My 15-year-old daughter is pure trouble
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 email email@example.com 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.