Am I Too Strict?

Updated on June 12, 2017
K.M. asks from Green Bay, WI
8 answers

My 16 year old daughter thinks I'm too strict. She says everyone else is allowed to do things that she can not. This weekend she told me she was invited to a block party and wanted to go with a few friends. She said she'd only go for a short period of time if I even allowed her. I allowed her to go. Every time I called/facetimed her she didn't answer but would message me saying she wasn't getting service. So I told her to be home at 8pm no later. (This was an hour later, she had already been there 3 hours) she said ok at 8 she wasn't home so I called her and she said she had her grandmother pick her up and they'd be home in a half hour. I was outraged! Come to find out she was in another city. When she got home I grounded her because 1 I told her to be home at 8. And 2 she never said she was going somewhere 30 minutes away. I then found out from another kids parent that this was a graduation party and the cops had been there 2 times and gave out 15 underage drinking tickets. There were no adults there it was some kids family cabin. This all happened after My daughter left. When I told her about this she said well ayeast she wasn't there but the only reason she wasn't there was because I MADE her come home. Her response was she didn't do anything wrong. My daughter just wrote me a letter telling me I make her life miserable because she keeps getting grounded. I feel like if she followed the rules she wouldn't get grounded. She said I do anything I can to ground her. If she could she would sit in her room on social media all day every day. She wouldn't have chores or responsibilities. She would be allowed to go to parties where there is drinking and drugs and I would be ok with that. She would be allowed to go to boys house and in their bedroom and have a "make out sesh" She said she won't have memories to look back on because I don't allow her to do anything. She lies and tells me it's my fault she lies. She is rude and crabby and so uncomfortable to be around unless she wants permission to do something and then she's as sweet as pie. What can I do? I'm at my witts end. I can not wait until she's 18 and on her own and I won't be responsible for her. Anyone please any suggestions? What can I do instead of giving up. I was a teen mom. Her dad has never given a penny or a second of his time. I was a rebellious teen with no rules no chores no responsibilities. I thought I was grown when I was 12. I moved out and got pregnant at 16. My mother never taught or showed me responsibility. Yes I'm so very frustrated. Based on what I went thru as a child I'm doing my very best to teach responsibility. Owning up to your actions. I would lie and my mom would be like ok. My daughter lies and I want her to know I know. I raise my kids knowing I'm raising adults not children. Maybe this isn't the place since people think I'm a troll. No I'm not. I'm a real person reaching out because I don't know anywhere else to go. A troll? Really? Me or you? All I'm doing is asking for advice because I'm lost and unsure of what to do. But you feel the need to judge me. Sorry I've never raised a teenager before. Sorry I want to do my best. Sorry I'm trying. Smh. I actually AM looking for advice and I adj actually willing to change. Btw my mother is a millionaire and caters to my daughter. My daughter has no room for anything and I tell my mom that and they sneak clothes and makeup in. $900 of makeup last week. These things make my daughter not even respect me. She can ask me and I say no but ask her rich grandmother for anything and she gets it. I'm struggling to pay monthly bills/rent and my daughter gets what she wants. I tell my mom to stop and they sneak behind my back.

What can I do next?

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Featured Answers

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Find some counseling for parents of troubled teens.
They'll tell you what you can do.
If she gets arrested - don't bail her out.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

ALL teens think their parents are too strict. Teen years are hard for parents and teens.

PLEASE don't wish her life away so fast. I want to believe you made that comment from the anger you feel right now. She'll be up and out before you blink. Treasure the moments you have because there is NO guarantee for tomorrow. I lost count on how many young teens were killed in our community this year in car accidents. It was horrible.

I get why you're upset but you could have acted proactively here as well. She also acted immaturely by not communicating with you.

When my daughter was invited to parties there was no question that I have a conversation with the host parent to ensure adults would be present. That's just the way it was or she didn't go.

As for underage drinking, she was gone when the police came.... from what you know. IF she had an underage ticket then SHE would be responsible for that and getting it off her record. My friends son got one in April and instead of being with friends on weekends prepping for graduation, he was doing community service and paid ALL fees with money he earned from his job. He still has to go pay legal fees to get it expunged from his record.

You have to walk a fine line at this age because they think they are so ready to have the strings untied and be independent but in reality they still need loving guidance to make good choices.

Try not to be too hard on her and remember what stunts you pulled when you were her age!!

I'm glad she felt comfortable enough to call grandmother. My grandmother was my go to person and I was much closer to her than I ever was with my mom.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

You are not too strict! You can learn more helpful ways to deal with her. Ask questions before say yes. Where is the party. Who will be there, adults and kids. I require knowing my granddaughters friends before i agree to anything. Names, addresses, phone numbers, parent names and phone number. I asked for and got a list from my granddaughter. She came to live with me when she was 15 1/2.

For several months I or a parent of friend, took her and picked her up. I met friends and parents 1 or 2 at a time. I suggest that requring her to do this until you feel you can trust her is a natural consequence that teaches her what you need to trust her. She will fight you. She may leave anyway. Have a consequence if she does. Taking away her phone is also a natural consequence. She uses it to get in touch with friends so that she can be with them.

This will not be easy. She will test and fight. Do not get hooked into fighti g. Tell her what you expect and walk away. A favorite word is "never the less" Never the less i expect this before you can do this. Repeat as needed. Be sure to leave before you get angry. Act confident until you feel confident. I talk with parents as one way to know what other teens are doing, not doing. Teens always say everyone else is doing it. Never the less i require this

I suggest you work on this one issue until you think you can trust her.

You are her Mom. You decide based on your values. Don't pay attention to everyone.else get's to. You are in charge. It's your responsibility to keep her safe. Approach from the idea of safety. You are also teaching her how to be responsible.

Don't argue with her. She will not agree with you. Act like you feel confident until yu actually feel confident.

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A.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

Well, we use the Life360 GPS app on all of our family phones. We have a 17 and 15 year old. My 17 year old has a history of getting in trouble, and can be a handful. She is better now than she used to be. Still, we use this app as kind of an "electronic leash." I can see where she is at and I don't have to constantly call or text her, which was silly, because then of course she could lie anyway. The one time last week she decided to "turn off her GPS" we were all over her immediately. She came home very quickly, and we alcohol/drug tested her (she was clean) She lost her phone and car for awhile for breaking one of our rules with her phone. When she is out with her peers she has often not answered my calls, which is highly annoying. I know she doesn't want the embarrassment of being heard talking to a parent. I can understand that, but I at least expect her to be text communicating with me.

I will say that for us, grounding did not work well as a consequence. Having my daughter stay home and doing absolutely nothing was shear torture, and it just made our relationship and everything worse. She rebelled even more. It was much better when we did not "ground" her, but rather tightened the reigns on where she went and who she was with. In other words, we didn't just allow her to go off by herself, but if a friend I knew well and trusted came over to hang out, or picked her up to go to an approved place, I was OK with that. She could also still go out and do things with family and other adult relatives. We wanted to encourage her getting out and staying busy with positive people and activities.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

"None of my friends have parents who do this" is a pretty standard teen answer. Don't let it get to you.

I think your daughter doesn't understand that choosing the behavior means choosing the consequences. I don't think parents have to police a child to the point of knowing which store in the mall they're in every second, but not knowing the city she's in? Your kid lied to you, plain and simple. And if I understand you correctly, she knew this was an unsupervised party and that she supposedly had every intention of being there had you not "made her" come home. She's clearly putting all the responsibility on you, saying you make her lie and are ruining her life - but that just clearly shows she's too immature to handle adult responsibilities.

I would calmly tell her that she'd be having a lot more fun if she didn't lie and participate in (or wish to participate in) illegal things that are supremely dangerous. And I think if you point out the swings from "crabby" to "sweet as pie" and say that there needs to be a lot less of one and a lot more consistent presence of the other, you might start to gain some ground. The way she will earn more privileges is if she becomes trustworthy, and that means the exact opposite of being more of a 9 year old who says everything is Mom and Dad's fault when they get caught doing something prohibited. Like, if you hadn't had the $50 in your wallet, they wouldn't have had to steal it, or if you hadn't bought the ice cream, they wouldn't have had to eat so much that they got sick.

Here's the thing: you have total control over her. You pay for her cell phone, right? So go through it and see who she talked to during the hours she was supposedly "without service." How did she reach her grandmother if she had no service? And how did she know to message you if she didn't know there was a call from you to prompt it? While you're handling her phone, go through her texts and see what sorts of things she's sending and receiving. If there is anything questionable in there (not saying "my mother is horrible" - leave those alone - but look for lies, naked photos, evidence of being around drugs, and so forth.

And DO look at whether you are too strict in other areas. It's interesting that she called her grandmother - what was that? Is the grandmother more understanding? Had your daughter been drinking and figured Grandma was a safer bet? Or because her "ride" had been drinking and she knew not to come home that way? If so, it's actually a positive that she called someone else, so DO set up a code word or code text that she can use to have you come extricate her from a problem situation without losing face in front of her friends. Tell her there will be no repercussions if she reaches out to you under those circumstances.

You may have to modify some things, but remind her that no kid who lies and disappears is getting a driver's license or access to the car, nor a cell phone or a computer or an Instagram account if they are misused. Then set a schedule by which she can earn these things, more freedom and so forth. Remember that kids' game, Chutes & Ladders? You climb toward the top, but certain rolls of the dice cause you to slide back to a lower square, at which point you have to start back up. That's what the teen years are like. Yes, the ladders and chutes are put there by parents, but the child rolls the dice with her decisions.

It's a simple contract when you get down to it: decisions give ladders or they give chutes. You have to make the ladders available to her, but if she chooses the chutes (knowing what will happen), then it's HER decision to not have fun, not have memories, not have privileges.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

You seem kind of out of control from what you've written here. At wits end.

Honestly - that's not what any teenager needs. You have to get together, and as Marda says, act like you know what you are doing. Fake it till you make it.

Don't doubt yourself (Am I too strict?). Decide on your own, proactively, not reactively, how you are going to parent this child now. Then stick with it. It should not be as a result of your teen years. Then you're just transferring your baggage onto her. By now you should have a system you use to reward and discipline her. I like Julie's suggestion - if you started as a child, then you let them fail when they screw up, they get there are consequences, they come to use for advice, etc. If you haven't done that - it's harder to instil now.

I always could go to my dad. When he passed away, I didn't feel I could talk to my mom who was grieving. As a teen, I didn't have enough consequences, and guess what - I screwed up in my early twenties - just like Julie says, it affects the rest of your life. I was able to turn it around with the help of my mom - who was all about tough love. She was there to support me to make good decisions for myself.

What I'm saying is - find a way to reward your daughter now for good decisions. The other stuff, like parties, going to friends' homes and you're not sure she's there, etc. do your parental role - call the parents. Ensure there is going to be supervision there. Daughter does not get phone until she earns it - acts responsibly and checks in. I like GPS idea mentioned below. Be firm - not necessarily strict - but unwavering in your parenting. She needs it.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

I think your comment about not being responsible for her once she turns 18 is what triggered some of the negative responses. Perhaps you wrote that out of frustration,but if you really think that or have said it out loud, that's a pretty harsh way to feel about your own child. My two oldest are 19 and I am very much still responsible for them and want them in my life.

That said...you are not too strict. I grounded my son for 6 months when he was 16 for lying to me about where he was. Sure, "nothing happened" in the sense that no one got arrested or in trouble or crashed a car or anything, but he put himself and the people he was with in a dangerous situation and plotted this well in advance and lied about it. Once trust was broken, that was it - not electronics, no phone, no social life from May to November. Towards the end of that time, he started to earn time towards "early release" by doing work around the house and earned back some electronics privileges a few weeks before the time was up.

Anyway...I think you need to go back to basics with her. If she wants to go somewhere, she provides the name and phone number of the adult who will be there and you call and talk to the adult and let them know that she does not have permission to go somewhere else so if the kids are moving to a different location, you will pick your daughter up. Know who her friends are, and know their families. Most decent families will understand and want the same rules for their own kids. Monitor her phone, laptop and any other electronics. When she can has earned back some trust, you can loosen the reins. No driver's ed or license until she has shown that she can be trustworthy and responsible.

Parenting teens is hard. We have used family counseling a lot with issues with the kids. When my son was grounded, part of his "time out" was mandated counseling (he was showing signs of other at-risk behavior like loser friends, a girlfriend with serious psychiatric problems, bad grades, etc.) and I attended a few sessions too. It was helpful to get another person's perspective on what was a real risk and needed to be tightly monitored and what things weren't worth fighting about in the long run or had adequate natural consequences.

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N.G.

answers from Boston on

My parents use to call the other folks' parents when I was invited somewhere. That way all adult questions were asked and answered. Do you?

Another parent says that you want affirmation. That may be true of every mother who posts here. I don't get that you are seeking affirmation anymore than anyone else who posts here... Or from reading your post.

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