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Mark Manley
Mark Manley, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience:  Licensed Marriage/Family Counselor. Married 28 years, father of five. I would love to help
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All of a sudden my 12 year old daughter is screaming at me

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All of a sudden my 12 year old daughter is screaming at me out of control, telling me that I'm a terrible mother, that I show her no respect, and that she hates me. I'm a single parent who has painstakingly tried to keep things as stable for my daughter as possible. I'm always here for her, have her friends over, have always been involved with her school functions, make sure she has things to present herself well like clothes she wants, nice things for her hair, etc.,.. I don't leave her alone, I don't have an active social life (l don't have men around at all and never have). Her father has been a problem for me over the years, but she sees him regularly for visits (he doesn't parent, but he visits and pays attention to her) and I try to make things as
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for using JustAnswer. I would be happy to help you with your question, before I respond could I get a little more information from you?

Is your daughter an only child?

Would you day her personality is more like yours or her father's or neither?

Is there any family history of mental illness or antisocial behavior on either side?

Do you work outside the home and if so what has been her history of day care?

Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Sincerely,
Mark Manley
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Mark,

 

Yes, my daughter is an only child. Her personality is more like her father's, but she is like both of us. No one in the family is diagnosed clinically, but many have issues. I've raised her pretty much alone with family only visiting occasionally. Her father sees her every couple of weeks. I do not work outside the home. My daughter has never been in daycare, but has had issues with elementary school teachers. Some were founded, though many weren't, and I always remained involved taking up for her as well as supporting her teachers. She is an excellent student.

Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the additional information.

There are two items I assume you would like addressed here; 1) Why does she behave this way? 2)What can you do to stop the behavior?

1) Reasons for the behavior in descending order of probability:

She feels overly controlled by you and this is the most effective weapon she has found to date to get you upset and out of control. (the most effective tactic in her struggle with you for control)

She inherited some antisocial traits from her father (nature not nurture) and this is how they come out.

She is going through multiple hormonal changes associated with puberty and they effect her moods and impulse control.

She had a propensity for temper tantrums in early childhood that receded during her latency years but is now re-emerging with onset and progress of puberty.

She has been subtly influenced by her father to believe that mother is over-controlling and that the appropriate response to her over-control is rebellion. ( this can be communicated over time with very subtle derogatory comments and communications)

2)What can you do to stop the behavior?

From your description of your mothering and the home life you have provided I am gathering that you could be described as the following, above average intelligence, very organized, a very attentive parent, very self disciplined and neat as a pin. If this is true you are just the kind of mother a kid loves to hate. There are three reasons for this, first you are so hard to do battle with and second you have a tendency to be over controlling and third it is so hard to imagine ever becoming as accomplished as you are. When faced with such an opponent and in the throws of her adolescent need for increased autonomy she desperately resorts to whatever weapon is most effective. The screaming works well because it is simultaneously extremely irritating to your ears, challenging to your authority, and causes you deep concern (even fear) for her character.

Before I go on I will pause here and ask for your reaction to all of the paragraph above to prevent me from going to far afield if I am off track.

Looking forward to your reply

Thank you.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes to all, but I'm not super-organized-- she's actually better organized than I am sometimes, and I'm reasonably neat, but not overly so-- I expect basics like trash in the trashcan, clothes picked up... we've had clutter issues in the past, but I've gotten them under control, and she was reasonable in helping to do her part. I'd say she's fairly cooperative relative to other kids when it comes to household things. I'm not sure how accomplished she perceives me to be. It's something I struggle with as a stay-at-home mom. My life is more punctuated by her father's visits than anything else. Sometimes I worry that because she has seen me subjected to his controlling ways and not have my own income that she thinks less of me even though I've tried to provide as much stability for her as possible. She's never had to move, switch schools, be shuffled from parent to parent. She's had a lot of health issues over the years, which made it very hard for me to work since she missed a lot of school. I also haven't had any way to have care for her on school breaks-- I did work for almost two years, during which time she was sick often, and it was a fiasco. I don't have any family support whatsoever for her care, and even when I was working it was hard to find help when I had days off or when she was sick.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Honestly, I'm a bit worried because she's been behaving this way episodically for two months, and I've told her she can go live with her father, that I've done more than enough for her. I'm sure that was not the right thing to say...
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
OK thanks.
So here are the main things to keep in mind in this situation.

Move towards giving her more and more control of her life with in limits. This is done by giving her more choices and letting her have more of the brunt of the consequences for those choices. Also giving her more requests and less commands will be helpful. An example would be "sometime in the next 1/2 hour I would like you to take out the trash." vs. "you need to take the trash out now." or "What is your plan to be successful at your recital?" vs. "You need to get in there and practice right now." This is a gradual process that will make both of you uncomfortable at times.

Stay with your decision not to spank her she is too old now and it fuels her desire to show you how grown up she is by defying you more. (I am not patently against spanking but she is too old for that now).

Don't worry about your status as a stay at home mom it is a worthy occupation and if you believe it she will also.

Avoid power struggles whenever possible by going around her instead of facing off with her. This is an art in its self, nurture it.

Get support in the form of parenting books and communication with parents that have been down the road of parenting teens previously. You can find support groups online.

ABOVE ALL ELSE REMEMBER THAT BOYS AND GIRLS BETWEEN THE AGES OF 12 AND 14 GENERALLY RESEMBLE WEIRD CREATURES FROM ANOTHER PLANET MORE THAN THEY DO OUR OFFSPRING. Don't worry, the vast majority gradually return to normal human beings over the course of the teen years! My wife and I have parented five of them now and in every case they have come back to their senses even though we wondered at times about each of them.

Be in control but try not to be controlling.

Best of success to you both.

Sincerely,
Mark



Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Mark,

 

Thank you so much for your reply. What do I do now that she has said horrible things, and I've told her she can pack and go live with her father? Do I need to address any of this with her?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Mark was very helpful-- I just had a follow up question, and didn't realize he was going offline.
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 2 years ago.
Hello I am back.

Now you repair your mistake by telling your daughter that you were angry and frustrated and hurt and you said something you didn't mean. By doing this, you model for her how to repair the damage she has done by saying things in the heat of emotion that she didn't mean. Because she is 12 she probably won't follow your example with out some direction. Also you ask her if she meant what she said about you and if she says 'yes', then you talk it over with her to learn more about her perspective (even though this would be painful to hear). You remember that you are not defined by your daughter's perception of you but you may learn from her perception.

Don't hesitate to involve the two of you in some family counseling, if needed. This can help with your communication process, and any other issues that may be too heavy to work out together on your own.

Please click on 'Accept' so I get credit for my time and expertise. Let me know if you have any outstanding questions.

Thanks.
Sincerely,
Mark Manley

Mark Manley, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience: Licensed Marriage/Family Counselor. Married 28 years, father of five. I would love to help
Mark Manley and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Mark, thank you so much for responding. Your words and advice are very helpful. Thank you also for reassuring me that this is normal and will pass. Your example of your own experiences was funny as well as comforting. I really appreciate your help.

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