Input Please!

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-28-2003
Input Please!
Tue, 10-28-2003 - 2:24pm
My daughter just turned 15 and is a freshman in high school. Since school began, she has been gravitating towards an unsavory group of indivduals (brag about losing their virginity, smoke, do marijuana, swear, etc). She as been in trouble twice by guilt by association situations and covering for her "friends".

She is depressed, angry, and frustrated unless she is talking with "friends". She was warned that this would happen at the beginning of the year and even despite the trouble, continues to gravitate towards the group.

She asked to go talk with a counselor several weeks ago and has admitted she doesn't know why she is acting like this. She's gone to 3 sessions. Usually blows up at me after.

At this time she is not actually doing anything, but it is all leading that direction (only a matter of time with the hold they seem to have on her). We gave her the opportunity to "pull away" from this group, or we would have to have her change schools at the beginning of the new trimester.

This is something we know would make her very angry, but are afraid that if we don't intervene now, her reputation with other kids and teachers will be totally unrepairable throughout her high school career.

She has never acted like this before

Any input?

Thank you

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
In reply to: ddbelle123
Tue, 10-28-2003 - 2:42pm

I think you are doing the right thing by putting the ball in her court - she has a choice to pull away or she will go to another school.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-28-2003
In reply to: ddbelle123
Tue, 10-28-2003 - 2:52pm
Thank you for you response.

Just an additional note:

My daughter has been in competitive trampoline and tumbling for the past two years. She practices 4 nights a week (m-th) for 2.5 hours per night.

She has excelled very quickly and is a top contender to make the World Team in 2005 and make Olympic trials in 2006 (according to her coach).

Within the last month (since we've been having these other issues) she has been talking about quitting because she is not having fun any more.

She is close to the girls on her team and you can see how much fun she is actually having. No one has ever put pressure on her to WIN. Only to do her best.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: ddbelle123
Tue, 10-28-2003 - 8:09pm
I think part of the reason your dd is saying she's not having fun anymore is because when she's around the trouble group, the thing those kids are emanating is "I'm bored" ... and it can be extraordinary in its effect. Way beyond the actual words is the utter disparagement they show towards anyone who has goals, ambitions, dreams, HOPE, any kind of real joy. This is what I think is stealing into your dd - esp since you see that she DOES enjoy her time when she is with the tumbling group. The trouble group is toxic in this attitude; I have seen it so many times and it's so unfortunate. Like a true toxin, it will seep into all that is good and discolor anything that is associated with *joy*. I realize this sounds melodramatic but it's almost difficult to exaggerate this kind of effect.

As much as I don't usually think a kid should be forced to go to a school of a parent's choosing, I do support your decision here. If she cannot pull away from this group on her own accord, I really think that it is likely the one thing you need to do. She absolutely has to pull away from this kind of crowd if she is going to feel free to be a happy person again.

In the interim, try to shift your focus of your objections from the *kids* she's associating with and focus on your *dd* when talking to her. Tell her, no, you don't necessarily know the kids individually but what you do know is your own dd, and that you are seeing her change and that the change is associated with the arrival of those kids in her life. She herself knows that she is changing in ways she doesn't even like, she may be more open to listening to you if your focus isn't putting down kids you don't know that well yourself; teens are sooo particular about this kind of 'fair/unfair' and 'just/unjust' judgement as they see it. Explain that you really think that part of the issues she is experiencing has a lot to do with how the ATTITUDES that accompany actions like drinking, swearing, stealing, drugs, etc and therefore lying HAS to be a part of their lives if they are indulging in illegal activities affects a person in nothing but a negative way. It zaps a person of joy, of feeling vitality in life, of feeling like there is something to look forward to. Tell her you actually feel FOR those kids because they AREN'T happy in their choices irregardless of what they say. Ask her to tell you examples of times she has seen any of them exhibit real HAPPINESS - not laughing, making crude jokes, 'hey we're so cool and everyone else is so stupid' ways, but ways that look like they are *HAPPY*. That they have something worth working for, worth sacrificing for, worth fighting for. ANd ask your dd to tell you the times she has felt happiness. Even if she won't actually answer you, tell her it's ok if she doesn't, but you want her to really think about these things for her OWN sake. That you love her. That you care for all kids, and that you're objecting to 'choices of activities' and the resultant attitudes that are not GOOD for the other kids, not so much the kids *themselves*. Say this earnestly, with real caring and real power behind your words that comes from an inherent belief in what you are saying. Tell her that you know how that kind of 'life sucks' attitude can slip into a person's heart and mind so easily and that you are not trying to be 'mean' or judgemental. You are her parent and you want what will make her happy, and that if you saw that she WAS happy - HAPPY and vibrant and alive - that you wouldn't have objections in the first place.

Then, if in short order, she can't draw herself away - it could be very tough; these kinds of kids make it VERY hard on a kid who wants to have other interests - then tell her that you are going to step in and that she is not to do anything with them for a period of one month. During that month, spend a lot of time with your dd, accompany her to practice if she likes that, take her shopping, to a movie, out for a bite to eat and encourage her to invite perhaps some of the kids she is friendly with who tumble with her to your home for a fun evening to get to know them better. Tell her you just want her to see for her own self if there is a difference that SHE will feel in that month of enforced separation from the other group. This gives your dd an 'out'; she can tell the kids that her parents are coming down on her and she has been grounded from certain activities for a month or more, depending on how the month goes. HOpefully, within that month she will go from sulking over this to rediscovering her old self and the joys that used to be more apparent in her life. And the trouble group will have gotten on with things without her.

HUGS to you. Good luck. I hope you will let us know how things go.