Greetings from Australia!
I recently came across your programme when, following the suggestion of a friend, I searched on line for help with my 15 year old daughter, Bek. Almost immediately I found your website and ... WOW! It was just what I needed. You seem to understand what I am dealing with here. The total background is far too complex for me to give it here now, but the basics are: I am a single mum with 4 children - Bek 15 years, Matt 14 years, twins Sophie & Erin, 11 years (12 in Oct). Bek has been living with me all the time since her father physically assaulted her 18 months ago, the other 3 children are in 50% shared care - but in a 4 week plan where I have all 4 children for one week, then 3, then 2 then Bek on her own for a week. It is almost 5 years since separation and they have been very difficult years. My ex-husband is very controlling/authoritarian and I have become over-indulgent. Thanks to your programme I can see where I went wrong and, more importantly, I now have the tools to put things right, although I'm sure I have a very long, hard road ahead, as Bek is particularly stubborn - and ODD - and parenting her has always been difficult. I have just completed the 4 weeks and have used varying degrees of the strategies with all of my children and for the first time feel hope for my them that I can parent them in a way which will be for their best. I have been sick for the last week so it has been an extra challenge for me but I have been determined to stick with it. I'm still working on the finer detail of some aspects, but feel encouraged for the first time in a long time.
My immediate problem is this:
Bek is not in regular schooling (not because she doesn't have the ability - she is highly intelligent) but because she has refused to attend - and the private school her Dad insisted on her attending is only small and didn't really offer enough options to engage her. I have recently enrolled Bek at the local High School in a programme which allows her to work instead of attending school. She is currently saying she wants to attend a different school next year, but doesn't understand the difficulties of being accepted at a school when we don't live in that school zone. Bek is employed part time at Hungry Jacks (same as Burger King) and has been doing lots of late night shifts until paperwork is sorted out allowing her to work during the day - you may hear more about that later! Bek is all out of routine and not sleeping well and tends to be up all night and sleeps all day while the other children are at school and I'm at work. This has been very difficult for me in particular as I tend to hear all the noises during the night - getting food to eat, washing, showering, sometimes even going for a walk in the middle of the night. The week I did the first lot of on-line videos etc I only had Bek and as she is the only child that week there is more potential for things to be less stressful, and I was surprised at how well things went when I said she wasn't to go walking during the night or do washing or showering. However, last Monday night I said that it would be the last night that tv would be on after 10:30pm. Tuesday night Bek came home from work at 1:30 am (wed morning)after a close shift and entered my room and turned the light on and demanded the lead so she could watch tv. After arguing from her (while I practiced my poker face) and at one point refusing to leave my room, etc, she went to her room. Wednesday she had another close shift and went to a friend's house after work so the tv wasn't an issue. Thursday she was watching tv and I reminded her that it needed to be off at 10:30 and if it wasn't she wouldn't have tv for the weekend. She finished watching the programme she had on but then turned to another channel so I put the tv off. This resulted in one of her tantrums and she threw the dvd remote, threw a cup towards the front door and it shattered into a million pieces, went through the kitchen and pushed the toaster onto the floor, threw a chopping board on the floor and the board broke, then went through the family room and pushed a cupboard around, and then to her room. She went out Friday afternoon/evening and while she was out I took 2 of her most treasured possessions - her i-pod dock and hair straightener, but obviously I mis-judged and this was no-where near enough (although her room is such a mess I don't really know what else she would miss). Bek came home about 10pm to get ready for work at 11 pm and said she was never cleaning up the mess and upon being told that she could get her things back and have access to screen time again 3 days after cleaning up the mess she attacked me and threw some bakery items onto the floor. Tonight (Saturday) she again said she wouldn't be cleaning up, and after I said I wouldn't take her to her friend's house she attempted to attack me and then threw a small ginger beer bottle (which still had some ginger beer in it) towards the front door so that is now mixed with the mess already there.
I know you said that things would get worse before they get better, but where did I go wrong and where do I go from here? I am prepared to stick and this and out-last her, but we really need the mess cleaned up as soon as possible - the front door is currently the only door I can lock upon leaving the house, but I don't want to have to walk through all the stuff there every time.
I called the police tonight and after I explained what was going on and how we had got here the woman I spoke to made a couple of comments which prompted me to say she didn't understand what Bek was like and she said she did understand. She promptly proved herself wrong by telling me I was going about it the wrong way and I should give the stuff back and get Bek to work with me in cleaning up her mess! The police wouldn't send a patrol out because by this point Bek had left the house (walking over all the smashed stuff and leaving the door open!). I was advised to report the assault at a police station tomorrow and I am fairly certain that if/when I do, because of the number of reports in the past it won't be my decision what happens but the police will decide. I have had differing advice from the police in the past as to what is the best way to deal with Bek's behaviour, which makes it harder to know what to do because some of the cops give the impression that it isn't worth taking things further because of her age. I know a guy at church who is a policeman based at my local station so I will try and talk to him first.
I sincerely thank you for your programme - I have tried various counselling avenues, including one psychologist who I felt had no idea what I was dealing with finally shrugging her shoulders and said she thought "the horse had already bolted". As mentioned above I feel at last I have tools to use - I know that too many times in the past I should have done something but ended up doing nothing because I didn't know how to go about it. I really believe the time is right for change and I am taking it on faith that this is the way to go. I also have support and encouragement from an older couple from church, and I am taking you at your word that if I work the plan, the plan will work!
My Out-of-Control Teen