Apr 19, 2011

How can I get my teenage daughter to respect me?

Category: Teens
Posted By: Sharon
picture of moody girlI have a teenage daughter who has started the typical teenage stage of being monosyllabic and rude to me and her stepfather. The main area of difficulty is in finding out anything about school and how she is doing there where I feel like I have been completely shut out. Do you have any suggestions as to how to deal with this?

Answer: Adolescence has to be one of the biggest challenges in life both for parents and for the adolescent. As a parent we have to make a huge adjustment from living with a child whom we are entirely responsible for and able to control to living with a hormonal half-adult who is making the transition in to adulthood but with as-yet immature faculties. For a teenager they are coping with massive hormonal changes, physical changes, emotional changes, greater reliance on peer groups, and the looming prospect of having to take care of themselves in a scary adult world.

There seem to be two different aspects to your question. Your daughter's rude behaviour and wanting your daughter to open up and talk about her experiences at school. To deal with the first; there is a difficult balance to strike here and there are several things to take in to consideration. Firstly it may be time for you to make a change in your parenting. Take some time to think if there are ways that you are treating your daughter that she has now outgrown. You can include her in this thinking and start negotiating how you are going to work together as a family now that she has entered a different phase of life. It is also worth looking at what, if anything, might be going on that your daughter is angry about either with you or her stepfather and again you can talk to her about this. As with young children the situation here is the same, you need to do the thinking about the situation, you need to talk to your child but at the end of the thinking and discussing there has to be a solution which you then hold to and enforce. Being rude to you and your husband is not acceptable and is a very unpleasant atmosphere in the house and while it is particularly unpleasant for you, your daughter will also be feeling awful about what she is doing. You can think about it and find solutions to whatever the problem is but at the end of all this there has to be an adult who will hold a boundary.

Now the second issue you mention is getting your daughter to talk to you about her experiences in school. Now you haven't said if it is her social or her academic situation which you are asking about, but it may be that this is an area in which you need to accept the change in your daughter now that she is growing up. Adolescents do need to start the separation and maturation process. It is desperately hard for us as parents but the only way they can do this is to try, often fail and try again. It may be that you need to allow your daughter some privacy, some autonomy, and the space to make her own mistakes! But again, it can be a negotiation, talk to your daughter about it, tell her what you are worried about and how you think it should be resolved. If you decide to let her have her space then you can tell her that, but also that you are always available if she wants to ask advice or talk things through, that this is part of being mature, knowing when you need support and finding the right place to get it.

I really wish your family all the best with this time of change and re-negotiation.

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