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Cher
Cher, Teacher
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 18592
Experience:  Extensive Experience working with Children/Teens; M.A. Teacher/Tutor 40+ yrs.; Parent of 2
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My daughter has just completed her first year at college.

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My daughter has just completed her first year at college. Prior to going to college, she was withdrawn and did not communicate with the family or myself. We tried counseling but that did not work. Everytime we went, she felt as if she were being "ganged" up on. I did not feel this was the case. Now she is home from college and is worse than ever. She keeps her room a mess, she stays in her room ALL the time. She still does not communicate. She doesn't want to eat or socialize with the family. She has been dragging her feet about getting a job or signing up for school at a local community college. She does not want to go back the college she attended her first year. She says that the school was not for her. She cries when I try to talk to her. Sometimes I get so frustrated that I start yelling. It takes a lot for me to get to this point, but it does happen. She is the youngest of three daughters and now lives with myself and her step-father of 6 years.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi andemarie, and thanks for your question.

I'd like to try to help you and your daughter, but first I have some questions for you:

How old is your daughter?

When you say 'prior to going to college' she was withdrawn and non-communicative with the family, do you mean in the weeks before, as she was preparing to leave, or during her senior year of High School?

When did you try counseling? Was it family counseling, with you and her stepfather, or did she attend sessions by herself?

What did the counselor tell you regarding an evaluation of your daughter's behavior?

Was the counselor male or female?

How did she do, grade-wise during her first year of college? Is she basically a good student that has no problems studying, and getting good grades, or does she struggle in school?

What did she choose to major in, at college? If she hasn't chosen a major yet, what courses did she take in her first year, 'core' courses (requirements)?

Did she live in a dorm or an apt. with roommates?

Did she communicate with you while she was at school?

Did she come home for any holidays/vacations? If so, how was her behavior, then?

Does she have a good relationship with her stepdad?

Is her biological father still a part of her life? If so, what kind of relationship do they have and does she see him often?

How does she get along with her older sisters? Do they live at home, as well?

Thanks for all your additional detail. I know I asked a lot of questions, but it will enable me to better understand the situation.

Cher
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Daughter just turned 19.

She was non-communicative her junior and senior year of high school.

The counseling started off with my daughter and myself then it was just her. There were a total of about 7 sessions. The counselor (female) never gave me an evaluation.

My daughter had a 3.6 GPA upon leaving high school. She had less a 1.6 GPA after her first year at college. She never struggled in high school unless she had a personality conflict with her teacher. Otherwise, she usually prided herself in her school work.

She had not chosen a major even though she was trying to decide. Her core courses were; sociology, psychology, math, spanish,history, criminal justice. Her first semester she got an A in Spanish and her second semester she got an F.

She lived in a dorm and only communicated with me when she had no other choice. When she did, most of the time it was via email. Once or twice she called me "just to chat." She came home for all of the holidays. She seemed to be especially happy when she was home for Thanksgiving. We even went shopping together. Easter was a little tense.

She does not have a good relationship with her stepdad. Her biological father is still a part of her life, but only on occasion. He does talk to her when there is an issue. The last time she saw him - about 6 weeks ago, she was rude to him when he tried to talk to her.

She respects her oldest sister (9 yrs. older). She doesn't talk to her other sister much, except on the internet (she is 16 months older). The oldest is married and lives in another state. The other sister is in her 3rd year in college.

 

Lastly, I have recently taken away her phone and limited her email because she has been so rude and will not do chores unless I follow behind her.

 

 

 

Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hello again, and thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions so thoroughly.

It's possible that your daughter has felt conflicted for a while, about the family dynamics, her 'standing' in the family, what she wants to study, and what she wants to do with her life; she may have lost confidence in herself and in the decisions she's been making.

If you were divorced when she was a pre-teen or young adolescent, this may have taken a negative toll on her, emotionally, which is not uncommon, and not having a good relationship with her step-dad adds to her unhappiness at home and possibly, being angry with you. Being in a new situation where she's away from home, completely independent, and unsure of herself, may be causing her to feel depressed. If she was a good student throughout High School, and now her grades declined at the end of her second semester in college, she may feel the world is crashing in around her, and she doesn't know what to do to make it better.

The counseling was a good idea, when she first started exhibiting these behavioral symptoms, but it doesn't sound like it was effective. This may be due to her being 'resistant' to the help, the counselor may not have been a good match for her, and I would not give up on the help you can get from another counselor who is perhaps more experienced with teens with similar behavior.

If your daughter is unhappy with her life and possibly suffering from depression, it would be helpful to have her evaluated and diagnosed by a medical doctor and a psychologist/psychiatrist, and medication may be recommended, if needed. I prefer to suggest medication as a last resort, but sometimes, chemical imbalances in the brain can cause these unhappy feelings and behaviors in your daughter, and the right medication can correct the situation, and help her feel happier.

This does not sound like a 'phase' she's going through, if it started when she was a Junior in H.S. and has only worsened. While you do have your happy times with her, which is great, I know, as a mother, you wish she would be happy and communicative more of the time.

Perhaps, now that she's home from school, you can take advantage of the time to have her see another counselor and make some inroads into the causes behind her actions and feelings, so she can work on getting past them.

You did what you had to, re: revoking privileges with her phone and email, but tell her clearly what she can do to earn them back; try working on one thing at a time, like cleaning her room and maintaining it's neatness. Help her clean out her closet, drawers, etc., donate wearable clothing and accessories to charities and throw out anything you can't donate.

Even though she's not a 'baby', if constant reminding (nicely) and following behind her, gets the job done, continue to do this. Hopefully, she'll eventually realize she likes a clean, uncluttered room better than a messy one. However, interestingly enough, if her mind and/or emotions are feeling 'cluttered', maybe that's why she prefers her room in disarray.

As far as not wanting to return to college in the Fall, will they allow her to return, or is she on academic probation, considering her low GPA? She may benefit from a year or a semester off, with time to work, make some money, and/or attend the local community college, and 're-group'; however, make sure she will go back to school after this time off, if that's what you both decide would be best for her. What are her other alternatives? Can she go to the local college or community college and not lose any credits? Do you think she would do better in school if she lived at home? She did well in H.S. even though she didn't seem happy with the family situation.

There is a lot to consider, I know you're in a difficult situation, and I do empathize with you, as a mom, but I'd start with a physical exam and routine blood work by her doctor to make sure there are no underlying medical problems, and then interview some therapists/counselors and choose the one you feel could best help her.

I hope things improve for you and your daughter, soon.

Cher
Cher, Teacher
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 18592
Experience: Extensive Experience working with Children/Teens; M.A. Teacher/Tutor 40+ yrs.; Parent of 2
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