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OT - Parenting & Boundaries with Teenagers

Old 12-10-2011, 09:51 AM
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Question OT - Parenting & Boundaries with Teenagers

Hi SR friends,
I need some collective wisdom from all the parents here. My 18 yr old DD is back together for the umpteenth time with a boy I no longer approve of. He's been verbally abusive to her and just plain old treats her like crap. He also parties pretty hard; drugs and alcohol. He went away to college in August and I thought I could breath a sigh of relief but this dysfunctional "relationship" continued on and off again since then. Now he is coming back for Christmas break and she informed me she is "giving it another chance".

I am tired of her crying in her room, being snatchy with me and her sister, complaining about not "feeling good" and being "stressed out"...all of which happen after a phone call (or lack thereof) from this boy.

This has really been going on since last May. I miss my happy daughter who had a life and friends and activities that she enjoyed. Now she mopes around the house, afraid to go out because he goes off on her whenever she does. This boy acts like an mean and nasty alcoholic...I know part of my disgust is because his behavior triggers me.

So I told her this week that I do not approve of this and he is not welcome in my home anymore. That is my boundary. What she does beyond that is out of my control and not my decision to make; she is 18 now. But that I don't want him around me and my younger daughter - he is no longer a good influence on our family in any way, shape or form. DD lost it, lots of screaming took place (I did shout at her, I admit it, when she told me she "hated me soooo much" I told her maybe it was time to find a new place to live). But for the most part I kept my cool and calmly stated my boundary over and over again.

Question - is this the appropriate way to handle this situation? Or is there a better way and I am not seeing it because my Mom-defenses are blocking a clearer view of the situation? All advice appreciated!
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Old 12-10-2011, 10:28 AM
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With the exception of the shouting match (which I completely understand, by the way), I think you handled it beautifully. You have every right to your boundaries, but you also have every right to expect respect in your own home. While you know you can't tell her who she can and cannot be in a relationship with, you can determine who is and is not welcome in your home, and demand respect from her while she is living there.

Maybe it is time for her to find a new place to live.
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Old 12-10-2011, 10:35 AM
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Hmmmmm, tough call.

I think I might've tried the "kill him with kindness" approach and tried being a good influence on him and on her by inviting him to a Whole Lot of family functions and keeping her very busy with the whole Family Holiday stuff.

I get a lot of parenting advice from various resources in real-time boards on FB and on different parenting websites. Since my son is only 11, I look forward to seeing how anyone else would handle this.

I do understand your triggers and your boundaries. Trying to teach our children to have healthy boundaries while learning healthy boundaries *is* tough for those of us still healing. In tough situations like this, I do pray A LOT, and try to reach out to other wise, healthy parents before I issue a new House Rule. That gives me more confidence that I made the right decision.

If you had already been confident of your decision and you feel you did the right thing for your family, then I support that for you. Maybe you could keep her really busy over Christmas break and then when he shows his a$$, she will get her wake-up call. It's so hard to watch our children hurt!
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Old 12-10-2011, 10:48 AM
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I think you handled it well. Upon reading skipper's post above though, it occurs to me that it might be that a bit of psychological warfare might also work: invite him to Big Holiday Dinners and Evenings of Singing Christmas Carols and Would He Like To Come Meet Grandma? If he sits there trying to be a bad-acre he'll end up looking foolish in front of everyone, and daughter could reach her own conclusions.

What else has your daughter got going on in her life? Maybe she's getting into Dramatic relationships because she's looking for meaning and excitement? Just a thought. Are there ways you could help her towards some exciting travel or college kinds of things?
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Old 12-10-2011, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by akrasia View Post
What else has your daughter got going on in her life? Maybe she's getting into Dramatic relationships because she's looking for meaning and excitement? Just a thought. Are there ways you could help her towards some exciting travel or college kinds of things?
This is interesting...because whenever I try to talk with her about life after high school (she graduates in May 2012), she gets freaked out. I tried to talk about having an apartment and what fun it would be and she went off on me, accusing me of plotting to get her to move out when she wasn't ready. We have talked about traveling abroad (she has already been to Germany with her class) and she gets weepy. I don't see her doing much other than school, her job, and going to the gym. It's like she is pining away for this boy versus going out and having fun like most 18 yr olds do. I simply don't know what she wants - but I see a lot of fear about the future.

I love the reverse psychology stuff; good ideas, thanks! ; ) I tried it with another boy who was in the picture briefly and it didn't work. But maybe overly-embracing this punk - giving her what she wants in total overdose form - may work. AT least it would be humorous (for me)!!

I remember feeling at 18 that I had the whole world to conquer. I am so stubborn and bull-headed and she is this little waif who is so sensitive and introverted...where did this child come from?!
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Old 12-10-2011, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Tuffgirl View Post
This is interesting...because whenever I try to talk with her about life after high school (she graduates in May 2012), she gets freaked out. I tried to talk about having an apartment and what fun it would be and she went off on me, accusing me of plotting to get her to move out when she wasn't ready. We have talked about traveling abroad (she has already been to Germany with her class) and she gets weepy. I don't see her doing much other than school, her job, and going to the gym. It's like she is pining away for this boy versus going out and having fun like most 18 yr olds do. I simply don't know what she wants - but I see a lot of fear about the future.

I love the reverse psychology stuff; good ideas, thanks! ; ) I tried it with another boy who was in the picture briefly and it didn't work. But maybe overly-embracing this punk - giving her what she wants in total overdose form - may work. AT least it would be humorous (for me)!!

I remember feeling at 18 that I had the whole world to conquer. I am so stubborn and bull-headed and she is this little waif who is so sensitive and introverted...where did this child come from?!
Hey, maybe the time you tried it before, it DID work, and that's WHY he was in the picture briefly? !! LOL.

I don't know, if you tried it before and it was exhausting, there is no reason to put yourselves through another exhausting experiment in sociology.

I do also have a child who is so unlike me, I wonder if I picked up the wrong baby at the hospital. He looks exactly like his bio-dad, so I know I at least got the offspring of my previous partner, though. LOL.

Please keep me updated on this. I'm always interested in how we parents do our job and keep our sanity. THANK you for posting about this topic.
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Old 12-10-2011, 11:51 AM
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Is she in any kind of therapy, maybe she could talk with the school counselor about self-esteem and abusive behavior, is there a man in the family to have a talk with this boy about his behavior, I say boy because real men do not act this way.

I see signs of jealousy and manipulation. This controlling behavior can lead to physical abuse and it needs to be shut down asap.

My sister went through this with a boyfriend, he was a year older, in the army, bodybuilder, steroid freak, she weighed 102, he weighed 240. the first time my dad saw bruises on her arms from where he garbbed her, he sat this kid down and told him flat out, I know I cannot stop you from seeing her, but if you hurt her again, I will hurt you twice as bad, if I have to go to prison then so be it, he was not around long after that.

I believe you must have boundaries, you did a great job, now stick to it, if she doe not like the house rules then she can get her own house, pay her own way and make her own rules.

Best of luck to you,

Bill
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Old 12-10-2011, 01:00 PM
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While my daughter (now 19) has so far not picked a boyfriend I can't stand. (Knock on wood!) She does tend to get "all caught up" in her relationships, to the detriment of other aspects of her life. (Wonder where she learned that!)

My approach has been to remind her what a beautiful, special, unique person she is, with or without a boyfriend. To make sure she knows she is loved and lovable, regardless of having a significant other. She also harbors a lot of fear and self-doubt, which I think is quite normal at that age, but I try to counter it as much as possible, or at least not feed into it.

Oh, and she's been living in her own place for 3 months now and seems to be doing fine. Although, she does spend most of her non-working time with her boyfriend, lol.

L
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Old 12-10-2011, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tuffgirl View Post
I don't see her doing much other than school, her job, and going to the gym. It's like she is pining away for this boy versus going out and having fun like most 18 yr olds do. I simply don't know what she wants - but I see a lot of fear about the future.
Hm. Has she got any older friends/cousins/aunts she could go visit? Go spend a weekend at their college with them? Have a little internship? Just thoughts. Good luck to you. Let us know how it goes!
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Old 12-10-2011, 06:58 PM
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Thanks all. I did apologize for lashing out. She also apologized. But we are still at the stand off on approval of the punk boyfriend. She said it was really important to her that I approve, and I finally said "actions speak louder than words...let's see if he has changed".

She is not speaking to me again!

Oh well - more to be revealed. I hope, for her sake, he has changed. But I know it is not likely and that breaks my heart.

Lots of good ideas here, thanks again all!
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Old 12-10-2011, 09:36 PM
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I agree with Willybluedog -- that there are red flags with this kid that should not be ignored. I would try my best to educate her about abusive personalities/relationships so that she might be able to recognize it for what it is. There are good websites dedicated to educating young people about "teen dating violence". When a calm opportunity arises, maybe you can direct her to the quizzes at www.loveisrespect.org. Maybe it will help her to come to her own good conclusions. Beyond that, keeping your own boundaries firm is definitely a strong message that something is not right here!

Another website is Love Is Not Abuse - Home

Good luck!!!
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Old 12-11-2011, 10:41 AM
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Thanks, tjp. I also agree with Willy - it is part of what bothers me...the potentials. Especially when you factor in drug and alcohol abuse. I am amazed at the lengths of her denial about what is abusive and what isn't. Good Lord, did I teach her that this kind of behavior is okay?

I wish we had a solid man in our lives to sit her down and talk about respectful behavior in relationships. But I am not sure it would matter much as this seems a lesson she is bound and determined to learn on her own. I will pass along the links above, thank you.

It sucks to watch them make mistakes. I just hope this one isn't going to be a bad one.
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Old 12-11-2011, 11:37 AM
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He's an abuser and manipulative. She's a codie and also thinks she knows more than you (which, of course she doesn't). My daughter is attracted to scumbags like this too.

I don't know what I'd do other than what you already have, other than trying to get her to go to Alanon so she can figure out the reality of her situation.

This situation, too, is one of my worst fears.

Good luck and take care,

C-

P.s. Way to set the boundary and make clear to her her options (follow the rules or move out).
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Old 12-11-2011, 02:27 PM
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You know your daughter best, and I don't think it's easy for someone who doesn't to give advice. While some things seem to be pretty universal (like the getting totally absorbed) for teenage girls, other are so individual...

I know that for me, when I was a teen, your boundary would just have made me more determined to be right and stick even closer to this guy. But I was born stubborn. A trait all my children have inherited, too. ("Karma," my Mom says...)

What worked for me with my son (but note he is a boy - people with Y-chromosomes do seem somehow more able to not completely disappear into relationships...) was to listen and ask questions. Often in the car - captive audience, and he seemed more willing to talk when I couldn't stare him in the face.

He was involved with two girls in rapid sequence who were both sad, depressed, miserable people with lots and lots of issues. He would tell me about their abusive parents and how they got sexually abused by uncles and had hereditary diseases and I would listen. And then I would ask, "so, you probably help her a lot by listening and being there for her. What is she doing for you? Can you talk to her about the stuff you're struggling with?"

I would also talk to him about my earlier relationships. About how the best ones were mutual, and with a big component of friendship; they were people I was good friends with before and after being romantically involved with. Which led to many discussions about what relationships should ideally be, and what they shouldn't.

My parents never had those talks with me because they couldn't; they were high school sweethearts and never dated anyone else, so they didn't really think to teach me about relationships. I ran into so many landlines I have plenty to share...

It had worked with my son - he's now smarter about who he gets involved with. I am worried about my girls, though...
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Old 12-11-2011, 02:31 PM
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*landMines...

And the point I wanted to make was that stubborn kids like mine don't take advice or direction easily, so my tactic has been to ask the questions that I want them to ask in their heads - and then trust that they sort of consider them internally and mull them over, hopefully coming to conclusions on their own...
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