thread: Dealing with teenagers?

  1. #1
    Life Member

    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!

    Dealing with teenagers?

    Hi all,

    I know there are some Mums of teenagers out there.......any advice gratefully accepted.

    My GF (age 35) and her daughter is 14. My GF has just been on the phone to me in tears again, over her teenage daughter, and I am really at a loss to what to suggest.

    I shall give some back ground: forgive me if this is long!

    (For the sake of ease I shall call my GF Jo and her daughter Amy)

    Jo was married in her teens and that is when she had Amy. Her husband commited suicide when Amy was only 4. Jo has since remarried (when Amy was 8) to a new DH and the three of them all get on well, or at least they have been since Amy turned into a nightmare teen.

    Amy is bright, attractive and has a lot going for her. She has doting grandparents and she goes to a good school, and certainly Jo is a loving mother who only wants the best for her daughter, and the step-dad is a wonderfully caring guy who treats Amy like his own.

    Over the past 2 years her behaviour has gone from bad to worse. It started off with the usual teenager dramas like dating boys too early, to experimenting with cigarettes & not doing homework. however in recent months it has got much worse, and some her recent behaviour includes:

    ~ Smoking dope
    ~ Having sex
    ~ Breaking out of the house at night
    ~ Wagging off school
    ~ Bullying other girls at her school
    ~ Drinking
    ~ Perpetual lying about anything and everything
    ~ Stealing things such as a brand new mobile phone from another girl at school

    They have been in family councelling and Amy has had one on one councelling, but nothing seems to be getting through to her.

    Jo adores her daughter and would do anything to help her start acting with some maturity.

    The current drama is that Amy has been threatened with suspension from school becasue of stealing the phone. Any thinks this makes her "cool" and she certainly seems to be regarded as a "leader" at school, and gets a lot of attention from boys and her classmates for being "cool".

    Jo has tried setting boundries, grounds her, withdraws priviledges such as pocket money/use of the phone etc, but nothing seems to get through to her.

    Girls, this is an essay, but any insights on how to get through to a 14 year old that the above behaviour is not acceptable? Or is it all simply teenage behaviour that needs to be ridden through and hope Amy comes out the other end?

    My advice to Jo so far has all been based on my experience as a people manager. However I am aware that maanging employees is very very different to "managing" a teenage daughter!

    Any suggestions from anyone welcome!

  2. #2
    Registered User

    Jan 2004

    Wow Lucy! I feel so sorry for you friend, she must be stressed to the max!

    I'm not sure what advice to offer.
    I did see a Dr Phil show a month or so ago with a teenage girl about 15 i think? who had already had a child and was still chasing the boys.
    So they found out what she was passionate about - apart from boys and sex, which was something to do with the ocean and animals, and they sent her on a holiday to learn how to scuba dive and see the ocean. She did end up chasing a boy though!.
    Anyway, so my point is, maybe there is something she is really passionate about that they can encourage her with? Pretty lame i know, but i can't think of anything else thats positive.

    The only other thing is point out any stories in the papers or on the T.V that show people who have been doing the same things at the same age and the effects it had on them either physically and/or emotionally.

    Maybe call on any friends or people who will tell her what it was like when they got caught stealing and ended up in jail, or who were that drunk they can't remember how they ended up in the emergency ward, were raped when they were a teenager, etc, etc. Don't sugarcoat it, give her all the gory details on were she may be heading and how it's not the hopes and dreams her mother has for her. Hope i don't sound too drastic there?

    It may be just a phase she is going thru and will grow out of in a few years. Hope your friend can get thru to her.


  3. #3
    Registered User

    Aug 2004
    Hunter Valley, Wine Country, NSW

    Hi Lucy

    I`m not a mother of a teenager yet (will be a step mum to one in less then 2 years time, oh thats scary) but anyway back on track I`m a older sister by 3 1/2 years of a teenager who went of the wires so to speak when she was 14.

    My story goes my younger sister was always very simliar to me, was doted on by both Mum and Dad but especaially Dad, N was very sick as a baby so this is understandable. I`d do anything for N would always play the games she wanted to play would always give into her, could say she always got her ownway whether this had anything to do with going off the wires I have no idea. Once N hit 14 she was a different child - withdrew into herself, self mutilated herself, took up smoking, drugs, sex, thought she was madly in love with the guy who was also into drugs, she`d climb out of the window at night or he`d climb in to see her (I remember getting an awful fright when he did this once I was so scared I pretended to be asleep and not move), she then went onto stealing from places like K-Mart/Big W only small things like shampoo/deodorant but it was still stealing AND she didn`t need any of those things, worse part is she then began stealing from her family - big things like the stereo, my older sister was getting married at the time so we had quite a bit of wine and beer stored up for the after marriage party - most was stolen by N. N then totally disapered didn`t contact family for years. Years went by and I started recieving notices in the post about riding on trains without a pass and various other drug offences and stealings - it ended up that N decided to take on my name and identity how she did this I do not know even to this day, I had major problems trying to prove my identiity - fingerprints the works before they realised I wasn`t N at all - I very nearly ended up in prison and have heard it does happen that sisters take up their sisters identity and the inocent sister ends up doing time - I was one of the lucky ones. But on my records I have to prove to the police who I am and it will stay that way for 20 years, makes life very embarrassing when I`m a childcare worker and they have to check my record I have to mention to the employer about N`s problems and that they will find a record under my name but that wasn`t me. N last contacted us when she was 8 months pg - we all thought she`d come to her senses unfortunately that doesn`t seem to have happened, last I heard from her was about 3 months ago with crocodile tears wanting $80 because her wallet was stolen and couldn`t afford to feed the baby so of couse I gave her the $80 and have never heard since.

    Lucy sorry to ramble on but just giving you a very brief outline of my sister and her actions, please tell your GF and her husband DO NOT blame themselves, this can happen to any family and often happens to the most loving close family. All your GF and Husband can do is hope and pray that her daughter comes to her senses before it`s too late and for her to know that your GF and husband will always be there for her no matter what - this I feel is very important. It is very hard to loose contact and always wondering did they OD, is she still alive. Your Gf can take her daughter to counselling/police all of which doesn`t seem to do any good.

    Good Luck


  4. #4
    Life Member

    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!

    Thanks girls, for your is a scary business.

    Deeanne, thanks for sharing your sisters story, it must be so tough.

    Nic, you have given me some good ideas which I shall pass onto my GF.....thank you.

    All this makes me want to wrap Olivia in cotton wool when she gets to this age..........

  5. #5
    BellyBelly Life Member

    Jul 2004
    House of the crazy cat ladies...

    Gee... this is such a tough one Lucy...
    I went off the rails myself at about age 15, and left home, got into drugs and all sorts of other terrible things.. and I never really came out of it until I met DP, and then fully got over everything when I fell PG.
    If you want I can give her many gory stories of my own.
    During my wild times I was attending a 'Flexi' highschool, basically for young homeless and/or troubled teens. So I have seen a LOT of this.
    The sad thing is... even after having lived through it myself, I really dont know what any good suggestions would be. As everybody is different. I know I have changed soooooo much, but I know of friends I used to have back then who are now worse than ever.

    Hopefully it is just a stage she is going through. I remember when I was at mainstream highschool nearly everybody started to go feral once they hit year 9. But most of them do come out of it. I think an important thing is to keep her in school, and keep her living at home if possible. Cause once the stability of those things is gone, and she is out on her own in the big bad world as a teenager, it is dangerous, but highly exhilarating, and I doubt it is very appealing to want to go back to normality and 'straight' society for ages. Usually it takes many hard knocks and traumatic experiences for them to realise that its not as great as they thought. But by then it can be too late, as it has become a way of life.
    Sorry, I am totally rambling here!!
    I will stop now... sorry if I am not much help.
    Feel free to email me if you want any real life stories to scare her with...

    Best of luck to your friend.

  6. #6
    Life Member

    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!

    Thanks Ambah.........

    I am glad you bolded the statement
    keep her in school, and keep her living at home
    , as that is also my gut reaction, and the one piece of consistent advice that I keep on giving my GF.

    I really appreciate your input......[/quote]

  7. #7
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Nov 2003
    SE Melbourne


    I am so sorry that your GF has to go through this but it seems a very common thing these days. My GF has been going through the same thing for the past 2 years, her DD is now 16. It is hell for those of us who have to spend the time worrying about their whereabouts and what they are up to.

    We have been through this girl leaving home twice, actually running away and the police cant do anything, the kids know this too, which makes it even worse. This girl left for 9w and came home PG, which ended in a termination and some severe talking to by myself and her mother. She stayed at home for a couple of months and then decided to take off again. This time the police actually rang her mother to tell her that her daughter needed to collect her belongings and they were going to accompany her.

    The thing is the daughter is back home after 5w, deciding that home is better than life on the streets and friends places. The thing is she has finally turned the corner, she is happy at home, doing very well at school and has finally seemed to have grown up.

    I guess we will all be going through this at some stage, the only thing that I can suggest is to try to set the boundaries and to listen, but to be honest, she will do what she likes and unfortunately she knows that the law will be on her side once she turns 15. They teach them this at school.

    There is always hope.

  8. #8
    Senior Moderator

    Nov 2004

    A few tips from someone who has spent far too much time trying to help troubled teens in the family law jurisdiction.

    Take her to a Children's Court. Especially the Criminal Law division. Have one of the lawyers explain to her what is going on (Legal Aid lawyers, once briefed on the situation, usually help). They will also explain to her the notion of "secure welfare" which is basically home detention (bars on the windows and all) for troubled teens.

    Have her spend a week of "work experience" with someone who works in the Children's Court jurisdiction. You can find them in the phone book. Legal Aid generally won't take work experience students because of insurance issues, but private firms might be able to help out.

    If pg is an issue, try to speak with one of her school teachers. There have been some schools which have a fake "baby" that the students have to look after for a period of time. She'll soon realise that babies aren't as easy as they seem!

    If boys are a huge issue, get her to talk to some teenage mothers. Explain to her that pg is usually the result of hanging out with boys.

    Drugs - take her to a homeless shelter and/or refuges. Explain to her that these are people who were once in her situation.

    But best of all - (after keeping her at home and in school) is to explain to her that she makes choices. Her choices will affect the REST OF HER LIFE.

    If you are in Melbourne/Victoria, let me know and I might be able to put you onto some contacts.


  9. #9
    Life Member

    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!

    Girls, thank you so much for all of this advice......I am madly forwarding it onto my GF, and she is SO appreciative to get some objective advice.

  10. #10
    paradise lost Guest

    I hope you don't mind me throwing my two cents in too!

    I know this doesn't sound like much help, but i guess i would help your G/F try to address the symptoms as well as the causes... Does that make sense.

    Like i was having sex at 14, and i wasn't going to stop for my mother. But she made damn sure i knew waht HIV was (took me to a hospice to meet sufferers! She worked for the HIV/AIDS charity) and how to take the Pill and use condoms, we also had a lot of talks (where i sat sullen and silent but actually did take a lot in) about self-respect and choosing partners properly and the fact that if you feel you;re in love and you really ARE in love, that's not going to go away because you don't have sex immediately.

    She didn't have to lecture me on drugs as i was never into them, but my brother was and she just got as much info as possible together for him, so he knew what he was doing to his body. She took him to a drugs project and let him meet the addicts and hold little heroin toddlers.

    She always told us we would be old enough to make our own choices when we were old enough to make sure we were informed about our actions (i.e. knowing sex leads to pregnancy, drugs can lead to mental illness etc.). At the time when this was going on for me i felt very grown up and thought ignoring my parents showed i could make my own choices, but in retrospect of course i see that i was just a child "playing" at responsibility and thank goodness i got away relatively unscathed. But in the end, by the time i was 16 my parents skills when i was a baby came through and i turned out normal afterall.

    Some kids just go off the rails and it is very scary if it is your kid, but at the end of the day i think that we all raise our kids to be good people, and even good people can do daft and dangerous things.

    Remind your GF that she is a great mother and that her daughter is just going a little nuts growing up. It's like when your toddler is running under the table and smacks his head - it breaks your heart but you have to let them walk so the risk is always there. This is a learning curve for both of them. Her daughter WILL catch on eventually. Keeping her daughter at school, living at home drug-free and non-pregnant are the most important things, in a few years she'll have gotten over all this.


  11. #11
    Jackie Guest

    I feel extremely sorry for you gf to have to go through this....

    I have a 14 to daughter, who thank god is good kid. She does however have a friend who is going off the rails, due to circumstances at home, she has it pretty tough and I feel sorry for her, however, she trys to drag other kids including my daughter with her. I'm wondering whether your gf's daughter may have a friend like this... Peer pressure can be very hard to withstand and if a child is not as self confident or is easily led it can be very hard for them to say no, especially if they want to be in the "Cool" group.

    My daughter has pretty much severed her ties with the girl in her school, guess I'm very lucky that she has a strong personality.

    I hope everything works out for you gf before things get beyond control.

  12. #12
    Jackie Guest

    Something strange happened when I tried to post the prev message, it said something on the lines that it couldn't post, so i tried again, same error so I tried again, being persistent..

    Well now it is here 3 times, very strange ](*,)

  13. #13
    Registered User

    Jan 2004

    Hey Lucy, was wondering how things are going with your GF and her daughter?


  14. #14
    Life Member

    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!

    Thanks Nic........

    It is still no bed of roses, to say the least, but things are gradually improving, although it is a lot of continial hard work for my GF, who is making herself sick with the stress of it.

    Amy was suspended from school, and she was not allowed any contact with friends & her mobile was taken off her for the duration of the suspension, and this seemed to make her at least take some notice of the issues and that there WERE boundries. (Funnily enough, she was horrified when she got her mobile back and there were no messages for her from boys or girls) so I think she realised that being suspended wasn't considered "cool" by her friends, in fact it seemed to ostracise (sp?) her, which made her look quite hard at her own behaviour.

    They are still not out of the woods yet though.

    Amy has fallen out with me big time actually, becasue I told her that she wasn't going to be invited to our wedding as she wasn't welcome if she was to continue to upset my GF, so she is ignoring me at the moment and told my GF that "Lucy is so hard-hearted"! LOL! But apparently my GF says she "respects" me, so even if she just tones her behaviour down for a while to give my GF a bit of a rest from the stress, that is great by me!

  15. #15
    Registered User

    Jan 2004

    It's good to hear that Amy took a bit of a look at her own behaviour and showed that she had some sort of understanding that there are consequences for her actions.

    I know they aren't out of the woods yet, but it sounds like she can be reached... Even if it did come from her not having any messages on her mobile when she got it back.

    I hope things will only get better from now on, especially for your GF's health and sanity!!


  16. #16
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    May 2004

    I just came across your post, and I am soory for not reading it earlier. I haven't read through the replies, but thought I may be able to help, because I was once like 'amy'.
    I was pg at 14, so you can only imagine wht I used to get up to!

    I think this behavior is caused by many things, in my case it was a lack of communication between myself and my parents. But it doesn't sound like this is the case here, sounds more like a situation my DD aunty wne thro.

    I think diverting 'Amy's' attention would be a great option. What intersts "amy'? Get her invoved in something, she sounds bored, her energy is being wasted. I'm not sure where her interests lie, but I know if my parents had've gotten me involved in something, and showed some interest towards this interst I may have turned out a little different.

    One thing I can say is that new punishments won't work. In fact she will rebel more. My dad tried to ground me once when I was about 12-13, for wagging school... he'd never grounded me before, and it didn't work!



  17. #17
    Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

    Jan 2005
    Funky Town, Vic

    Good on you Lucy, it's good that you won't let her get away with bad behaviour. You are setting a great example.

    My SDD was starting to turn into quite the little so and so too. She spoke to everyone around her like dogs. We quite like each other, but I pulled her up short and sharp one day when she was rude to her dad. She has never been rude or spoken back in this house again.

    There are plenty of other issues still, but never rude (near me anyway)!