J.E. asks from Fall River, MA on April 27, 2007
My Thirteen Year Old Daughter Behavior Changed Drastically Overnight
I need some help. I have a 13 year old daughter whos behavior changed within the last six months drastically. I went online to look at files shes been looking at and she was on myspace which I have told her about that website and forbid her not to go there at all, but she did anyways, and the way she was talking and the pics of her on there made me sick. She was at a friends house when she did this a friend that now she cannot talk to. So she was punished off the computer until I can trust her again and punished from the phone any school stuff activities or any sleepovers for two weeks well in the meantime she has a cell phone because I do like to know where she is at all times and its easy for her to contact me if there is no phone around. Well I dont know maybe it was a moms intuition but I decided to look at her cell phone and seen a msg from aol screenname saying that she was still online. I was like huh? what did that person mean? I went online through her cell phone and found that she was on aim to contact her friends that way and she forgot to sign out well she used all our minutes and the bill was 512.00 dollars. she said she will pay for it with her allowance but I dont know if that is a good thing to do but I am doing it now but feeling a little guilty but that is another story. So everything was ok after awhile. Well one day again mothers intuition she was on the phone off punishment and is not allowed to speak to that girl witht he myspace situation still or ever dont want her around my daughter well anyways, she was on the phone in my room strange never in my room on the phone but decided to ask her who she was talking to? She told me a girls name that I dont mind her talking to but I didnt believe her so I said oh can I say hi, she looked so scared turned whiter then white and handed me the phone well when I said hi and whos this the girl was the myspace girl and she lied to me too the nerve of her so I told the girl not to contact my daughter and hung up and again my daughter was punished. Well two weeks passed shes gotten detention twice for petty stuff but mind you she wasnt a bad kid at all she has never ever gave me reason not to trust her. Today I found out also she forged my name on some envelope that the teacher hands her to let me know what she does in class or what shes not doing in class. Is it ever going to stop??? I know teen years are hard but this is just the tip of the iceburg there is other stuff shes done these past six months that I just dont understand how she changed so drastically. I sat her down and asked her straight up are u drinking or on drugs? She looked at me like I was stupid the look gave me doubts bad doubts so what I am asking is she has a drs appt in a couple of weeks for her wcc do I ask the dr for drug testing? I think I should but again I do feel guilty about looking at her this way but shes my daughter and I want to catch whatever it is now not later when its too late. Oh yeah her moodswings are horrible, her grades havent been good she dropped a grade or two on almost every subject. I am a single parent and just had a little one I was thinking to myself maybe its because I have a baby and she wants attention but it was starting before my little one was here, Can someone please help me? I dont know what else to do obviously punishing her doesnt matter, and everytime I punish her im feeling so guilty that literally get sick over it. Please respond on what I should do or if I am doing the right thing? Thank you all so much.
So What Happened?™
Thanks for all the responses omg it helps. I feel guilty with the punishment stuff because I am a single parent and I dont want her hating me, but I punished her shes in her room and it doesnt help with the guilt much for me because today is such a beautiful day out. As for myspace that has been deleted after showing her what I saw so she doesnt have access to that anymore which I dont know if shes done another one but she doesnt have access to the home computer anymore I have a password so she cant get on it. Cell is shut off I figure I took a year off work to be home with my little one so I will drop and pick her up so she dont need access to the cell phone anymore and she is not allowed to go to any friends houses or any school activities until I can trust her again but they are allowed to come here when shes off punishment but it seems that shes is always on it lately. I know shes 13 and shes a gullable 13 yr old if she were strong and independant like do what she wants to do not what her friends want to do I would have more trust but shes so innoncent and such a follower that it scares me. I was awful at her age to my mother but my mom was not very good to me I had a very bad upbringing and I think that is where the guilt comes in and when I was 13 I was the leader amongst my friends not the follower I did what I wanted to do not them. And, last but not least I called her dr yesterday afternoon shes a great dr knows all my kids by name when she sees us at a store shes wonderful I love her dearly and we had a heart to heart talk because I have no family and no one to turn too so she is going to do a drugtest for her and talk to her and get pamphlets about how harmful each drug can be and put it in her chart ready for her visit. Again thanks to all its so hard being a mother nowadays single parenting or two parents in the household its very very hard. I love my children more then life itself and I just want them to be happy, healthy and good adults I am not asking much of my children I am asking what any mother wants. I know she will see it when she has kids of her own. THanks again and you are all in my prayers. J.
S.C. answers from Bangor on April 28, 2007
My heart goes out to you. I just got thru the teenage years with two of my kids. It's tough!
Let's take this one step at a time.
I like the prepaid phone idea. Then she has a "bill" of her own to be responsible for. If you want her to stay on her current plan then I would call your cell company and ask what feature they have for blocking data. Instant messaging uses what's called data transfer which is seperate from your minute usage. This would keep her from getting online with her phone.
I also agree with contacting myspace and telling them to remove the profile. My sister found a myspace page that one of my nieces made. She contacted them and they removed the profile.
Do it! She is showing some of the "symptoms" of possible drug use. She's made it so you are going to doubt everything because she chose to lie to you. As was mentioned you can get the drug tests in any drug store now. They are pretty inexpensive too.
Bottom line is nothing should keep you from parenting your child. Including guilt. Parents make tough choices and kids do not always understand or agree which is fine. Their kids! It's our job to raise them to be good adults and if that means doing things that make them mad or think we're unfair then so be it.
My rule was while your in my house your right to privacy was very limited. I always knocked and waited before entering their room but that room was in my house and they knew that if I chose to look around then that was my right. Same thing with the computer. The computer is in a common area so I could pop in at anytime. If I saw something I didn't approve of I let them know. Now did all my "rules" stop all bad behaviour? NO! But it allowed me to get a handle on things.
Good Luck to you!
1 mom found this helpful
A.S. answers from Providence on April 28, 2007
i remember as a teen i racked up a $400 long distance phone bill and i had to make weekly payments to my parents from my babysitting job to pay it off and had very strict phone rules after. ithink you are doing a great job with your consequences to behavior. i just want to suggest that you may want to look into counseling for your daughter also. i remember doing things as a teen and my parents swore i was on drugs and i can honestly say i wasn't,but i had no explanation for my behavior. looking back i think i should have probably been treated for depression. i did go to counseling as a teen and that helped alot with dealing with issues i had but didn't know how to put it into words or deal with built up resentment, (not knowing my dad, stepfather, moving, ect..)it was nice to have someone to confide in that i felt was on my side. i fought it at first but once the couselor built up report i looked forward to sessions, it was also a useful tool to communicate with my parents on "neutral" territory.
i hope everything works out for you and your daughter.
1 mom found this helpful
H.W. answers from Providence on April 27, 2007
Oh, J.. 13 is such a tough age to deal w/as a parent AND to deal w/as a teenager. It's also a pretty good bet that puberty isn't helping her situation either.
I'm going to start w/the cellphone situation. First, I had a similar problem w/my son, but it was text messaging w/his friends and g/fs back & forth. I shut that phone off & got my son a prepaid phone. His allowance paid for his minutes and he learned REAL fast not to text (or get texts from) anyone.
Next, the MySpace situation. If you have your daughter's email address & the password she used to even have a MySpace account, you can sign in to her account & cancel it. If you don't have the password, but know the email address she uses, you can contact MySpace Customer Service (directly from the MySpace website) and request that they cancel her account, as she is underage according to MySpace rules & terms, and that she never had your permission to create a MySpace account. <-You have to specify these. They'll have her profile deleted in a matter of hours. I sincerely hope that she has not met (or attempted to meet) anyone she has been in contact w/on IM or MySpace.
Next, the drug testing situation. This topic is touchy for ANY parent. Your daughter's doctor will tell you that there are home test kits available for purchase at most major pharmacy chains (e.g. Walgreens) and you can conduct the drug test in the privacy of your own home. If you are not comfortable w/drug testing your daughter at home, you can contact her doctor's office & find out from them if they can set it up for her upcoming appointment.
The school problems are another situation that can't be ignored, & you know that as well as I do. To your knowledge, is there an on-site counselor at the school she attends that she can talk w/on a regular basis? That might help, having someone to talk to when she needs it. If there isn't, you just might want to consider taking her to a psychologist for counseling. I have a psychologist I see about twice a month out in N. Dartmouth, and that woman is a godsend! You can give her a call & set up an appointment (if you want more information, send me a private message & I'll send it to you).
J.R. answers from Boston on May 29, 2007
I feel your pain. i have a daughter who turned 15 last week. I have gone through similar stuff with the sneakiness. I took her computer away for a whole year when she was 13, I have also taken the cell phone, but when i did that she had to go to school, and come home right after. She is now in high school and plays sports every season, so she doesn't really have time to socialize. The last time i had a problem with her friends, i told her that if she couldn't be responsible enough to choose her friends wisely, i would put her in a different school, different environment. I haven't had a problem with her since then. My advice would be to keep her busy with chores, family stuff, etc.
Oh, and welcome to the teenage girl years!!
N.C. answers from Portland on April 28, 2007
Girls are tricky. I was one much worse than your daughter at that age, I felt like if I could tell my parents who they could be friends with, then they could tell me, but less that, I was going to do whatever I wanted to do and be friends with whoever I wanted. It was NEVER my friends that made me do things, I only did what I wanted to do, I was strong minded, as I still am.
Now, I think there's something parents forget about when it comes to protecting their child - teach your child to respect themself, to respect their body, and to respect NOT fear you. Your daughter is going to do all the things you don't want her to do and thensome.
Hormonal changes and a new sibling (even before they're born), a large homework load, large class sizes at school where there's a lack of personal attention - like - if you raise your hand in class because you don't understand something and by the time you're called on your question isn't relevant to what the teacher's going over now - or if you don't ask questions because you don't want the other kids to get annoyed because they're past you, if you don't get along well with and have respect for who's teaching you the material, or maybe you're above average in something and you're bored with the material, and having natural human curiousity, is enough to overwhelm your daughter...
And she's so young that she's living moment to moment and doesn't understand that what she does now could effect her future, and even if you tell her all the bad things that could happen, she's not going to take it to heart unless it happens to her or someone she knows. So I would say to do your best to get creative and educate her on everything she may come to face, like if she so desperately wants to use MySpace or AIM - have her write a paper on the pros and cons of teenage use of the internet, then in the conclusion have her argue why she should be able to use it - tell her if she can make a good arguement, maybe you'll let her use these things with some guidelines that don't totally invade her privacy but that let her know you will be keeping an eye on her, have her research sexual predators murders of teens that have occurred from these sites, if you do decide to let her have a myspace page - make her make it private where only people she adds as friends can view her page, tell her she can only have "friends" on her page that she already knows in person, let her know that without notice you're going to ask to see her page to check her friends list and the content of her page, don't pry too much but check her inbox and sent mail to make sure she's not talking to strangers, make sure she's there at the time and handle issues on the spot, etc. teach her to make educated decisions, but let her make choices for herself, if she does something you see as unacceptable, try to be understanding, put yourself where she is and really be careful how you talk to her about your feelings, and if you disagree on something ask her this question "why don't you trust my judgement?" - she could see you in two different ways depending on how you express your concern - a control freak that just doesn't understand her OR an understanding mom who's opinion & feelings she respects & trusts.
And about drugs and alcohol, have you heard of the A&E show Intervention? it's on at 10 on Friday nights, it's pretty graphic, but I think it could be a really good educational tool for both of you, you can see what leads people in and out of drug & alcohol use, and she can see just how easy it is to ruin your life from one bad decision, try engaging her in conversation about what's happening to the people and see how she feels, get her thinking about these things, hopefully she'll see how bad it could get, and that it happens to people from all walks of life, not just to people coming from bad homes, or dumb people, or poor people, etc., and in seeing this it will make her feel sad and scared that this happens to people and not want it to happen to her or anyone she knows, and in seeing that accepting help is never a bad thing - successful or not - she may feel more comfortable coming to you asking for help if she has an issue.
I've "talked you ear off" by now so I'm going to just say - try to be understanding, open-minded, accepting,and educating, and continue giving her your unconditional love, so that you become her rock, her strength and confidant, not her adversary.
Best of luck, hope this will help.
E.F. answers from Boston on April 28, 2007
being there and have done it all my self ....i feel like you two need to bulid some trust in each other...set small goals
for her...be home by 6pm or have your chores done by 12 pm on a saturday...before she goes out with her friends....rebellion
is natural...pick your battles... maybe invite the girl over
from my space and build a relationship with her too.. it's always more fun to get a reactions out of a parent then to find a parent that is calm...give her a chance to talk and make it a open forum....i dread the day my daughter becomes that age but open the lines of communication ....i know you are trying, but maybe she doesn't see it that way...
P.D. answers from Providence on May 04, 2007
Hi J... I too have a 13 yr old daughter.. Really cannot wait until this "phase" passes. Anyway, the one thing I have learned is that punishment just makes them more mad at us! I absolutely agree with the drug testing. I actually manage a doctors office and many parents do it.. you do not even have to tell her.. You can just tell her its routine blood work if you want. Or, you can tell her the truth and when she freaks out, tell her if she was not so sneaky about everything else, this would not even be a thought in your head! 13 yr old girls are very sneaky.. I actually allowed my daughter to create a myspace BUT then created one for myself and have my children, nieces and my daughters friends on my page so I can monitor without being the bad mom and just not allowing it. It actually worked out very well for me. My daughter helped me set up my page and thinks its pretty cool.. (Believe me, I am not the kind of mother who wants to be cool or be friends with my daughter.. She knows that is not the case.) IF I go on her page and see something I do not like, I tell her to take it off. She begged me for a very long time before I gave in... We had a nice talk before I allowed iy and I told her their would be rules. The other thing I suggest is time for just the two of you.. I take my daughter out at least twice a month for "our" time. We usually get our nails done and go get something to eat. When she is not behaving as I would like, I refuse to let her get that treat and it really upsets her because she likes it so much. I am sure you are very busy with a baby and a 16yr old with down syndrome.. She is probably feeling like she is stuck in the middle and believe me, if you forbid her to do anything, she WILL do it anyway behind your back. IF this behavior continues, I would consider counseling.. It certainly can't hurt! Good luck.
D.S. answers from Boston on April 28, 2007
I just wanted to let you know that there is nothing you did wrong. I went through this with my oldest daughter and it really is the teen years. They test their independence. They know other kids with more freedom to do whatever and want that same freedom. I wish they would understand that we are doing this for their best interest but they think they know better. She will always find a way around her punishments no matter how hard you try to stay on top of her. It is only going to stress you out more and may cause further issues later on. I wish there was a simple solution but there really isn't. If you have family members or friends that can watch the other two kids maybe you could try to spend the day with her. Sorry I can't be of too much help but you are not alone.