Trouble with Teenage Daughter

Updated on October 31, 2010
S.K. asks from Mojave, CA
12 answers

My daughter just started high school and is failing all her classes. She has a terrible attitude at home and is in counseling for possible depression. I am concerned mostly about her depression and her grades. She has had past experimental drug use so I am slightly concerned if the doctor decides to prescribe antidepressants. I know having her mentally healthy on medication is better than having her reach the bottom and hurt herself, but I'm still worried. She lost her privileges (cell, computer and going out with friends) due to her grades but I told her she can earn those back as her grades improve. Of course I'm the most horrible and strict mom in the world and she is using that to try to manipulate me into giving her cell back. I didn't want to take those things away but she needed a wake up call. I'm not sure if I am doing the right thing and if I am even doing enough. Anyone out there deal with this before and do you have any advice?

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So What Happened?

I would like to let everyone know that if you suspect drug use or alcohol use with your teen, you are probably right. My daughter almost died at the age of 15 due to alcohol poisoning. She snuck out to hang out with friends when i was out of town for a work conference and she drank so much she landed in a coma. Thankfully this experience has opened her eyes to receive help and I learned she was an alcoholic. I had no idea her problem was as serious. So please seek immediate help if you suspect addiction problems. Thanking God for my daughter's life and for the program she is in for helping her see that she has a problem and needs help.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Is home-schooling her for a year an option? Or alternately, can you afford to put her in a small private school? Is there anyone else in the family who could take her for a while?

My niece had the same issues. She moved in with my parents who were both retired and home daily. They put her in a small private school. Overnight, literally, all her former troubles and behaviors disappeared. She is now thriving in a small, private college and we are all so proud of her.

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answers from Little Rock on

I agree with Jo don't be afraid to have her to get treated for depression threw medication. This maybe the only way she will be able to get threw this. If you are worried that she will take to many. You hold on to the pills and give them to her and make sure she is taking them and hording them in her room.
I know this is a scary time for you! But it also a scary time for her. I was there in her shoes may yrs ago. Just be as patient as you can and work with the counselor.

Maybe it might be a good idea if you recieve counceling yourself. For 2 reasons.....1.) If your daughter sees that you are tryig to get help for yourself she may want and be more receptive too her counceling..... 2.) It may help you understand what she might be feeling and going threw and it may help you with what you are going threw. So it is a WIN WIN for the both of you.

I know this because I did this with both my parents and it helped me out alot. I didn't feel like "I was the only ONE that need help" an or "I was the ONE that was the PROBLEM" It makes a BIG differents in a teens eyes.
I hope you understand what I'm trying to say? And I hope I helped someway or another.

Best of Luck to YOU and YOUR DAUGHTER!!!

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answers from New York on

If she is depressed difficulty concentrating is a possible symptom of depression. So is irritability. Can you check with the counselor on what specific symptoms she has? A mental health professional can assess if and how much risk of suicide there is. Has she talked about that specifically or are worrying that it might be a possibility? Depression can vary a fair amount in symptoms and severity.

I don't have teenagers yet but I worked with teenagers as a family counselor in the past. Can you work things out so she can get at least a minimal level of privileges back fairly quickly? For example if she shows you her completed homework assignments several times a week rather than waiting a month or more for a school progress report. Hopefully it will encourage her to make an effort more quickly.

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answers from Los Angeles on

WOW S., you have a lot going on. First, I want to say that you are doing everything right. You are actively involved and that is perfect.

Let’s talk grades. It truly saddens me to see the pressures on kids today to perform well at school (when in reality it does not prepare them to do well in LIFE). They are pressured to “get good grades, get into a good college and get a good job” when the reality for so many is, go to school, get good grades, get a good job and pray every day for the company not to lay you off or downsize or let you go for a younger employee. Take a look at what is important right now…your daughter’s grades or her health. Which one is worth fighting for?

Now about the “possible depression”. I will tell you that if doctors had a chance to test everyone in this country for depression, they would find that over 85% of the population is depressed...according to their standards. I am AGAINST antidepressants at any time. There is a wonderful book called Potatoes not Prozac (Kathleen DesMaisons) and it describes how to combat depression with food. For example, did you know that a handful of cashews has the same medicinal properties as one Prozac? Please, when considering meds, keep in mind that the drug companies have created drugs to keep people sick because they want to sell more drugs…forever. If their drugs actually cured anything they would go out of business. And that would not be good business. Big Pharma has made it their mission to ensure “curing” diseases without drugs was illegal and then they make drugs that mask symptoms that do not cure anything, so you must stay on the meds for your entire life. Is that what you want for your daughter?

Now I am not downplaying any real diagnosis (if one actually is necessary), but it is always good to get all the facts. Kids are being diagnosed and prescribed adult drugs…I have a HUGE problem with that. Depression is not a disease, it is a state of mind.

Let thy food be they medicine and thy medicine be thy food…Hippocrates said that back in 400BC. It is even more true today. PLEASE EDUCATE DON'T MEDICATE. We are so quick to jump to a pill for every ill. PLEASE spare your child that route if at all possible. Medications only mask symptoms, they never cure them. Your medical doctor can only take care of sickness, please find a wellness doctor like a naturopath, a homeopath, or chiropractor, someone who is trained in WELLNESS and PREVENTATIVE medicine, not prescription meds.

Please, be careful. Please fight to stay out of that trap.

Dr John Gray, author of all those Mars Venus books, just happens to be one of my business partners and in his book the Mars Venus Diet and Exercise Solution he goes into serotonin and how to naturally create it. He also talks about my company and what we offer to fix the problem, not mask it.

A good child psych will help him and you deal with the thoughts. Your duaghter needs to know that everything is just as it should be, her life is unfolding exactly as planned, maybe not her plan (or yours) but “the bigger picture” plan. Her only responsibility is to get through today and tomorrow will take care itself. She needs to know that no matter what you love her and will be there for her. You will help her, hold her and love her in all circumstances. You will be her strength when she feels weak. You will be her reason when all seem confused and mostly you will be her mom and take care of her.

I am a family wellness coach. I help parents and kids take a look at the family as a whole to see the big picture. I help them look at their food, nutrition, and lifestyle habits to be successful. There are many people who can actually HELP, please look for them.

Family Success Coach

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answers from Detroit on

Hopefully she is in counseling with someone who can evaluate whether or not she would treat well with antidepressants. (i.e. a psychiatrist or someone associated with). Not all mood disorders respond well to antidepressants and since you have concerns about drug use I thought I would mention it so it's not a case of the counselor treating her and her primary care doctor prescribing for her without some sort of coordination between the two. I used antidepressants for years, mostly it helped me, but the first kind I took had the opposite effect and made me more despondent - which I understand can be a problem when these drugs are prescribed for young people. So make sure you understand what is being prescribed and side effects and monitor how it is affecting her. I think keeping the pills yourself and giving her just the current dose is also a good idea. All these medications have become popular and kids sell them to each other.

I wanted to reinforce what Cindy said, too. It's important for you to also get counseling. This will help you learn the best ways to respond and interact with her and strengthen your relationship. Teens can be so overwhelmed with emotions and are so sensitive to our "judgement". It would go a long way towards demonstrating that we all can benefit from learning coping skills and it's not just something wrong with her. I know now that I did not respond appropriately to my troubled teen. I was not mean or abusive, I responded quite naturally - but there were better ways that would have helped her sort out her emotions. Good luck, the teenage years are so hard.

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answers from New York on

With my son who is now 16! He used to be on the honor roll and... I had him tested for drugs and guess what? He is now enrolled in a program for that and takes Prozac. Don't be concerned about meds for depression because it may make the difference in having her there next week with you. I have also recently moved my son from college prep courses to general studies classes. You may want to ask her school counselor about something like that. Good Luck!

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answers from San Diego on

Hi S., I am sorry for what you are going through. My kids are only in grade school so I don't have much advice for you, sorry! I hope that you'll be able to find a solution that works for you. Looks like you've had some good tips presented here.
However, I do feel strongly that I need to provide some additional information with regard to one of the posts herein.
Barbilee, I have read many of your posts over the past several months and I think you have alot of amazing insight to share with people. Here is no exception; I think that, for the most part, you have provided S. with alot of important, and true, information with regard to her question. However, as a pharmaceutical chemist (who is VERY BIG on the holistic approach in my personal life and health management, as you'll see below) I would like to provide some information from a different point of view. My purpose in doing so is NOT to be combative, or disrespectful. Rather, I just want to be sure that certain statements will be taken within a reasonable context.
You state :"Please, when considering meds, keep in mind that the drug companies have created drugs to keep people sick because they want to sell more drugs…forever. If their drugs actually cured anything they would go out of business...Big Pharma has made it their mission to ensure “curing” diseases without drugs was illegal and then they make drugs that mask symptoms that do not cure anything, so you must stay on the meds for your entire life."
I think I understand the sentiment behind this argument, but I have to disagree with it as presented, because I have had a very different experience as a pharmaceutical chemist (formulation and development chemist). No, I don't have any journalistic references to back it up, just my own personal experience (17 yrs or so) and that of my colleagues. I don't know if that will hold any clout with you, but it's all I've got ;-)
I do, however, agree with you 100% on the point that many people are WAY to quick to pop pills, that doctors are WAY to quick to dispense (and, unlikely to actually research or learn about before dispensing).
A few years ago, after extensive lab tests and internal exams (oh, joy!) I was finally diagnosed with IBS-D (in my mind, a non-diagnosis) and was told to take Paxil, 20 mg. I chose, instead, to pursue several holistic approaches (under guidance of professionals in each area) including yoga, EFT(acupressure type of therapy), cognitive therapy, meditation, hypnosis, acupuncture, biofeedback, nutrition coaching, herbs and natural supplements, to try to get to the root of my digestive problems. I took no pharmacological drugs of any kind. Unfortunately, despite everyone's best efforts, as well as my own, I remained unable to maintain a healthy weight and became dangerously thin (I lost nearly 60 pounds about 1 1/2 year's time). Finally, I begrudgingly decided to try the Paxil. Long story short, my gastrointenstinal symptoms began to improve within 3 days, and were virtually eliminated within two or three weeks. I was truly blown away, amazed, and surprised. Interestingly, I am below a clinical dose (I take 15 mg). I truly believe that it's because of all of the hoistic practices that I engage in (yoga, EFT, exercise, etc). So, perhaps it's possible to have a marriage of both approaches, no?
You also state that "Depression is not a disease, it is a state of mind." I would argue that, to an extent, that's true. However, for some people, it is primarily due to a chemical imbalance that cannot entirely be overcome through lifestyle practices and alternative therapies, alone. In my case, my mind is not depressed but my 'gut' is, therefore, my body responds to the medication in much the same way that someone whose mind is in need of serotonin would. And yes, there are MANY natural, dietary and behavioral ways to boose seritonin levels in the body. I just want to caution the reader that, sometimes it's just not enough, and there is no shame in taking pharmaceutical products to help your body align if that's what works best for you. I do definitely recommend holistic approaches whenever possible, as prevention IS ALWAYS the best cure ;-)
I hope that some or all of you find this viewpoint to be helpful. S., I hope you don't feel as though I have hi-jacked your post here. Just wanted to address this info because it is near and dear to my heart.
Wishing everyone all the best -Suzi

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answers from Biloxi on

Ah, the first year of high school!
My son came home from school a few weeks ago, while I was at a dental appointment, and found that he was blocked from the computer, all the TVs were unplugged and the PS3 and Wii controllers were gone.

I had gotten an email from one of teachers telling me that he had not been turning in work nor doing work in class. I too was the world's meanest Mom. BUT, he started doing his work to earn back his things.

As to counseling and depression - he went through that 2 years ago. He saw a therapist for 1 1/2 years and, at the beginning, took Zoloft. He was able to stop the Zoloft after a month or so and the therapy gave him a place to discuss issues he did not want to talk to me about and learn some much needed coping skills. I saw the same therapist and picked up valuable parenting and coping skills also.

If your daughter has been experimenting with drugs it may be her way of "self medicating". Better to have her on controlled prescription drugs and receiving the proper medical/therapeutic care than endangering herself.

Just remember, even if this does turn out to be an organic issue that there are still consequences to bad behavior. As a parent you are on the right track.

Good Luck and Be Strong.



answers from San Diego on

Hi S., She sounds troubled, be there for her and let her know you are there for her. I would give her the cell phone phone back when she is at school, I know for me that was my saftey link between me and my daughter. I would not for any reason medicate my child for depression, but I would find the source of it and deal with that, in stead of covering up the depression with medication, and sometimes those medications make things worse. I don't think this is about weather you are doing the right things or not, you set the rules in your home, not us out here in mamasource, and it sounds like you are giving her the opportunity to earn back privileges, I personally think that is good, because if and when she does she will feel good about herself. I'm with Barbaralee, we use all natural cures in our home as well, my husband does a lot of research, and found out in doing so that many doctors get a bonus for every perscripture they fill, medications make you dependant on medications, and in my opinion and personal experience make you worse. Don't medicate your child. Teens go through depressions sometimes my son did, he's 23 now and is so much better, and no medication. J.



answers from San Diego on

I think you're doing great. Perhaps you could encourage her to go to her teachers for extra credit also. Report cards usually come out each semester or quarter which feels like FOREVER to a teen so maybe you could ask her teachers for a weekly progress report then she could earn her phone back quicker if she's progressing.



answers from San Diego on

I so incredibly feel your pain. My daughter was diagnosed w/ depression and ADD in 5th grade. She has tested Seminar, which is above GATE here in So. Cal) but is a terrible student and is failing classes now, her first year of high school. Most of her grade issues is because she is not turning in her work, which equals a 0. I am working with the teacher's trying to come up with solutions and am working w/ her therapist as well. I really don't have any advise to give you because I am so much going through a similar situation, but wanted to know that it sounds like you are doing everything right, and I support you!

Good luck!




answers from New York on

First I would like to tell you that you are not alone. I went through a horrible time with my son in high school. He was in all gifted programs at school, honor roll, and then boom all down hill. In her defense if SUCKS to be a teen today, with all of the pressures out there and I am sure she doesn't even know how to deal with them all. Unfortunately it isn't cool to be smart, and not taking drugs, drinking, or having sex. Look at the roll models the kids today have to look up to. It sickens me what the future of our children are but it is what it is so we have to deal with it and help them through it. On the flip side as a parent we have to do our job. Being the mean mom sometimes is what you have to do because you are her mom and not her friend right now. Do NOT be afraid to treat her depression because it may save her right now. My son took medication for about 6 months and then was able to go off. If you talk to any teen they will say their biggest pressure is school pressure and this is why along with peer pressure they get into drugs, drinking, and sex. Teen years are difficult no matter how good of a parent you are. It only takes insecurity, and a bad crowd to turn your beautiful child into a stranger. I get what you are feeling 100% so do not blame yourself in any way. I would first go to counseling yourself to help you cope and keep you intact. If you have to take her weekly for drug testing then do it she will know you mean business and hopefully it will keep her drug free. Second, try to have some mom and daughter time alone, away from the house, when you are both not fighting, do something fun together. Maybe she will open up to you. Learning to listen is sooooo difficult but necessary for teens. They thing we are nagging and don't want to hear what we have to say, so choose your words so she will hear you. Good luck and keep up the good work, do not give up on her, and she will get through it. My son is now 25 and I wouldn't live through those teen years for a million dollars but we made it.

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