Help us

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-06-2003
Help us
Mon, 10-06-2003 - 10:21am
My stepdaughter who moved in with us last year sneaked out last Saturday night, even though my husband told her she was not allowed to go out that night. After we found out she had sneaked out, my husband told her that she is not allowed to go out for a month as a punishment.

My stepdaughter is a very troubled fourteen year old girl. Her bio mom basically dumped her on us after she became out of control and ran away from home twice. After she moved in with us, she is a lot settled due to my husband¡¯s patient parenting.

Any way I have a very specific question today. After my husband told my stepdaughter she is not allowed to go out for a month, she seems to be determined to be defiant and unpleasant to us. For example, she normally goes to bed around 10:00pm every night. But last night she was watching TV even after 11:00pm (she had done nothing but watching TV the whole day yesterday any way), and my husband told her to go to bed. She completely ignored him. My husband was about to burst into rage because that was just one example of her defiant behaviors yesterday. I calmed him down and told him that she was just waiting for a chance to have a fight with him and show him that he could not control her and she would do whatever she wanted to do. Fortunately he listened to me and decided to ignore her and came to bed. Not long after we went to bed, my stepdaughter went to bed also because there was nobody to be defiant to.

But I am very concerned how we are going to survive this way a month. Even though my husband listened to me last night, he can lose control of his temper when he is under a lot of work stress, which is exactly what my stepdaughter wants to see happening. I know we should stand firm on our ground and stay calm and at the same time show our love and care for her while she becomes more and more nasty. But how? How can we do this when all she does is to trying to make us crazy?

Please help and advise.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: antonstep
Mon, 10-06-2003 - 11:30am
Well, I think how you got your dh away from his dd and from further ineffective confrontation was good. And yes, grounding is something I've always thought punishes the parent as much as the kid, if not more so.

"Idle hands ..." - you know that expression? Idleness breeds boredom, boredom breeds behaviours best avoided. Being grounded for a month and being allowed to just sit around is going to create problems. The idea here should be that during this month, something 'changes'. What does she enjoy doing? is good at? Is she into crafts at all - or was she ever? Tell her Christmas is coming up, and she could spend this month making some gifts; take her shopping and get her some simple things she'd need to work on it. In this, it's not 'rewarding bad behaviour' as she is still grounded; it's the idea of doing something for someone ELSE that's being planted. If she is disrespectful or disobeys, i.e. refuses to go to bed, give her a chore to do instead of gonig to bed. If she refuses, tell her she will earn one extra day's grounding for every refusal on her part or defiance of a request. Keep track on a sheet of paper tacked to the fridge. Just mark it and don't argue about it. Start her on a different ptoject if not crafts; i.e. rearranging her room, sorting & boxing old clothes. Get her to decide what she doesn't need anymore and take her with you to take it to a woman's shelter for kids in those situations; again, a way for her to do something for someone else. Have her review various volunteer jobs and take her down to a few places and talk to people about what's involved. In lieu of going out with friends, she could volunteer her time so she's out and doing *something*. Rake leaves, prepare a yard for winter - do these things *with* her and teach her how enroute. Spend time WITH her during that month. Take her with you on errands, to 'keep you company' and get her out of the house, letting her know she is loved & that you want to spend time with her even tho she's not the best company; take her shopping to help choose a gift for someone's upcoming b-day, whether it's an elderly person or a baby's. The idea isn't supposed to be separation of a family within a grounding; use that time to help circumvent the way her thoughts and desires are headed and give her new things to learn, do, contribute with and *share* with her family, even if she's surly and argumentative at the outset of each step. She will - with such measures - start to even grudgingly feel like she is a PART of this family and that there ARE things that are interesting whether she wants to admit it or not, outside her friends.

Did you ever see that movie, "A Walk to Remember"? In the beginning, "Landon" does something that could result in suspension from school, but the principal decides that Landon needs to experience something different from what he's been doing, with different kids than he usually hangs out with, so his consequence was to become involved in the school's drama club, tutor a kid who needed help and perform community service. These 'consequences' inherently hold what I'm trying to explain: it provides things to fill in the kid's time that are productive and positive; exposes them to new situations and people; gives BACK and to others, etc. Yes, he was surly and defiant. But he ended up feeling better about himself in the end and he DID capitulate. When a person does things that they can feel proud about in their own selves, whether or not they are willing to admit it, it DOES help to change outward behavior eventually.

Good luck :-)