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my daughter is cutting herself
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my daughter is cutting herself

I found out last night that my 15 y/o daughter is cutting herself.  Ive been reading alot on the internet about it.  She doesnt want to see a counselor or get on anti-depressants.  She said she would stop and that she decided before I found out that she was going to stop.  Im divorced and she begged me not to tell her father, I said I wouldnt tell him unless it happens again.  I want to talk to her about it but I dont know how to approach her.  If I dont say anything Im afraid she will think I dont care.  She had a heart to heart talk with her 17 y/o sister last night which I think may have helped her.  My older daughter told me that my 15 y/o blames her step-mother and one of her step-sisters for her emotional problems.  Her dad & step mom have been married for about 7 yrs and I know she has never gotten along with her step mom but I didnt think it was this bad.  Apparently her step mom belittles her and makes her feel worthless and bad about herself.  Ive heard that cutting can be an addiction and Im afraid she wont be able to stop.  Besides rushing her off to a counselor...which she doesnt want to go to anyway...what can I say to my daughter to make her realize that I love her unconditionally and that Im always here for her?  How can I help her get through her emotional pain?  Im upset because my daughter is hurting and I dont know what to do to help her.  Ive read online that taking her to a counselor might not be the best thing because then she will feel like she is a freak or crazy and it will break any trust that we have.   I guess when she gets home from school today I will have a talk with her and try to find out whats causing all the emotional pain and just let her know that Im here for her.  That will be our first step, if she wants to go to counseling Ill make an appt. for her but I dont think Im going to do that right away...does anyone have any advice or suggestions?  Are there any teenagers out there who have gone through the same thing and can offer advice on what or what not to do or say to my daughter?
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203342_tn?1328740807
Well, I'm not a teenager but the mother of one who used to cut. I can share my story with you if that will help.
My daughter started getting depressed around the age of 12-13. She cut herself a couple of times and I was concerned but she promised to not do it again. I was naive enough to believe her. She started getting worse. Her grades were falling, she was getting more moody and shutting herself away in her room more. I was a little concerned about some of the kids she was hanging out at school but kept, what I thought was a close watch on her.
We didn't want to do the counseling at first, either. We thought we could handle it. One day I decided to go through her room, trying to get an idea of what was going on with her. I was in shock and felt sick to my stomach when I found a box cutter hidden in her mattress, plus other sharp items around the room. I found dark, sad pictures that she had drawn and dark, sad poetry. But what really stunned me was I found a suicide note. We immediately got her into counseling. We found a wonderful, gentle, kind Christian man who counseled all of us since he knew we were all hurting. Sure, my daughter didn't like it and would sit there with her arms crossed at times not even willing to talk to him but we kept taking her.
Over and over she'd promise she stopped cutting but was wearing long sleeves or even lots of bracelets to cover any marks. Still, I thought we could handle it. After all, she had a loving family. We sat down to dinner each night. We went to church each week. We were very protective over our kids. We didn't understand any of this. It was so hard to understand.
Something I've learned is this is becoming more and more common with teens today. They are choosing this method to cope with pain that they don't know how to let out.

I'm afraid I don't agree with you about the counseling, though. I do not think it will make her feel like a freak or she's crazy. No one even needs to know about it except her parents and the counselor.
It took awhile for my daughter to learn to trust the counselor and start opening up to him but she finally started talking to him. We found out through counseling that she had been bullied terribly all through middle school and she also said she had been molested by a couple of neighbor boys when she was younger. We always thought we protected our kids but still this happened. It was very hard on all of us.
But she was hurting. She was one angry, hurting kid.

I want to tell you something too. We had her in counseling for almost two years and it's only now, a year after counseling that she says she's glad we made her go. Please hear that. She is glad we made her go! She wasn't at the time but now that she's gone through that she realizes how valuable it was. When her boyfriend was really struggling and his mom said to us that she couldn't make him go to counseling, do you know what my daughter said to her? Make him go. She said he will thank you some day.
My daughter has gone to h e l l and back. It was a big struggle for all of us for years. We got to the point where we finally took her to a children's mental hospital when she cut herself one last time. I was so weary. I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't sit there and watch her hurt herself any more. Our counselor had been telling us that if she cut herself again to take her to the hospital but I kept resisting, wanting to protect her. That night that we took her, we had to leave her for five days. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I cried all the way home. I was on pins and needles. She was angry with us, at first but by the time we picked her up, she had calmed way down and realized that we were just trying to help her. When she got home, we explained to her that we had gone through her room and got rid of all dangerous things and also the really dark things. I braced myself thinking she'd be mad but she was ok with it! I think she had finally gotten to the point where she was tired of the way she was feeling and acting. She never cut herself again after that. I think her being in the hospital showed her how serious this was and that we were taking this very serious.

About five months later, she asked to go to a church youth retreat. At the retreat she apparently had a touch from God and came back a different child. I was afraid it wouldn't last but it has. Gone is the anger, sadness and hatred. She has a peace and joy now. I can never thank God enough. He gave me back my daughter.
I always believed she'd have a powerful testimony to tell someday and I think she will. She is so much wiser now than many teenagers her age because of all she's gone through. She hates the superficial way a lot of teens act. She's much deeper than that. I am so proud of my daughter. She's come a long ways but it wasn't easy.

I'm not saying I did all the right things because I did make mistakes. One of the mistakes I made was not getting her help sooner, thinking we could handle this ourselves. The other mistake I made was not taking this seriously enough right away, again, thinking we could handle this.

Don't be so quick to dismiss counseling. A counselor trained in DBT therapy would be the best thing for her. They will teach her better ways to cope with overwhelming feelings and what to do when she feels like hurting herself. Please, really give some thought to this. I'm telling you this from one mother who's gone through this. I wouldn't want any parent to have to go through what we went through. Things were pretty bad for awhile there. Us parents need support too, so if you find a counselor, pick one who will include the family. It's good if they will spend part of the time with the child and part of the time with the whole family. If your daughter is afraid to talk to someone because of privacy issues, remind her that counselors are required by law to keep things confidential, unless they are threatening to hurt themselves or someone else. The only reason we knew some of what she discussed was because the counselor would encourage her to tell us or would ask her permission to tell us something she may have told him. If she would have said no he wouldn't have said anything.
It's just something to think about.

My daughter is now 16. She still has scars she will always carry for the rest of her life. But her mind and spirit are whole again. She is no longer that same confused, angry child. She is stronger and has more understanding and compassion now than most kids her age. I am so very proud of her and all she's gone through and that she came out so well.

Just please don't let this go. Don't necessarily believe your daughter if she says she won't cut again. They may mean it until the next time their emotions get overwhelming and they don't know how to handle them. Please, please consider counseling. My daughter and my husband and I will never regret getting our daughter outside help. I really think it was crucial towards her healing.

If you ever want to talk, I'm on here most days. I do understand. I've been there. I know how it feels. I felt all of it, the fear, confusion, grief. I understand.
I will say a prayer for you and your daughter.
God bless you both,
April
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Avatar_f_tn
I had a long talk with my daughter last night.  She told me she was afraid to come home from school yesterday because she didnt know how I was going to react.  She was relieved when I didnt yell or "freak out", she was afraid I would think she was crazy.  I told her she isnt crazy just hurting and I want to help her heal the hurt.  she showed me where she  cuts herself, we talked pretty openly about it.  She promised me she would stop and I put her on a "trial run".  I told her she needs to stop and I explained how for some people its an addiction and they cant stop and if she has trouble stopping she needs to tell me.  I also told her I might do occasional "body checks", she laughed and said "yeah mom, I figured you might do that"...so she expected it.  I wont make her strip naked, she can put on a bikini.  I told her if I find that she does it again then I will tell her dad and she will go to counseling.  So Im not ruling out counseling were just putting it off for a little bit to see if she can do this herself.  She told me she has been doing this for 2 yrs.  I was shocked that I never knew.  She is usually a pretty happy kid, she has her moods but around me she is happy most of the time.  she has a small group of friends that she goes to the movies with and she told me that her friends knew about this and have been encouraging her to stop.  We also talked about her step mom and how she treats my daughter. I have heard from my older daughter that the step mom does pick on my youngest and says mean things to her.  So I told my daughter to try not to listen to the mean things she says to her, that she is just jealous of her (we have a few ideas as to why).  Thanks so much for the comment, I wont rule out counseling, Im going to give my daughter a little time to try to work this out herself but I will be keeping a close eye on her. thanks again
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I would also suggest your daughter knows if she ever starts feeling bullied by her step-mom, to know she can call you and come back home.  When I divorced, my kids' father was getting clean from a cocaine habit.  Only reason I allowed my kids to visit him was he was living with his mother who is an amazing person and would never let any harm come upon them.  There were several times when I would get a call asking if I would come get them because 'dad said he was going out'.  They would wait a couple hours then call me.  I would drop whatever I was doing to go get them and explain they did the right thing and it's not that dad doesn't love them, he was just sick.  Of course I wanted to tell them what a loser I thought he was, but thats my opinion and I tried to keep that out of it.

I strongly recommend you have your daughter go to counseling.  She needs to learn how to deal with negative emotions.  People who cut don't deal with the anger, hurt or frustration.....eventually it builds up to where they have to 'let it out'.  They feel the pain and relate this to 'dealing' with the issue.  Truth is, the issue still exists and they still have not processed and released the feeling.  It's not something she can control either.  Not until she learns the necessary ways of dealing with emotions when they happen.  She will learn how to confront her step-mom in a constructive way, standing up for herself, but also respecting her dad's wife.  I think I would also have a serious talk with your ex, and the step-mom.  She needs to know that what she says to your daughter is affecting her this way.......and her dad needs to intervene and stand up for his daughter.  If it continues, I wouldn't even make her go visit.  Document all these things so if this ever becomes an issue, the courts can see you were trying to protect her, not keep her from seeing her father.

Let us know how things are going once in a while.
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when i was 13 i started cutting my self not only is it addictive but it was the only way that i could get my pain out in my own way you should comfront the step mother and fill her in on what she has caused i know because whe my mother got in to deep with my step father i had been cutting but finaly he pushed me so far with the words that i slit my wrists and nearly died and i know i wished that my mother had comfroned my pain causer
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Avatar_f_tn
I don't cut, never have, but I'm a masochist and a former drug user, so I can identify with the impulses involved.  Like any addiction, trust is a big factor in early recovery.  The more paranoid you act, the less trust she is given, the more likely it is that she will relapse.  I would suggest that you offer to, but don''t insist on it, check her arms (or wherever she cuts) on a daily or weekly basis.  Sh might appreciate the accountability, but if she doesn't want it it will do more harm than good.  Likewise, offer to lock up any sharp things that she might use.  Let her talk to you and try to be non-judgmental.  From your first post I can tell that you are already handling this better than a lot of parents do, keep up the good work.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Take her to a counsellor. Even if she kicks or screams, take her.

Let me tell you why;

I'm 16 and last March, just before my 16th birthday I attempted suicide. The doctor told me I had to see a counsellor, I refused, and I promised my parents I wouldn't do that again.

I didn't. instead I cut myself. My parents realised this (i was doing this on my leg so id cut QUITE  a lot before my mum walked in on me in the bath and she saw it) she took me to a doctor that day. i was severely clinically depressed, and i was referred to a counsellor.

At first I hated her, she amde me feel like a freak. But three weeks of seeing her twice a week, she was like my best friend. Believe me.

Now I'm better, and I'm still in touch with Sofie, my counsellor.
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1327415_tn?1294061489
i started cutting myself a few weeks ago.
i was already seeing a councellor because of eating dissorders and i am soooo glad that i see the coucellor, she has helped me so much and any mums who are reading this trust me when i say the as much as you whant to you can't help your kids as well as you think, you need to take them to see someone... its very important.

i'm 17 and i have not told my parents about my cutting or my eating dissorders so if anyone has some advice in how i can tell my mum without breaking her heart that would be reaaly good.

thanks :)
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1329076_tn?1275103556
i only have a 3 year old which is my profile pic but you chould soport her the teen years are the worst and you chould try to tell her she is worth
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Avatar_f_tn
Ok, I found out about 6 months ago that my, then 14 year old daughter has been cutting herself.  Her behavior seems similar to those described above. she spends a lot of time in her room, she's a talented artist and she draws alot of anime, which seems dark in nature to me. being a licensed social worker myself, i know that a child that presents with behaviors is merely the symptom of dysfunction in the family unit.  My child is in pain because of something in the family and I am not quite sure why, but I have a few ideas. I have been in a dysfunctional and borderline abusive relationship for the past 3 years that has consumed alot of my time and energy. come to think of it, she probably started cutting about 3 years ago...her father lives in another state and doesn't really spend alot of time with her...I am just coming to grips with the fact that i have not done everything right as a single mother and that I need to reach out for help for not only her but my family as a unit. I don't want to blame her, I don't want her to feel like she is alone, I just don't know how to come to her as her mother and meet her where she is......i need help. we both need help.
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Avatar_m_tn
please help!!!
my 12 year old daughter has marks on her arms. always hiding out in her room. At first I thought it was the teen syndrome ....talking on the phone and whatnot but now i am so worried. I had her very young, her dad and I have been apart for a few years but the last 2 years have been very very hard on her and the rest of us. We have had a lot of death in our family and I myself have not known how to deal with it much less how to help my children cope.
I feel like a failure of a mother. I tell her every day i love her and hug her and she is an amazing student and make sure she knows it. I am at a loss. I noticed this yesterday and have yet to find the words to say to her. Also dont want her brothers over hearing it as they are very young to understand this.
It is just me, her dad lives quite a ways away and is not able to be contacted while away at work. Please please help me!! i will do anything, anything at all including my dreaded fear of therapy to get my daughter healthy......
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Avatar_m_tn
I am 15 I am a self mutilator I didnt start out as a cutter when I was little i would pull my hair out in big clumps the as I got older I would bite or take my moms lighter and burn myself until I turned 13 then I started to cut and i would overdose too I have really bad depression when my mom found out (I told her) she told me she wished that I wouldnt do it and when I fisrt overdosed I started seeing a counselor she helped with some things but it wasnt good enough so I quit and took it into my own hands I would snap myself with rubberbands on my wrist instead of cutting it helped alot but it is also a form of self harm but it doesnt leave scars. I dont cut anymore because of my last scare I cut to deep and had fainted from blood loss,my friends mom who is a nurse got me consious and glued it shut for me. I had never cut that deep before and it scared me and also made me stop. advice I can give you is watch your daughter but dont hover and check her wrists but dont make it obvious because of the fact cutting makes you feel ashamed when someone know and they see it, it could make her bounce back. Be your Daughters friend and mother spend more time with her talk to her about her feelings,boys,ect. it will help her and bring you guys alot closer. I wish my mother cared more and wanted to hang out and talk with me. Best of luck.
                                                  16
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Avatar_n_tn
I received a call from the school guidance counselor out of the blue three days ago, advising me that my daughter just confessed that she has been cutting herself for over year. She told them that she feels completely overwhemled by life and felt this discovery would be a "huge disappointment to my parents".
Words cannot express my shock especially since we just returned from four day trip to Niagara Falls to celebrate her birthday. She seemed happy, energized and was just so much fun to be around. I even commented to my husband how lucky we were to have such a healthy happy girl. When I arrived at the guidance office, my child was curled up in a ball with her favorite oversized sweatshirt on her lap exposing three horrifying gashes on her upper arm. I held her tight and told her that we would sort this out. I informed the counselor's that I was diagnosed with MS a few years ago and that my husband lost his job this past March after relocating my daughter from the only life she knew in Santa Monica, CA to New York two years ago. She struggled at first with the relocation but seemed to adjust very well. She has a great group of friends and her grades have been excellent. We became concerned that she was spending way too much time in her bedroom over the past few months  and decided to do spot checks "just in case".
I checked her computer and found she writing beautiful poems, one about seals bellys bouncing against the ice. In addition we went up to her room one summer afternoon to see what she was doing and found her on the floor, surrounded by papers she downloaded from the school website for summer extra credit math. Whew, what a relief. Needless to say we are completely devastated that she has been silently suffering for so long. I started thinking about signs that I missed. Several months ago I noticed cuts on her hands. "My hampsters scratched me". I questioned why she wore sweatshirts on hot days. "I just like to". We also did not understand why she did not want to go to the indoor waterpark in Niagara falls. She loves water parks. "people pee in the pools. I think its disgusting now". Her bedroom was also becoming an awful mess and she was becoming very obsessed with a band called Evanessence. I  googled the band, listened to the music and thought it was actually a very interesting group until I just googled the bands name with the term "cutting" and found a correlation.  I asked her to give me the box cutter and a pen knife that she got from a yard sale "because it looked so cool" and any other sharp objects that she could use. She immediately got them for me. I asked her if she wanted to see a therapist, she said yes as long as she was a female. I asked her if her friends do it. "Maybe, one girl - she is very depressed too".  I called her peditrician who advised me that this is becoming a huge problem with young girls. She gave me the names of therapist's. The appointment is set up for Monday. I also advised me daughter that I was going to clean out her bedroom, first because it is such an unhealhty environment and to ensure that there is nothing else she might be hiding. She seemed very grateful. I  told her that I thought she was very courageous to  speak up about this and that her dad and I were very proud of her and assured her that we would do everything in our power to help her through this. We are on day three and we are all exhausted and I realize that I need to back off a bit because when I tried to get her to talk a little more about it she curled up in a ball and screamed "leave me a lone". I decided to wait for our appointment with the professional to guide us. In the meantime, we realize that we cannot leave her alone in the house anymore for those quick runs to the store or the gym. In addition we are very suspicious about a few kids (a brother and sister) that she hangs out with on the weekends. The brother is older and she told me that he is the one that introduced her to her "emo" music. Huge Red Flag so I signed her up for guitar lessons on saturdays which she is thrilled about and have to figure out other ways to keep her busy in positive ways to avoid that boy and to keep her out of her room as much.  I don't want her to feel like she is being punished. Anyway I apologize for droning on but have to say that reading all of these stories from obviously very very loving and concerned mother's and you very brave kids has been a great help to me. Any feedback, advice or tips would be greatly appreciated it. I wish you all the best.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you for sharing your story. I myself don't know what to do since my daughter just started cutting, she says is her first time and she has not done it before. I'm very scared for her and don't know what to do but reading the experience above has helped me. I will keep telling her that I love her and that is not her fault, I will also call the counselor she is seeing to see what else we need to do. And thank you to the brave girls that have talked about their experience.

Best of luck!!

A desperate mother.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi my daughter 16 and I am getting her help for cutting she goes to cambs she has stopped cutting on her arms but I now think she does it on her thighs . She keeps a diary which I would never go through as I want her to know I trust her . But getting worried about her help
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Avatar_m_tn
We found out a week ago that our 13 y/o daughter had cut herself. Not only did she cut herself, but she would put salt and dirt in her large wound to make it hurt worse in order to cover the internal pain she was struggling with. The first thing we did when we found out (through a family member she confided in) was to bring her to the hospital. We told her we were bringing her there to have her very infected wound looked at. We pulled the docs/nurse to the side and explained what was really going on. They wanted to keep her there for inpatient mental health treatment. We were leary about doing an in-patient program as she has anxiety over being away from us and we thought this would just send her over the edge, but we knew we had to do something. The next day we got her into an intense outpatient program. She hated it and felt very out of place, esp. being in group setting and having severe self esteem isssues. It was impossible for her to open up. We decided it was best for one on one couseling and that is where she is at now. She goes twice a week  and it has opened up a huge line of communication not only between her and her therapist but with my husband and I. She has a safety plan in place for when she feels like she wants to self injur and has returned to school with alot of resources and support in place as well. It is important to get a child counseling who is going through this. they are not emotionally equipped to deal with this on their own and it will only spiral out of control. The depression and anxiety has been going on with my daughter for more than a year and has come to her self injuring. I thank God we found out before it went even further. Intervention is the key in helping these young children. There's no other choice. You cannot wait it out or try to solve these issues as a parent as we are not equipped to deal with this sort of thing.
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Avatar_m_tn
I just recently found out my daughter was cutting and my heart goes out to you. I have those same feelings of guilt as well. However, the last few weeks, I have felt like I am walking a fine line between under reacting and over-reacting. I got my daughter back to see her psychologist (she was being bullied last year). At the suggestion of my ex-husband, I took her to a nearby behavioral health clinic and had her tested. Thank god I did...she has been diagnosed with moderate depression and anxiety. The psychiatrist has prescribed medication and weekly therapy sessions. then, a few days ago, she was at my ex husband's and he picked up her ipod...the images/giffs/artwork we found nearly broke my heart. Images of girls cutting their arms, poems about depression and suicide, images of girls who have lost so much weight they look like skeletons with skin and, then a tumblr account my daughter started. She described herself as "having no one who cares. I just want to find someone who will care for me as much as I care for them".  All I could think of was why my daughter felt as if I did not love her...I tell her how much I love her frequently, but it is sinking in that, for some reason, she thinks I am lying. Now, I am reaching out to her teachers, psychologist and psychiatrist and trying to find resources to build her self esteem and self worth. Most importantly, I realized that telling my daughter I love her is all fine but in the end it is just words. I need to step up my game and show how important she is to me, how much I value her and what a wonderful person I think she is. Will everything change overnight? No. It will be a long, hard road but she is worth it. And one day, she will believe it.
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I wouldn't mention the cutting to her father but I would mention to him about his wife and ask him to be more visual of the problems and ask him to maybe have a word with his wife. Your daughter obviously feels that he needs a lot of support at this moment in one and the best thing you can do is be there for her but also keep an eye that she doesn't start harming again. Just try to remember that there is a fine line between offering support and smuggling her making her problems worse
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Avatar_f_tn
If feels really good to read your story, it gives me some hope that my daughter will stop someday.  She is having all the help, but it is very frustrating when she is still doing it.  She is going to therapy for four months already but I do not think it is helping.  I had tried to get her closer to God, but she is being very defiant right now and everything I say, she will do otherwise.  Sometimes I do not feel I can do this anymore, it kills me not to be able to make her stop.  I am doing everything I can, and when I look on the internet for help, i realize that all of the suggestions are being done, but does not seem like she wants to stop.  I had tried it all, between talking to her and grounding her for doing it and nothing works.  Any suggestions???? Please help!!!

Hope
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Avatar_f_tn
Im a teenager and I used to cut myself in middle school and my freshmen year in high school. I think youre idea of making sure she knows that youre there for her is wonderful. Us teenagers, at any age, need that. In my situation teachers got concerned and ended up with my mom finding out. She made me go to counseling even though i really didnt want to. The crazy thing is tgat is actually helped me. I hated talking about WHY i did it but having a person with 100% trust is such a good feeling. Especially because its hard to trust now a days. I think you should some how take her to counseling. She'll hate it at first because..well we dont like talking about it to other because we say they wont understand, but it will help her. I did this and i was a quiet girl so i never talked much, and having a conselor to speak to made me feel OK.
I really hope your daughter will get better. I know i made my mom feel pretty badly when she found out i was cutting..
Now i want to tell you WHY some of us cut. Well my reason was because i was hurt so much. By friends, family, peers. And since i was a quiet person all i did was soak it in. I cried when no one was around but smiled when everyone was. I didnt want help from people who didnt unstand. I was sooo hurt and i got angry for being hurt. I felt like a wimp. So cutting, hurt more. It made me kinda forget about the other pain. Also, it was for all the pain everyone else caused. I would say "this is because so and so did this to me" etc. Im telling you this because maybe you do or dont understand why your daughter cut herself. These are main reasons.
Dont force her and make her feel trapped. Just make sure she feels loved and like her feelings matter.

I apollogize if im saying advice that wont help or is irelevent. I hope it helps though.
(:
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi there,
I just cried reading your post and it helped me a lot. I am in the beginning stages of my beautiful girl cutting herself and your post was just what I needed to read. I have tried to make my daughter "better" by myself and I can't do it. My heart is so broken today but you helped me.
Thank you
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Avatar_f_tn
I just found out my 13 year old daughter has been cutting. I got her into counseling as soon as I found out. I went through her whole room and found lots of dark poems and song lyrics.  Also drawings. All she wants to listen to is this music like falling in reverse, motionless in white, blood on the dance floor, of mice and men to name a few. I think all these bands fall into the "emo" culture.  I have found journal entries saying she is emo or trying to be. I have tried taking the muaic away but she juat sneaks behind my back and listens to it anyway.  Im just so upset and don't know what to do anymore. If anyone out there has any suggestions please feel free.
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