Abusive relationships:
“Lately my daughter has been lying to us and verbally abusive.”

Dear Annie,

I have a 13 year old son and a 15 year old daughter. Our daughter has always been very obedient towards me and her father. But lately she has started going out with a 16 year old boy and she has gotten out of control. She is verbally abusive towards me and my husband, her schoolwork is neglected and she is very temperamental. She is starting to lie and is always throwing things in our faces about how stupid we are, and "that we don't let her do nothing." Please help me with my out of control daughter.

Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned Mom,

It may be that your daughter, who has always been "very obedient," has reached a point where she's asserting her independence. This is normal and natural... but being verbally abusive to her parents, blowing off her schoolwork, and lying definitely sound like warning signs that something else is going on. You seem to be attributing these changes in behavior to her connection with her boyfriend. If he is, in fact, a negative influence on her then you're going to need to intervene.

Here are some questions you should be asking yourself: Are your expectations for your daughter's behavior clear? What consequences have there been for her neglected schoolwork, rudeness, lying, and other unacceptable behavior? What do you know about her boyfriend? What family rules do you have in place for your daughter vis-à-vis dating?

Don't allow her to continue pushing your buttons. I realize that's easier said than done, but as the parents you need to stay calm and think clearly. Don't let her get away with lying and "throwing things in your faces." That's not teaching her anything worthwhile. Besides, she's not in charge here, you are. But it sounds like you're at a loss. It also sounds like you believe that your "out of control" daughter is the problem. She may be making the most noise, but it's clear from your description that your whole family has a problem (and I'm sure it's affecting your 13 year old son as well). You need help regaining the authority and power that comes with your role as parents and protectors of your children. I would strongly suggest that you waste no more time and get help from a licensed marriage and family counselor. If this situation is ignored it will only get worse. Do your whole family a favor and get counseling. It will help you learn to communicate more effectively on all levels.

In friendship,

Annie

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