The Compass Points South: A 15-Year-Old’s Craving for Independence

Question

I have a 15 year old daughter that I used to call my "compass" as she was such an easy child to raise. But, the last 2 years have been difficult. Now, I haven't spoken to her for 3 days because I know the result: she is grumpy, surly, rude and turns every interaction into an argument and complaint even if I am helping her. She even surprised me by being downright insulting to me when I wanted to ride a rollercoaster with her. I am worried that if we speak, she will behave the same and just perpetuate the problem. She does not have social media, but does spend every allowed minute on her phone browsing Pinterest and watching Netflix (we set limits). We have now blocked her apps so that she can only call, text, and listen to music for 2 weeks and told her that until she can change her attitude and behavior, that will be extended and may lose the phone entirely. I have told her that I love her and want to restore our relationship, but don't know why she is acting this way.

Answer

Thanks for your question!

Good news! Based on what limited knowledge I have of your situation, I proclaim you to be a Good Parent! And I also bestow a Proclamation of Normalcy upon your daughter. A teenage daughter's yearning for independence takes many forms--many of them unique, but most all of them normal. Unfortunately, much of the time this yearning manifests itself in bad behavior. Some minimal bad behaviors, we can ignore. But many of these uncivil manners may need a memorable consequence. You mentioned that there has been no communication the last three days-- so enjoy the freedom from her surliness, grumpiness, etc.; this will not last. At this stage, minimal engagement with her is probably best, anyway. She loves you, but may very well not like you for much of her teenage years. No worries--your job is not to create a Wonderful Relationship with her, anyway. That day will come---and maybe not till her adulthood. But now, you are definitely riding a roller coaster with her; albeit a metaphoric, extended ride. I love how you have her off social media, and I wouldn't hesitate to relieve her of her phone--period. You're a Good Parent because you love her, and are willing to discipline her and stick to your guns. I wouldn't concern myself with any form of parent guilt or the idea that you must appease her so that she will like you. That is not your job. You have already told her that you love her and want to restore the relationship, but I wouldn't harp on that continually. The book of Hebrews says, "Discipline will be painful(for both of you) for the moment, but in the end it will yield the fruits of peace and righteousness." As her behavior heads south. keep doing what is right in a calm, poised manner--even though she may keep doing what is wrong.
With a loving, yet firm and unyielding, parental hand----this too, shall then pass.

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting OutSmarted"
smartmike59@gmail.com

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