My daughter just turned 12. She is the only child for me and my husband, but we both have other (grown) children from the first marriages. Our daughter is like an angel to us and we love her beyond anything and bought everything for her even before she asked for anything. So it was...

Now the situation is changing and I am not sure what can I do with it. Our daughter is growing fast and entering puberty. Her attitude is changing. At times she is just a kind and loving girl, at other times she is just plain nasty with words and mostly toward me, her mother. She told me that I am overprotective, which I can handle, but at the same time that I am not letting her do anything! I was crying like a child when I heard these words because she has everything she needs and more: her own cell phone, TV in her bedroom, everything she needs for school, homemade breakfast every morning, all the toys, movie DVDs, and much more.

I try to say only nice words to her and encourage her in the most loving ways possible. I almost always respond to her even if I do something else at that moment. I just put whatever I was doing a side for a minute and respond to whatever she has to say or ask. I want her to know that I am here for her. However, I was wondering if this is a good thing at all. I noticed, that if I (very rarely!) ask her to wait for my response, her face changes and her lips become tide. Basically, she does not like to wait. It might be my mistake to be too responsive.

However, I have bigger issue here. My daughter takes everything only yes or no, black or white, and her response to "no" leads to: I am the worst mother of all times, she is controlled by me all the times (!), she is treated like a toddler (?), she does not want to live anymore, etc. As one can understand, the very last statement of her not wanting to live anymore or she would be better off dead scares me most. I talked to my daughter about that, all she was saying that she loves me and dad but she wants more freedom, such as - staying outside even when it turns dark, not being rushed to do her homework, no house chores, unless she decides when she will do them, to remove Parental Control off of her cell phone, and the list goes on.

I am trying to explain in the details on WHY I restrict her "freedom", but she acts like she understands and does not understand at the same time. I would address these and other issues as part of growing up, but it scares me that every time she does not get her way, she talks about not seeing the reason to continue living. On one hand, I think she might be manipulating my fear, but at the same time I am so much afraid that she might do something to herself.

  • 5
    I don't see a question. I guess from the title "how can I help my daughter be more appreciative?", but there seem to be a lot of specific issues included. Suicide is too serious to trust to strangers on the internet, seek local support. – user26011 Oct 31 '17 at 20:07
  • Please keep comments or answers constructive: describing past failures that may have contributed to this point doesn't help the OP figure out how to proceed, does it? – Acire Nov 2 '17 at 17:40

Adjusting privileges for a teen or tween is a constant negotiation -- they want more freedom (later curfew, more internet), I have new worries (drugs, sex), and responsibilities/commitments (job, homework, activities, driving) keep increasing throughout middle and high school.

The key factor in how boundaries get set for my thirteen-year-old is whether she can make a mature argument in favor of what she wants.

  • If she has approached the issue with mature, rational thought, then she's acting like a grownup and gets more "grownup" privileges.
  • If she grumbles and says rude things and rolls her eyes, then she's acting like a child -- and children don't get "grownup" privileges.

If she wants grownup privileges, she needs a grownup attitude when asking for them. This models how the real world works. If I grumble and say rude things and roll my eyes at my boss, I won't be trusted with interesting projects, given flexibility to set my own deadlines, granted promotions and raises, and I eventually could lose my job altogether. (And then I don't have any of the nice things I currently do, like a house and a smartphone and a car...) I can't demand to be treated like an adult, I need to show that I am one.

When you're negotiating an adjustment to privileges, establish the boundaries and accountability clearly. She wants to do house chores on her own schedule? This can be worked out. Obviously "only when I am in the mood" is a non-starter, because things like meals and laundry continuously happen whether I'm looking forward to the cleanup or not. However, we can say "some time this evening" the dishes need to be done, or "by Sunday night" laundry for the week should be finished. If she demonstrates an ability to self-schedule, those boundaries can be continually expanded. If you're still at the very last possible moment reminding her that the dishes are piling up and her clothes are unwashed, she's still not taking responsibility and her right to not be nagged is going to be reduced. Again, one can't simply demand to be treated like an adult without demonstrating maturity and reliability; children get taught these things through repetition, reminders, and guidance from adults.

And you, as a parent, have to be willing to let her fail a little bit -- that is how she'll learn the value of rules and (self-)discipline. Let's take homework as an example: I have the experience to know that procrastinating is likely to lead to sloppy, rushed, or late/missing assignments, and so I've established a rule that it gets done promptly after school (before electronics, recreational reading, playing outside, etc.). Last year, my daughter asked to keep track of her own time and assignments.

She hadn't struggled with homework ever before. But she completely tanked. Dozens of assignments weren't turned in at all, others were late, she bombed a couple tests because she hadn't studied or done review homework... In hindsight, it was an excellent experience. She learned a lot, including that my involvement and "nagging" is useful. (She earned worse grades than usual that quarter, but I'd rather have that happen in middle school where the stakes are lower.) We've reached a compromise point and share responsibility in a way that works well for both of us.

It seems easiest to first address the specific freedoms you're saying she's asking for:

  1. Of course she can't stay out after dark (without adult supervision): that isn't even always safe for grown men and women. I tried walking to a movie theater by myself when I was 14, and I was solicited by a man who wanted me to get into his car. He backed off when I said I was 14, but it could have gone very badly for me if he hadn't. Another time my friend (at age 17) was out shopping at Walmart after dark and got stabbed in the parking lot. Basically, safety in numbers (adult numbers) is a thing. Though of course different cities/neighborhoods can be more or less safe.

  2. Not being rushed to do homework, well, it depends on what is meant by that. I like the suggestion in @ juditadovile's answer of letting her manage her own homework for a couple of weeks to see if she can handle motivating herself and getting it done in a timely manner - but in general a good system for homework seems to be that you can go as slowly as you please (so not rushed per se), provided that you get it done before engaging in any recreational activities.

  3. Of course she has to do chores. Unless she wants to contribute to the household in some other way, which at 12 she probably can't do, on account of being too young to work. It might be time to sit down and explain to her that everyone who benefits from the food, clothing, shelter, and amenities that go with living as part of the family must contribute to the creation/maintenance of those amenities. Dishes don't wash themselves, food doesn't cook itself, electricity doesn't pay for itself. You can list out that mom and dad contribute to the household in these ways, and she is expected to contribute in these other ways. If she thinks she is doing too much/ wants to manage her own chore schedule, maybe make her responsible for her own laundry in addition to whatever other chores she has, since she is the only one who will suffer if she drops the ball, and it will give her an opportunity to show that she can succeed at managing (part of) her own schedule. If her complaint is that it always interrupts her usual activities when you ask her to do her chores, maybe try giving her chore deadlines, but allowing her to choose at what point before that time she does the chore. You can address it as, "it sounds like you're asking me for more adult responsibility, so I'm going to let you have more responsibility and we'll see how it goes."

  4. As for the cell phone, I would ask what specifically she wants to be able to do that she currently can't, and go from there.

As far as being appreciative, I will say that it took becoming a parent for me to really appreciate my parents. Also, while you were clearly hurt by your daughter's claim that you're overprotective etc, that doesn't actually strike me as particularly harsh, especially from a pre-teen/teen. If you can, try to make your response, "Ok. I get that you feel that way. I still believe that the approach I'm taking is the best one for your growth, health and safety, both now and in your future life. So I'm not going to change anything at this time. But if you want to come to me with logical arguments for why the things you're suggesting would be better for you, then I would be open to listening to and considering those."

In a nutshell: I think she will become more appreciative if she is expected to do more and gets to experience the work that goes into life as a human. But- don't expect her to really get it for a long time - maybe til she's out on her own, maybe until she has her own children. Just realize it will probably happen eventually as she goes through life, and be patient. Because the teen years too shall pass.

She's gotten everything she wants and needed for most of her life and possibly it's really hard for her to hear "no."

Maybe she needs a small lesson on responsibility or earning your trust? For instance, she said she doesn't want to be rushed to do homework. Try making her a deal, you will stop rushing her to do homework for 1-2 weeks, BUT at the end of the 2 weeks (I'm not sure how long it takes for homework to reflect grades), if her grades fall, or if she's not doing any of her homework, etc... this is concrete proof of why you "rush her to do her homework." and why she NEEDS YOU to "take control" and she can learn why you are so "unfair" and "controlling." Because you don't want her to flunk out of school and make it a lot harder to achieve great things with her life in the future.

If she manages to keep her grades in top condition, then she's proven that you can loosen up on some rules, and maybe she'll feel like she has more control on herself. If she doesn't keep her grades up, she doesn't deserve that control to do her hw when she feels like it. Or house chores when she feels like it.

Possibly if she shows she has enough responsibility to do x, you can allow her one by one more control to do more. But she has to prove she can, and she can't prove that she can or can't do anything if you don't give her a little chance.

The staying out until it's dark is something I wouldn't do unless you went with her or there was a parent you knew that would walk her back or something though.

But do take the suicide thing seriously and possibly get more help if you see more signs of it. It's possible she's just saying something because she's angry and doesn't know anything else she could say that would affect you, but still don't take it lightly.

I'm not sure how to get her to appreciate the things you've already done for her though. It took me a while to appreciate what my parents did for me (maybe around 13-14 yrs old... when my mom lost her job). It's possible she'll grow out of it?

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.