Single Parenting/15 y/o Daughter
QUESTION: After 22 years of marriage, my husband left, divorced me and move 10 min. away. We have joint custody of our 15 y/o daughter (turned 15, 4 mo's ago), I'm the domicillary parent with primary physical custody. We have had issues with communicating about our daughter with zero coparenting (We only text) Simply put, he doesn't text, I text him what our daughter wants as far as visitation thats not in our judgement and he shows up at the time I tell him she will be ready. His visitation time in our judgment is every other weekend and 4 weeks during the summer. He is a decent father but due to his job being out of town Mon-Fri. (when we were married) he has never actually had to do much parenting. A year after the divorce, I made the decision to move to a larger town which is 60 min. away with our daughter. She is finishing 9th grade in one of the best schools in the state (in the academically-gifted program) (note: the school she would have had to attend if we had stayed in our little town, failed again this past year for the 4th year in a row with an F rating). Over the Easter break, she wanted to spend the entire week with her father. I agreed. Her father allowed her to go to 2 parties with her old friends during that time. (Small town-nothing else to do but hang out and party) She made very poor choices while she was there and drank for the first time at party #1 on a Wed. and got drunk at party #2 on the Fri. AGAIN SHE'S 15! I talked with her about her poor choices and she is and has been in counseling since we moved. Not because she has shown issues, but because I felt she talks to me when she has issues with others, but has no one to talk to when/if she would have issues with me. She doesn't "talk" with her father and 15 y/o friends are only so good. We are scheduled to see the counselor in 5 days. She met a boy back home and they have been talking since Easter. Here's my problem: She says she misses all of her old friends and doesn't like it here and wants to move back and live with her father. Of course this will not happen. I know the boyfriend has a lot to do with it, but the "fun weekend dad who doesnt say no has something to do with it too and also missing her old friends plays a part in this too. Now I have a bright daughter, who has weathered the move quite well, now doesnt want to be here and is sad and showing signs of depression (staying to herself, pulling away from me, not wanting to partake in the things we normally do like play games, go to movies, shopping) She doesn't want to talk with me about her "plan" to move back until we see the counselor and she gets to talk it over with him. I told her, "the feelings you are having are normal, I love you, and we will talk about it in counseling". I know the counselor will help her understand I made the best possible decision for both of our futures in moving, but that's not going to change her views and feelings of wanting to move back. As a normal self-centered teen, she will still want to move back and logic from the counselor won't change her mind. How do I deal with this? I know her well. Nothing is going to change her wanting to go live with her father. I won't allow her to go live with her father. It's not in her best interest. It's not even in her best interest to live with him just for the summer and hang out and party, plus she is involved in positive things here this summer(leadership camp, volunteering for daycare at a friend of her's church, singing lessons, etc.) BTW, when she came home drunk, her father told her she wouldn't be going to parties anytime soon, but he has always given in to her when she gets upset with him, so the min. she wants to do something and she gets upset because he says no at first, he WILL, as he always has, give in and let her go. The only parenting he knows how to do is to enable our 3 children. (others are 21 & 26 not living with either one of us). I promise you, he had no clue as to who was at those parties. He just dropped her off and was instructed by our daughter as to what time to pick her up. He is not, not has he ever been "involved" with their daily lives. So, do I just live with a depressed child who doesn't want to be here? Is there a remedy to her wanting to go that doesn't make me the target of her frustration because she can't? How do I get my happy child back, the one who laughs and talks with her mother and still be the parent who refused to let her go. P.S. She has spoken with her father about moving in with him and she said he said "I'll see what I can do when school's finished in May". (He can't "DO" anything and he knows it as everything I've done in moving here was in her best interest. Something he really doesn't care about as long as she is happy with him and he gets to be the nice guy/fun parent)
ANSWER: Hi Sammy!
Tough time for mothers being a single parent of a teenager......I remember those years still even though my son is now 32 and will be a dad soon himself.
Teenagers are tough ---their friends start to hold more power than you and that is a scary thing but reality of life.
Most states allow children over 12 to make their own decision where they want to live so be aware of that. Check your laws in your state,
Of course he is the good guy since he does not discipline......and of course any teenager would want that.
I found with my son since he went through the same thing, great student and loving to a nightmare for a few years but he came back to his self after those years......only thing you can do is keep putting them back on the straight path when they go off. She will drink but you need to continue to remind her how wrong it is and the consequences of drinking. My son recently told me that things I told him as a teenager come back to him today.....so they will listen but as teenagers you got to continue to tell them over and over until it sinks in.
If you find out your state allows a child to choose what parent to live with you may be better off moving back and this way you can keep an eye on her more than if she moved in with her father. At least that is what I would do.
Teenagers are tough and the only way I survived those years was by compromising. My son would want to go out until midnight and we would compromise to 11PM, etc. etc
Teenagers are trying to find themselves and be independent so to much control on them will force them to do even worse things......you got to continue to discipline but with out them knowing.
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QUESTION: Thank you so much for your time in responding to my plea for help. My state is Louisiana. I am aware of the laws on this topic. She cannot decide at 15 where she wants to live. 18 is the age where she can decide. If our courts would always let teenagers live where they want, our court system would be flooded with teens wanting to go live with the other parent because they got mad for various reasons (had to do chores at moms or she took away the car or they had to do their homework), only to later go thru the system again because of various reasons (dad punished them or wouldn't let them go out, etc.) BUT I understand, if taken to court by the other parent, the older the child is, the more a judge would listen to the child wants ALONG with weighing what's in the child's best interest and then if the judge felt living with the other parent WAS in the child's best interest, he would then make a judgment allowing the child to move. Having said that, I thought I was clear on that issue, that our move WAS in our child's best interest as stated in the guidelines given by this state. "only thing you can do is put them back on a straight path when they go off"....Thank you for that advice. I am and will continue to do this, however, that does not answer the problem I wrote about. Your last paragraph is spot on and I am continuing to do this (I haven't said, "I don't care what you want, you will not be moving, you will live here") by telling her her feelings are justified and are normal and we will discuss them as she wants to in counseling, even though I know she will not be going live anywhere else. I'm hoping she will understand (with the counselors help) what's in her best interest. And again, I know her well, even if she DOES understand that moving in with her father IS NOT in her best interest, it will not make her any less sad or depressed because she is a normal self-centered teenager and wants to do what she wants to do. My questions that I'm looking for answers to are written in my first correspondence. I need some more great advice in answering those specific questions I've asked. (if possible) Thanks again for your kindness!
ANSWER: You asked how you deal with your teenager not accepting your rules.........you just deal. You will probably not see the happy and content child you saw before since during the teenage years they seem more grumpy and miserable most of the time. The happy child will come back but not for years.
Hormones have alot to do with this also------once they begin to balance out around 17 they return to somewhat normal.
You cannot control how she feels.......I understand that the move was the best for her but a teenager will never see that no matter who talks to them. However you are the parent and if you decide this is the best for her then she needs to accept that however being a teenager she will probably find ways to make your life miserable.
Good news teenage years only last for 2-3 years and most children come out of it okay.
I just got used to my sour puss face son and did not try to make him happy since during the years nothing did but his friends and girl friend. I did not invite him even to many family functions during those years since he was to miserable. I tried not to let his moods ruin my life but it was very hard. I remember I cried alot out of frustration........but found ways to deal with the stress such as exercise, vitamins and my own social life.
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QUESTION: Thanks for responding again! I guess deep down I knew there is no solution to this issue! It's hard being the "bad" parent (in her eyes) who won't let her go live where she wants to, at the same time desperately wanting our relationship simularly close to the mother/daughter relationship we had before the Easter Break minus the normal pulling away a teenager does to find independence as they do around her age. I hope she will one day understand I've made the decisions I'm made to give her the best possible future she can have.
Thanks again for your kindness!
You are welcome--------
She will come around again guaranteed........she just needs to spread her wings a bit. They will learn from their mistakes and as a mother we don't want them to hurt but it is the only way they will learn/listen.
My son at 17 turned back to "normal" and we went back to the great relationship we had prior to those teenage awful years. We have a great relationship now and are very close.
He even tells me today that he is thankful that I was on him all the time to do the right thing and become responsible. He said he did not agree during those years but was happy I was always pushing him. He even over the years apologized for being a painful teenager.....so they will come around.
Hang in there and good luck............