20 answers

Teen Attitude and Withdrawal

My daughter who is 13 almost 14 (in june) is very moody and witdrawn. At first I just chalked it up to the age but now i find all these poems she has written and don't get me wrong they are beautiful but they seem to be very depressing from her point of view. We have a very open relationship or so I thought but now it seems there maybe something she feels she can't discuss with me.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to approach this subject for me. I really want to talk to her without scaring her off or having her tell me what she thinks I want to hear.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

thanks for all your stories some really helped. i have since talked to my daughter and though i'm not sure i got the whole story she has opened up quite a bit as we keeep the lines of communication open i hope she will talk more as she is ready. i have told her i think her poems are beautiful and how proud i am of her for them.

Thanks again for all your help.

Featured Answers

It is possible she is experiencing clinical depression. An appointment with a doctor may be a good first step. Seems all kids go through that angst at about 13, my girls were about 12 when I thought Pod People had invaded my home, lasted about a year and a half. Then it tapered off. But for some kids it doesn't.

Having an open relationship is wonderful, talking, especially for girls, really helps I think. You know her best & know if you think this is a possibility. Depression isn't always about feeling sad, just like anxiety isn't always about being anxious. It's just a chemical imbalance that needs a little medicinal help to get it corrected.

Best of luck to you.

More Answers

A., My story may help. My daughter wrote her first poem when she was 13 and we did not know she was writing at all till she was nearly 15, by which time her depression was beginning to show. Her poems were beautiful, she painted pictures with words, but as time went on they became darker. She started High School in the International Bacalaureat class. This was a course for gifted children. We did not push her to do this course, she came home with the information and we all went to a meeting at the school to find out more. Our daughter was determined to do this course, though we tried to dissuade her because we thought it would be too stressfull for a child going through puberty. The first year went well, though she was being a rebellious teenager and did get fits of moodiness. Her second year started good but after a few weeks the stress began to show, eventually we were getting phone calls from her teachers and she was getting F grades in everything. Her poetry became much darker, she cried a lot over minor things and shut herself in her room and would not communicate. We had brought her up to be independent and make her own informed decisions but at this point she was unable to make the correct decision for her own well being. On one hand she wanted desperately to do the course, on the other hand she was emotionally not up to it, but felt that she would be failing herself, us? society? if she dropped out. I was terrified that she would commit suicide, she kept saying she wished she was dead, that she was a horrible person, that she was no use to anyone. We made the decision that she drop out of the course into mainstream classes, where, because of her emotional state she still was getting F grades. During this time she started on medication for the depression. When
she was 16 she told us she wanted to drop out of school, and the teachers were horrified that we supported her in that decision, but she was so desperately unhappy at school, and her health was more important to us than her education at this point. She got a job, passed her GED and her emotions started to level. She made the decision to wean herself off the medication. All during this hard time we encoraged her poetry, and would ask her to read the new ones to us. Her poetry was an outlet for her teenage angst but also a guage of her mental state. We also saw her writing as a possible channel for her future. Though it was hard, and my daughter and I fought a lot, we also gave her space to be herself, lots of love and encoragement and support, and kept a close eye on her mental health. She is now nearly 24, has a good job, will get her Associates Degree this year and has plans to go to University possibly to do Anthropology and also English. Most teenagers experience some depression as they go through puberty and try to cope with the stresses that society places on them at the most vulnerable time in their lives, but in some cases the depression can get out of hand. You should keep a close eye on your daughter in this reguard. Good luck.

J. B

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A., I also have a 13 year old and she's in the seventh grade. She stays in her room alot and plays on her laptop most of the time. We are not hooked to the internet at home so I don't worry about her being online. I did ask her doctor about the withdrawal from family things and her spending so much time alone in her room. The doctor said at this age it is normal for them to entertain themselves and as long as her grades are not dropping and attitude seems o.k. not to worry too much. I am a christian mom (46 ys. old) and a teacher of second graders. I have bought a book titled How To Say It To Teens and I can't remember who it is by, but, it has tips on how to talk to them about things in their lives, what to say and not say. Also you may enlist your daughters to help. It seems like if she is depressed she needs to let it out and confide in someone perferrably a family member, or doctor. I am sure you pray about it but the Lord will help you and your daughter through this. Do you pray about it? I hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

I did the same thing. I would recommend not pushing her on anything in specific, like her being withdrawn. Just try to spend extra time with her, be extra accommodating, and a little extra loving. Not overwhelmingly so... just invite her along a lot. Like, find to time to say, "Hey, would you like to go to get our nails done today?" Or if money is an issue just, "Would you want to go to the mall with me? Would you like to make a cake? Want to invite a friend over tonight?" You get the idea, I'm sure. And if you're both bad at baking.. that just makes the cake thing way more fun. Haha.

Really. She might just be suffering from depression. Lots of teenagers do. School is a terribly hard social environment and then add in the hormonal changes, the dealing with coming into her own, and everything. Don't be overly anything with her. If you seem too worried, hurt, angry, annoyed, or too ANYTHING... she will feel overwhelmed. The best advice I can give is try to include her and spend time with her, but always be very chilled out. It will help her relax a little.

If you are aggressive about this... she will resent you for it. And she will only want to push you away. DO NOT FORCE YOURSELF INTO THIS. Teenagers, especially edgy or depressed ones, do not respond well at all to forceful or demanding behavior. And about the don't let her go anywhere unless you're there??? That will make her crazy. She's 13. She needs her independence. Don't get overly worked up or scared. She just needs a little extra love, one on one time, and support. She'll most likely open up to you if you are consistent. Even if she pushes you away at first and declines your invitations, she will come around.

You also might want to think about treating her to special alone time. Like, set her up with bath salts, some candles, a good books she'd like, maybe even a fruit tray in the bathroom. Just give her an hour or two to pamper herself by herself. Every girl needs a good pampering! If you did that maybe once every two weeks, it could help her nerves a lot.

Plus, the poems are a good thing. It's helping her vent and express herself.

I wish you the best of luck and please let us know how it goes!!!

1 mom found this helpful


I think that you are doing well letting her know that you care and that you are there for her when she is ready to talk. She has 2 other sisters, how is there relationship? I have 4 sisters and I am the middle child like your daughter. It helped me when I went through things to talk to my older sister.

I also work with a lot of young girls ages 11-18 weekly and I do see and hear poems like those you speak of. It helps them to be around other girls and other positive adults. Girls are able to find out that they are not the only ones dealing with some things and they also find out that Mom is not the only old lady who has a particular point of view when it comes to her happiness.

Just keep doing what you are doing, A.. I think that your daughter will do just fine. You seem like a wonderful mom who "pays great attention". Best of luck!


1 mom found this helpful

My daughters are now adults.

I remember - THAT STAGE. [1 daughter was much more difficult then the other - so they are not all alike] Depression seems to be part of 'the change' for some [definitely one of my daughters]

I learned - it will pass - but it is so difficult.

I read a really good book at that time called - PARENTING ADOLESCENTS [Kevin Huggins - I think]. I learned that raising teens is like navigating whitewater... It had a very good perspective on those troubling times.

Sounds like you already have a good foundation.

Keep the lines of communication as open as possible [without pressure]- Be available when they are ready to open up... [Unless you feel that the depression is not merely hormonal and is leaning toward suicidal]Doesn't sound like...

You have the most important thing beautifully in order. You care. Your daughter sees that...

Remember - it really does pass. [For most - there are exceptions, but don't panic yet. How you described it - sounds pretty normal]

My daughters and I are best friends now.

{I understand why God made babies so cute. If they came out as teenagers - the human race would never have continued :)]

1 mom found this helpful

I hate to say it, but it sounds like she's depressed. I've been depressed since my grandfather passed when i was 14. My parents just chalked it up at me just wanting attention, and they still do. They chastised me and made me feel guilty for "wanting attention". Which has kept me from seeking necessary help. Please do not overlook her moods, she may not know how to ask for help. But don't push the subject either. Tell her that she can talk to you about anything and you won't judge her; that you just want to be there for her and hate to see her so hurt and upset and it bothers you to see her this way. Don't tell her about the poems, that will upset her more. The best thing for you to do is to open the door for her to open up to you, but do not push, that may only drive her further away.

1 mom found this helpful

Is your seventeen-year-old daughter mature enough to help you with this situation? Perhaps she can help you. I'm not suggesting that you send her in as a spy, but perhaps the two of you could talk with your younger daughter together. Of course, then you face the dilemma of her thinking that you are "ganging up on her."
Did you just happen upon the letters accidentally, did your daugher leave them where you could easily find them, or did she actually give you the poems herself? The answer to this question can tell you whether she is ready to talk. Whatever you do, don't let this go on for too long without either talking to her yourself, suggesting she talk to a school counselor, or making arrangements for other professional counseling. As a high school teacher, I know that kids this age feel everything with much more passion and emotion than an adult would. Although something may seem trivial to you, don't trivialize it when speaking with your daughter. It will just alienate her. "But, Mom, you don't understand!" Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Ask her if she wants to talk to you about it or if she would prefer to talk to someone else. If she wants to talk to someone else talk to your youth pastor or call the Child Advocacy Center in Cookeville and get a recommendation on a good therapist for a teenage girl.

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