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Parenting --Teens/Emotionally distant daughter


My daughter is 20 years old. The past ten years has been a struggle for her and our family. It all started when she was around 9 to 10 years old. She started to act out, do poorly in school, and even gotten suspended from school for fighting. We decided when she was 11 to switch her schools thinking it was possible she was being bullied.

Everything was going great for the first half, when we caught her with a bag of marijuana shortly after her 12th birthday. Around this time, she started to act out. We sent her to see a therapist thinking something was bothering her. After a few sessions she flat out refused to go saying it was a waste of time because nothing wrong with her. She started to get into trouble at school again. I was getting phone calls home about her disrupting class, her locking herself in the bathroom at school and for getting into altercations with other students. We took her to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with social anxiety. She was prescribed atenolol.

Her teachers and we began to see a huge difference in her. She was paying attention in class and she stopped fighting with her classmates. At home, she still spent a lot of time alone in her bedroom, but she stopped acting out and would spend some time with her family.

Everything started to fall apart again when she started high school. She met this boy; at first, we thought he was a good influence. He was a year older, on the basketball team, his parents had decent jobs, and he did well in school. It wasnít long before I noticed her changing. She started to skip school, and her grades began to drop again. It was a few weeks before her 15th birthday when I caught her snorting cocaine. We immediately grounded her, taking away her phone, computer, and all forms of entertainment.

Things didnít get better. She continued to skip school, break curfew, and emotional shut down over the next year. By the time, she reached grade 11 she just dropped out completely. We started to really lose authority over her. She wouldnít listen to anything we would say, sneak out and stay out all hours of the night. We even reported her missing once when she didnít come home for two days. She started to abuse marijuana again.
By the time, she was eighteen we suspected she was smoking marijuana or snorting cocaine daily. It wasnít even six months after she turned of age that she began to use heroin. Any ambition or goals she had left were gone. She spent all her time getting high or finding ways to get high. Over the next eighteen months we had to kick her out four different times and each time she came back claiming to be clean.

This last time she returned after being in minimal contact and said she was on the methadone program. It has been almost six months and she hasnít touched any drugs not even marijuana. The problem is she is so emotionally distant. She doesnít appear to show any emotion. I havenít really seen her happy, mad or even sad.  Two months ago she did start to see a therapist once a week. When asked what is wrong she shuts down and says she doesnít want to talk about it. I am at a loss of what to do?

I really hate to say this but there is really nothing you can do at this point.  The positive steps she's taking are good but only time will tell if she allows those steps to help her improve her personal outlook on life and toward you.  

It is unfortunate that she has taken the path she has and essentially ignored the good and positive influences in her life but she will have to find that path on her own.  All you can do is stay supportive, helpful without being pushy (don't ask her how she's feeling, don't even ask her how her day was your going to have to wait until she comes to you)

The mind altering drugs have changed her perception of what good is and what normal is and those emotions may take time a considerable time to return.  The real problem with excessive drug use is the damage it does to the logic sensors of our brains making it very difficult to see life as it should be seen.

Her steps currently are very positive but do not be swayed by those ovations as a foundational change.  That foundation also will take time to reinstate itself as a way of life rather than just a change from the drugs to pacify her inner need for connections or patient and keep praying for her to have the strength to continue as she is currently.

Most important, do not let yourself get sucked into her cycles of negative behavior by her pleading for your help when all she will likely do is return to the old ways, leaving you wondering where you went wrong...she went wrong and she has to come back on her own any other alternative is futile and ineffective.

Never lend her or give her money, a place to stay for a while is fine as long as she is clean and helpful but if that changes you need to have the courage to let her go even if it is back on the streets....Remember she has to come out of this on her own.  It's like the old saying "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink...."

All the best


Parenting --Teens

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Richard Taylor


I can answer questions regarding parenting and child rearing.


I am the father of Ten children and have been married for over 29 years. My wife and I have adopted two children and have successfully raised into adulthood four of our ten. We are Grandparents and have experience in that area as well.

I have a Masters in Special Education, with over 15 years in education and over 29 years as a successful parent.

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