October 14, 2009,
M.S. asks from Charleroi, PA on October 13, 2009
16 Year Old Daughter
My daughter has just turned 16 in September. She is for the most part a good kid. She has her head on straight (most of the time), but loves to give me a hard time. It feels like I have lost all controll of things when it comes to her. She no longer has the respect for me she once did, and can be very disrespectful, and quite mean and hurtful. She is a sophmore in college prep highschool wich is 2 hours away from home. Last year she could not wait to go, Her brother is a senior at another high school prep school, Now this year she faught with us ,her dad and I, that she did not want to return to this school. Now my thoughts on this are as follows: 1 It;s not as fun as she thought it was going to be, and 2 her friends back here have really been pulling her back. i think they are filling her head with negative things, like we just don't want her here, and we are being bad parents, and they also want her here for themselves. But, we do not want her to give up on this, just because it was harder than she thought or just because her friends want her back. this is an excellent chance for her to get into a good college, wich she wants to do. I kills me when she has to leave, but she has stated many times to me that I am full of it. Along with all the problems a teenage girl goes through anyhow, this is makeing things worse. I just don't want her to regret not finishing this school. There has been a lot of fighting this summer and now. There are times when I feel like I'm loosing my mind. Nothing seems to please this girl. Help!
C.H. answers from Allentown on October 13, 2009
the local school district is not a good one?
Maybe she wants to be close to home while she can be. She is getting older and yes friends do become more important.Also maybe she wants to stay closer to you and her dad, very reasonable desire and one that should be cherished. She'll be out on her own soon enough.
Remember its not the school that counts its what you make out of it.
B.D. answers from Philadelphia on October 13, 2009
Have you asked her why she does not want to go back to school? Maybe it is time for a family meeting with her. Let her know why it is important for her to go to this school then hear why she does not want to go. She may have valid reasons. If she is really upset maybe you can all work something out. For example, if she does come home then she must keep her grades to up to an agreed point and join a club, sport or activity to help her get into collage. As for the "teenage attitude," that is pretty normal. Not ok, but normal. When she is using an undesirable tone, address it.
"You sound really upset." leave it at that and see if it helps her open up.
If the tone persists:
"You sound really upset and that is all right, but please use a nicer tone with me."
It will take a bit but if you stay calm and understanding but strong her tone will change.
I would love to hear how it all turns out.
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B.W. answers from Erie on October 14, 2009
Does she also have friends at the prep school ? Do you ever invite her to have them come home with her on a weekend ? Do you have an opportunity to talk to a guidance counselor, so you can get a more whole picture of what is going on ?
She's 16. My almost 16 year old is the most centered teen I know, but she, too, is exhibiting some of those, "parents are stupid" kinds of things. They are setting themselves apart from their parents, and trying to live that way. . . .just keep a very long tether. As long as she is trustworthy, allow her some leeway to be different from you, and always welcome her back. She won't be there forever. (yeah, I need to hear my own advice -- thanks !)
And then with school ? Why don't you tell her that you've paid for this year already. If she gives it a good try, works at making friends, and still isn't happy there, you will consider having her come back to her own home district for her jr and sr years. . . She can even shadow her home school in Feb or March -- it won't hurt anything, and it might open her eyes. She might find that the school she's at is MUCH better and more interesting. You never know.
the other thing is that kids are online so much, that she can talk to her friends when she's away at prep school anyway -- so she can have both worlds then, whereas, if she comes back home, she will be pretty much just with one group of friends.
and, honestly, she's had a good start to high school. Usually the smart kids will excell whereever they go to school. If she comes back home and is happier, and continues to get accolades at school, there are worse things than that in life. . . . :-)
On the other side, be sure to get her active in the decision making process. . . . Let her know it's a family decision (you, dad and her) Make written lists together of what you are looking for in a school, then judge each school on those qualities, and let her judge, too. So you each score both schools. Teachers, accessability of teachers, friendliness of students, feeling of "home", and quality of education, kinds of courses -- for instance, our daughter is in a magnet school (living at home) that she chose, cuz she hated going to our local school, and she is taking German, which isn't offered here. She's also taking an AP English course which is VERY intensive, and I'm impressed that she's doing it as a sophomore. Homework has definately kicked up a notch over last year which was twice the homework the local kids have . . . but she doesn't ever want to return, so she sticks with it. She has some good friends from our local district, but especially this year is finding some really wonderful friends where she is. And I'm increasingly happy for her . . . but her relationship with me ? Well, I have to bite my tongue a whole lot. daily. :-) I'm waiting for 18 when it begins to turn back the other way . . . . ????? . . . I have 2 adult daughters, 28, and 26, and both of them call home often, so I guess it really does go back to normal at some point -- I just don't really remember where that is !
Good luck, M., and hang in -- I gave my husband a quick version of your letter, and he said, "Are you writing to yourself today ?" I'm with you all the way on this one !!!
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S.R. answers from Pittsburgh on October 14, 2009
Hey M., Why is so importany that she attend a school 2 hours away? What is wrong with the schools that are closer? 2 hours is a huge distance.... does she travel daily back and forth? If so, that is a huge strain for a 16 year old, especially if her friends are in her neighborhood. I would rethink the school decision, talk to her and make a decision together.
N.H. answers from Pittsburgh on October 14, 2009
I am not one to let my children quit ie. give up on a commitment mid stream. I prefer making a level headed decision and sticking to it one year at a time. However, it sounds like your daughter did not really have a voice in this decision to go this year, which means that she is not invested in it. Your daughter is a Virgo. In astrology Virgos are known for having very high standards of integrity for themselves and for those around them! Coupled with the idealism of a teen, and here is a child who is prone to disappointment with Mom, with self, with teachers and even with friends... because in real life, no one can live up to those high expectations and the world is not quite that perfect. She is probably hard on herself. It is not an easy decision, but I would let her make her decision and respect it, give her support and believe in her. Good luck.
L.G. answers from Allentown on October 14, 2009
Sounds like she's conflicted--she wants to be home AND she wants independence (LOL--I certainly did at that age!). She is letting you know that she wants to be home, but she's also trying to assert her independence by being a bit bitchy. And again, I did that, too--my father, bless his soul, was raising 5 kids alone and would often say to me with a smile, "I sure hope I survive your teen years!" Thank goodness we both survived it!
An awful experience in a great school is still an awful experience.
She needs her mom. You want her. 2 hrs. away is too much for you both (my .02). I went to public schools, got a good education, a Ph.D, and am doing fine. It's less about the prep school, and actually less about the actual college, than what she does while there, her enthusiasm for learning, her mentors, and what she does once she finishes.
Best of luck!
M.M. answers from Philadelphia on October 14, 2009
I am sorry to hear about your troubles. I have a young child but the reason your entry struck a cord with me is because I went through a similar situation with my mom, when I was in high school. You are absolutely correct. She will regret not finishing. During this time of life for a teenage girl nothing is more important than that present moment. They tend not to think about the future as much. I lashed out at my mom and we were not very close until years later after school was finished. My parents used to tell me that I should listen to them because they have been there done that, and they could help me from making mistakes that I would regret. I did not listen at first and made my mistakes and learned the hard way. However, after a few mistakes it started to sink in. Now thinking back, I pushed and pushed to get what I wanted and now I wished my parents would have been stronger and not let me do that. I know it is hard but be firm and strong. Let her know what the expectations are and do not waver from them. Reward her occasionally when she does well but take privelges away when she does not. She is not going to be your best friend for a while. She will say mean and hurtful things, but in your heart know that it is hormones and all the bull aside she does love you. If it is any consolation myself and all my bratty friends from back in the day are all extremely close to our mothers now! Be strong! It is too easy for young girls to be led astray, and if you feel bad now for being strict then you will really feel bad if she comes home pregnant, on drugs, etc.etc. Hang in there! You two will make it through the dreaded teens!
S.V. answers from Philadelphia on October 14, 2009
Being the mom of a 17 year old son and a 15 year old daughter, I am right there with you in the attitude department and losing my mind : ) We were very close and did everything together, and talked about all kinds of stuff together. It recently became less frequent quite suddenly -- when summer came and my daughter and her friends decided they wanted to be independent now that they were going to high school. And my son decided he needed to get ready to leave home for college. The story is longer, but it's just to make a point. It was, and is, a rough adjustment for all of us. I appreciate the advice you received -- for me to use as well.
You received some good advice, and I will echo some of it. Try to stay calm (and I emphasize the "try" as it is sometimes very difficult). There will be many times she will not like what you say just because it is you who says it, but she will listen even if she doesn't acknowlege that she is listening. So make your words count as best you can. Remind her that you are making her do /not allowing her to do (fill in blank) because you love her and want to help her make good decisions. Don't let her talk to you disrespectfully; remind her calmly that you are still her mother and you will listen to anything she has to say but she has to say it respectfully. You will have to remind her of this many, many times.
As for the school part, I totally agree with the advice to have a "play date" (love the wording). Go somewhere just the two of you -- driving, shopping, baking in the kitchen when the others aren't around -- whatever will work. Get her to talk rationally and without drama (but don't use those words). Someone provided a checklist of good questions to ask -- but don't make it sound like it is an interview. Once you find out the real reasons she doesn't want to go to the school, you then have something to work with.
I agree that you get out of school what you put into it. But it does matter what school she goes to -- she has to be comfortable there. She sounds smart, so she needs to go to a school where it's okay to be smart and she's not the "geek" who gets shunned or picked on. Does it have to be a college prep school to get into college? No. But it has to be a place that will challenge her and help her work to her potential. It's a tough call on whether you are letting her "give up" on the prep school, or finding a place that is a better fit for her.
But she's also 16, and needs some down time and time with her family and friends. Even if she pretends not to like her family, or believes it right now, she really does need the support and love of her family. It's a tough balancing act, and we only really know if it was right after the fact. You have to go with your gut and with what you think is best. But you may feel better about your decision once you know what's driving her dislike of school.
Best of luck to you. This is not one of the fun parts of being a parent.
Editorial note: Perhaps someone should film various arguments with teens and their parents. It should be required viewing for all teens from 14 to 18 -- I can't imagine a more effective method of birth control : )
T.D. answers from Pittsburgh on October 14, 2009
I went through hell last year with my 16 year old. I took her to the drs and they did blood work and it was her horemones and they can't help it. She is doing alot better now and a girl child again. Even she said she don't know why she did some of the things she did. but why a school 2 hours away i think she wants to be with her friends at her home town school.
good luck T.