My 15-year-old daugh­ter is pure trou­ble

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - WHAT’S ON -

Q: My­part­ner and I have taken cus­tody ofmy 15-year-old daugh­ter this year. She was be­com­ing too much for her mother to han­dle any­more. Since mov­ing in with us, in a new town, and new school, she has pro­gres­sively gone back to the schem­ing, de­ceit­ful be­hav­iour from last year, just with a new group of friends. This is her first year of NCEA and we have tried to help her to stay on track, and keep out of trou­ble. She seems in­tent on find­ing it, and that rules aren’t made for her to fol­low. Weare at a point of giv­ing up! Can you of­fer any ad­vice? Please.

Your daugh­ter is prob­a­bly test­ing you to see how far she can push you. It hasn’t worked out liv­ing with her mother and I ex­pect she’s think­ing it won’t work with you ei­ther, so she may as well jump than be pushed.

If you give up on her, it’ll re­in­force her opin­ions that she’s unloved and un­wanted.

There’s screeds of ev­i­dence to show the pos­i­tive ef­fects of a


lov­ing, sta­ble home and even though it’s tough, the best sce­nario if pos­si­ble, is that she stays with you. The op­tions for chil­dren who are not able to stay in their homes be­come in­creas­ingly lim­ited.

To make this ar­range­ment work you are go­ing to need a strong team around you and some out­side sup­port.

Your team, who might con­sist of your part­ner, other sib­lings, her mother, the school etc, must stay united.

Re­as­sure your daugh­ter fre­quently, that she’s loved, wanted and im­por­tant. There will be an­other layer of sup­port you can ac­cess so start with your GP who may recog­nise other is­sues that need ad­dress­ing, ie, ODD.

At fif­teen your daugh­ter will be go­ing through the usual brain de­vel­op­men­tal stages that can throw any teenager into dis­ar­ray.

To make it pos­si­ble for you to live in rel­a­tive har­mony, you and your team need to agree on the rules. You can draw these up with your daugh­ter and who­ever else you think should be in­volved.

Ex­plain that you are do­ing the job of keep­ing her safe and hope­fully on track un­til she’s old enough to man­age for herself. You also might need to limit the rules to just a few and try not to sweat the small stuff.

When you’ve agreed on the bound­aries, try to turn them from neg­a­tives to pos­i­tives. In­stead of say­ing no drugs and no ly­ing, you could say, you must live drug free and al­ways tell the truth.

Try to re­mem­ber that your daugh­ter is just a child still.

I don’t un­der­es­ti­mate what you’re go­ing through but she needs you to stay strong and un­shift­ing. It would be good if you could try and cre­ate some happy times and re­wards for good be­hav­iour, a hol­i­day, or a con­cert. If you hang in there, you’ll al­ways be able to put your hand on your heart and say you gave it your best shot.

Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and writ­ten two nov­els for young adults in­clud­ing Stick­ing With Pigs. As one of seven sis­ters, there aren’t many par­ent­ing prob­lems she hasn’t talked over. To send her a ques­tion email­fax­me­ with Dear Mary-anne in the sub­ject line. Your anonymity is as­sured.

The op­tions for chil­dren who are not able to stay in their homes be­come in­creas­ingly lim­ited.

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