View Full Version : My 13 yr old daughter is becoming impossible!
06-23-2002, 04:11 PM
My daughter, who just turned 13, has three friends, to whom she is completely devoted (i.e., it ruins her life when she doesn't get to see them on demand). I don't have any problems with these girls, and am happy to have them at my house, but I don't want my daughter to go to the houses of her friends. Not to be long-winded, but let me explain why. The best friend's parents have just been convicted of "Child Neglect" by the court in connection with their 15 yr old. This confirms my suspicions that the parents are detached and not supervising children at their house, so I don't want my kid over there or going out to movies/malls with the parents. The 2nd friend lives in a household where the parents are "domestic partners" (i.e., lesbian) which is NOT a problem for me. But, there is always a herd of teenage boys at the house, and the "moms" aren't home to provide supervision -- (case in point, on a recent overnight, the moms went to the casino and left the girls at home with their 14 yr old son and his friends). The 3rd friend lives with her father and brother (parents are divorced), and the father just strikes me as very odd, a little too touchy-feely if you get my meaning -- I don't want my daughter around him, sorry. I'm willing to make extra effort for my daughter to spend time with her friends at my home, but that isn't good enough for her -- she is constantly angry and this argument keeps coming up every day. I feel justified in expecting that there will be a safe environment and adequate supervision when she visits her friends' houses, but I also recognize that to her this seems very unfair. I've tried so hard to help her understand my reasoning, but she just sobs and complains that I'm keeping her prisoner and ruining her life, etc. Am I overreacting? Is there a better way to handle this?
06-24-2002, 02:05 PM
Yikes! 3 for 3? If these other parents are all as you guess, is something going on with your daughter where she seems drawn towards more chaotic, risky situations? It seems odd that she hasn't one friend where the parents are more stable. Yes, being newly 13 years old, your daughter is too young to be left to run in the settings you describe. But perhaps there is more going on than just friend issues? Maybe this is becoming a power struggle between you, where your daughter is rebelling against your control. Or perhaps these friends are "easy" friends for your daughter to hold onto, since she might not feel good enough about herself to go after more stable, successful kids?
I'd fight this on two fronts. First, I'd take a look at myself carefully. Am I overcontrolling in other situations where I could give my daughter more power and control over her life (like appearance, music, religion and so on)? I'd include my kid in a discussion over this. See if there are other areas where you can start to hand the reins over to her.
Second, keep negotiating on options. Perhaps allow short-term, non-overnight visits where you check in with the other parents to be sure that there is supervision. If you do this don't campaign against the other households, just lay in those quiet observations for your kid to think about: "OK, honey, you can stay there until 9 but please be careful. I worry that some bad things might be going on over there sometimes." If you make the issue a debate between you and your daughter she'll only think about winning the argument, and not about the real issue. If you can compromise a little, she will then likely see the risks that may exist in these other homes. This is the gold you seek: Your kid making her own good choices.
Finally, check out this issue of "why only these three friends". Perhaps foster other activities with other kids as possible (clubs, lessons, teams, etc) to see if your daughter can feel better able to make new friends as well as keep the old. Above all, stay calm and don't expect your kid to gratefully accept your limits. She's supposed to hate you for making her life miserable, and you're supposed to say "Sorry, honey, but I love you too much to risk seeing you get seriously hurt."
Keep us posted.
06-24-2002, 05:09 PM
Thanks for your thoughtful response. And yes, you are right on the money in noting that there is something odd about the fact that not one of her friends comes from a more "stable" household. I've also noticed this. My daughter is very pretty and can be chatty & charming, but seems completely uncomfortable in her changing body, and suffers low self-esteem. In her own words, she describes herself and her friends as "outsiders" -- she gravitates to the very shy, very overweight or otherwise awkward girls who seem to be grateful for her friendship and perhaps boost her own self-confidence. We have kept her involved in karate, band, softball, etc., in an effort to widen her social network, but it hasn't done much to distract her from the gang of three. We try to meet her halfway on the issues that matter to her -- when she wanted to dye her hair black, we agreed to streak it blonde instead; when she became interested in Wicca, we bought her a spellbook and took her on a "Witchcraft tour" in our hometown. For her "goth" kick, we kept quiet while she dressed in all-black, and even posted her depressing poetry on the refrigerator. She listens to the music she wants and is constantly plugged into her portable CD player (except we don't allow it at the dinner table). One day, she'll be delightful and loving -- the next, a morose, nitpicky brat who makes us all miserable. It's almost as if she wants to argue JUST for the sake of having an argument. I'll do as you suggest and offer some compromise on this total ban, and hope we can achieve a truce. And, I'll pick up a copy of the book, too -- I have a feeling I'll need it. Thanks very much!
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