Child Behavior Forum
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Avatar universal


I'm finding it difficult to know how to handle my daughter who will be 17 very soon.  She is a good student and gets good grades even though all she talks about is hating school...she still does what she needs to do to maintain a 3.8 GPA and has all honors classes.  She hates going to school and misses at the least illness or not feeling good....it is very difficult for me to know if she is sick or not, if I make her go to school the clinic will inevitable call me to pick her up.  She has missed 8 days in 1 quarter and still had almost straight A's.  In addition, she is very sweet and polite to everybody else in the world, most people think she is a model child, but she is very rude and disrespectful to me....it doesn't really matter what I say she finds a way to do what she wants to do.  She uses language that I never use and constantly correct her on.  She is attached at the hip to her boyfriend.  She wants to spend every second with him and it is like he is a permanent fixture in my house...every night I
have to make him go home.  Yet he is very nice and polite to me, will help me around the house if I need help, and gets after my daughter for her "potty mouth".  I do know that my daughter first experienced sex at age 15 and has had it with at least 3 boys....we have talked and talked about Christian values, how she was raised, the dangers of STDs and the dangers of getting pregnant....I "think" she has stopped for now, but of course have no way to be sure.  She is already on the pill due to heavy periods.  She is verbally very abusive to her younger sister, who doesn't seem to care and just takes it in stride and always says she is glad she is not like her older sister.  She seems to have few friends....the friends she has only are her friends when they want something from her, then when they don't need her they talk about her and spread rumors.  These friends are not even people I want to be her friends...although they are the "popular" group they are also the "fast" group.  Although I have tried to give my
daughter outside interests she refuses.  She also refuses counseling.  She seems to think that she is the best kid in the world and I should be happy that she doesn't do the stuff her peers do (and I am happy for that!).  She does help around the house a lot, but only when she wants to and she feels in control.  She frequently expresses longing to grow up and leave home, yet she has no real career ambition.  She does have a job but frequently misses work too.  She refuses to go to church, and unfortunately she has seen a lot of hypocrisy among the clergy and church people and is completely turned off.  Sometimes she seems very callous, lying when it is convenient, saying if she does get pregnant she will just have an abortion, saying there is nothing wrong with many things that are against the way she was raised.  I am confused because half the time the things she does makes me so proud and happy that she is such a bright capable young person, and other times I don't even know her anymore.  I am sure her
friend's parents, her teachers, her friends, etc would think I was nuts to even worry about her behavior.  She tells me she is old enough to make her own decisions....I think that she has shown poor judgement enough to demonstrate she is not as mature as she thinks she is.  Her younger sister has several chronic health problems and she is very jealous of the extra care she has sometimes needed.  I don't know what to do anymore...it's not like she's so bad to go headfirst into toughlove and kick her out or anything....and her behavior problems really seem to focus on rebellion against me personally (yet she remains 100% dependent on me for finances, health care, contacting school or work for her, and all the other things parents do....even when she has money she expects I am to supply everything, which I can't afford to do.  I do try to provide her with her basic needs and a few luxories.  She generally will come home when I set a curfew time but won't come in the house, staying outside with the boyfriend
until I get mad enough that he scurries on home.  I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill, but I am tired of the arguments and disrespect.  I also understand that at 17 she does need some autonomy, she needs to feel like she can make most of her own decisions, and she needs to be able to learn to be independent.  I try to encourage this....I always make myself available for family discussions, I am open to suggestions and negotiations provided there are clear, well-thought out reasons, and a willingness to take the additional responsibility that comes with increased maturity and freedom.  I try to make my values and standards clear without pushing them down my kids' throats...in personal decisions I ask that they respect my values while they are still living in my house, but acknowledge that the day will come when they will have to guide their own behavior by their own values.  Is it just always this hard when kids are teenagers or is my daughter headed for trouble?
5 Responses
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Dear Angela,

Actually there's no single way teenages should, or do, act. In this culture we come to think that the teen years ought to be a time of stress and turmoil. This really isn't the norm at all, though of course some teens do go through tough stretches.

There's no way to tell if your daughter is headed for trouble, as you put it. At her stage in life, your leverage is more limited than it was when she was younger. You have tried throughout her life to represent a particular set of values and standards, but you can never determine the outcome. All you can do is your best and hope for a decent outcome.

The facts that your daughter is excelling academically at school and treats people respectfully outside the home are encouraging. Some of her social behavior with peers is troubling to you, but may not bode poorly for the future - it's too early to tell.

A critical time will come as she concludes high school and commences with her post-high school years. Will she go on to higher education; will she enter the work force? It sounds like she has the potential to do well in college - hopefully that is in her future.

From your note, there's no indication that she's engaged in substance abuse or anti-social behavior; these would be definite signs of trouble. Her sexual behavior certainly does not meet the standards you've tried to set for her, and it is a cause for some worry, but by no means does her behavior indicate that she is headed for serious trouble.
Avatar universal
My 14 year old seems to feel she always has to be "in love"  She is so social, and I homeschooled her for part of elementary and 6th grade.  I feel she has become disrespectful and only seems to really care about communicating almost constantly with peers. I really don't want to send her to public highschool, It seems so hard to pull them back when they become "overly" socialized.  I am strict in values and knowing where she is, her father does not take an active role in being a "parent", but more of a "buddy"
"ask mom"  he does not take the initiative in anything, so he becomes the "good guy" and me the "bad guy".  Sometimes I get too frustrated because I get no support, then I am really the "bad guy(mom)"  Any suggestions?????  She is adopted, and when angry at me she says I am not her mom.  Later calles me "mommy" though, but seems to have an underlying hostility to me a lot of the time. She calls herself "forsaken" on e-mail.  I am always around for her, so this upsets me.
Avatar universal
i don't know what advice i can offer, only the fact that i am coming from her side, i'm seventeen going on 18 in april. i know what she is going through, and i can promise you that no matter what she tells or shows you, she is probably hanging on by your love. there have been times when i would tell my parents that i didn't want them to love me anymore, but it was just a test to see if they would give up on me. the only thing that is going to bring her through is a strong family and God. If it's in his plans to bring her back, he will, without a doubt. Hang in there, my prayers are with you.
Avatar universal
To tell you the truth, I think that there's nothing wrong with spanking a 17 year older.  Mix some embaressment in with the spanking to show her that you mean business by spanking her bare bottom.  You may want to try a belt so that she REALLY knows that you mean business.  Spanking will teach hher not to be so disrespectful.
Avatar universal
I havebeen told that you cannot hit your child.  My 14 year old daughter has become so disrespectful toeveryone in this household.  we reently had an encounter with the police and childrens aid because she could not get her own way. Now the police say we cannot hit her. She knows this and still hasbecome more disresptful in the house.  She doesnt care about what she says or how she says it. My husband and i are meeting with childrens aid on wednesday.  We are seriously considering placing her in their care.  We are at the end of our rope and cant do a thing with her.  Do you think that placing her there will remind her of the love that shegets at home or do you feel it will make her worse.  Any answers would be greatly appreciated.
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