Trouble Disciplining a 17 Year Old

Updated on April 25, 2008
J.A. asks from Minneapolis, MN
31 answers

My daughter has always been an exceptionally bright girl. She was in high performance classes at school and would panic if she was getting anything lower than an 'A'. During the winter she was absent from school a lot with migraines (she has always had migraines) and of course I can't prove she has one (no temp etc). Now her grades have gone downhill, she has a boyfriend and all she wants to do is go to his place (he's 18). She works off and on and when she works the 4 to 11 pm shift she can't get up for school the next day. I've asked her manager to schedule her other hours but they said it's up to her. When she's out all night I try calling her cell phone but she never answers so I shut it off for awhile. She lies so much I can't believe anything she says. When I won't let her drive the car she says if I take away her cell and the car she has no reason to obey me. If I tell her she can't go out, she sneaks out anyway. I've threatened to call the cops. I don't know what else to do with her. I've decided to enroll her in an online high school since her absenses are so bad, she still says she wants to go to college but she's only a Junior so we still have a year to go. Any suggestions?

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answers from Sioux City on

I see this more and more. I always have to ask what her relationship is between her and her dad. Girls that have a tight healthy relationship with dad typically are'nt so willing to run with the boyfriend. Tried counseling? Could be some underlying issues she's not communicating with you about.

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answers from Minneapolis on

It seems to me, the issues you need to address are two-fold; number one, the boyfriend and number two maybe she's been given too much freedom for the stage she's at in life.

The first issue I'd tackle is the boyfriend. You don't say whether you have a relationship with her boyfriend's family, or if he is still at home and in high school. At 18, he could conceivably be in his first year of college or just on his own, and already living the life of an adult in an apartment of his own, and possibly not accoutable to his family if he's paying his own way. This is a big deal since she will be influenced by who he's accountable to (if anyone) and where he's at with studies, and friends etc.

If he's still in high school, whether you know his family on a first-name basis or not, I'd contact his parents. I'd find out if he has curfew, what it is, and what their expectations are of their son when he's with a date. If there expectations don't match yours, I'd press upon the parents that you'd like their help in seeing that your daughter is home at an appropriate time. I'd also get their buy-in to allow you to call their house to check on her if its getting late and you haven't heard from her. If necessary, you and your daughter should sit down with the boy and his parents to talk about expectations, and why you think school should come first. Put them on notice and say that if they can't agree to your terms (curfew, expectations etc.) you will not allow them to date until school is out for the summer, and maybe not at all if she doesn't keep contact with you while she's out on a date. This should not be allowed at all. The first time she pulls this, I'd suspend dating privileges. Maybe scare the stew out of the guy and ask if he intends on marrying your daughter, and supporting her. You and she will know at least if he's a jerk or serious by how he reacts.

If this fellow is a bonified adult on his own, your work is really going to be cut out for you. You've already allowed her access to someone who she could conceivably leave home and move in with. She could be coming in contact with men older than he is or people who could be a bad influence, adult situations including access to bars, alcohol or illegal substances, sex and more. The fact that she's not upfront with you, and even lying would make me think she's definitely getting involved in situations that could impact her life in a not so good way. Reality is, she's pushed the envelope so far already, when you put your foot down, you could lose her if she gets mad enough.

I'd prepare myself mentally for it, and I'd still just sit down and have an honest talk with her. Ask her what she invisions her future to be. Ask her if she thinks she can really expect to get into college on the grades she's making this year. Ask her if she's even picked one out, and when she plans on applying. (When I was in HS, we had to get apps in by the summer of Junior year if were serious about any good colleges).

More important, I'd get honest about serious relationships too young. We all know that relationships can take an emotional toll on a young woman too inexperienced to handle the complications that come with it. Heck, adults can't handle complications of relationships, let alone a young woman. Plain and simple if she's serious about college and a career, a serious boyfriend at this stage of the game will sidetrack her efforts.

I'd Ask her if she's ready for the possibly becoming a young mother. If she'd be happy if she wound up working crummy jobs if she doesn't get into college. Ask how she'll feel if she never finishes college and winds up supporting a dead-beat boyfriend who may dump her when he's board with her. Show her a newspaper or just turn on the news and remind her that jobs are scarce and the economy tighter.. only the best will get into college, will get scholarship, will get jobs. I'd cinch the deal with a taste of real life and tell her she can do as she pleases, no curfew, no calls at all, but in order to do this she'll have to pay rent (at the current cost of an apartment today), pay for her own food, pay for her own gas when she uses the car, and pay for her cell phone/service, and any other things you provide for her.

In short, I'd get tough on her. Whatever it takes. YOu know her and her temperament best. But I'd be sure to not let her intimidate you. It's do or die. She's almost an adult and out of the house. I'd try to make the last year(s) count, and it starts with accountability and tough love.

Last but not least, I'd say unless she needs the job, I'd make her quit. It is a distraction from what should be her main focus--academics. It's also one more way for her to access her boyfriend without your knowledge. Do you really know her schedule? Perhaps she's not really working as many hours as you think.

I'd also consider establishing a hard curfew, a confirmed location where she plans to be that you can call if an emergency arises. This is not unreasonable in the era that we now live. You can even say this is for her own safety.

I'd threaten to cut off phone service if she refuses to answer it. This should be an absolute no. I'd also cut off access to the car if she doesn't make herself accessible once she's out the door. The phone may be good for emergencies, but if its becoming an instrument that allows her access to people, and situations that aren't good for her, it needs to go.

Save her before its too late. I hope some of these ideas help. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

Tell her if she misses school then there is no working. If she breaks curfew there is no going out. If she doesnt answer her cell when you call there is no phone.

These are all natural consequences of her actions- not arbitrary punishments. Let her know that is the way life is when you are "all grown up". No boss is going to keep her on if she does what she wants at night and cant make it to work the next day. She obiviously likes her job more than school and will prefer to stay out late rather than make it to work when the time comes.

She says there is no reason to obey if you take these things away. Well there is. To get them back.

She obviously can't go see the boyfriend without a car, or call/text him without a phone. If you let her talk to him on the house phone dont let her have one in her room. Make her be somewhere she could be interupted at a moments notice. She wont have money to do fun things if she isnt working.

At 17 you still have legal control. You could tell her boss what she is allowed to work and what she isn't, or that you will not allow her to have the job.

There are ways to keep her from sneaking out without staying awake and guarding her room. If you need ideas let me know. I had a sis who did the sneak out, drinking, drugging, seeing boys etc. I learned a few things from my parents! ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

boy,...ish! According to my mom friends that have daughters this age, this is typical behavior.

However, if she is truely interested in going to college, schools look at a students highschool junior year transcripts as a source of enterance. Her attendance and grades are important right now.

I'd take her car keys and phone. How else is she going to get around or communicate with her friends, and she does need some punishment. She's trying to punish you by telling her that she will behave differently because of her punishment, so she's going to hold it against you. She will do this anyway, but eventually, she will see that the rules you set are there for a reason and you are the boss. She will see that her punishment is worse afterall and hopefully, will reform.

My daughter (age 4) will try and punish me too for punishing her. I told her she couldn't wear her fancy new shoes because we're saving them for a wedding and want them to be nice), she said to me, "Fine,...I'm going to wear these shoes (dress-up plastic crappy shoes) to the store if you don't let me wear my fancy shoes."

I laughed in her face and said, "You just try and get outta the house with those shoes on and we'll see who's going to win this battle little girl! I'm the boss and you can't talk to me like that..." I basically gave her the roit act and she let it go and I won. You're going to have a battle with her but stick to your guns and eventually, she'll see that you're the boss and she can't treat you like that...even if it prolongs her getting her phone and car keys back.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cedar Rapids on

J., instead of addressing the discipline issue, I'd like to tackle managing the migraines. Weather, stress and lack of sleep are triggers, but so are lots of foods, including wheat and gluten, which is hard to give up; one can also temporarily eliminate all the "trigger" foods, then add them back one week at a time, to learn the cause of your migraine. Common culprits are MSG, cheese, yogurt, chocolate, caffeine, red wine, bananas, but the list is endless (even onions and potatoes, mushrooms, pickles, etc). Here's the list:

Potential trigger foods

Foods that can be Migraine triggers include:

--beans pickles chili peppers olives
--dried fruits avocados red plums bananas
--any fresh yeast product straight from the oven
--yeast breads pizza soft pretzels
--any preserved or processed meat bacon hot dogs sausage
--aged cheeses sour cream whole milk
--alcoholic beverages, especially red wine
-- chocolate
--caffeinated beverages
--anything with MSG
--artificial sweeteners

It can be frustrating to manage food triggers--esp in a restaurant or at parties. Most "Migraineurs" with food triggers find that only a few foods are a problem.

Good luck getting your daughter back on track. Love her, talk to her, find a good counselor --



answers from Rapid City on

I seen this happen with my daughter around the same age. I didn't want to admit it and my husband and I fought about it but it turned out he was right. She had gotten into smoking pot. Her attitude changed from a responsible, sensible girl to a mouthy teenager who had no respect for me or any authority figures. It took finding it in her laundry before I could admit to myself she had gotten involved in it. They have drug tests available over the counter in the pharmacy departments. That is where I start. Make sure you surprise her with it, there is ways they can get around the tests if they know ahead.

Keep the punishments going. We went as far as putting my daughter in a YES house (Youth Emergancy Shelter) to get her under control. She wasn't a bad kid, just hated any rules we had. The 4 days she spent in the yes house showed her my rules aren't as bad as theirs. She was mad, hated us for it and she moved out as soon as she was 18. It took two weeks of being out on her own when she called my mom saying she wanted to come home and didn't think I would let her. I called her and she said she is having trouble with asthma. I told her she better get into the doctor before it got bad... she didn't want to start off paying for a large hospital bill. She said "I HAVE to pay my own doctors bills???" I said "of course, that is part of being an adult, you get the adult bills too". I suggested that perhaps she should come home for a bit until she felt better, then she could go again if she wanted. She came home and was a cuddler, she missed her mom, then she moved out again when she felt it was under better conditions. She and I are very close now. She still makes choices I don't like but I have learned that they are now out of my control, so she has proved me right over and over.

Good luck, keep the door open to her, let her know you love her and remember, soon she will be out on her own and she will come back around.



answers from Omaha on

Hello J.,

Well you obviously already know this or you wouldn't be writing in the first place - but you got to get a handle on this and quickly or it could take an even greater turn for the worse. Your daughter sounds exactly like me when I was 15 and 16. I was disobeying my parents, dating older boys and sneaking out. First of all I would take away her cell phone and car and either install a security system or turn on the one you have and even if it takes you sleeping in her room with her at night - do not let her get out of the house without your permission!! If her job situation is creating more of a problem with her behavior either tell her she will have to quit until she gets things right as school (say a certain GPA or a certain amount of absences) but the bottom line is you HAVE to be the parent and take charge or she will walk all over you. You may feel bad or think you are being too harsh, but this is what she needs. My parents knew I was in trouble but didn't make the effort until I was too far off the deep end. Luckily I got myself back on track, but this is not the easy track and she will need some help - it is definitely not too late. Do not let her take the easy way out - sit down with the principal/administrator/counselors at her school and explain her situation and what they suggest to get her back into school - don't go with the online stuff. You can also try counseling or therapy sessions (yes I know they sound like too much and horrible and she won't want to go - I did too) but she might just need someone to talk to about how she is feeling about school, family, her boyfriend, friends, and her future and she will learn to appreciate a medium such as this. Overall, just be there for her even when she doesn't want you to be. Be firm in whatever you enact and don't be afraid to call her in as truent or call the cops if she doesn't come home. She needs to start being responsible for her actions now or it will be a much tougher transition over the next few years that you can prevent now.
If you would like to talk anymore or want any other advice, let me know. You can see I feel strongly about this issue because I know first hand how easily teen girls can be knocked off the road to success and it just doesn't have to be that way if you get involved now!!!

Hope this helps and have a good day,



answers from Milwaukee on

At 17 it's still your right to take away the car and priviledges(sp?). We just had to do that with our 17 year old and it was a stressful few weeks around here until she (we all) adjusted but now she knows what we expect of her. Sounds like all she cares about is seeing her boyfriend. Make it clear that if she doesn't get her butt to school she won't be seeing her boyfriend. Alo tell her he needs to come to your house more to see her etc. She can't sneak out of the house unless you let her. Keep a closer eye on her.
Our daughter also had great grades which are now slipping. I found out from my niece, since my daughter didn't tell ME, that she is being teased by her group of "friends" that she and one other girl are the only virgins left in their group......
Unless you are going to be home to enroll her in the online school I don't think that is the solution. She'll have too much time on her hands with her 18 year old boyfriend!
I hope that didn't sound like a lecture. I just know what you're going thru too right now!



answers from Minneapolis on


I feel for ya! I was that 17 year old... I had a 4.0 in high school and when I was 17 I was raped by a co-worker. I didn't tell anyone b/c I didn't think anyone would believe me. I blamed myself for putting myself in the situation. I started skipping school, drinking, dating guys 21 and older, rebelling. My mom didn't really care to figure out what the problem was but just grounded me, took my car keys away, my cell phone(even though I paid for it), etc. When I would leave, she WOULD call the cops on me. Don't just threaten your daughter. If you say you'll call the police if she sneaks out, do it! You won't be credible if you don't follow through. She is trying to blackmail you by telling you if you take her stuff away, she doesn't have to listen to you. She just hopes that this way she'll scare you into not doing it. You need to be the parent and make sure your husband is involved. I ended up dropping out of high school and college (I was doing post secondary education). I moved out when I was 18. Had a baby when I was 20. Went to college and graduated last year! My mom and I talk EVERY SINGLE day and live only a block away from each other. I hated her when I was 17, but now we have the best relationship ever. Don't give up on your daughter but make sure you enforce things before it's too late. Good luck!!



answers from Omaha on

Your daugther sounds EXACTLY like me! I was the kid with straight A's. Panic attacks if I got less than. In all advance classes. Started having issues with sickness when I was 16... got a boyfriend that I was very serious about when I was 16. Got a job I was much to serious about when I was 16. You get the picture.

Problem was I bit off much more than I could chew. School was what got the worst of it. My grades dropped. So did my activities. I saw school as something childish and the other things as my adult responsibilities.

Well because of all of this I still wanted to go to school.... but I had to go to Community college to prove myself before the Univ wanted me. That was a little annoying but I did an associates transfer program. I'll still only spend a total of 4 years for my bachelors degree. Plus I feel I got a very hands on, lots of attention education at the communitry college that you just miss at the Univ. You go from 20 students in your class to well over 100. So in the end I only have good things to say about what I did to myself really. I have no regrets.

I think it would have been nice had my mother told me, considering she knew how serious I took things, that my part time job wasn't a big deal... and maybe I should consider quiting it and she'd give me an allowance. But as I see it that is all she could have really done.

I just grew up too fast.



answers from Davenport on

I have a 5 and 4 year old and am really NOT looking forward to these days! I also do a lot of work at my church with our youth group so I've learned a few tricks over the years that will hopefully help. First off, have you made her accountable for any of the decisions that she's making? Does she realize the full impact of what will happen if she continues on the path that she's on? (i.e. missing school, she could get held back another year; slipping grades means she might not get into the college she wants.) I've learned in the past with teenagers that they live by facts (because of course they know everything!) So I would do simply that; get the hard facts about the decisions she's making and the resulting consequences of what could happen and sit her down with them. Don't go in on the defense, that'll just make it WWIII and end in a blow up discussion. Go down to her level, find out first where she's coming from, try to understand why she's making the decisions that she is. Then face her with the hard facts. Above all, make sure she knows that you're not just her Mom but her friend and that you're concerned about her. Good luck, I hope this helps!



answers from Rapid City on

Talk with the school counselor/guidance counselor at the high school. Make an appt with the school psychologist too. Perhaps something else is going on in her life that she doesn't feel comfortable talking to a parent about.

I guess I'm old fashion - but none of my children even had a driver's license while in school and they all had part time jobs. No cell phones and they had to be in by 9pm on school nights and 11pm on weekends. Most of the time our house was the hang-out because they could stay up with their friends as long as they were at home.

Teen years are difficult for both parent and teenager. I am not a big supporter of home schooling. I work in the education field and I see day in and day out the lack of structure and education in many of the home school situations.

Please talk to your principal, guidance counselor, and school psychologist and I'm sure they can steer you and your daughter in the right direction that works best for you.




answers from Eau Claire on

Well, I would have to say that a few things need to happen RIGHT NOW!!!! Oh and do not fall for the " I'm only acting this way because of what your doing to me BS" BOO HOO
1. No Job..she does not have the grades or the maturity at this point in time to have a job!
2. No Phone.. if she wants to call someone she can do it at home in front of everyone, and the old fashion way--land line!
3. NO Car..take her keys right away!
4. No Boyfriend.. sorry to say but if a girl is ignoring everything she once loved or took seriously and now she has a boyfriend believe me when I say there are is SEX!
5. Grounded!!!! until further notice!
6. Definately a drug test is needed. DO NOT TELL HER!!!!!
7. A good sweep of her room for any contraband(drugs, condoms,etc). Some good hiding places are the window sill, around the molding, under and in the mattress, pockets of clothes that are folded or hanging, seams that are cut in jackets...etc. if you need more let me know I will give you a bigger list. OH under the desk..taped to the back or on the bottom.
8. Alarm System of some sort. They have these little alarms for like ten bucks at Linens and Things I think..maybe Walmart. They stick on the window with 3M tape in side or out and they have a chime or alarm buzzer...pretty loud and inexpensive. I like the idea of sleeping in her room but that might be going a little far at first.
9. A good calm talk once everything else has happened. Let her know that the reason you are doing this is because you love her and care about how she is living her life. Go through everything you are concerned about, but REMEMBER..ask the question let HER ANSWER! A teenager will talk if they are being listened to..and do not interupt even if you really WANT to.
She has something to might not like it..but she has something to say! All of this behavior is happening for a reason open your ears and listen. If she sits there and says nothing..then tell her that the talk will be happening at some point when she is ready but everything will stay as you have decided until it happens..and that DOES NOT mean that once you have the talk she can have everything back.
GOOD LUCK!!!! let us know what happens.



answers from Minneapolis on

I am the mother of 3 young boys all under 6 so I don't have teenagers of my own. However, your daughters story sounds just like MINE! I was a straight A student. School came fairly easy for me. As I became old enough to get a job I became more devoted to working than to school. IE I would be legitimately ill and stay home from school sick but still manage to make it to work that evening. I don't think I missed as much school as your daughter from what it sounds though. I also got a boyfriend when I was 16 and by the time I was 17 (he was 18) I was doing everything I could to be with him. I snuck out on occasion although mostly I was just vague about where I was going when my parents asked. I did drink - very often - but never got into drugs. I was careful not to drink and drive. My parents took the don't ask/don't tell approach. I know (now) that they were very worried about me but they realized that if they pushed me more I would have rebelled and I believe they were right. If I were you, as hard as it must be, I would let her make her own mistakes. Tell her to call you if she ever needs a safe ride home. Let her be the adult she is longing to be. You don't have to support her financially. She works so she should buy her own phone/car/clothes. You've done all the prep work for her and given her a good foundation so let her make her own choices if she feels she is ready.

If it helps, I went on to graduate from college, married my high school boyfriend, and we have 3 beautiful children together and have been married for over 10 years.



answers from Lincoln on

Why are you letting a 17 year old 'boss' you and manipulate you? You are the parent, she is the kid. You can take away her privileges: driving YOUR car, the cellphone. She is not earning the right to have them. Since she chooses to work those terrible hours when she is supposed to be in school and that is her source of money (independence in her eyes), I guess that is her problem since she won't have a car to use. Her boyfriend can get her to and from work, right? Don't continually do her favors, expecting her to follow through. Right now, if it is not her idea, it is not a good idea and she isn't going to do it. If you feel that it is her right to upset your life and make you miserable that is your problem and you are more that welcome to accept that. If she feels that she doesn't have to 'obey' you, you also don't have to 'obey' her. You need to come to terms with yourself so that she can see that you are worth listening to. She is still a kid and she needs a role model. Since you are providing for her needs, she needs to do things for you and if she is not willing to do that, you really don't need to do for her. It's a bit of 'tough love' but it works, it can sometimes be hard to do, but your daughter is worth it. Good luck.



answers from Milwaukee on

Hi J.,

Hang in there! Our daughter went through this at age 15 & made it through okay. She just turned 18 last Sunday.

She did all that and then some! It was the crowd she was hanging around with. It was the internet. There were alot of tense moments between her dad & myself because we did a lot of disagreeing on discipline issues. But always be a mom rather than a friend first. Children at that age need a parent, they don't need a friend. Yes, they might hate you for taking something away or saying something or embarrassing them in front of their friends. That's called tough love and they'll appreciate it more when they are 25.

Yes, I did some things that embarrassed her. She's my responsibility until she turns 18.

We have an understanding with our kids. They can call us at any time, for any reason. If they are in trouble or what ever. They know that we won't judge them, we won't say, I told you so. We were that age too. It is such a tough time. Especially between Moms & daughters, it's the worst time!

I can share this: i got a mother's day card that brought me to tears last year from my daughter.

She apologized for putting me through so much and thanked me for being a mom to her.

Just stick to what your heart tells you.

And best wishes. Share with her that if she wants to go to college, she needs to step up her game. Our daughter was failing everything her junior year. It was the last quarter where she made all her credits up and started really applying herself. Her senior year her grades are good, but her attendance isn't. Her boyfriend lives a few blocks from the high school & he's home during the day. It will all work out.




answers from Minneapolis on

Check for drugs. Even the kids you never would think would use something can always try especially with the boy friend. The way she changed roads kinda's one major sign of drugs. Good luck. CJ



answers from Sioux Falls on

I live in South Dakota and we have a progam here for exampls called Children in Need of Supervision or CHINS. Through this you can call the police department and they send out an officer to do a CHINS visit. They are very firm in explaining the consequences and what your teen's responsibilities are. Maybe a good scare or realization of the consequences is what she needs. IT does not go on a permanent police record, but is part of the public service we pay for with our taxes.
Also getting help and advice and involvement form administration and teachers and counselors at her school may give you more insight into the overall situation as well.
Have you met the boyfriend? Is he open to you talking with him as well? Maybe the police can have a visit form his also with regards to consequences of his actions with your daughter or be present when they come talk to her.
Since you threatened with calling the police it is time to follow up. See if you can do something like CHINS first.
My sister got into more trouble than I did as a teen. My mom had to use some pretty tough love and even when it was harder on my mother than my sister she stuck to her decisions and the state had to take custody for a year and she finished high school that way and was able to go on to college.
Have you tried calling Boystown in Omaha Nebraska they have a 1-800 number, and help with teens male or female. Even just to talk on the phone not necessarily to send your daughter there.
Hope you find something that can get through to her. My kids are 14 and 16 and I may have to deal with this myself, and I might be asking for your advice after you get through this and you will get through this!
C. Louise H. - Disabled mom and Part time Latasia Jewelry Designer



answers from Minneapolis on

Here's my experience with this sort of behavior...some kids will respond to positive influence - like rewards for good behaviors. Others seem to just want to manipulate - sounds like this one has it down & knows just how she intends to act. The cops won't do anything & neither will threats. Take away the cell phone & take away the car. The only thing that works with a kid who does not understand respect is that they have to learn they are not ENTITLED JUST BECAUSE THEY DEMAND. If she wants to be emancipated, let her be emancipated & find out just how easy it is to be adult when still acting like a little kid. That would be my only "threat", if I had this situation again. I do speak from experience & I have heard it all. You need to keep your spine intact & keep networking to keep your own values strong. I think Dad needs to get active & offer something to this daughter, too -- that is unless he wants her to be with the 18-yr. old boy, who obviously is not the answer to your problems with her. If she does not answer & does not think school is her most important priority for her life work at this time -- challenge her to make the plan. Usually, if pressed to create her own rules, she'll find what works with her. A battleground of cat-&-mouse (trying to check on her) is a losing proposition for both of you. The type of personality that insists on their own way will spare no expense to get it, typically. If she wants no rules, tell her there's no roof to shelter that at your home -- if you need compliance, then insist upon it. You're the parent.
About the on-line school - I do not see that as a strong alternative. She obviously is lazy and does not want to follow the protocol to achieve grades. In school one can take accelerated classes & get through most of their basic course work for the first two years of college, while still in high school. However, they have to be in school, first. They have to be willing to work hard and follow the curriculum, making headway by using their time wisely. I have a niece 2 & 1/2 years out of high school who just graduated college (or will, next month). She has applied her energies to doing what it takes. I do not know your daughter, and have taken big liberties here, but I believe permissiveness in these matters breeds more problems. The girl needs to start producing if she is to succeed as a college student. They don't make excuses or take care of you if you can't make the grade. (The migraines are an excuse & they have worked very much to enable the boyfriend & her to carry on their little secret meetings. It is so obvious, with the grades slipping, etc.) Parents - put down the foot.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have a friend who's daughter went through something similar. They pulled her out of their local public school (too social) and put her into an alternative or a private school. She had to earn her way back to her public school if she wanted to. She's now in nursing school and doing well. I'd look into other options through your school district before deciding on the online option. Your daughter is trying to spread her wings and fly a littler earlier than you want her to. You do have some leverage with the car, the cell phone and possibly with paying for her college. Find out where she wants to go to school and what their entrance requirements are for grades or ACT scores. Then she has a goal to achieve - and it's her goal. Talk to the boyfriend and get him to agree that its in her best interest to continue with school and good grades - maybe he can help. Simply use the rule "while you live here, you need to follow our rules" and stick to it. Be open to changing some of the rules, discuss them and let her voice her opinions on some of them - giving her power to set them herself may go a long way. Let her know you love her no matter what, but you don't love some of the choices she makes. You want her to grow into a responsible young person and it's your job to ensure her safety and you want to help her get there the easy route (good grades and college) rather than the difficult route.



answers from Minneapolis on

Is there any way you can home school her and quit your job? I think she needs you full time...I've heard it said that teenagers need parents around more than toddlers do. It seems like she is crying out for tough love, and you making the sacrifice to be with her would prove your willing to do whatever it takes to get her back on track.



answers from Minneapolis on

Your daughter sounds like me. I actually don't know what would work. But I do know that my mom was wishy-washy and I had no respect for her. You have to be FIRM and CONSISTANT. No time off for good behavior, do the crime, do the time.
There is a new book coming out that I am reviewing and LOVE. It is called Mama Rock's Rules, written by Chris Rock's mom who raised 10 of her own kids and 17+ foster kids to be SUCCESSFUL adults. She is no-nonsense and her discipline is great. You can see my review at
Something we did with our now 18 year old that was TOUGH but worked well was to remove him from a social life. Your daughter is still young enough that you can take her drivers license away. Literally have it cancelled so she can't drive and you can't cave in and let her. Then she won't need insurance and won't need a job. If she can't keep up in school, she needs to drop the job. Her "job" right now is to do her best in school.
I forced my son to give up his girlfriend. He could not go ANYWHERE unless he broke up with her. He wouldn't at first, so they only saw each other at school for awhile. But she got quite mean about it and he got to do nothing outside of school, which is hard for a very social creature. He caved, broke up, and saw her for who she really was, conrolling and manipulative. (we did it because she was making him do things that went against his own moral beliefs and he was not being himself) He hated the way we did it, but he is very glad not to be with her now.

I did the online high school with two of my kids. I think it is a wonderful program. But if your daughter is out at night and you don't know where she is, you have more issues than migraines. And working on a computer with a migrain is NOT better than going to school with one. You will not be there supervising her whereabouts. This could lead to a lot more trouble. Unless you have her work during the day and school at night when you are home.

If you do go that route (I hate bringing it up because I sell it and don't want to sell on here!) There is a home security system that plugs into your internet service and a code for each person in your house has to be put in when a door opens or closes. Then you get a text message that "Sarah" came or went at what time. You can also put the alarm on gun cabinets, medicine cabinets and alcohol cabinets. It is called the Ingrid Home Security system. It really is reasonably priced for most people.

If my mom had put me on online school when I was going through that phase and she was at work, I would have been in deep trouble. If I was a good girl, with no problems but migraines, that would be a great solution.

Good luck! I'm praying all the time that none of my kids were even half as bad as I was!



answers from St. Cloud on

Hi J.,

I'm sorry you are having so much trouble. I have a son who caused a lot of grief too. He is a bright kid and can be so funny and lovable. However, he changed too as a teen and while it is easy to close our eyes and remember how wonderful and cuddly they used to be, it won't help their situation now.

With my son I had to get very hands on. This was fairly easy since I live in a small town. Since he could not remember to bring his homework home, I went to school with him to collect it for him. I sat next to him in class and ate with him and his friends. He could have died. By the end of the day, kids were saying Hi to me and he thought it was kind of funny. So it lost it's edge to be their all day. However, it had an effect on him. He still didn't do any better with his homework but he knew I was going to be involved and his teachers knew he had a mom that cared.

I tried to talk with the principal but he was a joke. My son could talk his way out of any discipline actions, so I had the teachers call me personally, which most of them did. It seems like nowadays teachers don't have many discipline options, so they need our involvement too.

I am reluctant to bring this up, but if your daughter has had a drastic change in motivation and attitude (beyond the normal teenage anxst, you may want to look into the possibility of drugs. The signs for drugs is decreasing grades, big mood swings, tired and lathargic or big energy boosts, changes in friends, ...

My son would also sneak out and once he took our car without permission. We went to talk to the police chief (again, this may be easier in a small town), and he said that there are 3 options: 1. it is a felony if the child plans to keep the car (that wasn't an option), 2. it is a misdemeanor to take a car for even for a short while, or 3. he could pick him up, take him to the station, give him a talking to, and call us to pick him up. We agreed to the 3rd option. For runnning away: if we knew where he went, the police chief said he would pick him up and take him home. We also told my son what we planned to do if he ran away or stole our vehicle again and how we were working with the police. About 2 months later we moved due to changes in jobs and we didn't have to use these measures.

6 months after moving my son found pot again. While I never found a perfect answer I made sure he knew I wasn't going to give up on him and I wasn't going to let him do things without some consequence.

He's 20 now. Drugs are occassional for him and he is still struggling. But he is doing so much better than 3 years ago. For us, it is a slow process.

I don't mean to scare you, we had other issues that you don't have (single parent, married when my son was 12 -hard age to get a father figure and share your mom's time). Just stay involved, be creative, and find help where you can. Tell your daughter what you plan to do and stick to it. Also, keep an eye out for drugs. They are everywhere. It is a whole different stage you need to be in with your daughter as a teen versus as a child. Hang in there and I'll be sending you good thoughts.



answers from Sheboygan on

I have 17yr old boy and girl twins. They will be 18 in Oct. We have gone through some similiar situations with both. My son has recently been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Before being diagnosed we had to call the police on him 3 times because he had left. The first time we were not going to call because we figured he would have to learn on his own. He was gone for 4 days. We had been in contact with the school regarding my son long before he had left. I pretty much received daily calls from the school. So after he had left I called the school to let the counselor know what had happened. She told me that I had to call the police because legally we are still responsible for him. 2 days after reporting him gone the police called me to pick him up. They had a long conversation with him about responsibilites and that no matter how old he thought he was he was still a minor. I hate having to bother the police over situations like this because in my opinion there are so many other things going on that is of higher priority. However, after everything that has happened I now see how those "higher priority" situations become. We as parents need to put our foot down and mean what we say. My daughter tried to stand up to me the other day and told me that me grounding her wasn't going to do any good because it hasn't worked in the past. I told her that she was right because I usually tried to give her the benefit of the doubt that she understood what she did wrong and had learned her lesson therefore I let her off the hook. This time I kept to my punishment and while she wasn't happy, she got over it. It took her a couple of days to calm down. I reminded her that I love her no matter how mad she is with me. I know it isn't going to happen over night but we do need to mean what we say and not be so lenient. My son to our surprised has turned a new leaf. He told us that he is sorry for all the trouble he has caused and he hates that he has put himself under a microscope. Not only does he have my husband and I watching him more closely but he now has the attention of the school staff and the police. My daughter won't leave without permission anymore because she sees what has happened with her brother. I also have a 14 year old daughter. I was concerned about her following their footsteps but hopefully it is just like when they were babies we learn from the first one to know how to take care of the next. I wish you well.

Just to add, I read another post where someone had wrote that at 17 someone can legally live out on their own if they chose. This is possible depending on where you live so if that is an option you are looking at please check your state laws first before allowing it.



answers from Minneapolis on

BE CAREFUL J. ~ seek advice from those who have lived through these years instead of those who speculate from the safety of toddlerhood... There is no way to speculate about how to parent a young adult (she is no longer a child at 17).

My oldest is 20, my youngest is 13. My oldest was an honor student and STILL went through this awful stage (she is now an honor student in college).

Keeping in mind that, at 17, it is fully legal for her to drop out of school and go out to live on her own, you should give her two choices:

1. To move out on her own (the car stays with the family though, and the cell phone she can begin to pay for on her own), or
2. Follow the house rules (have them handy so that she gets what she is choosing).

The important thing here J. is to do this lovingly. Letting her know that you love her and are offering these choices out of your concern for her well-being (as opposed to trying to get her to "obey" you) will help.

Some time ago you and she stopped communicating in a loving way. You have probably grown attached to the concepts of obedience and discipline, which don't work with teens. Teens actually respond much better to limits, love and YOU understanding how they feel.

I would also garner the support of your 26 year old. Older sisters are more important to teens than moms in terms of listening and acting out. Your older daughter could counsel her and "check in" with her, offering support and much-needed sisterly advice.

You might want to do this (check in with your 26 year old) before you have the conversation about moving out. She will probably have advice for you that will surprise you.

It will be best if you listen to her with an open mind J. ~ there is much to learn from the mistakes our children tell us about after we have made them. Since there is no way not to make mistakes as a mom, your 26 year old could be your best source for creating more success with your two younger daughters.

The 17th year is the hardest with (and for) children. The more you can not take it personally, offer clear limits, and stay focused on the fact that you love them, the better it will all turn out in the end.

Gifts of love, small gestures and mom/daughter shopping trips... and/or now and then going out to dinner, just for the two of you.... any of these things will help you both to get through it. Start now with your 15 year old and you will have that one made!



answers from Janesville-Beloit on

I hope she doesn't feel pressured into getting A's. My stepmother told me I couldn't go to college because I wansn't a honor student. Second, what is her boyfriend like, have you met him.

Next, go through with calling the cops if she sneaks out. You can't say it and then when she does something that she is not supposed to be doing; you don't call. They catch on real quick and believe you were just bluffing. We did this with our second son when he was skipping school. He didn't come home one day, so we waited to see if he would come home in the evening. NOT! We knew where he was, so we called the cops and they went and got him. They brought him home and told him, that if there was anymore trouble; he would wind up in juvie hall. That was not the place to end up. Now, he is a great father and very responsible. I have told him that he should do some talks to those HS kids that don't want to attend and think life is better outside of Mom and Dad's house. He dropped out, but went and got his HSED and was highest in his class.

I am one of those old school parents I guess; but, I think the online schooling tells some of these kids that they don't have to do things if they don't like to. They are going to have to face the fact that there are things in life that we don't like to do, but, we have to do it. We have to go to our job or else we get fired. We can't work online and get paid to stay home (most of the time). When they go to college there is no sympathy for the student. You are in class everyday, do the work, hand it in on time or you are out. I know a girl who was an honor student in HS, went to a Tech College to do her math and other minor classes. She didn't have to take finals in HS because she was an honor student and work came to here easily. Guess what, she got into Tech College and failed. She couldn't handle the attending classes and handing work in on time.
Also, check with your state Dept. of Human Labor and see what their working laws are for kids in school. In Wisconsin, we have limited hours that kids can work when they are in school. I am not sure if 17 or 18 is the cut off for that, but when I was working in retail, the kids couldn't work more than 20 hours a week and couldn't work past 9:00 p.m. if it was a school night.

Good Luck,



answers from Waterloo on

Hi. Ok, I'm only 20 and my son is only 7 months old. But my age might help in this. Also, I've had cousins in the same sort of situations with school and boyfriends. So here goes:
First of all, I think that they are wrong with the work thing, she's a minor and you should be able to have a say in that. Is there anyone above the store manager you could go to about the problem? Or could you tell her she can no longer work until her grades are up? Or that she can't go to her boyfriend's house unless her grades are up? I'm sure you've tried these things anyway. I think they make cell phones with tracking devices in them, although I'm not sure which providers have them, but you could check and at least if she didn't answer you'd know where she was and could go get her.
As for school, I'm pretty sure you can have cops escort her to school. Maybe if she gets embarrassed she'll decide she'd be better off just going than that happening. Or maybe if you send a cop to her boyfriend's house to get her, that will change something. Just the fact that she is 17 and he is 18 already equals trouble if a cop is going to come over.
You should tell her that if she wants to go to college, she should concentrate more on school and less on her boyfriend. I got pregnant my first year of college and had to drop out and it's really hard to go back when you have a baby to take care of. And that was with using birth control. Things do happen and she should know that.
Depending on where you live maybe you could ground her or tell her she can't go out and maybe even get rid of her car, but maybe you could have a cop drive by every 15 minutes or so and maybe that way if she sneaks out they'd see her do it and stop her? I'm not sure, but I think maybe it'd scare the boyfriend away if you had a cop showing up at his place to pick her up and take her home. She might be mad, but it'll be good for her.
Hope I helped at least a little.



answers from Detroit on

My children are not old enough yet to be dealing with this issue, but I remember when I worked in high school. There should be child labor laws where you live that give a guide to how much they can work, with school and a job combined(contact the school/or her work/look online), plus times when they can and cant work(e.g. before 6am/after 10pm/not more the 60 hours total between the 2). Unless she is an emancipated minor, you can dictate her hours, or enforce the labor laws. Hope you find something that works.



answers from Minneapolis on

It sounds like the boundaries in your house have completely fallen apart.

You have to remember that you are the parent, and what you says goes, no matter what. You need to make sure that you work quickly to help resolve this, because very soon she will be 18, and then she can technically do whatever she wants.

If you are concerned about the hours that she is working, tell her that she is no longer allowed to work those hours, since it is interfering with her shool work. If she protests and says that she needs the money, then tell her it is her responsibility to find another job that has better hours.

I'm not sure what the financial situation is between her and you, but do not get sucked into paying for things that she was normally paying for because "you made her quit."

If she is lying about where she is going and staying out all night, do not allow her to leave. Turn off her cell phone and take away the car keys. I know it may be tempting to say, "well, at least if she has the cell phone, I can reach her," but if she isn't answering it anyway, whats the point!

If she is sneaking out, get an alarm and don't tell the kids the code.

If you work or aren't able to be at home when she gets home from school, and are concerned about her behaving, hire a babysitter. I know that sounds harsh, but if she wants to act like a child, then treat her like one.

Whatever rules you come up with, the important thing to remember is that it doesn't help her or you if you don't enforce them. All she is doing right now is testing the limits and seeing just how much she can get away with, and it sounds like she is getting away with a lot.

You don't want her to turn 18 and really be able to do whatever she wants.

If you do run into that situation where she turns 18 and isn't listening, remember that even though she is an adult, if she lives in your house, she needs to respect your rules.

I know that all of this sounds hard and will be harder to enforce, but just remember, change is usually not pleasant, but in the end, you will be better off and so will she.

I hope that this helps and that you are able to turn the situation around.



answers from Minneapolis on

The teen-age years are so tricky - to find a workable balance between the freedom & discipline they need. You don't mention if you and your daughter talk or work to come to agreements about rules and responsibilities, and her goals. If you can't talk, I would suggest asking friends for recommendations to a good counselor, and go together and/or separately. Punishments (taking away phone/car, "deciding" for her about her schooling, "threatening" to call the police) often don't work at 17. Talking is necessary. Something seems to be going on with her that she's not telling you. Please find a way to talk.



answers from Minneapolis on

Look into the child labor laws. I believe it is illegal to have a child, one under the age of 18, work past 9 or 9:30. Is she really working that late or going to her boyfriends after. Be firm, consequences, tough love. God bless I have a 17 year old, 19 year old and 20. We have been blessed not to have issues with them. Be firm and pray~ God will help and guide you in the path you should go~ tam

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