problem with 16 yr old daughter

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anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
problem with 16 yr old daughter
Fri, 05-23-2003 - 12:15pm
Hi everyone, you might've seen me post this problem before but i want as much advice as possible. Okay my daughter just turned 16 and I'm having a problem with her. Okay first of all shes in here sophmore year of high school and she got her first boyfriend this year when she was 15 (i got my first at 15 also so i can sort of relate), he's a very nice young man i have no problem with him personally, her large group of friends are very nice girls also so it has nothing to do with them, also shes doing well in school and not getting into trouble thank heavens. the problem is she pratically acts as if her family doesnt exist. she started doing it this year and my husband, her 2 younger sisters and myself miss her very much. shes always going out with her friends and/or boyfriend on the weekends and friday nights and after school, if it we're up to her i think she'd spend 24 hours 7 days a week with them. I tried making her come out with the family for once one saturday instead but all she did was make it unpleasant for everyone so that didn't work. also we get together with our extended family once a month and ofcourse i make her come, but she brings her little cell phone with her. she won't talk to her cousins (can't blame her too much there they're all younger children) and her aunt and uncles, and grandparents shes polite but doesn't say more than hi. but her phone rang last time we we're there and it was her boyfriend on the phone and my husband and i wouldn't let her talk on the phone so we told her to get off and she asked to go to the bathroom and i said yes, but she was spending a long time in there so i go up just to make sure shes okay and i hear her talking on the phone to her boyfriend again, i think its rude and anti social and she should spend some time with us and her relatives at that time, this also made my husband very upset. my youngest daughter is in 2nd grade and looks up to her, my other daughter whos 14 is autistic and she ignores her disabled sister as she does everyone else, that makes me really upset, should i allow this behavior to continue, or make her spend more time with the family? and help i'd appreciate, thank you.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 05-23-2003 - 7:25pm
Yeah, this is a tough age when their world is soo caught up in their friends and their social lives outside the family. Teens seem to go thru this kind of ... drawing towards their 'family of choice' - friends - and move away from their actual families. I read somewhere once that they do this for different reasons. One is that families are born into; teens realize there's a world out there that they can discover ON THEIR OWN - a very heady and powerful thing, this drive for independence. That families are 'secure' - the teen KNOWS they are loved & accepted & wanted; whereas friendships at that age are soooooooo mercurial - up and down and every which way every day. Every day there's some drama happening that they can't bear to miss. And their "place" in that social whirl is so important to them and it's NOT as 'secure' as their place within their family is - so one is able to be kind of taken for granted; the other can't be or they're sunk (in their minds).

Now, that said - that helped me to understand this at the time we kind of went through this - it IS still important for her to spend time with you all. I used to tell my dd that we missed her, that we did love her and we DID want to spend time with her on a regular basis. It probably made no real impact except over time. Up till she was 15 and got her first job, she had to come with me to visit my family (out of town) and her sibling is 7.4 yrs younger than she is and all the cousins are close to the younger sis's age, which left my dd stuck either playing with kids 7 - 15 years younger than herself or hanging out with the myriad of adults who were ALWAYS BUSY with the six younger kids or making meals and had no time to just visit, so then she'd be just working or helping non stop. As the much older oldest in my family, I did empathize with her, but it was important she come anyway. Now she's nearly 19 and she has a lot of fonder memories of those times than I can believe she does; it surprises me every time she says the odd thing. When she started working, she worked every weekend, so the times I went away dwindled unless I went with her sis and left her with a friend's family. The thing is, what's happening when you're visiting that once a month? Is anyone trying to include her in discussions? Or is she expected to just sit there while everyone ELSE talks? Or is she expected to watch the younger ones, which truly is waht it basically amounts to. I used to hate feeling like the built in babysitter by virtue of my age. With my dd, I used to try to make sure I included her in discussions as much as possible; sometimes my family picked up on this and did too, or they were too distracted by all the activity of a house full of little ones and didn't. Or I'd suggest we play a board game and make sure my dd was playing.

I think if you can also do things with her ON HER OWN - just you and she, for example, for a couple hrs here and there, or even a half hour here and there - that she ALSO likes to do - go shopping, go to a movie; go for an ice cream one hot day or evening or whatever else she likes to do, that goes a long way in helping to keep those bonds with her. I used to let my dd invite a friend or two with her many times. I didn't mind that as much as I minded not seeing her, but we also had one on one time too. When family came into town, she had to at least have dinner with us. It was a privilege, not a right, to be busy with whoever 24/7 and it was reminded to her that it WAS a privilege ONLY. I used to - at that time - insist that she have some downtime every week to recoup, get stuff done at home, just hang out. I said she needed to learn HOW to hang out and being bored was not the end of the world; it was a conscious decision - you can either choose to be bored or not; there is always something you can do. If your dh can spend some time with her on his own that is also very important. It gives you both a chance to see her in *her* world; it helps you to understand her better. It gives you tools and points of reference to make points with that can be better said within a frame of reference SHE relates to. Listening to her music - I used to pay incredibly close attention to the songs that most caught my dd's ear and listen to the words. Without fail, they will tell you what is appealing to her most at any given time. The *ways* are endless.

Find compromises she can do when she is visiting family. If she really is bored - but is still polite - perhaps allow her to bring the cell and have HALF AN HOUR to go off and talk on her phone for awhile as long as the rest of the time is with you all. If people are visiting, same thing - either allow her to invite ONE friend who is good at integrating and won't need to go off on her own with your dd - or allow her to have say an average of 15 mins per hour that belong to her during the course of the visit.

Good luck!