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    addiepearl's Avatar
    addiepearl Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 10, 2006, 06:56 AM
    Any Suggestions on Improving Parent/Teen Relationship?
    Hello, I am new here also.
    I have 3 teenagers, aged 18, 16, and 15. The boys (18 & 15) are my biological children, and we adopted our daughter- now 16- at age 9.

    Our home was her 13th foster placement from the time she was removed from her birth mother’s home at age 5 along with her 7 other siblings. During her first 7-8 years or so she had been subjected to alcoholic victimization: prostitution and sexual, mental, and physical abuse- because many of her first foster placements were with other family members as unhealthy as her biological mother. She is by nature a sweet girl, and she’s very kind and gentle with our animals. She shows empathy for people and animals in painful or sad situations- some of her bio-brothers do not. But in many ways, she is still about as mature as a 5 year old.

    She has been in and out of counseling and therapy throughout the time we’ve had her.
    My home and its rules are very structured and consistent, which the boys thrive on, and which my daughter needs. As they began high school, my husband and I set the rules about dating and relationships with her maturity (and lack thereof) in mind. They were allowed to do social activities with groups of friends, but no actual dating until age 17.
    This worked very well for my oldest son who was able to focus on his goals, set priorities for college, and get things in order before he took on a girlfriend.

    My daughter, upon entering high school, decided that she was old enough to do what she felt like doing. She cozied up to some of the toughest kids at school immediately, realized they all had sad/terrible home lives, and proceeded to fit in by making our home as toxic as she could as well. She began stealing from my husband’s wallet, my purse and any of the boys’ belongings she wanted; she didn’t come home from school until 10 pm- I began picking her up from school after this, but then she’d jump out the window of her room and go to be with this particular boy.
    We called the police on her as a runaway as many times as we could, until the police department designated her a nuisance and stopped responding to our calls. At that time, the officer explained she would be turned into probation- but he never followed through.
    I myself called the juvenile probation office to see if we could get those consequences for her, but was told, rather incredulously, that I could not elect to put my child in probation.

    Then she began cutting classes at school to be with this boy, and I was getting phone calls from the truant officer. I asked if a security officer could escort her to classes, and they agreed, but it never happened, so I showed up at the school one day to escort her to math class. She was razzed by her friends for “Mommy showing up”, and was so embarrassed and angry, she broke free from my grip and took off running. Everything was so out of control. She challenged me to send her away since she wouldn’t follow the rules, and believe me, it was tempting! I told her that would be doing her a disservice as she needed to work on her family relationships before she could have healthy ones outside the home.

    I pulled her out of school and hastily set up a home school for her. Just her and myself, one-on-one, no cutting class. I took away all her personal possessions, she lost her bedroom, all clothes except one outfit, her toothbrush, hairbrush, and hygiene needs. I took away all her rights to privacy. She had to earn everything back. This has helped her behavior considerably, but has not helped our relationship in the least. She will not communicate with me about desires or feelings; really the only time she elects to speak with me is when she wants something material. She does joke around with and tease my husband, but it’s usually a way to charm or manipulate him into giving or buying her something also. When I enter the room, she falls silent. I realize much of this can be chalked up to normal teenage daughter/mother dynamics, but I refuse to be used by her just because I want to have a relationship with her, and I refuse it only be done on her terms.

    I’m ready to just leave.
    My husband and I are beginning marriage counseling. We have our own non-daughter related issues to address, but with that on top of the past 2 years with my daughter, I’m at a breaking point. My oldest son has just left for college, doing well, and my younger one I feel is strong and confident enough to thrive even if I left.
    What I guess I’m asking is if there are any other options for encouraging a healthy relationship with my daughter. She’s been in counseling for the past 2 years, and still this is ongoing… I feel like I’ve run out of options and I can’t take this going on in my own home.

    Thank you for reading.
    valinors_sorrow's Avatar
    valinors_sorrow Posts: 2,927, Reputation: 653
    I regard all beings mostly by their consciousness and little else

    Sep 10, 2006, 08:22 AM
    I hear too many problems happening all at the same time here. I believe a sense of priorities needs to be established, an untangling of some boundary-blurring that has occurred. Since I am of the school that one cannot teach that which one has not learned, I would be focusing on putting your relationship with your husband at the top of the "things to heal" list. Without a united front from the two of you, no child (and especially a troubled child) is going to have much of a fighting chance. It is not fair to her to point to two sons who were successful so far and ask "why not you too?" since there are many many variables that factor into that-- and yet that is exactly what you seem to be doing? Its called the "if only" game which is designed to shift blame--its often the benchmark of a dysfunctional family.

    I have no doubt she is as troubled as you say. However, with that said, here is one factor I see missing from your post (and perhaps your thinking) completely: you are the role model for her for the past seven years and yet you are on the verge of leaving.. It makes me wonder how long she has been sensing that from you... and if you tell me she doesn't, I will only be shaking my head here at the depth of the denial. There are places to send troubled kids and they frequently end up inviting the also identified troubled parents into the process of recovery. Some of the parents balk at that idea and yank their child at that point. Sadly, cie la vie. There are two things you said that makes me think of these parents and here is it:

    Here you are treating what could be a solution as a punishment-- "She challenged me to send her away since she wouldn't follow the rules, and believe me, it was tempting!"

    And this is your rational for not sending her to somewhere that might help-- "I told her that would be doing her a disservice as she needed to work on her family relationships before she could have healthy ones outside the home." Something is amiss here and it is with you.

    With all due respect, what could possibly have delayed you seeking a marriage counselor when your whole family is at stake? It is wise that you pursue it now. If you don't get results with a counselor, ask why. And if you don't think the explanation fits, try another counselor. But know that damaged relationships take a lot of work to heal, work that takes time.
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,327, Reputation: 10855

    Sep 10, 2006, 09:02 AM
    I will keep this brief, husband and wife must have a united front with children no matter what. This will eliminate manipulation and establish clear boundries that children must follow.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,301, Reputation: 7692

    Sep 10, 2006, 09:53 AM
    If at 16 she is completely being hatful, running off, not listening and bening physcial harmful ( breaking away) to the point the police will no longer help and you had to pull her out of school,

    Have you discussed and I almost hate to say this, having her declared deliquent and having her detained in a state facility for a period of so many months in an attempt to scare or shock her into some level.

    And perhaps mental health treatment for the girl.

    Children come into our life and move away in time, but a husband and wife should be a life long commitment and you have to do whatever it takes to make it work.

    I have seen families who sent their children to very serious boot camps and it did wonders.
    addiepearl's Avatar
    addiepearl Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 10, 2006, 09:58 AM
    Thank you for such quick responses.
    I do agree that the marriage issues need to be addressed, and I am fully aware that I am her role model- I can't tell you how much we've worked on her assertiveness rather than being a passive victim around males- but as you say, I can only work with the tools I have, which is why we're doing marriage counseling. Please understand, everyone in our family has been in counseling since she joined our family, and it's not something we're nervous or hesitant about.

    In regards to "not sending her away": Of course we had discussed the options of checking her into a mental health facility, which 2 different mental health professionals advised us against- one of whom works in the facility, the other, her therapist.

    We considered a Girls Ranch and her therapist literally pleaded with us not to send her there because she wasn't a "rough criminal-type" as most of the girls there tend to be, and the therapist thought it would do her more harm than good.

    We even considered teen boot camp and again, "No, don't do that."

    It's not like we're doing this on our own- we are listening to the professionals and have been since 1999 when she came to live with us, but her therapist has pretty much thrown her hands in the air and told me, "I'm so sorry this is happening to you, I know what it's like, my own daughter was worse, but she’s a great person now.”

    I have tried to meet my daughter half-way by initiating sewing projects together (because she wants to be a fashion designer) to create an outfit she wants for herself, I invite her with me when I go places- even just to the store for a few things, but she’s not interested.

    I do feel like leaving, and I feel that’s quite normal in this situation. Anyone would.
    BUT I HAVEN’T YET. I’m still hoping there’s something I haven’t tried out there that will help to keep my family together, which is why I am seeking counseling for my marriage, and came to you for suggestions about my relationship with my daughter.
    valinors_sorrow's Avatar
    valinors_sorrow Posts: 2,927, Reputation: 653
    I regard all beings mostly by their consciousness and little else

    Sep 10, 2006, 10:27 AM
    This last response of yours is precisely why I said, at the ending of my first post, that if you are not experiencing getting measurable results (over time) from a professional, then its definitely time to switch professionals. I know that some are talented and some are not. You need to be looking for results, not excuses. Continued use of professionals who don't get results or hiding behind their suggestions is one way of continuing to not take responsibility for it and, no offense intended, your post looks alarmingly close to exactly that. To a certain degree, y'all are either living in the problem or living in the solution and the results tends to speak for itself. Your daughter's situation is requiring you to go to all lengths possible and failure to do that is on you, not her. She is not the adult in this with options to explore. As is wisely said in Al-Anon about sick families, "everything past the 'yeah, but' is bull....."

    One of the most destructive things that occur in dysfunctional families is called scape-goating, where the obviously afflicted person is made into a dumpster for more than their share while everyone else steeps themselves in denial. It is a way for everyone else to avoid looking at their part. They can become so invested in maintaining this "cover" that they very subtley aid and abet the obvious person into remaining the obvious problem. An actual solution can be actively twarted even. It is exceptionally rare that one person in the whole family has problems of the type you are listing, so rare that I have never encountered it in all my time looking at afflicted families as part of my profession. I don't mean to be unduly rough on you, but I can only tell you how I see it work (and not work) in the world. I hope this scape-goating stuff is not happening in your family but frankly from all I have seen, its really hard to tell.
    phillysteakandcheese's Avatar
    phillysteakandcheese Posts: 973, Reputation: 356
    Senior Member

    Sep 10, 2006, 06:45 PM
    I'm no expert, but I have (and still am) going through a very similar situation with my own teen daughter. It is tough... I know.

    You are in a battle over control and punishment. I suggest a different road to follow - One of patience, love, and acceptance.

    Resolve in yourself that she is your daughter. You can't hold "being sent away" as a threat to her, or as an escape of your own. You are a family, she is a part of it, and you have to work together to get through the problems you face. Remind her that her family loves her and is going to help her and be there for her - regardless of what has happened in the past or mistakes of the future.

    Communicate to her openly. Don't be afraid to share your feelings... Tell her when her behaviour hurts you and why. Find reasons to be proud of her (even in the bad things). Encourage her and remind her of her great potential and ability. Let her know she is precious. Tell her you love her all the time - not just before you're about to punish her.

    This will be painful for you, but it is essential for her: Give her some control in her life. Accept that she is going to be a "wild one" and be flexible on allowing her to make choices and mistakes on her own terms. You'll have to re-evaluate your own expectations and desires as part of releasing some of the control you have over her.

    Perhaps opposite to Val, I would say that there is also the possibility that no matter "how good" you are with her, there may be nothing you do can to "turn her around". It may take her the rest of her life to get through the emotional trauma she's already suffered.
    addiepearl's Avatar
    addiepearl Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 12, 2006, 05:55 AM
    Thanks, everyone for your valuable input.
    It's really food for thought.
    mysticque's Avatar
    mysticque Posts: 95, Reputation: -7

    Sep 14, 2006, 11:56 AM
    Comment on valinors_sorrow's post
    Not all kids can work with professionals. Especially the subjected is immensely damanged it will be time consuming and challenging. Sensitivity and acknowledgement might help here a little bit.
    mysticque's Avatar
    mysticque Posts: 95, Reputation: -7

    Sep 14, 2006, 12:36 PM
    You're situation is very unconventional, harsh, and very disorienting. This situation doesn't only occur on foster parent/child it also occurs even with your biological children. Sofar, I think you have done a great job following up with her, taking good care of her, and giving her happiness she desires. What is missing here? Phillysteakandcheese mentioned of a continual communication and indeed it is crucial.

    The problem is she's not sharing with you. It's very hard for you and for her to get that out of the way. I would see to it that you find out what's terribly distracting her. You said she'd been exploited at early childhood. I'm not sure if you'd known this in beginning but if you were not up for the challenge. I wouldn't have taken that responsibility. So yes you are a very loving, caring, and generous woman. You took care of her and gave her shelter and promised with all your capacity. Now your main objective is to heal her. I don't know if you had all been sharing things together other than being together with a family. Knowing their potential, giving them advises, teaching them what is better than the other, basically teaching them with basic knowledge in order to prepare themselves if, god forbid, the parents pass away in an usual pattern of life. You know what I mean. I'm sure you are familiar with Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution mainly survival of the fittest. This girl has seen many things that can potentially ruin her for life. Yet she survived.

    Usually if the child is troubled you find the root of her problems and fix it at early age to avoid more complications. I don't know if you have done that. Your time has come and she's become somewhat delinquent, disrespectful, violent, and selfish. I do admire your bravery of taking over her privacy. Pretty much leaving her to no avail at her own demise. It must have taken you a lot of courage and pain. I wouldn't send her away though. That would definitely break her trust from you. You must be forgiving, understanding, in control, gentle, and firm but loving.

    Sometimes I hate my sister teaching her kids the way she does. But I guess I understand now why she also needs to take away all their valuable belongings in order to gain that control. You must not give her all what she wants. You have to teach her if she's worth for the prize. Also this kind of intensity might require adjusting how your confidence and trust level varies between you and her. This is very sensitive one touch of bone the whole structure fails. So yes be candid, show her how emotional you are, how she has hurt the family, all the bad and good things. Don't worry. She has seen worst than you do. The thing is can you handle it? You might want to keep a really close friend of hers at your place most of the time. Also pay attention if she's playing around with your 2 boys. Sometimes if they get along well that can build her confidence. Remember professional help can also ruin your life. Your husband needs to support on this. But it might cost you a lot. Just make him happy sexually and emotionally at the same time. I'm sure you'll be all just fine and this will definitely come to an end.
    Momwithamission's Avatar
    Momwithamission Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Oct 1, 2006, 02:52 PM
    Just a quick thought. If you need a break (and it sounds like you could use one), have you looked at the "Outward Bound" programs? There are many that are not just for troubled teens but are specific about teaching personal motivation and achievement skills. They seem to be expensive but I am considering one for my almost 16 daughter. Let me know if anyone has tried this program here. I know some people personally and it was great for them.
    irishcolleen1960's Avatar
    irishcolleen1960 Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Oct 2, 2006, 11:38 AM
    You are an Angel, you took her in when she was 7 years old and now she is 16. She has been in therapy for all these years. You know, there comes a time, when we just have to move on. It is her responsibility to get past it and to stop using her past as a crutch. She has everything with you that she would not have had, if she had stayed in foster care. But it is HER not YOU that needs to make the adjustments. I have a 15 yr old son that is giving me a terrible time. His dad died last year and well everything changed. He started getting in trouble, not respecting me, not following rules, I was beside myself. I tried everything, I sent him to therapy. Things got really bad and I called the police on him and filed an unruly child on him. After 3 of these we had to go to court. He was ordered to go to anger management classes. For twelve weeks, I took him and picked him up and paid for it. Why? Because since it was court ordered I would be the one in trouble - not him. Did it work? NO... would I do it again. NO.. why? Because I should not be punished for his behavior and that is what was happening. Children are very smart, and they know what makes us tick and what rips our hearts apart, and this is what is happening to you, it is killing you that you can't have a relationship with her. That is her POWER over you. It is just emotional blackmail. When I told my son, he could do what he wanted and go where he wanted, that I was done with his antics, his tune changed. He would call me demanding that I pick him and bring him home right then and there and I would drop everything and make allowences. I remember the first time I refused, God it hurt ME. I was at home, he called, to be picked up after ball practice and he wanted to be taken to his friends house. I said sorry son, I can't do it right now, you will have to wait there for your brother to pick you up in two hours, and I let him sit. But I was at home crying my eyes out. I did a few more times before he actually caught on. But then suddenly he started to check in with me and tell me where he was and then he would call me and ask me for permission to stay with a friend. It's not perfect but it is liveable. Unfortunately we have children and they eventually grow up and find there own mate and we are left behind with who?? Our husband or wife and then what?? We have shoved them so far in the background while we are busy dealing with the children. Then we wonder, why they leave, or cheat or turn away from us. Don't let this happen to you. Put your HUSBAND & YOU FIRST. Make him the priority. I do not mean to preach. I hope what I said makes some sense. See if you were in Georgia, we could really compare notes!! Hope all turns out well for you...
    tamikiopruitt's Avatar
    tamikiopruitt Posts: 12, Reputation: -4
    New Member

    Oct 2, 2006, 04:04 PM
    Hi I read your question and I can feel your pain and pressure that you are going through no I don't have children yet I am married but my husband has two teenage children a girl and a boy. The boy doesn't come around or call or have anything to do with my husband but the daughter does call every day.
    I don't want to have anything to do with his daughter because I don't want to develop a relationship with her to the point to where she starts telling me that I am not mother or I can't tell her what to do or she hates I married her father. She lives at home with her mother who has six other kids buy six diffrernt men including my husband. Her mother was married to my husband for thirteen years before I meet him. He has been divorced from her for three years now. Not getting back to you couselling or nothing else is going to help your relationship with your daughter that's why it hasent worked. You can kill two birds with one stone get a good solid relationship with your husband and daughter and keep your marriage together by giving this siuation to jesus christ. Surrender your all and your life to him for the sake of your family. Go get on your knees and pray tell god what you want and tell him that you put it in his hands. You'll never fix this situation yourself until you believe god and trust him its your only way out. If you follow my advice I guarantee you that you will see a change in your home each day things will get better, so much better you will not even believe it to be true.
    starryeyed's Avatar
    starryeyed Posts: 49, Reputation: 6
    Junior Member

    Oct 4, 2006, 01:04 PM
    I think I was a lot like your daughter about 10 years ago.
    My mum was unconditionally supportive of me, she always saw the good in me, and told me that. She was open with me and was always my cheerleader.
    I think it took a toll on her, and I feel guilty and sorry...
    But I now have 3 degrees, have lived in several countries, have a solid functional relationship... and I think she's proud of her work.
    You've gotten some great advice so far - and I haven't had kids, so, truly I have no clue - but just don't be hard on yourself, or her... Everyone is always trying to do the best they know how...
    sallgood's Avatar
    sallgood Posts: 16, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Dec 12, 2006, 04:33 AM
    I feel for you, and I am sorry. Being a (now 20 as of yesterday) teen I fought with ym mom constantly. I can't say that her and I had quite the same problems, but I, at one point did lose all of my possessions and was pulled from school and not allowed to be alone, even in the shower, due to some problems that I suffered from. Don't GIVE UP ON YOUR DAUGHTER! That is the worst thing you could do to her... she has been given up on over and over again... all she wants is love and attention. Give her small things. I was not allowed to date until I was 16... but at 15... I had a boyfriend and he was allowed to come to my house and watch movies... my parents would leave us alone and we had the family room to ourselvs. It made up for not beign able to go on real dates. Have her bring her friends over and spend more time at the house. The roughest years are yet to come... I promise you. Try doing mother daughter things... even if it hurts to do at first. I suggest a trip to the mall... and buy her a shirt... or get haircuts together. This isn't buying her love... dont look at it like that... you are spending time with her... take her to a dinner... the more tim eyou spend together... even if it is silent... the ice will begin to crack. Try to undesrtand that her past has made her grow up fast... she has experienced a lot at a young age, and most likely will not try them on her own. Speak to her about sex and drugs, find out her preferences. If she chooses to drink, tell her to call you for a ride home but she will not get in trouble. Make sure she has a cell phone and tell her to call no matter what she does... and maybe even get gps for it so you can see where she is. You wouldn't be here if you didn't love your daughter. You have to be patient... and calm, you can cry and don't try to hide it... she has to know that she hurt you. My mom is my best friend, I love her to death because I now realize what she did for me; however, at age 15 and 16 she was just an obstacle between me and my friends. Homeschooling was a good solution to cutting classes, but maybe for a social alternative you can enroll her in an art class or dance class. At 16 you could both join an adult martial arts class, I was in karate for 9 years and it made me an amazing person. She will not be happy with you for a while... it will take her a long time to realize what you have done for her... but treat her like a friend, and understand that she has been through a lot. Don't be awkward around her... even if she is quiet talk to her... tell her you like her hair or her eyes look especially pretty one day. Look at it as making friends. Tell her that you are sorry,, yes... im askign you to apologize... jsut say sorry for not giving her enough freedom, but also explain that freedom has to be earned and that she has to respect your rules and go to school and participate in classes and studies. Parenting is give and take during the teenage years... boys are easy... girls are a totally different story. You can make charts for chores that can earn her immediate privelages etc. and then long term privelages if she does something for a week... I know its childish, but work fro mteh ground up. I know it's a hard situation and that you love her. Hang in there. I hope soemthign I said may have helped. If I were her thoes are some things that may have worked. Find soemthign that you have in common or start watchign a TV series together... odl or new... I own every season of friends and my entire family watches together. Like I sais... it will never be perfect... she will only undesrtand when she is older... dont threaten her and try not to put her down. It may make you feel better but she will only resent you more. Don't smother her with love but let her know you care and that all she has to do is ask and you will do your best to accommodate her depending on the situation. COMMUNICATION is key. Good luck and much love.
    sexybeasty's Avatar
    sexybeasty Posts: 112, Reputation: 16
    Junior Member

    Feb 19, 2007, 03:59 PM
    There are so many posts that I wanted to quickly answer and only read over a couple. I want to say that my friend went through a terrible time with her son. Not normal teen stuff but more serious violations like you have described. There household was a warzone because of this. First, the husband and wife went to marriage counselling. Second, they enlisted the help of a boot camp like facility. The son ended up in the wild with others and learned to make fire and exist with the counselors on survival skills and wits. All the while, there was mental and emotional counselling.

    Upon "graduation" from the camp, (I think thre months later), the couple sent him to a school that was recommended by this group. The school is very strict and live in and provides, again, counselling. As of now, the parents are pleased with the changes in the son. He is still away though, and they live on word from the counselors and hope.

    It wasn't cheap, but the alternative might have been death for the boy... he was heavily involved in drugs. If you want more info, I can dig it up this week from my friend. First and foremost, pray for answers and blessings to emerse your chilren and your marriage. Blessings to you and yours.

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