Friday, April 22, 2011

My teen is selfish and no conscience

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Comment: Thank you for your timely answer. Yes, I have asked myself if she is truly selfish for a long time now. It really saddens me to admit it. She is a beautiful girl on the outside, I just wish it were the same on the inside. I actually feel sorry for her, I think she doesn't really like herself, but doesn't really know how to change it. Thank you again for your help

Questioner: Cheryl

My daughter is 16 years old. She will be 17 in about a month and a half. She is extremely selfish and doesn't seem to have a conscience. She seems to think the world should revolve around her.

She has recently lost the friendship of someone who supposedly meant a lot to her. I know why he walked away from their friendship, but she refuses to see that it is because of her selfishness.

She is this way with everyone in her life, except when she is trying to IMPRESS someone new in her life, be it a potential boyfriend or a new friend. I know that teenagers are selfish by nature, but she seems extreme to me.

My question is: How can I help her to see that she is selfish and want to change that about herself, and can someone GROW a conscience? I worry about her future relationships. I'm afraid she will not be successful in marriage if she doesn't change her ways.

Answer: Dear Cheryl:

This is the hardest part of parenting. Letting go.

In my own experience the more you try to get someone to see something about themselves, the more they resist and the behavior gets worse.

This is one of those times when being a parent is painful as she will have to figure this out on her own. As she loses more friends she may or may not figure it out.

One suggestion I have is not to be too understanding when she complains about her friends going away. Let her know you are sorry she is having a bad experience and if she doesn't react too strongly to that, then let her talk to you about it. Let her vent and talk and then just tell her you love her and let it go.

Also, ask yourself if she is truly being selfish. Sometimes our generation was taught to be overly accommodating. Was she just taking care of herself in the relationship? Something which my generation was taught to view as selfishness was in fact a healthy lifestyle.

If she was just taking care of her own emotions and her friend chose to dump her then she may not appreciate you not being in her corner. I don't know this is what happened I am only throwing this out there for you to consider.

Parenting is a never ending process and as our children grow up into adults it just changes shapes. It does not however ever really end. It is the most important thing we will ever do and thank you for writing to me. Your daughter is fortunate to have a mom who worries about her and wants to know how to help her.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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