Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My 17 year old

Question: I am the father of a 17 year old young woman, who presently resides with me. She lived with her mother since she was 5, but moved to my house 2 years ago, she is my only child.

She struggles with school(always had struggled), she has disregards for the rules that I had set (curfew 10pm weekly, midnight on the weekends), and lashes out at me when asked to do the 1 chore every 2 months. She also talks to me as if I were a street punk---with no respect.

I know she has a good heart deep down, but have not seen it too frequently. She has a habit of going to her mother( who I have had problems with in the past, but overall a good mother) to seek the answer needed to satisfy her, often times it works.

This is a brief summary of what has gone on for approx. 1 year. With 6 months left to graduate high school, I threatened to throw her out, because of her utter disregard to follow the "lenient" rules I have in place and her lack of respect when talking to me. She missed school today because she is at her mothers---do I stand my ground and enforce this ( my rules ), thus risking her not graduating, or do I let her run to her mothers, and for certain fall behind in the transfer of schools and not graduate?

This is killing me and it seems as if I am alone and the only person looking ahead at her future---even beyond high school. I want my daughter "back", she is my heart and soul, and I need all of the help I can get. I am NOT a dictator, and all suggestions would help. Thank you for listening.
Chris
Answer: Dear Chris:

You are not being hard enough on her. Realize she is 17 which means she is almost an adult and needs to take on some adult responsibilities. However because she is 17 she is still your legal responsibility.

You do not have too many rules and she is disregarding them. If mom will not support you then maybe she needs to be living with her mother.

If she wants to live with you then she needs to show respect. I don't suggest threatening to throw her out as you may find this hard to do.

Have proportional consequences for her actions. If she disregards curfews then do not handout money or car keys etc... do not give into her in other areas. If mom takes her side then let mom know she needs to live with her.

Tell her you love her however being her father does not mean you will let her step all over you. Remember she is formulating how she will interact with all men by how you treat her now.

When she is disrespectful in a conversation (what is your definition of disrespect? Is she responding or sarcastic etc....) do not tolerate any form of emotional abuse or yelling. Simply state you will continue the conversation when she uses her adult words and walk away. Do not engage in negative interactions with her.

Reinforce her positively when she does do something you like. Make sure you focus your time and energy into positive engagement with her and you will get more positive engagement with her. (It takes time for teens to trust a change in our behavior so don't give up easily.)

She is fortunate you care so much about her!

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller