At end of my rope with 12 yr old DD

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
At end of my rope with 12 yr old DD
Tue, 09-16-2003 - 5:35pm
I don't know if this is the place to post this or not, but I need someone to talk to about this. No one has any answers for me or even ideas on what to do. I will try to make this short. I have a 12 year old DD and a DS who is 2 months. I am divorced and remarried. My DD is from my first marriage. She spends one week here and then one week at dads house, and so on. We have joint custody of her. I remarried about 2 years ago. We had a baby about 2 months ago now. My DD loves little kids and babies. We thought she would be so excited about having a baby sibling. She thought she would be too. But that is not the case. Since he was born she has completely ignored him. She won't talk to him or even hardly look at him. We try to still spend time with her. She has not had to give up any of her activities or friends etc. She takes cheerleading and play soccer. She still has friends over and goes to their house. We go to see her cheer at her football games every weekend. My husband, her stepfather, even coached her soccer team last spring. So as you can see, we try to encourage her in what she wants to do. I do try to spend time with her as much as I can. Often the baby has to be with us because of my DH work schedule. This can not be helped. I try to play games with her, talk to her, always help her with her home work etc. She recently started her period and I helped her as I thought I should. I helped her get started shaving her legs recently also. What I am trying to say is I believe I am very involved in her life and she is not ignored in the least, especially since the baby came. Recently she has started to be very fresh as well. She came home today and I asker what she did in school. She said "stuff." I said what kind of stuff. She said "just stuff." I said what she did in certain classes etc. She got very fresh and rattled off a few things and asked if I was now happy. I blew up and told her she was not to old for a spanking. She said she would call the cops. I said, fine, call them. They will take you to dads house and you won't live here anymore. Please understand I was very angry. I have never spanked or hit my daughter. Not even once. I am not a "yeller" by nature. I raised her to be a kind, unselfish person. And lately she has been acting very selfish and mean. She is fresh all the time. I understand she has some feeling about having a brother. But this is not acceptable in our house. I have tried to talk to her about her feelings etc, she gets all clammed up. I don't yell when talking to her. But today was the last straw. I told her if she wants to be a part of this family she has to show respect to the other members of it as well. Including her baby brother. I do not expect her to change diapers etc, but I do expect her to go to him and say hello. Perhaps hold up a toy for him once in a while, ask questions about him etc. Whenever I hold him or feed him around her she has this look on her face like she wants him to dissapear. I do not know what to do anymore. I even asked her if she wanted to live at dads house. I know I should not have done that, but I was very angry. And it takes alot to get me angry. I just feel it is time for some sort of "tough love" around here and don't know what to do. She is not spoiled. She has chores. She has to do her own laundry, clean and vacumm her own room etc. She doesn't do alot of other chores around the house. But what we do is if she wants to buy something, she can I do chores to earn money for it. Don't get me wrong, I mean CD's or lip gloss etc. We buy her plenty of stuff. She is just acting like a 2year old brat and I do not know what to do about it. I feel like I have tried everything. I have thought of taking her to a counselor and most likely will. But she will feel it is a punishment. She felt that way through the divorce when I had her join a group for kids of divorce. I want to help her to be happy. I love her, but right now I can not stand her. I feel badly because I start to resent her and I don't like feeling that way about my own kid. I am sorry this is so long, but I really need some advice.

Thanks, Lisa

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 09-17-2003 - 9:20pm
Being 12 yrs old is such a hard time in life and having a baby brother is probably not helping your DDs situation. She, more than likely, has so many emotions going through her right now and she does not know how to share them with you. Her being 'fresh' is the way to get out of it and also hurt your feelings. Remember back to when you were a pre-teen. I remember going from the apple of my mom's eye to this devil child. I wanted my mom around and interested in my life but didn't want her to know it. Have you thought about taking her away for the weekend - just her and you by yourselves? Spend some time away from the rest of the family, including the baby and she might open up and let you in on her life. Also, there is nothing wrong with tough love. If you don't address the issues now they will only get worse. Most kids rebel at this age but she needs to understand her boundries. I know - easier said than done. My DD is only 5 yrs old and I dread the time when she decides I'm not her best friend anymore :(

Good luck and my heart goes out to you!!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-11-2003
Wed, 09-17-2003 - 9:57pm
Dear Lissa,

Welcome to the nuke-em year. This is where the newly minted adolescent would gladly drop a neutron bomb onto the property in order to rid it of the unsightly infestation of family but keep the property.

I hate to tell you, but your daughter is normal. Those of us who have made this difficult passage agree that adolescents are the best birth control on the planet.

Here's the bad news: This will last for years.

Here's the good news: The bad times are interspersed with good times and they do come out the other side.

There are no real hard and fast rules to surviving adolescents, although the books and experts abound. It sounds like you have a great kid on your hands so far--no drugs, no boys, no running around. Give thanks for this. I was one of the kids your parents warned you about, so I can testify from personal experience that it could be worse.

I can, however, at least give you some hints to dealing with your tall two year old with the adult vocabulary:

Set ground rules for attitude, voice tone and what they're allowed to say. They need the right to their own opinions and beliefs, but they don't get to treat you or anyone else like so much garbage. They need to express themselves, but with the basic respect they'd give any stranger. Remember that time outs work for big kids, too. If she can't be civil, she can be uncivil in her room.

Get a game plan with all the parents involved here--you, her biological father, her stepfather, and anybody else on the list. Adolescents are masters at playing their parents; she will try to go from parent to parent until she gets her way. Make sure the same rules apply everywhere--if she's on restriction in your house, she needs to be on restriction in her dad's house, too.

She needs a house chore that is hers on a regular basis, not just her own room. She needs to know her contribution is expected and also necessary. It's okay to make kids pull some of their own weight.

When she ignores the baby, she's possibly expressing unexpected jealousy, but I'm willing to bet there's some power play there, too. Her attitude may possibly be a power-over thing with you; it is within her power to hurt you by ignoring her brother, and she does. Right now, her little brother isn't hurt by this, but he might if this goes on. Get her involved in the fun parts of baby care. When you give the munchquito his bath, have her help. If she doesn't like that, have her pick some aspect of baby care you can do together. Then, when you're doing that, start playing with the baby in a way that involves her. If your son is smiling at people yet, I bet this will get him smiling at her, and that's a great start. She needs to see he is a person, a real part of the family equation, as human as she is and eager to love her.

Raising adolescents is just plain hard, and you are just starting this journey. I have two daughters--one biological (age 28 now--she sent me the link to your letter), one step (age 24), and adore them and they love me back. It was, however, a terribly rocky road to our current bliss. I won't lie to you. It will hurt. You will be more furious with her sometimes than you ever dreamed you could be. She'll get mean. They just do. It's a combination of hormones, assertion of independence and social influences. Very nearly every one of us did it to our parents--didn't you?

Your job is to remain as calm as you can and not allow her to get you embroiled in the dramas. Love her as passionately as ever, but stay serene. The first one who loses her temper--loses. I learned that the hard way. Stay to as high a ground as you can, and when you feel you're losing it, give her a time out.

Give yourself times out, too. Nurture yourself. Refill your well of strength and energy by doing things you truly love--and don't you feel guilty about it, either. Do what makes you happy because you will need it for the rough times.

Remember, too, that there will be some very good times where you and your daughter can explore the whole business of growing up. This is your opportunity to share what it was like for you to be a teenager--to compare notes. After all, we teach them to be human, and this is definitely a human stage.

These are just generalities, but from where I stand on the other side of the great adolescent divide, I sure could have used them!

Take care, and write me if you need to :)

Maya (

Avatar for momtokd
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 09-18-2003 - 10:54pm
Maya -

I'm a lurker here and just had to say that I thought your post was incredible.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a wonderful way.

I should print this out, as my DD is only 3, and I'm sure I'll be asking these same questions.

Thank you. Michelle, Mom to Katie

Community Leader
Registered: 04-07-2008
Fri, 09-19-2003 - 12:00pm

I'm in awe of your brilliance! You seem like a very confident, self composed person. I've read two of your posts and your advice is so sensible and easy to entreat. Thank you so much for posting here.


Community Leader