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Coping with Challenging teens

edited June 2 in Not Sports Related
As posted on the Holiday 2017 thread, my daughter has become an absolute nightmare, nasty, controlling, irritable, and just generally ghastly at age 17. Does anyone else experience the same and how do you cope?
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  • razil said:

    As posted on the Holiday 2017 thread, my daughter has become an absolute nightmare, nasty, controlling, irritable, and just generally ghastly at age 17. Does anyone else experience the same and how do you cope?

    My soon to be 17 year old is as good as gold, we got off really lightly and she's matured at a rapid rate.

    The 14 year old is a little more challenging! I find treating her as an adult (when clearly she isn't) helps, pick your battles and let the minor things go and bite your tongue a lot! Finding a common interest helps, it's the main reason I still go to the Valley, time away from the normal day to day helps the bond and mutual respect and also gives us something to talk about.

    I was a troubled teen, so having that understanding of what's going through her head helps, my wife as a model child really struggles to understand that and they clash a lot.......

    No magic wand I'm afraid just got to roll with the punches and remain calm at all times!
  • edited June 2
    My wife has called her a food Hitler as she tried to dictate everything to us including shopping, and my wife is no push-over, well mostly.

    If you challenge her she just thinks you are attacking her. I tried limiting her broadband to midnight on school nights, but my missus didn't back me up.

    I want to know if its normal, as it's come to the stage where it's ruining our family life.

    Others on here may not want to share I accept that, and I don't really want a parenting analysis, but if people do want to offer their own experience and coping strategies that would be good.
  • She might be like the sea.
    Tide in, tide out, calm or stormy, beautiful in the moonlight, shining in the sun, covering in the shallows, revealing depths, cold and freezing, sparkling and refreshing. Ever changing.
    She needs you and yours to be like the rock in the sea. A rock she can dash against, a rock she can return to, a rock that is consistent and only changes with slow erosion.
    In my view whatever you try she needs you to be yourself and consistent. You don't need to apologise to her for that. She will go away and then come back. She is churning, and if you do too where is her touchstone?
    Try saying stuff like:
    When you....I feel......because.
    Such as 'when you come in at all hours, I feel worried and frightened because it is a dangerous world out there'.
    Works better than 'where the hell have you been'.
    Also try to acknowledge her feelings and point of view when insisting such as 'I can see you don't like it, or don't want to...but nevertheless this is how it is'.
    Also try some form of empathy such as 'I imagine that you feel.... (Whatever about whatever).
    Be consistent, firm, but avoid confrontation, and don't expect any thanks for it, then you might have a chance.
  • Honestly, some of her behaviour is mostly too embarrassing to put on here, but one example is (I'm her step dad) I have always attended her school meetings, and more than her natural parents combined. She somehow during a meeting recently trying to address some problems she was having at College, with her Tutor during working hours, managed to bring up that her mother earned more than me.

    Other more serious behaviour is her constant nagging, hen pecking and brow beating of her little brother who is not in her eyes allowed to be 8, like getting chocolate on his face, and all the other things boys that age. Sounds silly but it's constant, and quite nasty.

    While on holiday her in Tuscany, she went on her Hitler shopping rampage, at which point I moved her away and spent some time with her talking about olive oil and how this is where it comes from, and to calm down and look at it with me - which worked a little.

    Its like she's possessed and basically we all annoy her and she'd rather we weren't there.
  • It's the disrespect that does me in, especially around not taking no for an answer, and them not listening to the reason why you said. Doubly difficult for me being my Step son and growing up absolutely respecting my elders
  • razil said:

    Honestly, some of her behaviour is mostly too embarrassing to put on here, but one example is (I'm her step dad) I have always attended her school meetings, and more than her natural parents combined. She somehow during a meeting recently trying to address some problems she was having at College, with her Tutor during working hours, managed to bring up that her mother earned more than me.

    Other more serious behaviour is her constant nagging, hen pecking and brow beating of her little brother who is not in her eyes allowed to be 8, like getting chocolate on his face, and all the other things boys that age. Sounds silly but it's constant, and quite nasty.

    While on holiday her in Tuscany, she went on her Hitler shopping rampage, at which point I moved her away and spent some time with her talking about olive oil and how this is where it comes from, and to calm down and look at it with me - which worked a little.

    Its like she's possessed and basically we all annoy her and she'd rather we weren't there.

    I notice you say your her Step-Father rather than her actual Father.

    Has there always been this behaviour there towards you (i.e. Your not my real Dad you cant tell me what to do) or is it only the last few years she's got like that?
  • Me and baldy jnr are on the train back from scotland as we speak.
    We were meant to be camping but that went tits up after one day.
    It's boring, there's nothing to do and NO INTERNET. So we checked into a hotel.
    For me the biggest annoyance is when they order an expensive meal, take one bite and say they don't want it.

    I know exactly what you mean mate, the times I have given myself indigestion fuming at the table whilst a perfectly good meal sits there uneaten!

    Our grandkids are 7 and 10 and when they play my son up (which is most of the time!) we laugh and tell him its payback from when he was a little git to us when he was younger.

    We've just had them stay for a week as its half term, its not too bad for me as I can take myself off to work, but the wife has been reduced to a quivering wreck and in bed by 10pm each night!

    Kids, who'd have 'em?
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  • razil said:

    As posted on the Holiday 2017 thread, my daughter has become an absolute nightmare, nasty, controlling, irritable, and just generally ghastly at age 17. Does anyone else experience the same and how do you cope?

    My 16 year old daughter swings from pleasant, when she is with just one of us, to demonic when we are all together.
  • Its times like these Mummy Pig would say "see it's not just our kids". I always reply "why would I be happy everyone is in hell?".

    I honestly have no idea how to deal with this stuff. I reiterate that setting boundaries is an absolute must. However, having a partner who will not budge on them is a difficult thing to find. I don't have many rules but expect them to be followed. Absolutely no point when you come in from work and the kids are on the phones at the table because "at least they're eating quietly".
  • razil said:

    As posted on the Holiday 2017 thread, my daughter has become an absolute nightmare, nasty, controlling, irritable, and just generally ghastly at age 17. Does anyone else experience the same and how do you cope?

    I think it's just generally a female thing!

    You could adopt the Joseph Fritzl approach and lock her in a basement for 25 years.

    I'm sure it's just a stage she is going through, so maybe just rise above it or ignore her until she changes her attitude.
  • edited June 2
    As Len said, and in my experience, boundaries are very important and indeed where and why they are set. Also if you feel you need to punish a child then A it must be reasonable i.e. dont say 'right I'm going to ground you for a month', thats unworkable and B choose your battles, and win them, i.e. teenagers bedrooms are the stuff of demons and nightmares, they will always be a shit tip, so theres no point telling know all/hormone ravaged teenagers to clean it up every day. What I do/did is make deal with them that every 2-3 weeks it should be cleaned and tidied by a certain weekend, and it gets done.
    Also respect and empathy, I was alway mindful that the biggest change to anyone is teenage years, they are confused, trying to find their identity which propels them towards and through adulthood (I bet most on here still listen to the same/similar music that they did in their teenage years, those decisions are made at the most confusing time of your life), so its tough on them, however good boundaries and all parents sticking to those boundaries, choosing which battles to fight, somehow gets them and you through it and hopefully you come out with respect from your kid, and you still have a high regard for them and total respect for the adult they have become.
  • Given that others have a virtually identical account of their kids I don't think step parent thing is a major factor.

    She doesn't do the "you're not my real dad", never has, I think deep down she knows I've done more for her than her useless tightfisted excuse for a real dad.

    I don't do the guilt thing her mum does, and possibly her dad, but that can work against you as a step parent as you then are seen as the bad guy - she's often convinced I'm always having a go at her and have some kind of vendetta against her. This is because I challenge her behaviour mainly, and try to limit the internet.

    No doubt there are also some parenting issues of consistency between her Mother and I, as mentioned the guilt thing, and my wife freely admits she was a nightmare at that age, thankfully she turned out well and now has an excellent relationship with her parents particularly her Dad despite her teen exploits. Think she left home as a result at about 17, so perhaps that says a lot about the genetics of the situation.

    That said there are fault lines in every family relationship and testy teens tend to exploit all of them from what I am hearing.

    As I said I'm trying to find out if its normal behaviour and how people cope.

  • razil said:

    As posted on the Holiday 2017 thread, my daughter has become an absolute nightmare, nasty, controlling, irritable, and just generally ghastly at age 17. Does anyone else experience the same and how do you cope?

    I think it's just generally a female thing!

    You could adopt the Joseph Fritzl approach and lock her in a basement for 25 years.

    I'm sure it's just a stage she is going through, so maybe just rise above it or ignore her until she changes her attitude.

    tempting, this thread is to build up my reasonable defence plea
  • I'm in a frustrating situation - I don't have kids but my GF does (12 and 11) and they haven't taken the break-up of their mum and dad's relationship well. The boy is sullen most of the time, doesn't make or keep friends and is glued to whatever screen currently occupies him from morning til night. The girl is the same - though more manipulative. Their dad is a typical Disneyland Dad - gives them whatever they want, lets them do whatever they want and wastes no time in using that against us - when they come back from his house they're basically unmanageable for a day before finally calming down. They bicker with each other constantly - to the point that going out with them anywhere is no fun at all - even when we go out with them separately they're a nightmare because nothing seems to interest them. If I had my way I'd smash every single phone, ipad, DS and laptop they have access to - it's 100% the fault of their lack of separation from screens.

    Not being their 'step-dad' (rather their mum's boyfriend) I kind of have it a bit better AND a bit worse at the same time (I don't really have the authority to discipline them, so don't have that horrible feeling you get when shouting at kids, but not having that authority means I have to stand by and watch them behave like, basically, cunts to their mum - who is regularly at the end of her tether with them). I'm not sure I'm cut out for it, TBH. I love my other half to bits - it's the first (only) proper relationship I've had (despite being married for 14 years, I ruined that early on by being unable to demonstrate my feelings, and the two previous 'relationships' I had before that were based on nothing but shagging) but I feel her kids control every single aspect of our lives, and it's impossible to enjoy anything properly when we're with them because we're constantly on a knife edge waiting for the next horror show

    If they were my own kids, I'm sure I'd find it a lot easier.

    I realise that doesn't help you in the slightest @razil - but at least now you know your situation isn't unique - seems like all kids are a ballache!
  • razil said:

    Given that others have a virtually identical account of their kids I don't think step parent thing is a major factor.

    She doesn't do the "you're not my real dad", never has, I think deep down she knows I've done more for her than her useless tightfisted excuse for a real dad.

    I don't do the guilt thing her mum does, and possibly her dad, but that can work against you as a step parent as you then are seen as the bad guy - she's often convinced I'm always having a go at her and have some kind of vendetta against her. This is because I challenge her behaviour mainly, and try to limit the internet.

    No doubt there are also some parenting issues of consistency between her Mother and I, as mentioned the guilt thing, and my wife freely admits she was a nightmare at that age, thankfully she turned out well and now has an excellent relationship with her parents particularly her Dad despite her teen exploits. Think she left home as a result at about 17, so perhaps that says a lot about the genetics of the situation.

    That said there are fault lines in every family relationship and testy teens tend to exploit all of them from what I am hearing.

    As I said I'm trying to find out if its normal behaviour and how people cope.

    Hmm I didn't add that I have a step son, as well as my 3 sons, because I try and treat them the same, my missus treats my 3 the same way, because that is the way it has to be.
    If I may make an observation, I would start with talking it though with the girls mum and biological dad, so at least you can all agree to a united front? Of course you may well have done so already.

    And yes mate in my experience it is normal behaviour.
  • It sounds pretty normal to me. I don't have a daughter and my son, who is a delight to live with and be around, has only just turned 13 so hasn't turned into a complete cnut yet but my niece sounds just like your daughter.

    At 21 she is just beginning to learn that she doesn't, in actual fact, know everything and/or she has learned that we don't all need to be told how wrong we are most of the time.

    The trick is to ignore as much of the $hit as possible. I know that's hard but the alternative is to having rows all the time. She can't help it, it is a tough time at that age, you have to be (and I'm sure you are) the bigger man and give her the space she needs to grow.

    As long as you keep her safe and she knows that she is loved she will come out the other side and it will all feel like much a do about nothing.

    Please remember, however, that with just one son, who is only 13, I have, literally, no idea what i'm talking about.

    Good luck
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  • edited June 2
    My son has been like that for a year or so. He's just coming up to 16. However, He's started coming out of the dar

    I'm in a frustrating situation - I don't have kids but my GF does (12 and 11) and they haven't taken the break-up of their mum and dad's relationship well. The boy is sullen most of the time, doesn't make or keep friends and is glued to whatever screen currently occupies him from morning til night. The girl is the same - though more manipulative. Their dad is a typical Disneyland Dad - gives them whatever they want, lets them do whatever they want and wastes no time in using that against us - when they come back from his house they're basically unmanageable for a day before finally calming down. They bicker with each other constantly - to the point that going out with them anywhere is no fun at all - even when we go out with them separately they're a nightmare because nothing seems to interest them. If I had my way I'd smash every single phone, ipad, DS and laptop they have access to - it's 100% the fault of their lack of separation from screens.

    Not being their 'step-dad' (rather their mum's boyfriend) I kind of have it a bit better AND a bit worse at the same time (I don't really have the authority to discipline them, so don't have that horrible feeling you get when shouting at kids, but not having that authority means I have to stand by and watch them behave like, basically, cunts to their mum - who is regularly at the end of her tether with them). I'm not sure I'm cut out for it, TBH. I love my other half to bits - it's the first (only) proper relationship I've had (despite being married for 14 years, I ruined that early on by being unable to demonstrate my feelings, and the two previous 'relationships' I had before that were based on nothing but shagging) but I feel her kids control every single aspect of our lives, and it's impossible to enjoy anything properly when we're with them because we're constantly on a knife edge waiting for the next horror show

    If they were my own kids, I'm sure I'd find it a lot easier.

    I realise that doesn't help you in the slightest @razil - but at least now you know your situation isn't unique - seems like all kids are a ballache!

    This ... I am that Disneyland dad (sorry)
  • edited June 2
    No easy answers I can offer.
    I think the step dad role is always tricky and can really take time, commitment and the gradual build up of trust and affection on both sides.
    But it's the role of 'dad' you have assumed, and I think if it has been a relationship with your partner that has lasted a good few years then I think you can legitimately and reasonably start to expect your partner's offspring to take proper note of what you say and adhere to reasonable requests.
    My advice would be set clear boundaries, back up your partner and vice versa completely ( argue about it later, and change your mind about a decision if need be. Part of being seen as 'fair' is that you will sometimes see a better decision could be made)
    Secondly, insist that they talk respectfully to you. You can have flare ups, but the bottom line is that discussion enables proper dialogue so that disagreements and negotiations can be conducted without emotional bullying, hissy fits and histrionics. After all, we all want to be treated like grown ups, and with respect. It goes both ways.
    Try and find moments when you laugh together about stuff. Be it watching something on telly, over a meal any family opportunity. I found that really helped. It doesn't always have to be and it isn't, a battle. The world is s confusing scary place for most teenagers ( and a lot of parents tbf) and a lot of what they throw at you is a mixture of anxiety, ignorance, boundary testing ( remember how you used to try it on) fear, and sometimes just plain old ego. All that said, you will also have profound, and beautiful moments with them as they try come to terms with who they are and what this world appears to be. It is not always easy holding on to that, when they are being arsey about something, but you should. You are in charge. You are just helping them on their way through a transition.
    Hope that helps a bit. It may be nonsense but that's how I tried to do it, and years later, my relationship with my eldest two seems pretty sound.
    Good luck. :+1:
  • My daughter is only 10 (son is 6) so a completely different set of rules and a hug can still solve everything. However, the thing I find most helpful when situations do arise is not to make a snap judgement. Find out what the problem is first and then react. You can eliminate many arguments this way. As Seth Plum said above don't shout 'where the hell have you been?' if she comes in late. Find out why, there may be an acceptable reason for her being late. Tell her you are glad she is safe and 'give me a call next time, just so I know you are ok'. I know that there will be times when there is no good reason and there may be an argument but mainly let her know that your not cross but really worried. Nothing wrong with some gentle guilt tripping.

    On a brighter note, my sister has two grown up girls (25 and 23) who are two of the most delightful ladies you could meet. If you had seen them in there late teens you wouldn't believe they are the same girls.

    Hang in there. Do your best. Don't give up on her and hopefully she will come good.
  • its tricky in some ways as a step dad as you have voluntarily taken them on to see that rejected and unappreciated for so many years you can go a bit numb, I think that's not the same when you are a bio parent, as its kind of ingrained. Having said that I have always struggled on. Its hard to avoid conflict when it in involves her brother, but I do try to build coping strategies and techniques to avoid it becoming an 'attack' on her. It has recently become almost unbearable though.
  • I don't know an awful lot about managing teens, I have two kids, 3 and 1, but have you explained to your daughter how she is making you feel and the effect that she may have on her brother constantly getting at him? It may give her time to reflect on the negative impact that she is having? I remember my older sister being a bit lively around this age, she grew out of it eventually.
  • Yes, I have, the trouble is she totally lacks any level of self-awareness in that way, and can't introspect. I recall when I did psychology A'level was around the first time I developed any form of that, I think others can take a lot longer - I am by no means perfect don't get me wrong.
  • My daughter , doesn't talk to me or the missus, when it's meal times eats what we cook whilst her brother and sister sit down and talk to us , she looks at her phone dont say a word eats what she wants ,puts the plate on the side and goes back to her room, she is plain rude, goes out raving all the time , never tells us where she is going and when she will be back, basically treats our home as a hotel. She dropped out of uni this time last year and has a very part time job doing about 15 hours a week (although this will now increase during the summer) , she made her mind up she wanted to go back to uni in September this year quite a while back, so has been quite content staying in bed to 2pm each day. She has called me and missus tight arses for not buying her a car, as apparently all her mates parents have bought their kids one.Even if I did you couldn't afford to insure or run it, so there is no way that is going to happen. She is 20, and I find it bloody hard work, I left school at 16 got a job and paid house keeping from day 1. I also have another daughter who is 18 she is a lot more socialble but also a lot more confident, she doesn't try to fit in and be liked , like the older one, she is more talk me for what I am or fuck off.She has a temper like hell but overall is much better.She is also started uni in September so I am going to have to try and support the pair of them which is going to be a nightmare. My 16 year old son has always been pretty wasy going but I can see he is starting to change and get more argumentative.

    The missus is really pissed off with the eldest and basically can't be arsed with her anymore, this really breaks my heart but my daughter really does fuck all, dont help with any household chores. I am hoping that she will in time grow up so we can have a family relationship again.

    It really is now time for the missus and me to put ourselves first so we are planning a lot more of our own things and the kids will just have to deal with it.
  • Sounds a nightmare, a lot to be said for going away to uni, I am praying my daughter will.. and then help them move out afterwards. My parents did that for me and was a very sensible move.

    I guess it's about being firm and wanting to maintain some kind of relationship with them.
  • edited June 2
    With a lot of teens there hormones are everywhere. Dr. Miriam Stoppard said that it is like the brain reconstructing and constructing all over again. She also said take twelve years off their age and that is what you are dealing with. Most of us have been there and it is not great but generally things do settle down.
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