Ask Rene: I’m At My Wits’ End With Our Daughter’s Acting Out!

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Hi Rene,

I have a 12-year-old daughter who is acting out and has no respect for us. She is always cranky and very disrespectful when she speaks to us. As a baby she was very difficult and, as a result I suffered post-natal depression which I believe affected our bond. I find it really difficult to get close to her and comfort her the way a good mother should.

She is showing a lot of interest in boys and is posting a lot of sexy pics on Instagram of herself seeking compliments from others particularly boys. I’m at a loss as far as what to do; it is breaking our family to the point where my husband told her to pack her things and get out.

Please help me I feel like a huge failure as a mother.

Signed: 

Distraught in Denver 

 

Dear DiD:

First things first; you are not a failure. How do I know this? Because motherhood is not a contest. You are not being judged (at least by anyone who matters) and there is no finish line, nor is there a right or a wrong way to do things. Having said that, I feel your pain; the doubt and frustration is evident in your letter.  It’s not too late, but I think you need to get super serious right now. Here’s what I would do.

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STOP BLAMING
YOURSELF!

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RIGHT.FRIGGIN’.NOW! Your postnatal depression was very real but that’s not why your daughter is acting the way she is. The reason she’s cranky and disrespectful is because you put up with it! Really. Who’s in charge? You are.. period.

Read more: Smack In The Middle: Spanking Is Lazy Parenting

COMMUNICATE
EXPECTATIONS

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You want clear results? You need to lay out what you expect. That means watching and correcting your daughter’s behavior. That means getting tough. Parenting is not a popularity contest; your main job is not to be liked by your kid. It is to raise her to be a productive human being who can function in society. You need to explain to someone who lives in the moment (your daughter) that life is long and there is potential for lasting repercussions from scantily clad, duck-faced selfies. But on the whole, just have a conversation with your daughter; keep talking to her, even when she doesn’t want to talk to you. Make sure she knows you’ll always be there for her.

Read more: Smack In The Middle: Spanking Is Lazy Parenting..A Follow-Up

BE
CONSISTENT!

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This is where a lot of parents fall short. If you say you’re going to do something (rewards and punishments) you simply have to follow through. Otherwise, particularly where punishment is concerned, you become a paper tiger and your word carries no weight (trust me.. I speak from experience). So think before you spit out a punishment; make sure it’s one you CAN and WILL stick with. Your daughter is a pre-teen. I’m willing to bet she has a cell phone. I’ll go out further on that limb and say I’ll bet you’re paying for said telephone. She does something you don’t like? Take the phone.

Read more: Guest Posting: Why NO Has To Mean NO!

 

EXPECT IT TO GET WORSE
BEFORE IT GETS BETTER

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“Well howdy.. there’s a new sheriff in town…” And that new sheriff is going to do things differently. There’s gonna be more cracking down, the bar is going to be raised, punishments are going to be carried out and the residents of your town (the pre-teen in the room down the hall) are not going to be happy about that. Good thing you don’t care. Or if you do, don’t let her know. What happens when change is forced upon us? First instinct is to rebel. Figuratively kick, scream, yell and generally find other ways to rebel. Hold tight, be consistent, stay the course and you will see results.

Read more: Our Story Begins: Crimes And (Creative) Punishment…

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This sounds like just a rebellious phase that your daughter is going through; she’s testing boundaries. That’s why it’s important for you to give her parameters that she can work within. Be a safety net not a safety harness, this is an effective way to allow her to experiment but to save her when she falls.

One more thing.. I don’t think it would hurt to talk to your pediatrician who might recommend you get a therapist for your daughter.

That’s my advice. What would you tell DiD to do about her daughter’s behavior. Leave  your comment here or over on the Facebook page.

Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click here and fire away. Don’t forget to follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

 

 

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Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create GoodEnoughMother.com . When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.

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