative stuff' as she puts it.

    A lot of her issues stem, I believe, from her always having been a very sensitive and somewhat high strung person. Growing up she had all sorts of sleep issues - night terrors, sleep walking, sleep talking, bed wetting. And some eating issues - she'll still sometimes refuse to eat for an entire day or more, and then will be ravenous. As a child, she would get literally ill if she didn't eat within an hour or so of waking up.

    I know that I have to be MUCH more consistent with discipline. Behaviorally, she was just so easy (obedient, respectful) until around the age of 12, that when she first started lashing out, talking back, and being defiant, I lost my footing for some time, and it's been hard to get back on track. Even she acknowledges that she noticed a change in our relationship when she first started acting out. I told her that it does not bring me any more joy to not trust her, and to have to 'babysit' her all the time, then it brings her to have me nagging and restricting her.

    Again, I thank you for your support. You have been so spot on in your posts to me, it's amazing :)
  9. MuM_of_OCD_kiddo

    MuM_of_OCD_kiddo New Member

    Blessed, it's tough when you are a single parent and wearing too many hats. I have the same problems - being stretched too thin at times, and sometimes it shows. It's great that you have family and a support net for the both of you - it is so good when you can turn to someone else to pitch in when needed.

    Let me make a suggestion about troubles with falling and staying asleep. Melatonin - not habit forming and safe to use as much or many times as you need it, and no side effects in the morning.

    The problem with it is - you have got to want to go to sleep! If you are fighting it, it can make things worse or not work at all. I would ask her if she wants help with the sleeping bit - at 16 she is mature enough to understand what you are explaining to her. Melatonin is best taken as you are going to bed, after the bed time routine of bathing, showering, brushing teeth, etc With a calm mindset you can be out and sound asleep withing 2-5 minutes tops, if you're fighting it or purposefully put yourself through the wringer washer, it will not work as well.

    At her age I would introduce her to meditation/relaxation exercises, maybe even making a tape to listen to, to help her through it the first few times. Take melatonin, go straight to bed [wanting to go to sleep!!!], lights out [or dimmed], listen to the meditation tape, focus on relaxing and good morning - is it already time to get up yet? It works - if you yourself have problems falling asleep and staying asleep - you should try it too...

    In lieu of relaxation tapes or techniques, nature sound recordings work well ocean and water sounds work especially well for me], classical music [if you like that sort of thing], or any type of favorite slow, mellow music that you enjoy. Just play it quietly as a background, rather than loud enough to actually listen to, if you understand what I am trying to say...

    Heartfelt Hugs to you and your daughter!
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It does sound to me that she is very confused and experimenting in so many ways. She may be trying drugs as a form of self-medication, but she needs to know that illegal drugs and self-medicating is a blunt instrument.

    The lesbian thing - she could be correct, she might swing that way and be finally realising it. but the timing of it, coming after the betrayal and sexual assault, seems too convenient for me. In my time I have known a number of lesbians. Some knew they were lesbian from fairly early, and years later are still happily settled with their female lovers. Others were only considering themselves lesbian as a refuge from male betrayal, or fears of male betrayal.

    The question is - is she running to, or away from? I do not suggest you ask her this as she might misconstrue is as lack of support form you, for her choices. And if she chooses to live lesbian lifestyle, you really don't have much control over this. But it does mean that if she is still confused, she may later on realise that she likes boys far more and if the relationship is on her terms, she will prefer it.

    As long as you love her despite her choices of gender of sexual partner, I think the lesbian thing will stabilise. Either she really is, or she really isn't. But at the moment I'm not sure if she really knows.

    The worst thing that can happen here, is that she ends up hurting someone else. But again, you can't control this. All you can do, is support.

    Hugs, it is so difficult. I hope she can finally feel a greater sense of peace in her thoughts so she doesn't need to keep hurting herself.

  11. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    One thing that may be missing in her diagnosis is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Quite a bit of her acting out seems to be after the betrayal and sexual assualt. Her anxiety and depression and self-mutilation could be directly as a result of that situation. There are medications out there that work for cutters and those that are a danger to themselves. Honestly, the child seems to be crying out. There has to be a lot of pain here for her to be running this course. And on that note Mom - you really seem to be in touch with her - beautiful job!

    If she continues on this path, a Residential Treatment Facility may be in order - if she ends up in the hospital, I would highly recommend that you consider speaking to them and hearing what they have to say. You retain custody, you get to go and visit them before the decision is made, and you remain the primary force in their lives. She's self-medicating with the pot and alcohol...something is truly bothering this child and a more restrictive environment may be the way to figure it out.

    Welcome to the crowd - it's a fantastic group of people with a lot of experience and very strong shoulders!

  12. Blessed Mama

    Blessed Mama New Member

    Right now I feel we are definitely taking ten steps back, and I feel like bursting in to tears. My daughter was supposed to be spending the night with me, quality time. She's been begging to come home full time (she's only been "out" of the house - and even that's only been part time, since June). Tonight she changed her tune, and took off. I called the police when she refused to come home. I don't have a vehicle. A friend of mine found out where she was, and notified me. I, in turn, called the police and informed my daughter that the police had been called about her refusal to come home.

    This is where I feel extremely hurt and even more shocked than I thought possible - first, it came to my attention through one of my daughter's friends, that she may be 'car hopping' - which evidently is the new term for breaking in to vehicles. secondly, she started to mock me via text and told me she was drinking and smoking at the public pool and to let the cops know. She also left a very obscene and hateful message for the friend of mine who had let me know where she was. Another kid who had been with them admitted to drinking Smirnoff and smoking marijuana. I don't even feel like I want her to come home right now. I don't even recognize this hateful, nasty side and it's heart breaking and humiliating. She has insurance through the state. I do not have any private insurance, and none for myself what so ever. My options, in regards to residential treatment, seem limited. I don't want her going back to her aunt and uncles because I know they can not really handle this type of behavior. She JUST started doing online classes to make up some credits so she could become a sophmore! I feel distraught.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I feel for you. So sorry this has happened.

    Regarding her sending nasty text messages trying to upset you, and also about the friend who told on her - two pieces of advice.

    First, realise she is trying to upset you, and don't give her the satisfaction of knowing she has succeeded. But keep a copy of the text message and dump her in it legally with the cops.

    Second, about the friend - a parent and a journalist have one important rule in common - NEVER REVEAL YOUR SOURCES. For future reference, it is better for kids to think you are still a mind reader, than for them to know how you found out. Because you can bet that the friend who told you, will never be in a position to tell you anything more, ever again. Either she will be too cowed to tell, or she will be cut out of the friendship. By letting your daughter find out, you have lost a vital link in information. You now have to cultivate another.

    Being a parent of a kid like this is part priest, part journalist, part detective, part prison warder, part pathologist and 100% therapist. It's no wonder we crack under the strain.


  14. Blessed Mama

    Blessed Mama New Member

    Thank you Marg :)

    Things have settled since that night. She actually came home not long after I posted this, and we had a serious talk about her behavior. We've had a number of talks - big, and small - since then about how to change things for the better. She told me she actually wanted the cops to come and get her; that she waited a very long time hoping they would show, and this tells me she is begging for boundaries. She burst in to tears recently, and told me she hates herself when she makes the bad choices, but sometimes does feel pressured or influenced by others.

    She has been very respectful and responsive to my rules since this happened. I don't expect miracles, but am regaining my footing and remembering that it is I who rules the roost, NOT her!

    She got an A on her first graded assignment for the credit recovery. I have had some long overdue and much needed conversations with her friends' mothers lately - and realized there are a lot of us who have been feeling alone, with kids spiralling out of control. One mother said, "I'm so glad you called."

    It's still a work in progress, and I do understand that it will most likely not be smooth sailing, but I'm feeling better.
  15. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Just wanted to welcome you....and let you know you are not alone. I am in the process of moving so I am out of wisdom at the moment.....but hugs none the less.
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome! You have found the right place. I am glad she is in counseling esp as far as the assault is concerned. Has anyone discussed using EMDR therapy with her? It is the gold standard of therapy for dealing with PTSD and the results can be incredible. It should, of course, not be the only type of therapy, but it is one you should explore. If you google EMDR you can find more info on it (stands for eye movement desensitization soemthing or other, I think).

    Given that her father is an alcoholic and she clearly has signs of depression, is there a chance she is bipolar? very very often people with bipolar self medicate iwth alcohol. People with other mental illnesses also do, but bipolar is standing up and shouting at me as I read your posts. Often people with bipolar are misdiagnosed because they only go for help when depressed, not when in other mood states. If there is a chance she is bipolar, then she needs to be OFF of the antidepressants and on mood stabilizers and antipsychotics instead. Don't get freaked by the word antipsychotic - I am not saying she is psychotic or at risk of becoming so at any moment. Just that it is a type of medicine that can be super helpful when treating someone with bipolar.

    As far as drugs, chances are if she admits to pot she has done more at least experimentally. Her other actions, the cutting, etc.... are things that are signs of how much pain she is in. Does she see a psychiatrist (psychiatrist) and do you have a good rapport with him?

    I strongly, strongly recommend you read "the bipolar child" by papalous - and keep in mind that it largely describes younger kids, so not everything may fit your child. Just see if maybe it fits in yoru mind and discuss it with the psychiatrist also. Another truly excellent book is Parenting Your Teen with Love and Logic". in my opinion you NEED NEED NEED that book. You can learn more about it at www.loveandlogic.com and even buy it there, though most bookstores carry it and most libraries have it.
  17. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Hi, you seem to be describing my little sister. She was molested as a teenager and her reactions are a lot like your daughters. (Except she started sleeping with boys she had picked up at bars; not lesbian.) She was in so much pain she was lashing out at my parents any way she could. My parents didn't handle it well, so I can't give you any advice on what works to help.

    Remember what you posted today "she is begging for boundaries" It'll help you stick to your boundaries next time she does something. I found when teaching sp ed kids that they needed boundaries to feel safe. Especially, those with a chaotic home life, been abused, or bullied. They would test the rules again and again just to make sure they were still there.

    She is so lucky to have a mom who cares.
  18. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You'll notice that each of us picks up on things that are "familiar"... !
    Her ADHD was medicated until age 12, but not since? What was the reason for dropping the medications? If it was just cost (Concerta is $$$$!), generic ritalin provides the same chemical compound, but needs to be taken more often (but it's affordable). If it was dropped because of side effects, why were alternatives not sought?

    The reason I'm asking is... JUST the ADHD alone - without all the other complications in her life - would be enough to cause depression if the ADHD is not treated/controlled in some fashion (not all kids respond to medications, but all of them need external supports, for a minimum). About age 12 is the second layer of major increases in the difficulty of school work (the first is about grade 3) - so, she may have become "lost" very quickly when the medications were dropped - and then turned inward and started taking things out on herself. It is not usual for depression to be a "secondary" issue with difficult child kids.

    Its also interesting that noted MDs - including specialists in ADHD - have noted that people with undiagnosed/untreated ADHD tend to self-medicate... and MJ is one of those drugs used.

    It may be useful to get a full re-evaluation - to determine whether prior dxes are still applicable (like ADHD), if applicable, what treatment is required, and what other (new) dxes are also now present, along with treatment plans for those. Re-reading this thread again, its probably true that there is some form of mood disorder going on, possibly with other developmental or learning issues. It pays to know what you are dealing with.