17 yr. old daughter has become a strange

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-06-2003
17 yr. old daughter has become a strange
Thu, 11-06-2003 - 11:33am
Hi everyone,

This is my first post. Reading about the problems others go through has given me some comfort to know that (a) we're not alone in the problems we face, and (b) it could be a whole lot worse.

I am the mother of 3 teenagers (2 daughters; 17 and 16, and a 14 yr. old son), and up until last year, have never had a moments problem with them. Now my 17 yr. old daughter has changed so much -- partially due to normal teenager rebellion, but also due to the influence of her first boyfriend who is very manipulative and controlling. There is also some health problems; she has Scoliosis and goes for physio twice a week to help deal with pain control. She has run away twice (with the assistance of the boyfriend), has been disrespectful, disobedient, and lies to everyone. Her schoolwork has fallen so far she is in danger of losing her senior year in high school. (Previously, my daughter had been an honour student.) She has turned into a completely different person and has hurt everyone in our family and turned our home upside down.

What surprises me is the level of disappointment and even anger that I feel towards her because of the pain she is causing. I have thought over and over how we raised her and feel that we have been good parents and done things right, but as a mother, I am disappointed in myself because I feel that if I was really a good mother, I should have been more prepared for 'problems' in the teen years and I should be more willing to forgive the hurt she has caused and still love her. Instead, I feel like I am living in a war zone, never quite knowing what new battle is around the corner. She does not appreciate anyone or anything and is so cold -- its like having a stranger living with you and you're never comfortable.

So I guess what I hope someone can tell me is: How do I deal with my feelings of disappointment and frustration and is there hope that I will ever like my daugher again?

Avatar for arwen12
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2003
Fri, 11-07-2003 - 8:11am
My DD is still just 14, almost 15... so, I'm not sure if much of this would work on a 17 yo. But, I have some thoughts...

So, first things first.

I think you need to believe in your daughter more. I think she needs to see that.

Of course you'll like her again.

Don't let her see that she can have that affect on you!!

Your love is unconditional, right? It should be.

I know you are probably frustrated, but shake it off and think constructively and put things in perspective. I am sure it is hard, but it is important that they know your love, feelings for them are unstoppable, even though you don't like their behavior. They know you like *them*.

Anyway, she sounds like she's been a good kid for the most part and is right now in a mess. Granted she needs to straighten up, but you need to show her that you believe in her, even though you may not like her current behavior. This may be a good place to kick things off. Use this to set the tone for the rest of the conversation.

That is you don't like *her behavior* right now, doesn't mean you don't like/love her. It is a tough distinction to make, but you should make it.

At 17 and with only a few months left to graduation, it is tough situation. But I wonder if you should negotiate a new contract with her (and, yes, this comes right from Dr. Phil) :-/

But, approach is almost like a business deal - adult-adult (even though she isn't), but clearly she thinks she is -- and in truth, it might be a good time to show her what being an adult is all about.

Being responsible for her actions is a good place to start.

So, you'll provide certain obvious things which are almost always taken for granted, such as a place to live, food on the table, a place for laundry, a roof and plus some perks if she behaves.

But, she needs to respect some things too.

She needs to abide by your, the house rules otherwise privileges and perks are lost.

Now this is where it gets tricky, because at 17 yo, do they have privileges? Or, are they at the point where they realize that they can come/go as they please because they are "grown up" (even though I know they are technically not). I think maybe she needs to realize she is not "grown up" and even though she is a senior in high school, while she is living in your house, she has to abide by your rules.

Now, I don't know how bad things are, but it might also be a tough love situation.

If the risk of losing privileges/perks doesn't turn her head, then maybe -- is probably even old enough? -- but, if she can afford it, she may want to consider getting her own apartment.

Again, I know she is 17 and still in HS, but if things are that bad, then maybe this is an option to consider. Hopefully, it will be an unlikely option... but if she thinks that you would consider this, maybe she'll turn around.

Another thing is to show her what her life could be like without a high school degree.

Had she thought of any colleges before? Maybe you should take her to some colleges and show her what the campus is like and what she won't be involved in if she continues on her current path.

I guess what I'm saying is that if she behaves this way, she is making certain decisions.

Just like when they are younger, they are making certain decisions when they act a certain way. The consequences when they are younger are less. If they stay up past curfew, they lose phone privileges the next day.

But, at 17, if they do what your daughter is doing, what privileges is she losing?

Home. High School Degree. College. Future.

Show her what her future would be like without a High School Degree.

Would she even be able to get a job at McDonalds? Would she want to?

Sure --- you will always love her. A parents love is unconditional.

But trust isn't. Trust is completely conditional.

And, it really isn't about her rebellion to you anymore.

It is about how she is setting up her life.

And, she is making some big mistakes.

I'd make the discussion as busineslike and unemotional as possible and see what shakes.

And, I'd also consider therapy - both for you and for her, if she'll go.

I don't know if this helps at all...

they are just thought to consider... my two cents.

All the best...

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 11-07-2003 - 10:40am
jsunny, welcome to the board.

Liking our kids and loving them are not necessarily the same thing. I think the pain you're feeling stems from the intensity with which you love your daughter; I know it was with me, and I didn't even have the same issues - just attitudes and an unwillingness to help when I needed help most when she was 17.

I doubt that there is much else that we could even begin to compare the intensity and complexity of the relationship we have with our kids. We love our spouses, friends, family - but there is an added ingredient to our relationship with our kids. We have spent their lives responsible for them and that sense of responsibility - and the sense of caring about their happiness more than our own - isn't even measurable by any other relationship in our life. Add to that her choice in a bf, the worry that would produce regarding who she might choose one day for a lifetime partner, the concern over her messing up her educational future, *why* she'd even want someone who affected her in this way, along with a myriad of other issues that stem from this, including why she's so seemingly 'willing' to allow her family relationships to become eroded - no wonder you feel as you do.

Yes, you will like her again. If you saw even the smallest 'chink in her armor' right now; the smallest hint of vulnerability - I almost guarantee that your heart would be softened immediately ... right now, you're right - she has a 'hardened heart' and that is what alienates her family from her. A heart that seems determined to push those who love her the most away from her, unwilling to hear anything or respond to anything she doesn't want to hear. This is something that causes parents especially to feel sooo hurt by and torn by and angered by. For whatever all the reasons are, she is in defiance. And part of defiance, anyway, is when someone builds a wall to protect what they believe others would threaten, given half a chance.

Sometimes a total change helps. A complete 'wiping of the slate' so to speak ... what I call 'grace in parenting'. When one's home is turned upside down and you're up against a wall of defiance and anger and resistance, and nothing else is working, sometimes sitting down and just telling her she is loved *in spite of* how she is choosing to treat those in her home, and that you are willing to start all over with her without strings attached can honestly help start to open her heart to hearing you, bit by bit again. I did this once and even while walking into my dd's room to tell her this, I was wondering all the way in there, 'what on earth is this going to teach her?? That she can do or say whatever she likes and get what she wants ANYWAY? Am I CRAZY?" ... but you wouldn't believe the effect it had, and how THAT began a whole new 'erosion' - but an erosion of the wall and defiance. And not once did she even think for a moment it had something to do with getting her way. If you're open to hearing more on this and would like to, let me know :-)

Other than that, I can offer you empathy and support and understanding. It's tough. It's not *you*. She is pretty much an adult and is making her own choices. Her foundation has not changed. SHE has made choices and is living with the consequences (as are you unfortunately). But what she was taught, how she was raised is not what is at question here nor is it what is responsible ... her choices are what are responsible for what is happening right now. Hang in there. {{{{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-14-2003
Fri, 11-07-2003 - 5:35pm

You do like/love your daughter now, it is just that you're disenchanted with her changes and if you weren't a caring parent, you wouldn't feel like that.

One thing that sent a red flag up for me in your post is that her boyfriend is manipulative and controlling.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-15-2003
Mon, 12-01-2003 - 12:27pm
First I would like to say that you are not alone. I too dislike my daughter. I stopped working just after she was born to stay home and raise a respectable, strong young lady only to find out that back in February she had her first sexual encounter. Needless to say, I am mad as ****. My first encounter was with her father when I was at the age of 26 and married. So, you see this is a hard blow for me. However, something innate still forces me to try and help her. That is why I am posting this message. Like your daughter, my daughter has scoliosis. Five years ago she started complaining about back pain in the thoracic region of her back. An xray was taken and it showed she had a 15 degree curve in her spine. Over this five year span her curve has increased. It is now at 28 degrees and more painful. Her pain is in the T4,T5,T6 area of her back. Meds do not help with this pain and each time she has been asked by doctors to go into therapy, it seems to make the pain more intense. What has life been like for your daughter and what is being done to help her with scoliosis?