This Is Not Normal Teenage Behavior

Updated on July 05, 2009
B.B. asks from Carmel, IN
15 answers

My daughter will be 15 next week. She is the most dispespectful child I have ever known. She has been diagnosed in the past with ADHD,bipolar and borderline personality disorder in the past and even been hospitalized for suicide attempts. She is especally mean to me, yet still expects me to do nice things for her. I can't say anything to her without her being defensive and angry at me. She is in counseling. I have taken everything away from her. There is nothing left to ground her from. Today I wouldn't go pick up one of her friends and she screamed "I F***ING HATE YOU" at me. She has a horrable relationship with her father, so I never turn to him for help. Thankfully my boyfriend is very patient and understanding. Somethimes I wish he was more agressive towards her. Her friends even tell her that she is unreasonable towards me. I also have a n 8 year old son, and he hates seeing us fight. And it's not fair that he has to. I'm getting so fed up that I am afraid I am just going to stop caring. I love her so much but I don't think I can handle her much longer. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks for listening.

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answers from Cincinnati on

Hi exhausted mom!

Yes of course she is acting out. and you would too if your daddy didnt see you on a regular basis,and you felt like he didnt care, your mommy worked full time and now a new boyfriend is in the picture too.

If you get nervous and anxious and act out when you are mad, so will your daughter. The problem with moms and daughters is that moms do not want to face that their daughters are just like them. She after all was not born into the world behaving like this, it was learned.

Dont even bring up the labels or use them as an excuse. It is all of the divorce and not seeing daddy that is causing this. Dont let family or friends bring them up either.

Drop all the labels or I am going to get mad at you too.

She is______ (Her name) before she was any of these other so called labels. IF they had all this bull labels when you and I were in school and that age we would have a few labels ourselves. Drop it!

She is angry and sad and depressed. Divorce is hard on children, it is the hardest on the children. They are expected to cope, even when the parents are not coping and functioning they way they should be, or even setting good examples for them.

Thank God your boyfriend is patient with her. You can be gratefull for that. Your daughter will not learn to appreciate that for years to come yet. She is still trying to be loyal to a daddy that isnt loyal to her. And this is all new to all of you. You say its just happened, only time will help in the long haul. And your love and calm reaction will be the best solution.
Not more grounding, more acting out, spanking cussing whatever...

She needs you more than ever right now. The more she pushes you away the tighter you hold her the more times you tell her you love her. She is your little girl, she needs to know it more than ever.

Rent the movie "Hope Floats" and watch it together, it will mean alot to both of you right now.

The same way you would spend more quality time with your older child if there was a new baby in the house, you need to do this now even more so with a new boyfriend in the house. ...and you know what your boyfriend needs to spend quality time with just her too. He walk with her to get an ice cream every monday after work or he can take her to the park and skate or ride bikes for 30 minutes to an hour. Every week. In time you both will notice a change in her.
If something comes us and one of you cant make the date, make sure to reschedule it. and do it. Or when school is in every tuesday and thursday he does math homework with her for 45 minutes.

Dont give up! You have a teenager in the house now too!
All this change and change is so very hard for all people.
And shes got loads of it going on right now too.

Take just her out to lunch, read books together, is there a sport or craft or hobby you two both like or would like to try? Every tuesday take her to lunch so she has that with you all that time. Or every sunday. Get your nails done together every 2 weeks, and do it every two weeks.

Tell her you are there for her no matter how busy, no matter what you are doing, that she can come and talk to you at any time. Tell her to grab your arm and make you stop what ever it is you are doing. Tell her every day, I dont care how mad she makes you. Give her kisses and hugs every day all day long. especially when she makes you that maddest. She lost her daddy, she is also afraid she will lose you too. And if you are getting madder at her and afraid you will stop caring, she feels it too.

You dont have to be psychic to feel your mothers energy or love for you.

One day every 2 weeks take her and her friends somewhere too. Even if its just to get pizza and give them a bucket full of quarters for the jukebox. Mark it on the calendar and follow thru.

Can we talk hormones. If moms remember getting your period is absolutely no fun as a teen, swimming parties overnights and you have that too worry about. And yes it does change your mood! You are grumpy, you are angry, you are irritable, you are cranky, you hate the world even more!!!

When you know its her time of the month, give her space. Pack the freezer with all the chocolate ice cream she needs, or is it candy bars she craves. Go rent all her favorite movies, does she like scary movies, movies that make you cry... and leave her the tv all night. Get her some tylenol take every 4 hours. And try your darndest not to push each others buttons during this time. ANd tell her you are doing thses things for her. And tell her you get a bit nasty too during this time, you will not push her buttons as best you can, ask she to please do it for you too. It will be the girls only, little secret. No boys allowed.

Ok good for counseling.

So what if she screams I hate you, at least she didnt hit you or come at you with scissors.
My daughter learned to say this for her daddy and how bad it hurt and she used it alot. Yep it hurt, but she was just being a little tape recorder for what was going on between me and her father. When she ran upstaisrs screaming it, I yelled after her,"I love you too, honey"
If she yelled it in my face, "I love you you, you will always be my baby!" "I love you, Im not going to abandon you."

Once a month let her have all her girlfriends over night. Let them call boys, make prank phone calls, make popcorn and paint their toenails, sit up all night.

Mom you dont have to react to everything she does or says.
You want your son seeing that it doesnt rattle you too or he will do it too when he gets to be a teenager, he will know from watching just how to get to you. And he will do it too.

Give your daughter a pretty journal from the book store or one that suits her tastes. Tell her you will not peak,and dont, but its another place she can write it all out and get it off her chest. And tell her to put it up where little brother cannot find it, dont even tell him it exists.

Teach her how to calm herself and you need this too it sounds like, to meditate.

Get the brother/boyfriend out of the house, you can do it during that time of the month too. Light a piece of incense, play some soft music or get one of those machines that makes noises in nature, turn down the lights, turn on a candle. and tell her she can lay down, sit up, but no falling asleep is the goal. Start with 1 minute and work your way up tp 30 minutes or an hour, of just sitting quietly no talking, no doing anything else, each time you do it add a minute. It will be hard to do at first but in time it will come. Dont tell me ADHD or whatever, she cant do it. That is the problem with kids that are labeled as such. Their moms dont know how to quiet themselves therefore they have never shown their own children how to quiet themselves. Or they dont go to church or temple or whatever and learn it by going to church either.

Something you all can do quietly together that is very bonding, is massage( or lightly back scratching) turn on the radio to soft music, sit down on the floor in a line.
the one in front gets to rest and not do any one. The last one wont be getting scratched or massaged. Massage for the whole song. When the song ends, the person in the front moves to the back. and so on. Do for 30 minutes at a time.

About suicide attempts, I used to do counseling also. It speaks alot to the fact that she is not getting the attention she is so desperately needing right now. After all what else does a child or any human being need to do to get someones attention, and this is the last resort. All of those things I mentioned will indeed help to bring everyone closer, back to center. IGnore the potty mouth, because I can almost guarantee you that her mama uses those words to when she is mad. Its not the end of the world, its really not. But I know it hurts to see the pretty pink baby you gave birth to cussing at you like a sailor. Pay attention to her inner beauty, does she draw or paint, write songs or poetry, make things, do her own hair nicely, is she patient with her brother or good to him? Did she make it thru the whole day without losing her temper or cussing, did she put the dishes in the dishwasher? Praise her, then praise her all day long for it. Show her that you care and that you really are paying attention to her and how she is feeling and being in the world.

Teen time is a tough time, dont we know it too! You are slowly breaking away from the people that showed you all your life how to do everything and be in the world. She does not see you as god, the supreme beings you were to her at 3. And that is how it happens, growing up, you disagree, she pushes boundaries, you give in and give her a little more space, she pushes trying to show you she is older, you give in giving her a little more space each time, showing her you do see that she is growing up. You allow her to make mistakes and dont go ballistic, because that is how we grow or we become stagnate never moving, being the same little boy or girl we were when we were 3 or 4.

Its tough that the divorce came at such a tough time for her.

My last and only advice, would have been not to move the boyfriend in so soon. To give you and your children some growing space to get used to each other again minus the one person, dad.

The boyfriends complicates matters, you didnt get things worked out between you and your son, between you and your daughter, and they amongst themselves to learn to share to grow to lean on each other before you added another dimension to you/them. Even if he is a good person this space would allow things to work out organically.

But you will all learn and grow together, just please remember to laugh and to love and to share with one another along the way. You all will hacve come so far together and intime grown so muchin the love.

Daddy will actually be the one lost. He will have missed out onthe divine being of children in your lifetime and all that it entails. And how much you grow and learn to be selfless as adults with children in your life.
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Evansville on

Your problem sounds so much like mine. Although my daughter is 21 now, her years as a teenager seems like only yesterday because we went through so much arguing & bickering. She was diagnosed with Bi-polar Disorder and if she didn't take her medication, you could look for war on the home front. It was not pretty and people would always ask me why I put up with her and I tell them, "She's my daughter, I can't give up on her like her dad did." They did not have a relationship at all. They would sream at each other and I just told him that he was "feeding the fire" because it seems like the more he screamed at her, the worst it got. I had a friend and he would talk to her in a calm voice the way your b/f does and it gets things solved more quickly. I hope this helps. Good Luck to you!!



answers from Elkhart on

I also have a request here for issues with respect. So I know exactly how you feel. You are not alone with how you feel toward your daughter. However, I am at my wits end and can't offer you much help. The only thing I can say is that I am looking for a Bootcamp that has the strict military style, but also has Psychiatry at the facility when help is needed. My son has also been in many behavioral hospitals for short term and residential and it does no good. He learned how to manipulate them along time ago. The last several times he was placed was because I needed a break and noone I knew could handle him; so I got an expensive babysitter paid by insurance.
Good Luck and Keep Your Head Up.



answers from Elkhart on

I understand everything that you are saying. I am a Mental Health Technician at a Psychiatric Hospital.(Oaklawn) I am very use to these behaviors. We actually have a unit here that parents are able to bring there kids here to stay for treatment. It is a residential unit so there stay depends on how long the treatment takes. It depends on the kids. But yes it is very frustrating and I know a person can only take so much. Sometimes, ignoring the behavior and then responding by "until you can talk to me respectfully, I have nothing to say to you." then walk away. Separate yourselves from each other for a while. It so very hard to tell what a teen is thinking. So, don't always assume the worse. If she is to the point of making her sibling scared and uncomfortable, I would strongly reccomend a therapy session. Keep your head up. Oaklawn is an amazing place for kids to help them become a better person. We take all kinds of
cases. If you want info the number is ###-###-####. There are so many sources here that would be able to guide you in the right direction. Or even have her come here for a walk through and see her reaction. take care and if you have any questions for me dont hesitate to contact me.



answers from South Bend on

I am able to look at your situation from both points of view. I too am bipolar Type II. Type I is very different than type II and it sound like your daughter is type II. Hormonal changes throughout the month is going to be a large factor in her behavior swings. I was horrible to my mother as a teenager because I was unmedicated and could not control my anger. Type II is mainly periods of intense anger when manic. My mother put up with a lot of my screaming and cruelty twoward her. I asked her how she was able to handle the pain and she said that she was forced to look above the anger and seperate it from how she felt about me. She loved me but hated the behavior. As a teenager I too expected her to still do things for me and love me no matter what and she did because deep down she knew I was still her little girl. You can not understand how much of a difference that made as far as stability. That is one thing that a person with this disorder needs in stability. I knew she loved me no matter what I did. If she had caved in emotionally than I would find myself questioning whether she loved me or not. At fifteen a child doesn't realize how cruel their words are to there parents. They just want to be loved by a emotionally strong parent. The concept of unconditional love is lost on a child. I did not understand it until I had my daughter.

Now the other point of view. I have an eight year old daughter who is showing every symptom of my disorder and the anger is starting to get worse. She too screams horrible things at me and yes they do hurt but I know to look above the behavior. Usually she screams the mean things and then storms to her room. I ignore her behavior just like my mother did to me. Within twenty minutes she comes down and appologises for the mean things that she said. If you show that she is hurting you it will only make it worse. If your daughter is unmedicated than there is no point trying to discipline her for her outbursts. That would be like grounding her for breathing. What she has is an illness and you need to look above her behavior and outbursts. She is probably scared and just wants to be accepted and loved. It may feel like you are hugging a cactus but you still need to show her that you love her.
Good luck and I hope this helps.



answers from Dayton on

Sounds very similar to where my son was at the same age. (He is now 18.) I can not say that is is the same for your child - but in the end - for my son it turned out to be drugs and alcohol. I did not suspect at all. Maybe I would have guessed a little recreational pot smoking. But it was way more.

We were seeing a counselor - he never mentioned a word about the possiblity. (Oh - and he is supposed to be a a drug and alcohol specialist - at least that is what the sign said on his wall.) All this guy would focus on was punishment. We could barely punish - my son would be out of control when he could not get out of the house to be with his friends.

My husbands friend - who is a middle school teacher was right on the mark - but we did not thing he was right at all. He called it with out ever even seeing my son. When my husband would tell him what was happening - he would say - it is drugs.

Today - we are so out of touch about our kids friends and who their parents are. With cell phones, we never even have to know the number of the house where our kids are.

Lucky for my son - he finally got in big trouble. He was expelled from school and required to go to treatment. He embrassed the opportunity. To my knowledge - he is staying clean. His school is so much better now. He can still get obstanent at times, but not like he was. Not the screaming, wall punching foul mouthed ranting fool.

So I just say - look hard at the possiblity of drugs and alcohol. Talk to her friends parents. And did you know that you can buy at home drug test kits at Meijer? It must be a surprise and you must be sure to either watch her pee or that there is nothing in the bathroom that she can possibly contaminate the sample with.

Good luck!



answers from Columbus on

B., I too have a bipolar teenage daughter and know how frustrating it can be. I have found that getting her involved in positive activities has helped a lot. She volunteers at the library and through a church youth program. She thrives on the positive attention and the compliments for a job well done. She has gained a lot of self confidence. When faced with responsibility outside the home my daughter has done a great job. She still has conflicts at home, but I calmly tell her that I know she can control herself and behave better, give her examples of when she has accomplished this goal, and tell her that is what is expected of her, it usually diffuses the situation pretty quickly. Having a reward system for the things she wants, like time with friends, instead of a punishment system works much better with her. She feels much more in control when she is earning rewards for good behavior instead of having something taken away for the unacceptable behavior. Best of luck to you!!



answers from Cleveland on

My daughter has bipolar also. You didn't state if she was on any kind of medication or not, and if not, then that would be the first thing I would do. Someone with bipolar and is untreated can be very damaging to themselves and the family. I would also become very educated on the illness. These "fits" that she has really are beyond her control, and there are certain ways that you have to deal with them otherwise things will just get worst. Harsh discipline doesn't do anything. You need to use positive reinforcement and consequences for her behavior. Taking things away from her might not be the solution, perhaps try to make her write you a letter on why it is not appropriate to use the language she used, or what she thinks the problem is, or write in a journal. Things like that. This will also get her feelings out on paper. One of the biggest issues with bipolar is that they don't know how to express their feelings. I would also talk to her counselor one on one and express your thoughts and let him/her give YOU advice on how to handle things. You have to remember that you can only work on one thing at a time though, otherwise it becomes overwhelming and hopeless. I've been down the road and I'm still traveling it. If you need to talk more and want advice please write!!!



answers from Columbus on

I haven't read all the other posts so I apologize if this is a repeat....
I strongly suggest counseling for you and family counseling for you, your daughter and son. Having a "mediator" to help smooth some of this out will help. As a sister of a now adult borderline personality disorder brother (who wasn't diagnosed until an adult) I look back and wonder how much better things would have been in our family if we had had some counseling when we were kids.



answers from Indianapolis on

It may not be tipical behavior for teens; but it is for your girl. What medications is she on? Some of the meds for adhd can cause such behavior to manifest to such a degree that she will become a danger to herself & others. The only thing that i can suggest is get her into a program that will make her focus on restraint of her emotions without the use of drugs. It might even be wise to send her away to a school for troubled kids. Yes, that can be expensive; but getting her to help herself should be your first priority right now. You must realize that as long she is uncontrolable, she will jepordize any relationship you have now & in the future. Be prepared for her to hate you for absolutely nothing & everything that goes on in her life. Talk with the doctors, your pastor or even the counselor at school about programs that do no drugs for cases like your daughter's. Oh, just so you know, i was like that at 15 only i didn't have meds! I had farm animals & kids to take care of & sometimes they got hurt because i couldn't take it anymore. Just getting her to focus can & will be the challenge. Good luck & pray really, really sincerely for help.



answers from Dayton on

I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. My church supports a boarding/school for troubled teens. It is located in Indiana. It is Christian based and has turned thousands of troubled teens around for the better. It is called New Creations. They have a website, but I don't know it. Just google it and I'm sure you will find it. Good Luck, T.



answers from Cincinnati on

B., I feel for you. I'm a therapist and have worked with children and families for over 10 years now. I still do therapy with children, including adolescents. A few things came to mind after reading your story. First, making sure she is getting effective counseling and psychiatric help is very important. Talk to her about how her counseling is going, if she trusts her counselor, of course she won't want to discuss what is said in counseling, and that is understandable, it's confidential... Get a second opinion if you want as far as psychiatrists go, maybe a new set of eyes and ears is exactly what she needs, and he or she may have a different medication that will be more effective. Second, make sure you take time to spend with her one on one, which may be hard with an 8 year old and a boyfriend, but, your teenager needs you now more than ever! She has to truly believe you love and respect her. Express sincere empathy when the time presents itself, if she's hurting, she has to know that you truly feel for her. This strengthens your relationship with her. She will respect you for it. Maybe, the fact that her dad isn't as involved in her life, is a source of stress for her that she isn't telling you about. Make sure she knows it's not her fault and he loves her even if he's not around as much as she would like him to be. Third, as far as punishments, not always the best way to change behavior! Allow for natural consequences to occur (i.e. she doesn't want to study for her test, she fails! that's on her not you)Logical consequences fit the behavior...she doesn't come home on time for curfew...the next night, she comes home that much earlier (she already spent that extra time staying out yesterday, get it?) Lay out behavior expectations and consequences before they happen, and have her be part of developing that plan, so she can take more ownership in it (and more likely to follow the consequences when they're enforced). There is a parent approach called "Love and Logic", unfortunately, I don't have a link for you at this moment, but if you google it, you will probably find it...It is very effective, and has real practical techniques to use with your teenager! It puts the responsibility on her, and you become the supportive loving parent she needs, without the stress. Good Luck!



answers from Columbus on


I have walked in your shoes and I would recommend several things.

First, it kind of sounds like you and not sure, or you don't want to be sure, of her diagnosis. It also sounds like she is not seeing a psychiatrist regularly. This is an imperative step for any person with a serious mental illness; once diagnosed, these things do not just go away. Take her to a board certified child/adolescent psychiatrist and have as much evaluation as you need to be positive of her diagnosis, then follow the treatment plan even if that means that you have to try many different medications for her to find relief from her symptoms. If she is seeing a psychiatrist, she is not getting the proper treatment to control her symptoms and you should speak to your psychiatrist or find a new one immediately. There is no way that she is getting the right medical intervention with the behavior that you describe. She needs intensive medical intervention that meet her needs, and she needs that now.

Second, contact NAMI (the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill)in your area. Start with the classes they offer to family members and caretakers and ask for help to access all the services that are available to you. You need help, and as a care giver, you may need your own counseling and they can help you find support and services for you and your family.

Third, as hard as it is, you are going to have to accept that no one is going to rescue you. It will never be fair to you or your son that you have a family member with a mental illness. Even if her father is not in the picture, your boyfriend has no business getting involved. you are the one who has to deal with her illness, and the sooner you recognize that you have a responsibility to seek better treatment for her, the better off you are all going to be.

Lastly, don't feel guilty for feeling like you do. It is normal to be angry and to feel cheated that she is so difficult to like. You will always love her, but that is not the same as liking her or enjoying her company. There have been many times that I have felt like I either was so full that I could not stand one more second with my daughter or that I was drained by her of everything I had to give. Take that anger and use it to do what needs to be done, get her better treatment, take responsibility for her care and don't give in until she is stable, and quit spinning around about how unfair it is. I know that sounds harsh, but I have been there. You can stomp your foot all you want, all you will have is a sore foot and a kid who still needs help.

(had a lot of sore feet before I got the help I needed!)



answers from Fort Wayne on

Dear B., you sure have your hands full. I have read the two responses below and they have very good advice. My husband and I take meds for depression and maybe she needs to see a specialist like a psychirist to help her. There should be a Dr.Madhu Rao who lives in Carmel and she is the best of the best. Good Luck to you and it is good to pray a lot for help from God. K. P



answers from Indianapolis on

You need to go get the book "I'm not mad I just Hate you!" by Roni Cohen-Sandler Ph.D and Michelle Silver.It is a new understanding of Mother-Daughter conflicts. Surviving and thriving during your daughter's teenage years.

I have learned that your once precious baby is not a hateful person that you don't know anymore. It will help. Got get it!!!

Hope this helps because I am just dealing with a fraction of what you are dealing with. But always remember, this too shall pass. She will appreciate you much more when she gets older if you stick to your guns.


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