It sounds like your daughter is doing what is really normal in adolescence - trying to work out how powerful she is in relationship to authority (in this case, you!) and where the boundaries are. These are important things to work out in order to become an independent adult, but can be very challenging to deal with as a parent!
You might want to start by setting up some rules for 'safe talking' with your daughter - common ones would be:-
- no put downs, swearing or contemptuous language
- stick to the one issue
- use assertive language (say what the issue is and how you feel about it - for example, “I want to go to Sara's party on Friday night, it's really important to me”)
- it's each person's job to manage their own strong feelings - take a ‘time out’ from the conversation if she (or you, for that matter!) needs to calm herself down so she can continue to talk things through in a respectful way. Because of the hormones that are raging around in an adolescent body, she may need some extra help with this - common strategies are slow deep breathing, counting backwards from 10, thinking of a ‘STOP’ sign.
Make it clear to your daughter that if she is not prepared to ‘safe talk’ with you, you are not willing to continue the conversation.
Encourage her to come and talk to you about the issues she is having, and to let you know, using the rules above, how she feels about what you are requiring her to do. Once you and she know and understand how each other feels about the issue, try to develop a solution together if possible. Some examples of solutions you might develop together might look like this:-
- she can go to her friend's party on Friday night as long as she has completed all of her household chores and homework.
- once you have seen her make an effort to treat you with respect over a week, she can have more (monitored) time on the internet.
It's not uncommon for parents of teens to need some extra support. If you'd like to know more, your local community centre or health centre may offer parenting courses for this challenging stage. Alternatively, family counselling can provide a space where parents and teens can listen to each other and learn to develop collaborative solutions to the issues they are dealing with.
Warm wishes, Vivienne Colegrove
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