My 15 Year Olds Attitude Is Going to Send Me to the Funny Farm

Updated on February 01, 2011
L.K. asks from Austin, TX
12 answers

My 15 year old daughter has had a pretty bad attitude for awhile. However, when she wants something she is uber sweet. I have been working on her with being nicer to her family and quit being so moody with us. She can be especially hateful towards my mom who does everything in the world for my daughter. My mom lives behind us and is a wonderful grandmother. Yesterday we were about to leave for the grocery store and my mom came over and just casually mentioned to my daughter that she should probably go feed her donkeys soon because it was getting dark. My daughter has two donkeys that she wanted very badly and it is her responsibility to get them fed. She hates to feed them in the dark and will complain about feeding them in the dark if she waited too late to feed them. Instead of just saying thanks or I am about to go feed them, my daughter said, "leave me alone." I think this was very rude. When we got back from the store I told my daughter that was uncalled for and she needed to go and apologize to her grandmother. She said fine I will go and apologize but I am not really sorry. At that point I had enough. I told her fine don't go apologize but I am done with doing anything for you until I see a drastic change in your attitude.
I told her, we all love you and I don’t know why you want to be rude and hateful to your family.

She is very involved with dance team at school and my mom and I are at every performance and we also volunteer to work at the competitions etc. I told my daughter she was on her own from now on. I would not come to any of her dance stuff nor would her grandmother.

We also go to church on Sunday and Wednesdays. I did not make her go yesterday because she had dance competition the day before and was tired so I let her stay home and sleep in. I have also been letting her get out of going on Wednesdays. She tells me she has to study. But last night I told her that she will be in church this Wednesday and Sunday.

Her attitude has been an ongoing problem. She has also told me on more than one occasion to leave her alone. I know she can be nice and sweet because every once in awhile that side does come out. Last night I asked her why she wants to hurt me and her grandmother and she just stood there. She does not act this way towards her dad (my husband.)

My heart is heavy that she is doing this. Every night she usually comes to give me a hug goodnight. Last night she didn’t. Is this normal behavior for a 15 year old? Will she come out of this someday? I have tried everything I can think of. I have talked to her, I spend time with her. My mom takes her shopping. I have tried taking away privileges for bad behavior. Nothing seems to work.

When I was 15 my parents were going through a very nasty divorce and I was pretty much left to fend for myself. My parents were so wrapped up in their issues that they did not care what I was doing so I don’t remember treating my mom badly because she was not there at the time.

Anyone else going through this with a teen-age daughter?

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answers from Orlando on

In my opinion, its time to sell the donkeys... It is also my opinion that Grandma should stop taking her shopping.

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answers from Boston on

I went thru this with 2 teen stepdaughters, and with a teen son. So I'd say a couple of things. You can force her to apologize, but she's right, she doesn't mean it (or at least she doesn't think she means it). Hormonal stuff is a nightmare at this age, and so are conflicts/emotional upheavals at school. She may not feel that she belongs in a group at school, and it plays out as rejection at home.

She doesn't particularly WANT to hurt you and Grandma - she just does. She's not doing it with her dad either because she is more concerned with his reaction (or maybe she doesn't get one from him like she does with you - negative attention is better than no attention.)

You say you are not successful at taking away privileges - I say, you are not taking away the right ones or with the right words. Telling her you are "done" with her performances is a way to hurt her back, but it increases the feelings of rejection and makes her moodier. I would take away the luxuries, and not the signs of your love. Do not give her cash, do not buy her clothes, do not take her to the mall. Take away her cell phone. Do not pay for her dance programs - she is not mature enough for any of these things, that should be your argument. Not "you are mean to me so I am exacting retribution" - just "these are privileges for mature people, and you do not exhibit the maturity necessary to make me think you appreciate them." You cannot restore those privileges just because she is nice for a day or gives you a hug - you say she can become super sweet, so she knows how to manipulate you. And you're allowing it to work.

If she doesn't come in to hug you, it can be a way to hurt you, or it can be thoughtlessness because she is wrapped up in herself. If it hurts you, she may feel you will use your hurt to do something extra nice for you to buy her affection. She may be thoughtless, or she may be manipulating you. But taking her shopping is just reinforcing her bad behavior. You cannot earn her love that way. She is going thru a phase and you (and your mother) need to learn how to manage it. I also think your husband needs to get on board and not reward her in any way for treating you and your mother badly. He can't stay out of it just because she doesn't do that with him.

As for the donkeys, yes, she should feed them. If she doesn't feed them before dark, then let her deal with going out after dark - she chose the behavior, she chooses the consequences. Consequences are not YOU being mean - they are HER CHOICES. She's so mature and wants those privileges? Then she gets adult consequences. Do not nag her to feed the donkeys - if she does not do it, then either they go hungry for a day (if that's okay), or you feed them and that takes away yet another privilege from her pile. And perhaps the donkeys need to be sold to someone who will care for them and appreciate them.

I would stop talking to her over and over -- just lay out the expectations and the consequences, make it clear that it is her choice. And then stick to your standards. Do not back down. It teaches her that women are weak, and she will someday allow a man to do that with her.

You may be trying to be an extra-present mom since you didn't have that. It may be backfiring on you. Perhaps your daughter knows you feel guilty and she's playing on that. It is normal for kids to assert their independence at this age - you need to choose your battles and principles, and stick to them.

Good luck!

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have raised two boys and this sounds like a typical 15 year old to me. She is trying hard to be her own person and in the process she resents parental authority. At this age for some silly reason it is an embarrassment to even have parents! Or grandparents. Hormones are part of it. Development of the brain is part of it. Rest assured she is feeling pretty confused herself, and still loves you. Try not to take it personally (although that is next to impossible) but you can continue to remind yourself this IS normal.

I don't blame you for being upset but please don't stop going to her performances as a punishment. Make the punishments fit the crime. For example, if she does not feed her donkeys there are other choices.
1) Sell the donkeys
2) Feed them yourself, but the next time your daughter asks for a ride somewhere tell her that you had to use your extra time to feed her donkeys. Be empathetic, but don't drive her.

Don't be afraid to impose appropriate consequences but don't do it out of spite or anger.

Try not to get mad. When we get mad the kids seem to think they have a right to their behavior. When we are quiet they are more likely to stew in their guilt and reflect. Quiet does not mean allowing her to be rude unsaid, but say it in a quiet non-hostile voice.

Get a copy of Love and Logic. It's a great book and will help remove the hurt and anger.

She will grow out of this soon. It may take a couple more years but your daughter will come back to you.

Hang in There!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

It does sound like typical teenage behavior.

However, I would make it crystal clear that no matter how she feels, it is unacceptable to talk like that to her Grandmother. With respect to Amanda C, even if an adult is not your parent, you still need to show them respect. She doesn't have to like it, but she must be respectful. If I had ever spoken like that to my Grandmother... whoa... trouble for me.

I'm sure the other posts/book suggestions will be helpful. If you are the one paying for the dance activities, it sounds like a great bit of leverage.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I love this book: "The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers - The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively" by Gary Chapman.

It has helped me understand my teens much better (so that I can deal with them more effectively).

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My mom would tell you that I went through a snarky phase from 13 to 16 - and then I seemed to come out of it all on my own. All you can do is let her know you love her, and you are here for her whenever she wants to talk. However, unless she starts treating everyone with more respect, nobody is taking her shopping or being her personal driver - if being on the dance team means that much to her, she can figure out a way to get a ride on her own, until she decides to turn her attitude around. I would not stop going to her performances though, she needs to know you are still supporting her and care about her enough to show up.

You can also try reading 2 books: "Parenting with Love and Logic" and "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk." See if those offer any helpful insights and tips.

If she is nicer to Dad, how about Dad having a talk with her? He should be backing you up on this.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

We finally got our daughter's attention when we gutted her room and if she wanted to have a tantrum about it, she was going to lose her clothes as well. I took everything out of her room (including the stuff on walls). We gave her a mattress with boring, old sheets and comforter. She had nothing to look at or enjoy in her room. She was very good about it so she did get to keep her clothes. I think she understood that I was serious about giving her a couple plain white t-shirts and two pairs of plain jeans and that was it for school clothes if she had one disrespectful comment.

She had to earn everything back slowly AFTER two full weeks of respect. We wanted to take our time so that we could see that she understood. It really hit her that she we gave her a lot and she was not appreciative of it. She also learned that the chores she had to do were to be done out of appreciation for what we have given her.

The best part is that she learned how to control her tongue. We told her that she was always welcome to discuss her anger at or frustration with us but it had to be respectful. We told her that we know she won't always understand us as we will not always understand her, but we had to agree to disagree and work out a compromise.

On top of getting a respectful daughter out of all of this, she learned that polite conversation earns rewards. Since her room was completely stripped, it was perfect to repaint and redecorate her room. She earned that after several months of consistent behavior. Every once in a great while she would have a mini outburst but she was immediately apologetic and we could see that she was under stress and slipped.

It was tough to do but we had had it. This finally worked. Let me know if you need specifics. The trick is to stay calm and tell her that SHE has led you to have to get her attention. Calmly say that you are sorry that it has come to this. Make sure you let her know when she is calm. I picked her up from school and let her know that she was not going to like her consequences from her outburst the previous night. I calmly told her that HER behavior had become excessive. I made it sound as if I wasn't mad but more that I was sad that SHE had gone too far. Be very matter-of-fact so it doesn't sound like you are just flipping out, but more like you had to think through what you needed to do as a parent to help her become a better person. Good luck. You and your mom will be glad you did this now and didn't just wait for it to pass.

Our kids are growing up in a generation that says it is normal to be disrespectful. Well, it wasn't going to continue in our home!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Im not making excuses for her, just trying to offer some insight...could she possibly be resentful/jealous of your relationship with your mother and the time it takes? Maybe she would like to have you to herself sometimes. I'm sure she appreciates grandma support (and she should), but she may also crave some individual attention from you.

As for grandma "reminding" her of her chores, 1) teens are snarky to authority by nature (not justifying, just saying) and 2) IMHO, it is the parents job only to remind/enforce rules/responsibilities, noone else's, no matter how closely they are involved with the family

Your daughters nastiness towards family is unacceptable, but I think there are some definite steps you can take to help her reembrace her sweet self.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Glens Falls on

Yes and worse. And what I did was usually wrong so I'm no one to give advice, but I have a suggestion for you and your mom anyway. Don't remind her to feed the donkeys...which is where this whole thing started. She is struggling to be an adult so the more you can do to just set the rules and consequences (and enforce) and not try to be her conscience, the better. When they are little, we are so used to saying things like "Did you brush your teeth? Did you wash your hands? Did you pick up your toys? " and some of us (like me) never stop that level of mommying. But really our goal should be that the child reaches a certain age, and they know the expectation is that their room needs to be cleaned and it either is, or it isn't and there's a consequence. They will feel more self confidence and develop a healthier self esteem, if we aren't patroling them, if we aren't trying desperately to prevent them from failing. I am nearly 60 and my mom is nearly 90. She still asks me repeated (oh, and I mean repeated) questions like, did you lock the door, do you have your keys, do you have your purse? I find it very irritating and I self soothe by saying to myself, she's just old, be patient. But many times I've thought, does she think I'm totally incompetent? And if it was a hormone crazed teen instead of a mature adult, I'd probably say to her, "leave me alone". One day it occurred to me that this is exactly what I did to my daughter - and that the message I was sending with my innocent "I'm- just-trying-to-help" questions was "I don't think you are capable". Try to keep your conversations wih your teen as open ended as possible so she can share with you. For example, instead of saying "did you feed the donkeys?" or "you should feed the donkeys" just say "so what's on your agenda tonight?" - maybe she'll say, I have homework, I want to wash my hair and I still need to feed the donkeys. In other words, give her a chance to be responsible before you start rescuing.They do have an attitude at this age, but give them some space and pick your battles. Good luck!

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answers from Austin on

This is very normal. She is totally hormonal. She is trying to be more independent and she feels like she knows everything and yet she is still half of a child and wants to be parented (she will NEVER admit this).

The problem is, she needs to prove she is mature, by taking control of her out of control feelings and emotions and still showing respect.

Try NOT to react in an over the top response to all of this. Even if she is cruel to her grandmother. Instead in a low and steady voice, you can just remind her, "Your grandmother is very proud of you and loves you. I think you have hurt her feelings." Leave it to daughter to decide how she will handle it.

Speak with your mother about how you behaved and how she behaved during this age. Try to remember how YOU felt as a teenager. Not an excuse, but a reminder, that junk spews out of your mouth, before you could hold it in. It took time to learn to take about 10 seconds before responding.

During a time when your daughter is in a calm mood, maybe suggest that she try to practice holding in her true feelings. Remind her you all understand her wanting to be treated as an adult, but after 15 years, it is hard to stop parenting. Also you promise to quit reminding her about her responsibilities as soon as she can prove she can get it all done without reminders.. I once again think it is time to speak with daughter about either selling the Donkeys, or for her to figure out how she can get them fed everyday with out needing to be reminded.. Ask her if she would rather have the money to begin saving for a car.

Here in Austin, Child Psychologist Carl Pickard says that the teen behavior is Gods way of helping you let go of your children.

Here is his website. He writes great books about teens. He also accepts clients.

I am sending you strength.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Once again, I recommend this parenting website, which is free. They also are on Facebook and have a free newsletter. Lots of helpful information:

Here's an article on how to handle a teen with an attitude:

Really, you're going to have to change your behavior first. I wish you the best of luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

I would have given her the look & let her know right away she was being extremely rude. If she didn't immediately apologize or seem contrite, then I would have talked with my mom later to let her know that the rudeness would be taken care of. i then would have waited for the next tine she asked for something important to her and I would have answered her with, you know the other day when you were rude to my Mom? & she would say yes, then you something to the effect of well, me & her do too. Best of luck...

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