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I have a 17 year old daughter who I am struggling to connect with. Everytime I try to help her she gets frustrated and says that I confuse her and put her down or always tell her what to do. She has trouble making decisions

By Anonymous July 29, 2011 - 12:32pm
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She struggles with her weight, doesn't like to excersice and hasn't had a father figure - not sure if the lack of this has affected her. I have been there for her in every turn. In turn I have sherltered her to the point that she struggles to make her owns decisions and focuses on the volume of the task at hand as opposed to finding a solution to whatever she is working on. She could spend hours just thinking about how hard the task is going to be. I try to help but I end up confusing her more with my suggestions so my approach is clearly not working. She gets wound up and chastises me for making her feel bad or using BIG words that are too complicated. I tried a different approach to provide her examples so she could better understand and then she tells me I take too long just get to the point! I think I've done something wrong and end up doing things for her. Oftentimes, she complaints about this or that. Or how she doesn't have recognition. I have always tried to make her feel good and always provided inclusion. The topic of her discussions with other people her age is - nobody likes me, nobody wants to be with me ... so they get fed up and want nothing to do with her. I try to tell her that she needs a positive attitude and that people like to hear other things besides a negative attitude so I find myself spending a considerable amount of time reassuring her but frankly sometimes feel like I should just tell her to stop the whining which I have done in the past. That just makes things worse! I wish I could give her skills to deal with pressure and downturns in her life. I have been a fighter in life and wish she had that same outlook in life. I know that because of her weight she has been picked on, ridiculized and many other things but she never speaks to me about it.I try to open up a discussion about it and tell her that I am there if she ever wants to talk about this things or any other but all she says is that she doesn't care what people say. I can see that her self esteem is low and also find myself constantly trying to pick it up. It is so much work that sometimes I don't know what to do. I have encourage her to lose weight not for looks but for her health but she wants nothing to do with that. Her thought is I've always been this way so I have no need to be different. In terms of school she is a senior in high school and she is doing well and plans to be a vet. Now she is overwhelmed with the college choices and a big graduation project she has which she hasn't been able to focus on. Her teachers don't seem to take her seriously and ask her to focus on a single topic. I give her options but she gets frustrated and walks outta the room. This worries me because how is she going to deal with real life situations? What if she finds the wrong counsel/friends and she uses this as an escape to her insecurities? I feel like I haven't done a good job preparing her for life. This is truly causing me a lot of pain and don't know how to deal with it. How do I change the paradigm in my house from a closed one to an open approach that she feels that she has the reigns of her future and she could talk to me about her worries, life plans and simply have a better relationship. How can I change from being the mother who shelters to one who provides security and life skills so that she could be prepared to face the world without being an enabler? I don't want to tell her what to do but find myself needing to do so if not she misses out on things and then becomes frustrated ending in a discussion with me because its my fault.I want her to succeed in her own right.Have I failed?

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I agree with Maryann...I believe one of the first things you may want to consider is counseling...but it needs to be the right kind. Your daughter appears to have symptoms of ADD which is why she becomes so overwhelmed looking at the big picture. If you haven't read any of Dr. Daniel Amen's books, I suggest you do. Communications between mother and daughter during adolescence is difficult to say the least. Your daughter is at the age where she thinks she's an adult and wants to be treated as one, but her brain development isn't complete. One of the techniques I use and find helpful with self-esteem and ADD with teens is eeg-neurofeedback. Because your daughters brain is still developing, doing brain wave therapy could be beneficial in helping her cope with all the transitions teens go through. All parents think that they have been poor parents, when their child is hurting. You need to be strong...you have always been there for her, but it's time you cut the apron string and let her learn things on her own. Don't do them for her.

I wish you the best.

July 30, 2011 - 11:02am

Hi Anonymous,
Adolescence is a difficult period for both parents and teens. The pressure of the college process and the realization that the time has come to leave the security of home and high school and go out into the real world add to this difficult period.
It is apparent that you and your daughter have problems communicating effectively. It is also apparent that your daughter has a low level of self-esteem.
I would not say that you failed. You love your daughter and have tried your best as a single parent. Not one of us is perfect, let alone a perfect parent.
But, you may have done her a disservice by sheltering her. Helicopter parenting does not help the child. Sometimes, a child needs to fall, needs to fail in order to learn. It is best to empower a child with the resources and knowledge to solve a problem rather that solving the problem for her.
At this point, you may need intervention. Would both of you consider meeting with a counselor, who can mediate a constructive conversation.
Your daughter may be using her weight and attitude that she doesn't care what others think or say as a shield to protect herself. I think if she can build self-esteem, she will care about her appearance and health. By feeling good about herself, she will want to interact with other young people. Community services, churches or health clinics ,may be some places to research for family counseling, offered at affordable rates or free of charge.
You need someone who you can talk with and who can help you effectively parent your daughter. Wishing you only the best.


July 29, 2011 - 4:32pm
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