Change in daughter's behavior

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-07-2003
Change in daughter's behavior
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Tue, 10-07-2003 - 2:49pm
Hi to all, and I'm so glad to have found this board. I have a feeling I'll be posting often because I need all the support I can get. My 15yo DD has been acting very distant toward me lately, irritated when I talk to her, not wanting to talk to me unless it's to answer a question (with yes or no) or to ask me for something she needs. Her affect is rather flat. I told her I noticed she was distant with me and I told her I was always there for her but if she felt she couldn't open up to me I would take her to counseling. She said she'd think about it but her behavior continued and so I told her I'd like to take her to see someone and she agreed. The therapist talked with both of us, then her alone, and then recommended a book on depression for my DD to read and also for her to join a group for depressed teens. She'll see the counselor again in another week (2 weeks between visits).

My main concern is that this behavior seems targeted at me. I even told DD I felt like I'd done something wrong but I couldn't know what it was unless she told me. She said said, "I know." She won't elaborate. Something, something is going on with her, but I have no concrete idea what it is. I really don't think it's drugs. She has always been an introvert, happy to be on her own, but she does have a few close friends. I always thought I was giving her space by not prying too much, but now she feels she has to shut me out. It really, really hurts as our relationship has always been good, respectful, not best-friends close, but I was always there to listen to any of her concerns. Sometimes she won't even respond to my "goodbye" when she leaves for school in the morning, or when I say "hi" in the afternoon, she'll mutter "hi" but not even look at me. She had been that way with her dad but seems to be talking more to him now.

I don't know how much to push her. For example, the book recommended by the therapist. DD said it was just a suggestion, not a requirement. I secretly bought the book but my DH says don't make her read it, don't give it to her just yet. Something about making her feel she has control or a choice in reading it. Yet I was led to believe the therapist did want her to read it. I think it would help so much if she would, but I guess she's being stubborn. Should I push it or let it go for now (let her answer to the therapist)?

Also, how much should I try talking with her? I do try to keep an informal, lighthearted tone, commenting to her on little things when she's in the room, etc. But what I really want to do is shake her, yell at her, plead with her to "let me in!" Is her behavior typical of depression? I'd say sometimes she does seem depressed, but when friends call or she's at school with them, she seems her normal self. It's hard, too, thinking if they're "sick" that you can't get mad at them or rock the boat too much (the eggshell thing here, I guess), so I'm having to deal with that. DH did get in her face the other night and tell her to clean up her attitude and get back in the family or the computer would be off for one month (she spends time online and doing computer artwork, which she is really, really good at). She seemed to actually take that rather well, but I don't know how she'd react to me getting angry with her.

If you've ever had a depressed child, how do you deal with it? How much do you push? Do you just let the therapist take over for awhile? Again, should I give her that book even though she hasn't expressed an interest in wanting to read it? I know I have many questions. Any insights or advice would be greatly appreciated. DH says I over-analyze but this is my daughter, I just can't ignore her behavior, and even he agrees something seems different with her. I want to help, but I don't know how! Thanks for listening.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-09-2003
Wed, 10-08-2003 - 1:03am
Well, for whatever it's worth, as I'm not a counsellor nor do I know your dd, I think this sounds like something a lot of 14 and 15 yo girls go through. And I say 'girls' because it does seem more common for moms and dds to go thru this than for moms and sons or dads and sons. I hvae had huge long discussions about this very thing, actually, with some very good friends of mine over the years, but esp when I was going thru it with my now 19.4 yo dd.

First, I wouldn't give her the book. In fact, I would take it back. If she's anything like my dd was, she'd be highly annoyed I'd bought it. She'd think something like, 'there you go again mom, thinking you ALLLLLLLLLWAYS know what's best for me, what's right for me, what I want. Did I SAY I wanted to read that book? Did I SAY ANYTHING AT ALL ABOUT THAT BOOK??? NO I DID NOT." Sound familiar at all? - maybe not so much the words, but the *feeling* you're getting from her?

I don't know exactly what is all involved in the mom/dd relationship process. I know one of the theories a friend of mine - who has only a son - and I (who has only dds) came up with was along these lines (keep in mind I KNOW I'm generalizing and that not ALL guys or ALL females are like this, lol). In GENERAL, this friend said she thinks most moms raise their sons and the mom gets to remain in a 'caretaking' role. So ultimately one day, when the son grows up and leaves home and marries someone else, the relationship never really had to change that much for him to do what he had to do; mom got to still 'take care of' and the expectations on the son to communicate his feelings or life just isn't usually at the same level as it is from moms to the daughters. For the girls, I think we tend to raise our dds: (1) with a greater expectation to communicate and share feelings and (2) in a way to prepare them to take care OF their own families, in terms of nurturing/emotional things. Now, two females in a household is more difficult than two men in a household. Have you noticed that? Females are often the ones who call the shots in how a household is run; they are usually who want it cleaned their way; dinner eaten at the time they are willing to serve it and so on. Females are also the ones who are often the sex who are more emotionally expressive (and I KNOOOOOWW for all of you who might be reading this that this is not ALWAYS the case, LOL! - I can almost HEAR people protesting ;-).

Anyway - the point of all this is that the process of separation that seems to go on between a mother and a dd is different from that of a mom/son ...

Yes, it hurts like HECK when our dd pulls away, and wants to shut us out. My dd is an intensely private person. She doesn't even discuss her feelings with her best friend - never has and I seriously doubt she ever will, altho her bf has managed, over years or effort, to get her to open up some to him. On the other hand, I am a natural talker, sharer, lol. Boy, never the twain is going to meet here. When she was 14 I thought I'd tear my hair out over this very issues. In all respects, she was - and still is - an incredible teen; honest to a fault, totally trustworthy, level headed but omigosh, do NOT ask her ANYTHING. Even "how was school today?" elicited major attitude sometimes. Now my sister is having the odd moments starting like this with her dd, who is nearly 13 and this girl is the last one you'd EVER expect it from. I told my sister the same things I'm sharing with you.

Try your level best to 'depersonalize' this ... it really isn't so much about *you* as it is about her growing up, needing to separate from you to figure out who she is apart from you - this is a vital part of growing up and something she HAS to do. I found that when I backed off - didn't act overly interested, didn't hardly even show interest, didn't even ask 'how was school' sometimes and stuck to things that she couldn't deny WERE partly my business such as what your dh told your dd the other nite or impersonal but friendly things like, 'hey hon, want a snack?' when she comes in - or if picking her up, I'd say, 'hi hon' and be busy backing out of the parking spot, and had made sure the music was up. I would smile at her. I'd say stuff like, want to come with me while I run some errands? or tell her little tidbits about her grandma, cousins, someone we knew (altho we even went thru a time where I got, if it was about someone she didn't know or who was *my* friend as opposed to *her* friend, "MOM - I don't even KNOW who you're talking about!' - i.e. if I don't know them, why would I be interested in anything to do with them? SIGH. It was so maddening. And to make it worse in some ways, all her FRIENDS talked to me ALL THE TIME!

Try to just relax ... (I know; much easier said than done ... but if you give this a fair trial, I think you will see what I did when I backed off). Try to not ask her questions about herself or her life. If, at some point, she says some comment like you don't care, you never ask anyway, mildly point out that when you used to ask before, it caused a problem so you are definitely interested but trying to respect her desire to keep her life to herself except for when she feels like sharing something. I only used to have to do this for a handful of days before she'd come in and talk about something that happened at school, and be forthcoming HERSELF. My sister did this and within less than a week too, her dd came in and sat down and talked for quite awhile, opening up about all kinds of things. It wasn't *everything* my sister wanted to know, just as the times my dd did that it wasn't *everything* I wanted to know either - but they wre like little stepping stones back to one another.

It will be your respect, your pleasure in her as a person, your understanding that she needs this space and to not feel threatened by it & not send the msg that *you* - or SHE even - is the problem - or *A* problem here (because this is mostly circumstance; and yes, if she's like my dd, my incessant worrying and trying to elicit responses or get her to open up to me again DID make her mad and back off more) - that will help those odd little stepping stones becomes the bridge that will one day again unite the two of you in a whole new relationship as she matures. If I'm right, it also explains why she handles her dad's anger differently. (1) He stuck to what she is going to naturally perceive as a parental thing TO do, as opposed to a *personal* expectation of her - he told her to start becoming part of the family again or she'd lose privileges. He didn't ask her how she felt, why she hasn't been a part of the family lately, what's *WRONG*, why won't she talk to him anymore, why won't she voluntarily spend time with him ... are you seeing the difference? She's allowed to come to him and share with him on HER terms things like that ... whereas he's still the father and he showed he cared by stating that not spending time with the FAMILY was worth a consequence because it mattered - it was caring but not overly-personalized - something she can deal with right now.

When we went thru this, I did a Meyers Briggs personality test. I tried to answer it for my dd, and then I did it for myself. Booy, that was an amazing eye opener. I KNEW how different my dd and I were but when I read the ways the two personalities could conflict, it was just amazing to me. For one thing, I TRULY saw her as an individual separate from me so clearly, our differences and how the ways she was different from me were not just ok, but really interesting and really neat ... and second, it showed me how our indiviudal ways of communicating were worlds apart. It helped me to see how she would *perceive* my way of communicating; that she would find it invasive and even sometimes - to HER, irregardless of what *I* meant it to be or not: controlling; that it was overwhelming to her too, when she just simply didn't WANT to talk. Maybe take that book back till she asks for it one day (I guarantee you she won't appreciate you getting it; it's likely she'll just think something like' omigosh, she ALWAYS thinks she knows what I NEED, what I WANT - and she DOESN'T, not all the time, even *I* don't always know!!" - trust me; my dd has actually said those very words to me several times), and buy yourself such a personality test book and just see for yourself if you have any 'doors' opened to understanding this from a less personal point of view :-) The other thing I learnt doing this was that I did NOT know my dd as well as I thought I had - which was really important for me to truly 'get' - and again, 'depersonalized' made it easier to accept - and to learn how to actually even start to celebrate those differences (NOW, I even draw on those differences as strengths within the relationship between her and I!). Yes, we were close too - we are close now - and actually, looking back - we were STILL close in those turbulent times too because we CARED. Even if we argued or really ticked each other off - there sure wasn't indifference ;-). It was EXCRUCIATING to think she *wanted* to shut me out of her life. But it turned out that she didn't really want me shut right out altogether. She just wanted to be allowed to decide HOW the *personal* side to our relationship was defined by HER for HERSELF ...

The other thing to remember is that when you ask all the time, what's wrong?? what have *I* done? *I* can't change if you can't tell me, *I* can't do/say/believe 'whatever' if you won't share/open up/confide in me ... think about those carefully. For one thing, try to remember that this - outside of her being annoyed & *FEELING* (remember: feelings just are, without 'right' or 'wrong', and feelings are completely changeable and completely contingent upon changeable circumstances) you're making it about *you* when those kinds of comments happen, esp when she likely is feeling that the ONLY thing here about *you* - IN HER MIND - is if you'd just relax and stop worrying all the time things might improve :-)... and she's not even necessarily going to have the answer to those questions about herself either. Teens are still learning the whole abstract thinking thing - they often don't fully finish getting that till they are in their 20s! Second - even as adults, sometimes we feel something but we can't always say *why* - so try to remember that too (again, it helps to depersonalize). As for the counsellor saying she thinks she's depressed ... well, in some ways she might resemble facets of depression, but it *could* be just the normal lows that come with hormones changing, moodiness that she can't understand herself, the normal ups and downs of parental relationships and just "STUFF".

As adults, we have enough life experience to draw on already that we at least GET that we're going thru changes and just don't know how to verbalize them just yet, but our teens are just building that life experience up right now and so don't get it enough sometimes to verbalize anything but how they FEEL at any given moment, you know? They are fine and usually deal with things like this without help when they know their support network of loving family and friends are right there, to give them hugs when needed or bolstering words when they need to hear encouragement, you know what I mean? If she's acting normal with her friends; responds normally to her dad and other people who are bascially just letting her get on with her own moods and attitudes, if her grades are okay and she has maintained normal interests, then I wouldn't worry too much about her being 'depressed' ... and she might show changes there if she feels like she's not burdening YOU - she's not going to want to be worrying about YOU if she's all caught up in her own self with stuff she's even still trying to figure out :-)

I hope this helps. Sorry it's novel length, lol. It's just so hard to explain sometimes, but trust me I do know how you feel. My dd was more like that with me till she was 18 and a bit than not (altho it was likely due to the fact that sometimes I'm a very slow learner; I'd *get* this and then some time would pass; then I'd just HAVE to 'try' again which just seemed to keep blowing things. Then I'd 'remember', relax, and things would improve again, lol. In our efforts to RE-connect and to not 'lose' our dds - which is what it FEELS like - we somehow manage to end up sending them the message that we think we know what they need more than they do; that they can't tell us what they want without us assuming something, and that we aren't respecting their boundaries that they've set up in order to grow. Sighhhhhhhhhh!!!

Hang in there. This really will be the same young woman who will be standing in a bridal room just before her wedding day, hugging you and telling you that she hopes she'll be half the mom you have been to her :-) It's just the PROCESS they have to go through, and somtimes processes just stink.

HUGS.

cl-kkiana

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-07-2003
Thu, 10-09-2003 - 10:50am
Wow, I really appreciate all the time and thought you put into your response! You had so many really good, basic common sense things to say that I printed it out so I can read it often. Of course, I haven't given the full story, all the details (or I'd be typing for days) and I understand that responses are based on the information given.

Unfortunately, I really do believe I'm dealing with something more than just your typical teen blues or typical leave-me-alone teen stuff. My DD's behavior is really off track for her, and I've noticed this in the past month especially. Yes, all the teen stuff about wanting more privacy, not wanting to spill their guts over every little thing -- my DD has gone through and I noticed her growing more independent when she started high school (here in 9th grade), which was last year. And I granted her all that. But you reminded me to sometimes just take a step back, give her more room to breathe, and I will try that even more. I'm just afraid of getting to that point where I let go too much and I look back and think I really should've pressed more. She is being super tight-lipped, not wanting to share a thing, not even mundane stuff, and she sits glumly through dinner whereas she used to participate in our conversation. Believe me, I'm counting the hours until she sees the therapist (next week) because she did admit it's easier to talk to someone she doesn't know. I did take that book back after reading your reply because I guess I knew deep inside that my DD would feel all those things you said, like why does Mom think she knows what I want to read, etc. I'll wait and see if she asks to get it or if the therapist tells her it's a must. Thanks again for your wonderful reply. I know you've been there, done that, and your insights were very helpful. In the meantime, I still look forward to any responses by anyone who has/had a depressed child/teen.

Avatar for duchessnmalley
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 10-09-2003 - 1:49pm
Do you mind posting the name of the book that the therapist recommended? I think my 15 y.o. DD is severely depressed and I would like to read the book. Depression runs on my side of the family and I grew up miserable! I FINALLY got meds and feel so much better. Her Dad and I are at wits end with her. She is hardly ever happy, when she is, EVERYONE notices because that hardly ever happens. We tried the counseling route but DD refused to talk.

I'm sorry that I don't have any advice since I am struggling with the same thing. I am almost always available (when I'm not arguing with DD) if you want to email me.

Hang in there!

Stephanie

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-07-2003
Thu, 10-09-2003 - 7:36pm
The name of the book is "When Nothing Else Matters Anymore: A Survival Guide for Depressed Teens" by Bev Cobain. I believe she is the aunt of Kurt Cobain, that singer who killed himself a few years back. The book is aimed directly at teens, giving them information, letting them know what they can do and that they are not weird or crazy for being depressed. But definitely aimed at teens. I did read through it and it was helpful. I just hoped my DD would read it, too. If you go to Amazon.com you can preview some of the pages in it, I believe. Try searching under the author's name rather than the title. I'm also reading another book right now, "How You Can Survive When They're Depressed: Living and Coping with Depression Fallout" by Anne Sheffield. It's a lot more detailed but extremely insightful so far. I've just read a few chapters so far. I'm going to e-mail you if you don't mind. It would be great to chat with someone going through the same thing!
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 10-09-2003 - 9:47pm
Well, blufan, I do hope the therapist is able to help. It's a very positive step that your dd is willing to talk to the therapist - that's one very good thing you can hold onto right now.

My sister has been hospitalized for depression. Her psychiatrist and counsellors believe she's been depressed since she was 9! THings mushroomed when she hit 14 and she took off, dropped out of school and spent the next 5 years of her life 'running' - with our dad travelling across 3 provinces to track her down and bring her home, always with the 'open door, we love you' policy. THey had no idea what was wrong. They tried therapy but that didn't work either. She ended up checking herself into a rehab place, receiving counselling there and she turned her life around. Her depression was not treated properly though - but it is now, finally.

So, it's good that you trust your instincts and have put things into place that you can. I hope everything will work out and you will have your dd back again soon :-)

Avatar for duchessnmalley
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 10-09-2003 - 9:52pm
I would like that too. I updated my profile to show my email. Take care.
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-09-2003
Fri, 10-10-2003 - 10:35am
I dont know really what to say. Im 17 and I know that I have acted towards my mother like that but that was because she just didnt take care of things that needed to be taken care of (such as our gas and electricity was turned off) I only acted that way because I was disappointed in her and it angered me. Things at my home are not that great and my mom and her live-in boyfriend are always screaming at each other, but you seem to be doing a great job as a mother! I really wish my mother acted like you do . I would say that if she enjoys going to talk to a therapist then continue having her go to one, because even thought she dosent want to talk to you about her problem, she does need to let off some steam to someone. I know when I dont think I can talk to my mom I will confied I someone who I think can give me good advice (like I also posted a message today) I hope things turn out alright for you! good luck -Ashley Rene
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-07-2003
Fri, 10-10-2003 - 11:11am
Duchessnmalley, I've tried e-mailing you three times. Hopefully the third will be the charm! If you don't receive my e-mail, maybe you can try e-mailing me.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2003
Fri, 10-10-2003 - 4:57pm
Well - it is hard to say exactly what all is going on with your dd. Let me just say you are not alone, as I think you have discovered from other posts, in the 'change' that teens go through - which seem to be predominately with girls. I have noticed it in my charming, beautiful dd as well and it is so frustrating. More than anything it hurts me that I cannot help her - b/c she is will not open up to me. And I too have learned that you just have to back off sometimes. And let them come to you when they are ready, which may never come. Just keep the lines of communication open and let your know you are always there to talk if she needs to. If she is willing to talk to the therapist, that is good - b/c if she cannot talk to you if she can open up to someone it will help. Some kids have an older sibling they can turn to for support, my dd is the oldest.

My dd used to be bubbly, lively, funny and just had a real zest for life. She had great friends and had so much fun with them. And she was a 'good' girl. High school has changed her and I think that change has come as a result of so-called friends. Other kids, especially girls, can be very vicious. In my research to learn what is happening I have discovered several books that seemt to hit the nail on the head in my case. The first one I found is "Reviving Ophelia - Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls". This one I read about on Amazon. Then through their referral of other books similar to this one - I have not read, but just read the info on "odd Girl Out", "Best Friends, Worst Enemies," and "Queenbees and Wannabes." These all struck a cord with me and what we are going through. My dd is very sensitive and devoted to her friends. Unfortunately - the friends are not so kind.

So - hang in there and take comfort in knowing you are not alone. Most all teenage girls go through something like this for one reason or another and I think we get through by de-personalizing it, getting support from others and continually educating ourselves.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-11-2003
Sat, 10-11-2003 - 6:30pm
wow! i am 15 years old and thats the EXACT thing going on with me and mom right now. except that my mom hasn't takin me to counsalling. the things i have going on my life are..being sexual used somewhat..and friend problems..such as my best friend moving. lets face it.. when it hits..it all hits at once. and then my mom will grace into and annoy the crap out of me cause all iw ant to be is alone. i dont know why but when your in a bad mood. your mother asking you about it is like the worst and last thing ever. and i do'nt tell my mom anything. she doesn't know me at all. the thing is, your daughter is probably scared to tell you whats going on because she is scared you will get mad. i know i can't tell my mom because she will hit the roof and things like that. tell her alittle bit about ur personal life when u were younger..about boys and like maybe even ur own first sexual exsperiences. open up to her..and she'll open up to you. and the WORST thing you can do is get mad if she tells you something you do'nt approve of..why? because she will never tell you something again. i hope i have helped some

Ash

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