weekend drinking and OLDER friends
Hmmmm....can't quite decide which part of this quandry is the most pressing. I have read the book, internalizing some great support info, but here's the deal. My daughter is 16 and has great friends at a performing arts high school. They are fabulous kids who are very into their music, dance and theater. They also love to drink on weekends and some do E. I know this because she is open about discussing THEM with me but I only have a clear view of her antics from reading occasional notes, etc. that she leaves in her room. She can look me in the eye and be totally convincing and I would never suspect her participation had I not seen the stuff she writes. The lastest is a friend via community theater who is over 21. He is a great kid who I have known OF for years in the community. Very talented. My daughter and her friends love to go hear his band and hang out with them. I am VERY anxious about this, but have been assured a million times that he is "like a big brother". I know if I drop the hammer on her, she will go underground to hang out with this guy. Other moms who know him and his family say he is "pretty safe". I am not at all sure how to handle this dispassionately...I keep getting toopassionate!!
If it is of any interest, she has been recently diagnosed with depression because of severely declining school performance and general apathy. Right after the beginning of the school year, she quit a couple of very important groups that she has danced with for years. She is being treated for the depression and also ADD to see if meds will help her jumpstart the academic disaster. It has only been a few weeks, but she does seem a little more lively and engaged. Also a bit less argumentative and resistent.
I look forward to hearing from anyone who has dealt with the older friend thing. What I want to do is call him and threaten him with jail if I ever find his fingerprints on her, but somehow, that doesn't seem entirely reasonable. Is it??!!
I have a few old mob contacts I'd be happy to share with you. I've been saving these for when my daughter starts hanging out with older men. But assuming I have the maturity to not hire Nino Bambutz, I guess I'll have to do what I'd suggest you do.
First, try waiting it out a bit. The meds might help your daughter to plug more into her own age group versus finding these older guys. The illegal drugs she's using might be her way of self-medicating. Hopefully, the meds will help with that as well.
Second, calmly express your concerns (one time!) to your daughter about the risks of running with older guys, and ask if you can negotiate the amount of time he has with her. Offer to have him at your house, at group activities, and so on. Agree with her that you are neurotic and overcontrolling, but ask if she could work with your neuroticism a bit.
Third, I would have the conversation with him as well. Let him know, nicely, that a "brother" relationship is fine by you, but that you expect him to watch out for her likely romantic attachment to him, and that you expect him to remember that 16 year old girls are not ready for "intense" relationships. Those are male code words for "touch her and I'll get Nino's number from Dr. Bradley."
Good luck and keep us posted.
Attention other parents: Thoughts?
Dr. Mike Bradley
Well, things have changed.
Help. I am rereading my original post and wish that was where it ended. She has decided on complete disclosure as lying to me was "too stressful". What does she think this total honesty is??!!
She has confessed to drug and alcohol use and is entering a substance counseling program for the summer. Good step. She has also confessed that she and Mr. Over21 are totally and completely in love. He is the best thing in the world for her... he has pledged to keep her sober and I have to say, from what I can see and sniff so far, that is true. I have negotiated an arrangement of curfew commitments and such where they still spend time together because she has assured me that they will, with or without my blessing and she wants to be honest with me. (We're back to that again, aren't we) So far, he gets her home on time, no matter how nasty she was when she left the house.
The young man is not a bad guy, quite talented and ambitious about his art. She is very talented too and I am sure they have a strong bond over shared interests. All other things equal, he would not be a bad guy. But..... he is so much older and heading to another city 5 hrs. away this fall for further training. She has threatened to drop out of highschool and move with him. (No matter how much he loves her, there is no way the starving actor can support her) And yes, I have invoked the legality issue both around his and her ages as well as truancy, etc. She thinks school is irrelevant to her life as a performer and trust me when I tell you, she isn't listening to my protestations. She and her dad got into it the other night, she threatened to walk and he said the worst thing he could. He told her fine, go. It took me an hour of talking her off the ledge, but now they are in a cold war. I just want her to get through highschool and be able to have options to look at with the savvy eye of an eighteen year old. Have I mentioned that she is very strong willed?!! Help!!!
Believe it or not, you've been doing quite well given the hand you've been dealt here. Your daughter is still home, you've apparently been able to set up some limits with her (which she is abiding, in spite of her words), and you're still talking. You've apparently negotiated her relationship problem nicely as well. Best of all, your kid is getting some expert help.
Two things are on your side. The first is time. The odds are that Mr. Right will not remain so for long, if you can just hang in there without turning him into a martyr in her eyes by forbidding that relationship. The second is her treatment program. The odds are that those folks will insist on some family sessions which might help that cold war thaw a bit.
In the interim, try and get hubby to see the wisdom of the "dispasssionate cop" techniques. If he could get on your page, it's likely that the worst would be over. Hang in there, and keep us posted. If it is any comfort, remember that these days are where you truly earn that title of "parent". Anybody can raise a perfect kid. Surviving these trying days with love yet in your heart for your 'CRAZY" kid is what will give you peace of mind in your golden years.
Dr. Mike Bradley
OK, update. I really appreciate your words of reassurance as I am afraid I am losing all perspective.
The boyfriend is firmly entrenched, he has even decided to postpone his move for a year as they cannot stand to be apart. She is still reasonably reliable about keeping me informed of her coming and going, they seem to spend more and more time at our house.
She is doing well with the substance use, passed two drug tests that are mandatory to the program, but is very hesitant about joining the group. So far she will only talk to the therapist. We are working on getting her into the teen group.
Now my concern is to get her up and out and getting back to her life and her routine. She is clean and sober and almost never socializes with any of the old friends (because of the temptation) so is either hanging around the house, whith me, or with the boyfriend. I can't seem to get her motivated back to her pursuits, i.e. dance, music, a job, etc. She says she wants to, but seems unable to make the big step to start. She is very unreliable about her responsibilities and again, hubby is threatening to lower the boom. I don't want her to rebel and go back to her old ways. I also don't think I should make her problems the boyfriend's responsibility, so I am not so sure about enlisting his help, per se.
Any ideas for this next phase in her journey back to being a "normal" young person??????
It sounds like you've done a fantastic job of handling things so far. First, review this with hubby to show how NOT "lowering the boom" is how you guys brought her back from the brink. Next, continue using your excellent skills to get to the next level. Negotiate, don't mandate, to help your daughter make some step. Suggest that she not even think about doing all of the things that she used to do. Instead, ask her to only pick one thing that seems easiest and most fun for her. Then, ask her to only pick the first step towards doing that thing, and nothing more. Then ask what "bribe" you could offer to get her to take that one little step. The idea, of course, is that tough tasks become easier when we just view that first step instead of the whole task. And one step makes the next step seem more doable.
Finally, be sure to do what I'm sure you're doing: Tell her how proud you are of the tough changes she's made so far, and how much you love her. That's one parenting thing you can't overdo.
Good luck and keep up the great work!
Dr. Mike Bradley
Just thought you would be interested in an update. Daughter and boyfriend still together and inseperable. She is in an independent study program and preparing to graduate in Sept. and then go to a professional training program in the fall. He did not go away to school but has stayed with her, making plans for the future, working on his music and is still the amazing starving artist... Good prospects for the arts, just not for income!! He is at our house or with her all the time. They help out, do errands and chores and stay clean. Our verbal sparring is diminishing. She is back to a dance team and is getting her body back in shape. That's the good news. The bad news is that the last year or so has really taken a toll on the younger sister and my marriage. Hubby is currently not at the house. That is my next huge challenge, figuring out what to do with the rest of MY life and getting the little one to keep her nose to the traditional educational grind stone. Watching a sibling "stay home and play" everyday is hard when you are 15. I think she will be OK, just tired of being in the shadow of the supernova that is her older sister. Thanks for giving me a place to get some perspective and I hope this story gives others a little hope. I think the rumors are true...they do eventually grow up and become human again.