Teenager has tantrums

Los Angeles Times - - COMICS - :: Dis­gusted askamy@ tri­bune. com

Dear Amy: I have a lovely 16- year- old step­daugh­ter. I’ve been mar­ried to her daddy since she was 4. We have two other chil­dren to­gether, but she has al­ways been treated fairly and as a full mem­ber of our house­hold, de­spite see­ing her only ev­ery other week­end. We’ve tried to be kind and friendly to her mom, but our ef­forts have al­ways been re­jected ( to put it mildly).

Re­cently she has de­vel­oped a lot of anger is­sues and has loud, tantrum- like out­bursts where she curses out her dad and says very hurt­ful things to him. Then she will refuse to see us. The f irst time this hap­pened we for­gave her, and she and her dad had a long con­ver­sa­tion about how to have a dis­cus­sion or dis­agree­ment with­out the tantrum.

A month later she did it again ( about be­ing ex­pected to do chores). Rather than talk to us, she yelled, cursed and said nasty things to her dad.

Dad and I agreed that this time she needed to suf­fer the con­se­quences. We de­cided she needed to ini­ti­ate an apol­ogy and ask be­fore we let her re­turn to our house, but I don’t think she’ll do this.

Can you shed some in­sight on what we can do here to help her? We have sug­gested ther­apy, but she has re­fused.

Sad Step­mom

Dear Step­mom: You are in a very tricky spot be­cause while you want your daugh­ter to un­der­stand and ab­sorb the nat­u­ral con­se­quences of her be­hav­ior, you don’t see her of­ten enough to pro­vide the con­sis­tency she needs.

I un­der­stand your de­sire to pun­ish her by ban­ish­ing her from your house­hold, but this is the op­po­site of what she needs, which is more of you. If she re­fuses to see you, you will have to re­spect her choice, but she needs more com­pas­sion from you, not less.

You should not de­mand an apol­ogy from her so long af­ter the fact, be­cause you will not likely re­ceive it, and then you will both re­main on op­po­site sides of her anger.

Re­act calmly. Say to her, “We’re sorry you are in such a tough spot, and we would like to talk to you about it when you’re calm.”

If she chooses to stay away, keep in touch with her in a pos­i­tive vein and at­tend school and ex­tracur­ric­u­lar events, even if it is awk­ward for you.

My col­lege room­mate’s boyfriend, “Dan,” was re­cently in­jured in a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent. The other driver’s in­sur­ance cov­ered re­plac­ing the bike, and his med­i­cal ex­penses are cov­ered.

Since Dan owns a small busi­ness and isn’t able to work, he is re­ceiv­ing f inan­cial help from his par­ents.

His chil­dren are go­ing to sum­mer camp at half- price ( be­cause of the ac­ci­dent). Peo­ple take them meals. They’re in their best f inan­cial sit­u­a­tion in years!

Now he’s set up a “car­ing cam­paign.” He writes the up­dates him­self and pre­tends that his girl­friend wrote them. He’s raised over $ 5,000.

I won’t do­nate, but I’ve had mu­tual friends ask about it. Part of me feels it’s not my place to say any­thing, but I’m so an­noyed that peo­ple are help­ing this scam artist.

Dear Dis­gusted: It is each in­di­vid­ual’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to make a choice about do­nat­ing.

If asked, be hon­est about your own choice, but I don’t think you should de­nounce him as a “scam artist.”

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