Repairing Relationships With An Adolescent Child
anonymous Asks ...
My 15 year old daughter says she hates me and she acts like she does too. I have tried everything I can think of to repair the damage in our relationship. She refuses to go to counseling with me. She refuses to go on fun outings with me. She refuses to have a normal conversation with me. I don’t know how to start. I also have no idea why she is so angry at me. She acts like I did something really terrible to her but whatever that was I have no idea. Her attitude toward me started changing when she was 13 and now it is really the worst. Thankfully she is not in trouble with drinking or drugs or boys or anything like that. She is causing me a lot of pain. I am a single mom and I try to stay strong but I cry at night when I think about the horrible things she says to me. I think she is in pain too but if she won’t talk to me how can I help her?
Rev. Christopher Smith Says ...
To begin with, I would suggest that you review an article that I have posted here called, "What To Do When Your Teen Child Hates You" (http://www.choosehelp.com/topics/parenting-family-therapy/my-son-is-now-a-teen-2013-how-parenting-changes). It deals with a situation actually worse than the one you describe, yet the article should give you some things to think about.
There are lots of factors that could go into her change of attitude, but this is hard to pinpoint without understanding better your background and more about the situation. It could be that this is just part of her adolescent experience. It could be that something happened or came together for her when she was 13. It could be related to something that happened in her interaction (or lack thereof) with her father. It could be that it is tied in with why and how you are single. It could be related to something that a peer said and she has taken to heart.
One thing I noticed about your list is that the focus was on you. You have tried everything you can think of, you initiated counseling that she refused, you thought up fun outings she has refused, you started normal conversations that she refused to engaged in,... I wonder what it would be like if you allowed her to drive the relationship more. What would it be like to say to her, next weekend we should do something together, could you get back to me in a couple of days with what we should do? This will put her more in control and she may even call your bluff on an activity idea.
Another aspect that can work well with teenagers is not to back them in to yes-no choices. These often make losing solutions the answer. Better is to think of several responses, all that you can live with, that you then let her chose among. Whatever she picks, you win; whatever she picks, she has felt more in control.
With work, it is possible to find wholeness and peace within this situation. To do so, you might seek out a counselor that can help guide you and give you a place to explore how you are feeling in the situation.