What Do You Suggest a I Do About My 17Yr Old Daughter.

Updated on May 31, 2018
K.S. asks from Tyler, TX
16 answers

My oldest started falling into depression after her boyfriend broke up with her. She took a handful on benedryls and stayed in bed for a long time. I thought she had the flu because i had just had it. Her ex texted me and sent me screenshots of her depression. I immediately took her to counseling. The counselor said she was a smart and strong girl. and that we didn’t need too many sessions. Soon after, she begins smoking pot. This was September or November. I find out in April, because I found a baggie and confronted her. She said it helps her depression so much. Fast forward to now, she’s barely graduating. She has had no idea what she wants to do with life (least of my worries). She’s been a social butterfly all year and exclaims ‘it’s my senior year’ every chance she gets. Currently, I feel like I’m constantly checking her location because I’m always waking up lte to let the dog out and she isn’t home. This happens probably once a week. She’s hanging around some bar people - I’m pretty sure it’s who she is getting the pot from. She seems like an angel while around me. Gives me every excuse for being late. Invites friends to our house all the time. Last week, her friends were here 3 nights in a row- I’m like - no more ! ashe says, fine, Thwy won’t be back. I’ll just go to there house. You and dad really stress me out and you guys are pushing me away. This evening, I’m prepping for her graduation party and she gets a txt and says, i have to meet $$&$, she forgot her keys in my car. Ol, Ok, at 12:15-, so you’re just going down the road to the graduation party you just came from, right ? Yea. So I’m tired and go to bed and wake up at 1:15, She isn’t in bed, so I check her location. She’s 30 minutes away, towards the guy that sells her stuff. I said- whoa- where are you. no reply. I call, I get an auto reply ‘can’t talk now’. The worst is in my head. I immediately take off to her location. mom- I’m ok, my tire just went flat, I’m pumping it up. I found out later that this was her second time of putting air in her tire. Why are you 30 min away- long story - she lies and says $&$$ told her she was at $&&$ house. I feel like I’m done. I’m tired and exhausted. Now she exclaims, I’m getting ready to graduate. She rolls her eyes, she lies, she’s smoking pot. She’s a loser, pretty much, right now. She’s ignored her younger sister all year. I don’t know what to do with her. I took her phone and laptop. She does have a job and pays us $50 a paycheck for her car. And - she’s planning on going on a senior trip next week. i just don’t think I can handle much more. What’s my rights with a recently graduated 17yr old ? What am i responsible for ? Can I change her ways ? Is it too late for some kind of boot camp ? My fear- she becomes sucidal again.

Edit- Why did I tell them no more coming over ? Because my house is the perfect party house. They go to the basement and have done this most of the school year. They drink and stay over. I’m normally up late, looking after them. making sure they done leave and don’t linger outside. I would say it happens about 1x a month. They never cleaned up after themselves. Drinks were spilt on the carpet and I feel they took advantage of my daughter by leaving a mess for her. I had just shampooed the basement and thoroughly cleaned it. Her grad party was days away. I didn’t want to have to chase after them to clean up their messes near the pool. We do order pizza sometimes. Some of her friends don’t hardly have food at their home. Last week, we made hotdogs and hamburger for them on the smoker. They loved it. It turned into an all-nighter. A mess was left in the morning. i can shut the basement door- I can’t do that to the pool area. When I go outside, I want to enjoy it the way I left it. If they can’t clean up after themselves- They are done. I felt I had to put my foot down and let them know, I expect cans in the trash can and cigarette butts in the bucket and stop using all of my towels. I think that’s reasonable? I can’t chase this everyday. We do want the kids here, but some respectful behavior would be great.

2. Great advice on the power struggle. She’s been a fairly good kid all her life with little guidance from me. Shes always done the right things. I have raised her with a good head, I just need to let her run some I guess. I’ve just heard so many horror stories of people who got caught up in drugs. If she’s hanging out with someone who we’ve heard hangs out with a much tougher group, I don’t want my daughter to be part of any of it.

3. Pot does have its benefits, She is so much happier. - but it’s still a drug and it’s illegal AND like a poster said- i can tell sometimes when a person was a habitual smoker and I don’t want my daughter to end up like that. Pot is natural though. I guess something like Zoloft or something else might work, but I’m not a fan of antidepressants.

4. I did not know she took too many benedryls until her ex texted me. By then, she was about 3 days into it. i took her to her pediatrician that day. I recently had a stomach bug, flu- something and I thought she had it too.

5. I have never called her a loser, verbally. I was angry when I posted this and worried about her future, when so many other kids seem to have their college figured out. She does not. We’ve been too focused on ‘This is my Senior Yr’. I get it now- She wanted to flood her Sr Yr with good memories instead of a few bad ones. I do need to tell her I am proud of her more. I never heard it growing up, we didn’t show emotion. Feelings are hard, Ok. She has a tender soul. No one in my immediate family has ever had these issues with their kids. I’m going to try some of your suggestions below. That is why i posted. I was at a loss. (( The nasty posts of ‘ I feel sorry for your daughter’ because of you. You guys are great. Very inciteful information. We aren’t perfect. Mental health issues will soon be taken care of with your information. SMH. I’m reaching out for help and you are slamming me. Outstanding ! I suppose there will always be those that are like you. ))

6. The pediatrician explained her actions that she wasn’t actually suicidal but really trying to reach out to someone. Unfortunately, sometimes kids don’t intend to take their life, but do it mistakenly.

7. I should add that we’ve recently moved from a country setting to a city setting. She never helped do one thing, because she was always with her boyfriend who did sweep her off her feet. She was happy. A year prior, her best friend group dropped her so quick because she told one girl about her boyfriend not being faithful. That boyfriend tells his girlfriend that he doesn’t want her to hang out with my daughter because she causes problems. So after shunning pushing her away, my daughter is left puking in the bathroom because her best friends desert her. And depression begins at this moment I think. We continue with volleyball. I pay for group lessons. She’s really good and I’m not just saying that. We aren’t allowed to watch her school practices. I never get to see her actually play but for 3 minutes of the last VB game. Her JR year, I think- you’ve got this. I pumped her up, she goes to all the pre practices during the summer. the coach saw her with the rest of group that paid for lessons at a nearby college. In the end, she’s JV again. They brought a foreign exchange student in as Varsity and a 9th Grader. If same the HS team was average, by no means are they #1 in the state. Her high school years have been rough.

What can I do next?

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answers from Appleton on

She's a minor. Sign her into a rehab and tell her she stays until she heals or can legally sign herself out. Tell her she has to participate in the program, take the steps and do the work. She doesn't have to go on her senior trip, maybe you can get a refund.

To those who say it's only a little weed and feel it's harmless, I beg to differ. I can tell in a few minutes when I am talking to a person who smoked weed habitually even if they stopped years ago. There is still a glaze in their eyes and I can tell their brain is not functioning completely.

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answers from Honolulu on

I'm wondering why, when her friends were at your house for three nights, you declared "no more" and they - and your daughter - left. Were they disrespectful? Trying to sneak alcohol? If they weren't breaking rules and basically behaving like human beings, then perhaps you should have welcomed them. Ordered pizza.

Because a parent who wants to keep an eye on a teen creates a welcoming place in the home for the teen and friends. I'm not saying to become the "cool party mom". Definitely establish boundaries (no going in bedrooms, no excessive profanity, no smoking or drinking), but try to keep it low key. Stay nearby but out of sight. Keep the snacks and sodas coming. Establish a place in the house where you're not too worried about things like a white velvet sofa and a priceless antique rug - make it comfy with some bean bag chairs.

Many kids don't know what they want to do at the end of high school. Sure, there's the kid who knew he wanted to be a veterinarian since age 3, or the kid who was determined to be a dancer since age 7, or the kid who figures out in art class in 10th grade that she's really good at art and finds her passion for life.

But for every one of those, there are a hundred who aren't sure. My son graduated with no problem, then tried 2 colleges unsuccessfully. Well, he was successful as far as passing his classes (just barely) and attending classes, but he hated them. Didn't have any idea about a career. Then 2 years after graduation he found out about audio engineering and something clicked in his head and heart. He applied to and was accepted at a prestigious and very demanding college, graduated with honors, and now he's an in-demand audio engineer and loves his career.

As for that counselor, I'd get my money back. 'Smart and strong' aren't what determines depression or suicidal intentions. If that were true, there would never be depression or suicide among people with intelligence, power, family support, etc. How many times have you read about someone who committed suicide who had everything going for him or her? Depression can be a medical problem like diabetes or asthma or cancer. Your daughter sounds like she's relying on the wrong sources of strength. And it seems like your relationship with her is one of mistrust and fear and pushing away. I suggest you both go have a talk with an actual therapist or psychiatrist and work on her strengths and your communication.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

well, a good start would be to quit calling her a loser.

you need to a) look at what's working right and build on it and b) pick your battles.

she has a job. she's paying you regularly. that's huge.

when was the last time you praised her for that? or anything else?

how awesome that her friends were congregating at YOUR house where you could keep an eye on things. what did you think would happen when you booted them out?

she's a little old for you to take her things. you could, however, quit paying for the phone, and deny access to the wifi. but online faffing about doesn't seem to be your problem.

she's almost out of high school. what comes next should be hugely on her mind, and i'm not sure why it's the 'least of your worries.' have you taken her around to the local community colleges, or the universities if you can afford them? have you helped her fill out college applications? look at trade schools? discussed with her the possibilities of upward mobility at her current job?

what exactly have you done to get her excited about the wealth of shimmering opportunities and adventurous paths that lie ahead of her?

don't set her up to lie. if you get that 12:15 text you say 'she can get the keys tomorrow'. if the nighttime gadding about is your biggest issue, then discuss with her how to solve it and stick to it. i suggest you involve her- kids do best when they have a say. sit her down and say 'esmerelda, it's ruining my health to have you gone at all hours of the night and lying to me about where you are. i need to sleep better. we need to change how this is working. i need you to be in by 1 no matter what and not go out again. i'll stop checking on your location and trust you to make good decisions about how you spend your time, but the rules are that you are home by 1 and stay home, and that if you take a single drink or if you are smoking pot you don't drive. we'll come pick you up, no questions asked.' or whatever rules you (and she) find acceptable. maybe it will be that if she's not home by 1, she stays wherever she is.

it's awful when you DON'T trust them to make good decisions, but at her age you can't micromanage her. decide what your absolutes are, what your responses to violating them, and put them out there.

let the rest go.

but i'd focus more on how you can help her move to the next stage, independent adulthood, and get her enthused about it. the time for disciplining your defiant child is almost over. time for you to change your thinking too.


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answers from Dallas on

Wow, I feel sorry for her.

Have you ever praised her for anything? Good grief, she has a job, she gives you money.

If she is aware that you call her a loser then you've likely lost her.

I can't imagine a suicide attempt (which is a cry for help) and it is blown off like it was.

She is 17 so yes, you are legally responsible until she is 18. From the tone of this post, I guess you are counting the days.

Pretty sad for your entire family. Keep in mind that your other children are watching this and how you handle it.

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answers from Minneapolis on

You own the car and she is still a minor. Tell her you’ve done some thinking and have decided you’re not honoring your current arrangement while she is using illicit substances. Take the car and the phone and tell her she can get them back when she has a clean drug screen (your terms when and how and without advance warning). Then tell her she will get ongoing random tests. Anything comes back positive, she loses privileges. Tell her this calmly and gently and let her know you love her and when she is ready to stop, if she’s finding it hard, you will get her into treatment. Expect she may leave and not comply. Depending on how far away she is from 18, you may or may not have legal help getting her to stay home or go to treatment. No treatment in the world is going to help if one isn’t able to admit their use is a problem and has self desire to change. As long as she wants to use, don’t enable her by giving her things. She can straighten up, go without, or pay her own way.

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answers from Boston on

Your daughter attempted suicide with a pill overdose, yet a counselor told you just a few sessions would do it?

Your daughter is not yet 18. You still have legal authority until she is 18. The fact that she just graduated is irrelevant unless she has a court declare her an emancipated minor.

She is a danger to herself, and she is a danger to others if she is driving while impaired (the substance doesn't matter). She's telling you not to push her away - she's begging you for help.

Talk to her doctor and get a much better counselor to help you make decisions that you can stand behind. Being tired is totally understandable but you cannot give into your exhaustion now when this is a critical time and your last opportunity to intervene with legal authority. My stepdaughter did this in high school and her mother hid it from my husband (the father). Once my stepdaughter was 18, it was impossible to do what needed to be done. She has overdosed several times, been committed several times, and has been in a long-term relationship (later marriage) with a man convicted for manslaughter, serving 18 years in maximum security. My heart aches with what might have been, had steps been taken when she was 17.

Do not give up. Get help for yourself immediately so that you can help her.

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answers from Miami on

I think some people forget that she is STILL A MINOR. You are still legally responsible for her. If she kills someone driving while high, you could be held responsible.

I think that you need to talk to an attorney quickly about this. Know what legal difficulties you could face. You're asking here what you are legally responsible for - this is a question for a lawyer...

I understand that she feels stressed out and pushed away, but the truth of it is that she doesn't have a God-given right to have car (what she pays is nothing compared to paying a bank real car payments), a cell phone provided by you, or anything else except food, a warm place to sleep and clothes to wear. If she is high and driving, you need to take the car away.

You said she has a job. You need to charge her real rent as soon as she graduates so that she doesn't have a lot of money for drugs. She needs to clean house. She needs to work. You can put it in savings for her without telling her and use it to put her deposit down and first month's rent on an apartment down the road. DO NOT sign a lease for her. This is so important.

Sometimes tough love is what you have to employ. You must figure out what that means in your daughter's situation. I would absolutely get a different counselor for her. This one doesn't seem to take things seriously enough. I do agree with the poster who wonders why the teens being at your house bothered you. (Unless they were doing drugs/drinking alcohol...) i would so much rather have a house full of teens so I know what my daughter was doing and who she was with than her be gone somewhere else...

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answers from Portland on

Two other answers disappeared. Now my third answer disappeared even tho I was careful. I forgot to periodically save.

A short answer based on personal experience and education is that, at age 17, there is not much we can control. The more anxious and angry become, the more the teen will rebel. When we're able to let them take responsibility for their decisions, we give them room to learn and grow. Sounds like you and your daughter are in a power struggle. She is rebelling because she feels that she has no power.

Parents, with a 17 yo, only has the ability to control what happens in their house. I suggest you show her respect by not lecturing and making demands that you can't enforce.

Parents have control over what they are willing to do. Take away car privileges, electronics for which they pay and new clothes, rearranging their schedule.to help the teen. In other words let go of trying to change them and focus on how you can change yourself so that they will have a choice.

I suggest that not allowing her friends come to your home eliminates your ability to know them and how they act. Be respectful of friends and they will likely respect you.

We want our teen to be a responsible adult. That requires that we are willing to let them learn for themselves by
letting them make mistakes and giving them consequences that teach rather than punish.

My 17 yo granddaughter has lived with me since she was 14. I learned that when I nag, lecture and show anger I am not respecting her right to be involved in her own life. A parent is also not respecting themselves when they react in anger. They've let go of the ability to control themselves.

Have just a few rules with natural consequences. Give the consequence in as unemotional way you can manage. This will help them consider the action and consequences. When we're angry and punitive the teen gets angry instead of thinking about the lesson.

I suggest you're in a power struggle with your daughter. The relationship becomes about power instead of learning how to navigate life.

Of course you worry, get angry because you feel powerless. She rebels to feel like she has some control. In reality, you both share power when you let go of trying to control and learn how to respect each other. You daughter is responsible for herself. And you are responsible for yourself and your home. Those are the only things still within your control.

Some of us learn the hard way. Focus on the lesson instead of punishing. Treat her with respect and she's more apt to respect you. Work together to find resolutions. Sharing power is difficult.

I urge you to read How to Talk to Teens so they Talk to You by Edna Ferber. Love and Logic book is helpful. Love and Logic has web sites to look at.

I also urge you to get counseling for help in being able to change this situation. Don't expect your daughter to go. That's alright, tho it might be helpful later on.

I empathize with you because I've had difficulties parenting. It's the most difficult of all "jobs."

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

She sounds fairly normal for a senior. Assuming she's not doing any more drugs than a little weed, I don't really hear anything abnormal about her in your post. You should have been happy that her friends were at your house vs. her being out late at night and having to check up on her. Having her friends over at her house is a good sign. Too bad you banned that.

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answers from Chicago on

It is totally understandable that you would worry about your daughter after a suicide attempt, but I would take her at her word that you are pushing her away when that probably isn't your intention. I would go with her to a family counselor who can help you and she sort out what rules are really important to you, and what would be helpful to her, how you can best support her at this stage of her life. Many 17 year olds don't know what their next step is, but she needs your help to explore options; working, gap year, college or community college? It is too late to micromanage her every move and deed, but some of your concerns might be very legitimate, like is she driving when she is high? Some of your concerns might be misplaced, sounds like she has great social skills and that will serve her well in life. She needs her mom to believe in her so that she can believe in herself, so try hard to see her strengths and not think of her as a "loser" because she is pulling away from you. It is time for her to be pulling away, and you have been fighting her. If she does have a more serious problem with drugs, then she will need to know that you are on her side and want to help her. Let the counselor help you and she assess her needs in this area. She is almost an adult, but it is not too late for you to work together with her to help her find her path.

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answers from New York on

she overdosed on benadryl and you didn't bring her to the ER ?!?!? why ever not?
if you are worried about her becoming suicidal again then you need to bring this up with her counselor. that is not a few sessions and done.
when i was in highschool i had a job and i had to be home at a certain time. my mom didn't question my wherabouts, she didn't bother me she didn't track me. smoking pot is not something i care about (its controversial, yes, but it has benefits that help people). if your drinking, call home and see if mom wants to pick up or if you should say the night where you are.
you could be the type of parent that kicks their child out as soon as they are 18.. or you could make a deal with her that states she can stay at your house till she graduates college... but she will still have to follow the rules and keep paying for the car. but you will have to sit down and negotiate this with her. let her have say in the rules, let her have say in the consequences, ( my parents grounded me from my car for 4 weeks for being out past my time, being at an alcohol wild party and lying about where i was. and i NEVER did that again!!)

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answers from Portland on

I didn't respond yet because I found your question a bit hard to read - as in, I wasn't sure if your daughter had a serious suicide attempt, or what the deal was.

If it was a serious suicide attempt, I would have thought the pediatrician would have admitted her to a psych ward, and she would have seen a psychiatrist, not a counsellor a few times. So I was confused by that. I was also not understanding the partying, worrying about her future, etc. because for depressed, suicidal teens, that would be the least of the worries.

So she sounds lost, a bit too carefree, depressed and low self esteem to me - and needs limits, boundaries, major parental involvement and a whole lot of counseling WITH mom.

I would wait on what to do with my life talks at this point.

As for the kids coming over - I'd focus on the good friends, within reason, with strict limits. I would say you can have car, when this and that is done, to my standards, and for good behavior. Rewards. Praise.

I'd set rules and follow through. Yes, it's work but far less work in the end.

One thing at a time. Focus on your priorities.

If you want one night a week to have friends over - say that, and have the rules, and monitor it. I wouldn't close the door and say whatever happens, happens.

She wants rules. She needs them.

Lots of mom - daughter, and dad - daughter, and family time. Listen.

But definitely counseling on how to parent her. You'll find that helpful. And counseling sessions together. That will be very helpful.

You can turn this around. Good luck. Keep us posted.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I feel so sorry for your daughter. I hope when she graduates she gets as far away from you and your controlling and abusive attitude as she can.

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answers from Portland on

First, I’d make sure the advice you take is coming from a parent & not someone who has no kids & thinks they know how to be a parent. Anyway, this is my thoughts, rehab is way over board, no need for that. Basically, if you do anything EXCEPT show her some respect & treat her like the adult she is going to be soon, the more she going to rebel, specially if you put her in rehab. Your relationship changes when your child is becoming an adult. Now, your only there when they need you, like after they’ve made their mistakes & they need you to help them learn the lesson. Sounds like she is enjoying graduating & relaxing after years of school. I think It is totally normal & typical rebelling from a teenager. Maybe have a talk with her about what you expect from her & listen to what she would like. Your worries are totally understood, unfortunately we get to keep worrying about them the rest of our lives, oh yeah! You have to trust that you taught her right from wrong & send her out in the world to take her path. Just so you know, I have a 22 yr old & 12 yrs old, also I was once a teenager myself, so I totally understand what your going thru. This stage of parenting was the hardest for me. You have to let them go & it’s the hardest thing to do! Good Luck!

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answers from Norfolk on

I've never heard of any school sponsored senior trip that takes place after graduation.
Do you mean she's going on a vacation trip with friends after graduation?
It sounds like she might be doing more drugs besides pot.
Talk to a lawyer about what your options are.
Continue with the counseling.
If her friend is dealing dope, he needs to be arrested.
The school guidance counselor might be able to give you some advice too.
Know what your rights and responsibilities are for both before and after she turns 18.
Once she's an adult you can't force her to see any doctor or counselor - but you don't have to provide food/clothing/shelter or pay her bills for her anymore either.
Come up with a plan for the conditions you expect for her continued living with you - write it all out - and if she can't live with that - then she has to move out or you have to evict her.



answers from Binghamton on

17 is hard. They feel so adult, but are still so immature. I found that focusing on making sure we had the kind of relationship where she could tell me anything, even things she knew I would disapprove of, and trust that I wouldn't judge her and help her look at her behavior and think about how to make better choices, was most helpful. Sometimes it means staying calm on the surface while freaking out inside. I'm not saying rubberstamp everything she does. Reflect back to her where you think she is making unhealthy and dangerous choices. But ultimately she is going to be the one making those choices, so the best thing you can do is make sure she knows you are always there and that respect goes both ways - you respect her as an autonomous being who will have to make her own mistakes, and she respects you by not having her friends leave a mess all over your space and coming home on time. My girls are now 18 and 22 and while we had some tough times in there, we somehow managed to keep communication open. The eldest now tells me how much she valued my advice during the rougher teenage years,, which is pretty much the best we moms can hope for. You can do this.

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