Full of Excuses 15 Year Old

Updated on January 27, 2011
H.W. asks from Altoona, IA
13 answers

I have a 15 yo step daugher who live with me and her dad primarily; she sees her mom twice per week and every ohter weekend. Gets along fine with her mom, not a big fan of step dad. Lately she has an excuse for everything; sicence project is 9 days late - i don't know how to work my printer, I didn't know you had a printer, that teacher is a d**chebag and I was going to do it at my moms tonight anyway ( the paper was dues he 17th, she was at her moms the 15 and 16 and knew her mom was gone until the 26th). She gets excessive tardies at school (36 in one semster, 11 since 1/6/11) - I have to run to all my classes to make it on time, I wasn't late fr that class, I don't have as many as some people I know.

We have taken her phone, her ipod, compter, grounded her...and she gets more mad at us. She got in trouble today for the science project and then asked if she could go bowling (she is on the team and hasn't practiced in a whil due to illness).

She seems to be very dramati about all of it too...I jsut saw she posted on FB that herdays is screwed and what she thinks and feels does not matter. NEVER, have her dadand I done anything to lead hr to believe that is the case...we try to explan to her she should have asked us for a prnter, etc and then there is another excuse. It seems as thoguh when we get upset wih her, we don't understand and/or care about what she feels and thinks.

Her dad and I are at out wits end, she doesn't seem to change the behavior after she is punished for it, just continues to be pissy with us and 'can't even remembe why i was grounded ordon't have my phone etc anymore"

She is/was a great student and when things are going well, she is great, but these isses need to stop!!! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated:)

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So What Happened?

tHANKS for all the great responses!!! I talked to sd today for a bit and she opened up and bit. I tried to explain to her that the issues we are having are caused by all of us, not just one person; she seemed to be receptive to that concept. We are going to try a sticker chart for the days she doesn't have tardies and makes the bus; she likes that idea and her and I are going to come up with conseqences together. I know that if we all work at it, things can and will improve; so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

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answers from New York on

When you are fifteen EVERYTHING is dramatic and if it isn't, you want it to be and if it still isn't, you try and make it as dramatic as possible.

Not all fifteen year olds strive for drama. But...fifteen year olds who have had a disruption in their life, such as a divorce, a new stepdad, a stepmom, have a tendency to continue to look for or create some drama. Drama leads to attention, even negative attention.

I had a rough time during my teen years. Divorce, stepdad, new home, new school. Although monetarily I was given so much I never felt that anyone ever just sat down with me to ask me how I was dealing with things.
My mom, as awesome as she is, never continued to check in with me. She came from a very stable home with parents that did not divorce. She couldn't relate to me because of this. I guess she didn't realize that I needed more emotionally. She was happy in her new marriage and was providing for me so I guess she just assumed I was ok.

Using excuses to shirk responsibilities is an easy out, but it also a huge cry for attention. Any attention. Taking away privileges and technology seems to make sense, but sometimes it is not enough and it isn't always the answer.

Sitting down and asking her what's wrong may not work either. When I was fifteen there was so much that I felt was wrong that I could never have articulated it and the times that I tried my mom was so defensive and would say things like, "But you have a nice home and nice things and pretty clothes. What could be wrong?" She always made it about her. I know she felt guilty or bad about the divorce and instead of making sure I was dealing with it properly she made sure she wasn't being blamed.

I would have to say that if taking away privileges and possessions isn't working than there is more going on with her that is being said and she might not be able to say it. Maybe seeking out a therapist that works with teens could help, but in the meantime......

You could try spending some real quality time with her if possible. Take her to the movies. Or take her and a friend to a movie. Go out to dinner together, maybe just you and her. Go get your toes done. Go ice skating. My point is try to just be there with her. Don't try and get her to talk. Just let her know that you aren't just there to punish or try and fix her behavior. Let her know you are there to try and understand her behavior. Focus on her positive traits and talents and let her know you are there to nurture them and that you are aware of them. Every teen girl wants to feel they are special and that they are talented and good at something.

I know how hard it is to deal with an attitudy (sp?) teen. We were all there though. It's tough being a girl. I couldn't imagine being a teen girl today. How exhausting. So many huge expectations. You might have to take many, many, many deep breaths, but she might just thank you for it down the road. It will be an interesting journey for the two of you.

We all thought we needed to be patient during the toddler years, but it is the teen years that will test our empathy, resilience and patience the most.

I wish you strength and good luck.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rapid City on

Welcome to the Teen years. I still believe with all my heart that aliens clone our good children and leave these clones in their place! You can tell when the cloning is taking place, they get mouthy, sulken and in boys, they sometimes smell bad! They do bring them back around the age of 20 to 25 though.

I was the meanest mother EVER when my kids were teenagers. I wasn't their best friend but their parent and expected them to be decent and responsible. I can't say it was easy, it wasn't. My kids lied to me about things, everything I told them not to do (smoking, drinking...) they took as suggestions of what to try next. Schools didn't help by extending due dates for reports and homework assignments, they just put it off and as long as they got it done by the end of the quarter they figured it was great. Reality set in as soon as they graduated. Jobs didn't take the being late, college didn't take late work and paying their own bills showed them that this freedom they dreamed about wasn't all that fun with the responisbilities that go with it. Worrying about people who don't call when they will be late worries them a lot now and I just sit back and laugh. My oldest is now 29 and is a father to two little ones, the oldest is almost 5 and is mouthy and lies to them. I tell him to put a stop to it now but remember also he was 16 and lying to me and being mouthy and he thought it was ok too. My daughter is 27 and while doesn't have any children of her own, she has a 19 year old step daughter that use to drive her crazy with the same behavior that she had as a teen. Now my kids come over and are very loveable, responsible and so much more respectful.

My best advice is to remember this too shall pass. Keep your humor, you will need it. Make her responsible for her own work at school. Be the meanest and expect the right thing from her even when you don't get it, it will come back to them when they get older. You may not be liked by a teenager but you are loved and you show love and that is what counts most. These are suppose to be the best years of her life but they probably will be the worse years in yours. My prayers go out to you. Oh and keep a journal on all this for when she is a mom to a teenager!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Some of it should be natural consequences. Late on the paper? Get a bad grade. If the household has rules about bad grades, then enforce those and not each paper.

If taking away her electronics doesn't seem to work, try something else. My stepson loves video games and when he was 15, his dad would take the cables and let him stare at the game. Or when he was perpetually late, he got charged a "cab fare" for one of us having to take him to school. That got his attention because that blew his pocket money for the week if he missed the bus twice. Bus driver's fault - free ride. HIS fault - pay up.

I think that some of it is being a teen. It's frustrating and maddening and all those other adjectives. Usually it passes, but often not til they are 17 or 18 and start to realize you had a point.

Would it help to have a family meeting and sit down and discuss it and have her explain and come up with her own consequences (that you get to approve)? We did that once with my SD when she was in middle school.

You can also use a technique I use with my toddler. I say, "DD, I hear you are upset. Are you upset because of x?" She might still say she wants a cookie (or to go out with friends, insert teenage thing here) but maybe just validating her emotions would help. "Do you need a minute to calm down?"

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think she basically is just rallying for independace, albeit going about it the wrong way. She wants to assert herself and prove that shes her own boss, even though what shes doing is only hurting herself(through schoolwork). I would try maybe an after school job to give her some structure and also her own money. Also, as far as taking her computer, ipod etc., that stuff really doesnt work because she knows she'll get it back eventually. Try taking her makeup away(my mom did this to me when I was a teenager and I thought it was the end of the world).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

I know raising a teen is very hard. I have a lot more issues with my son then I ever did with my daughter. I thought girls were the ones with the terrible hormones!!! My son wants to fight about every simple statement that I make. I am trying a new approach with him to see what happens. He just turned 16 in nov. and I told him that he needs to get a job, pay for his own insurance (which means that he needs to get good grades so he can get a discount), and buy a vehicle. So far there has been no difference but I am going to take things away from him gradually that I can not afford. I am giving him a lot of responsibility and I will see what he does with it. So far I am not impressed but my daughter was a very driven individual and chose to be her own boss so I am learning right along with him. Raising teenagers is hard and so much depends on the attitude of the child.



answers from New York on

My daughter does the same thing occassionally. The most important thing to know and remember that as much as she says she doesn't care or pretends she doesn't care, she does. It's all a part of those teenage years, combinations of teen pressure, hormones, and testing parents to their limits.

I wish I had an answer. Just know that you're doing a great job in handling the situation and you're not alone.


answers from Washington DC on

I think Dad needs to take some time and spend it with her. He should take a day or two and go to school with her. If she lingers in the hallway, he can get her rear end into class on time. Sit behind her and see what happens in class. I'm sure the teachers and administrators would be more than happy to have him shadow her... Believe me, the threat of that would keep most kids on the straight and narrow. There is WAY too much at stake to get poor grades in high school.
I'd make her spend time with the family when she is at your house. Take her TV and computer out of her room. Put it in the family room. If she wants to use it, she can - with the family nearby. Ditto for the cell phone... I don't allow cell phone use in the house. We have a land line - use that -- it's in the kitchen.
If you are going to the grocery store, take her with you. Heck if you are going to the dump, take her with you. Kids tend to talk in the car because you can't look at them and drive. :-)
She wants you to understand her and care about her - which I'm sure you do - make her be part of the family!



answers from Milwaukee on

I like a lot of the answers you've already received. MY 13 year old goes through waves of this periodically, and we had a really bad school year last year. During those difficult times I found myself always thinking "what's going to go wrong now" or "what's she going to screw up this time". I realized that I had a very negative view of my daughter, and was really influencing how I saw her.

We do take away electronics and monitor computer time, and all of the other "parental" things that we need to do to guide our kids. But I think what has helped me the most in smoothing out those rough patches is adjusting my viewpoint and attitude towards my daughter. She's a teenager, and some of these things come with the territory. We don't like them, and we don't need to approve of them (tardiness, missing assignments, etc.), but we can always choose our attitude about them. Now I really try to let the smaller things go and address the things that I can't let go with grace and understanding. Easier said than done in the heat of the moment sometimes, but adjusting my attitude and my approach has definitely improved my relationship with my daughter. That has helped make the rough patches seem not so bad, and gets us back on the right track more quickly.

Good luck to you, and thank you for asking the question - I'm sure there's a lot of others like me reading the responses and learning from them along with you!



answers from Detroit on

Might be time for a meeting with her teachers and counselors at school.

Also, read "Parenting with Love and Logic" and "How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk" - you may find them helpful in learning how to communicate with your stepdaughter more effectively and getting her to start taking some responsibility for her own actions and coming up with her own solutions to her issues. There's also something to be said about allowing for natural consequences to some degree - she doesn't do the work, she gets a failing grade. She gets enough failing grades, she gets held back. She gets enough tardies, there will be whatever the school enforces for discipline. This is also the time to start talking to her about college, and what she she thinks she might want to do for a living. If she does not get the acceptable grades, she won't have as many choices as far as college and careers later in life.

My stepsons are 16 and 17 and live with their mom out of state, so they are not with us expect for visits on vacation, but we are going through a lot of the same stuff. One excuse after another, the guidance counselors and teachers suck, nobody in this town cares about us, etc. The 17 year old is a senior now and has talked about wanting to go to college to study digital photography, but has done nothing to prepare to go to college - he hasn't even applied anywhere, and he is graduating this June! Anytime his dad tries to talk to him about it, he gets all huffy. The 16 year old is in 10th grade and we've been trying to get through to him but it still does not seem to be sinking in. It's tough when admittedly, they do not live with us, but I've reached a point where I've decided they are their parents problem. I care about them deeply, and I don't want them to think that nobody does, but I can't be trying to change things when neither Mom nor Dad seem willing to give them the kick in the arse they so desperately need. Sometimes some people have to learn the hard way. Sorry I don't have better advice than that, but I feel your pain. Good luck to you...



answers from Washington DC on

Get involved in her life.
What does she need? My 15 year old needs me to sit and talk to her about nothingness at times. We talk about the kids at school, her website she likes, cats, her brother and sister, college, everything.
I do not bring up grades or classwork, I make these little chats just about what interests her.
She has opened up a lot.
Keep the communication open. Let her know you are there for her, for anything.
If you say "Kathy, what's wrong", she will clam up and say "nothing why does every one want to know what's wrong."
Go into her room and say what do you think about this? Then have something you need her opinion on, like a new dress, a new shade of lipstick, whatever.
Continue to let her have natural consequences. But let her know on her level that you really do care. She knows she is screwing up. She is hurting somewhere. Love her how she needs it.



answers from Little Rock on

Raising a teen is hard and hormone changes can cause attitude changes and well as bring on depression. Also, if she has changed dramatically, it could be an indication of drugs or alcohol usage. I would drug test her. You can buy them over the counter and your local drug store or Wal-mart. Having a split family can also be difficult for a teen. I might suggest a counselor. Also you might try talking to her mother and seeing if ya'll can work out something together to try to change her back to the better.



answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with Amanda that natural consequences has to take hold in order for her to learn. Be supportive, but also do not protect her from those consquences. Parenting a teen is a tough job. Hang in there your not alone.

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