Online Parent Support Chat

13.12.10

Out-of-Control Daughter

My daughter is 13 years old, and she is very over-indulged and defiant with many of the signs and manifestations described in your eBook.

I have decided to talk to her about setting the rules and establishing consequences (which is a totally unknown concept to her at home with her parents and grandparents, although her behaviour has been acceptable at school, at friends', etc.). I have discussed this with my daughter's mother and grandmother (who is staying at the same house long-term), and they have supported me with this decision though expressing doubts if we are capable of carrying this project through.


I thought I was prepared for an aggressive and angry reaction to the attempted conversation, however I greatly underestimated the intensity of it. After my few words that we wanted to talk to her about how adults co-exist with each other, she refused talking or even listening to me, and burst into rage crying and shouting for hours that she hates me, wants to kill me and wants me dead.

Please note that the rules which I want to implement are the following:
- to stop shouting at her parents and grandparents when she is just tired, in a bad mood or frustrated by something trivial;
- to stop using phrases like "hate you" and "go away" in relation to her parents and grandparents;
- to stop slamming doors,
- to stop throwing things.

I told her that I was not going to argue with her and will continue the conversation when she cools down after a time out. She did not stop crying and shouting for a number of hours with short breaks. I decided to give her till next day before making an attempt to follow your suggestion on talking in the form:
"When it was repeatedly proclaimed that I was wanted to be killed and dead, I felt it was not acceptable for all of us because such proclamations may be interpreted as a criminal offence with a possible jail term. I'd rather you not say that but talk with me about how we deal with our situation." (or something like this).

At night (when she for many hours had stopped crying and shouting and was sulking in her room with her laptop and her TV) I knocked on her door to say good night and that I loved her. In return I received "Go away, I do not love you".

I do not see how we will be able to sit down and talk even after a very long time out of a few days. I still plan to try to say the above along the lines "When it was.... I felt...... I'd rather......", but do not have big hopes that it will work. I think more anger and insults are more likely.

On page 17 of your eBook you note:
"If you and your out-of-control teen are having difficulty with a few ground rules, then it may be time to sit down together to negotiate limits and expectations."

I do not see how to achieve a simple first step of sitting down and talking with my daughter about limits and expectations when she actively and aggressively refuses to do that and deliberately filters out whatever I have to say with my best poker face.

What can I do in such a situation?

I am thinking of still announcing to her what I have to say about her proclamations of hate and desire to see me dead, even if only in a monologue form. And then following up with an announcement that if she repeats those or similar words, there will be consequences in the form of taking her laptop away for 3 days. And then following it up with actually taking the laptop away when she does (and I expect she will repeat those words in order to express her anger as well as to test my threat).

However, my concern is that she is more likely to increase her degree of rebellion and defiance, while at the same time trying to rely on alternatives, such as another computer in the house (we have 3 more computers besides her laptop and including a desktop which is normally accessible by anyone and used mostly by her grandmother) or other means of entertainment and communications. Will I have to take all of them away one by one or all of them in one go?

To follow your suggestion on breaking the dependency cycle and fostering self-reliance, I might need to start taking away more things and freedoms, such as:
things: laptop, access to Internet, ipod, mobile phone, TV in her room, DVD-player in her room, cable TV, door to her room, etc.;
freedoms: going to shops, movies and other entertainment venues, having her girlfriends on sleepovers and visiting her girlfriends, studying in a private school with her friends, trips and travelling, etc.

However, I need your advice on how to talk to my daughter and have a fair fighting when she bluntly denies any possibility of a conversation or of even talking to her.

And what shall I be prepared to do if all the above fails? Shall I consider enrolling her in a boarding school and sending her away against her will (and most likely breaking hearts of her mother and grandmother by doing so)? Something else?

My Out-of-Control Teen

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