Sunday, July 31, 2011

Teen daughter rude and disrespectful toward mom's boyfriend

Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Politeness
10                         10                            10
Comment: Thanks for putting a little perspective on the event. I do agree that the problem is best resolved by my daughter and my boyfriend talking it out. That is exactly what they did a few days ago and things are at least out in the open about her feelings. I don't suspect anything at all - I should not have worded my concern that way. Thanks very much. 

Question: I have been dating the same man for 15 years. My daughter, 17 next month, never really bonded with him but has always gotten along with him. We've never lived together, instead keeping separate residences and seeing each other on the weekends and a few times a week. He has been present at many of her school functions and his mother even watched her for a few years in elementary school.

She has been complaining about going to his house on Saturday nights. She says there's nothing to do and she's bored. She said she feels that she's being sent to the basement when we watch television because she does not like what we watch. My boyfriend has a television, cable, and couch downstairs for her so she would feel that she has her own space.

For the past year or two, we have noticed that she is not talking in front of him. If he leaves the room, she will speak to me, but when he returns she immediately stops talking. She just seems to stop being herself in front of him. She is not withdrawn and will interact with him when he starts the conversation. Christmas Eve was probably the worst holiday on record.

When at his parents' house, she was joking and talking. When at my parents' house, she was joking and talking. When we got to his house, she stood in the dining room and said that we needed to go home so she could use the bathroom and take care of her hygiene (we don't keep products at his house).

Anyway, in the car I started to realize that we were just at my parents' house (with plenty of products available) and she didn't even go to the bathroom there. We got into a big fight and she admitted that she just didn't want to be there - it was a total lie. My boyfriend and I talked about it for hours - he's hurt because he sat and watched her interact with his parents and then my parents (and even talked to him in their presence), but then totally ignores him once we're away from the family. This was the last straw for all of us. I do not want to take her to his house again because of her rudeness (for lack of a better word). He has never done anything to harm this child (to which she will readily admit), but her snubbing him is more than I can take.

People keep telling me it is because she's an only child and she's threatened by him. The problem is that she is almost 17 and he's been around since she was almost 2. Shouldn't this have been an issue years ago? Is this just a belated puberty-rebellion stage? How on earth do I deal with this?

I have asked her to please explain this behavior to me and she just cannot do that. I want to completely remove the computers from her for a month or two for wrecking MY Christmas. I am looking for any advice or ideas about this. At this point, I am thinking that at the age of 17, I don't need to keep taking her over to his house on the weekends as she obviously doesn't enjoy it.

Is computer removal also a good step?

How do I get her to understand that it's hurting all of us?

Dear Kristina:

On the surface this just appears to be a control issue between your daughter and yourself. However, this statement that you included bothers me, "He has never done anything to harm this child (to which she will readily admit)" DO YOU SUSPECT something? If you do then act on it and get to the bottom of it now. As a parent it is still your responsibility to protect her not another adult.

As for your daughter ruining your Christmas. Do you really want to give a 17 year old this much power over your happiness.

She is almost 17 years old and almost an adult. Why keep fighting this war and asking something of her that she will not give. Let yourself off the hook. If this is the only area you are experiencing problems with her (is it the only area?) then just leave her home and count your blessings!

As for removing the computers. This sounds more like you are seeking revenge than disciplining her. If she had done something wrong on the computers I could understand you removing them. Keep your actions proportional to the behavior. Not talking to someone you love may annoy you it is however not the end of the world.

Your boyfriend and she need to work their relationship out on their own terms and he is the adult in this situation so it falls mostly on him. She is becoming an adult and whatever the problem is she needs to deal with it. She can talk to you and give you a plausible explanation or she can choose to keep him out of her life and be left at home. It really is that simple.

Go have fun!

M Kay Keller

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