Parenting Young Teens 11-13

Parent Q&A

  • 13 girl entering HS with poor decision making skills

    (2 replies)

    Has anyone had success with local providers to help their teen's decision-making skills? My 13-year-old daughter gets paralyzed by decisions. Deciding what to wear in the morning is a nightmare. Deciding what to eat is a nightmare. We've tried giving her many choices, few choices and no choice, but haven't found what works.  She's also a bit defiant and a perfectionist which makes this much harder.  She has been diagnosed with ADHD, attentive type and was taking concerta for a while and stopped in 8th grade. I'm dreading hs mornings and evenings and want to try to get her help ASAP.   She doesn't seem like an anxious person but this is probably caused by anxiety. 

    Hi, fellow mom of a girl w ADHD. As far as the "easy" ones (what to wear), I'd let it go. If there are consequences to be had, she'll get them (late to class cuz she couldn't decide, wears something "ridiculous " or inappropriate and gets teased, etc.). As far as the more consequential ones (classes, whether she gets drawn into drugs/alcohol), I found that peer pressure did an awful lot. I never stopped letting her know what my preferences were and why, but yours is likely in that period where parents do NOT matter but friends do). Count your lucky stars if she ends up (chooses) a healthy group. 

    Offer up up whatever counseling, meds she might have available to her, realize and accept that kids w ADHD mature more slowly than non-ADHD, be persistent in your own messaging and encouragement, accept that it's much less up to you now and strongly support the good choices she makes, let her make some mistakes...My blessings to you both. 

    My son struggles with those kinds of decisions when he is overtired.  See if focusing on increasing the amount of sleep she's getting could help. I do think it's anxiety, but it's made worse by lack of sleep. Perhaps taking an anti-anxiety medication (mild) at bedtime could help her get to sleep earlier and lengthen her nighttime sleeping? Or exercising during the day so she gets more physically tired.  It also helped my son when I pointed out "you're having a hard time with this because you're tired."  That actually made him relax a little.  

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13 year old has become so negative!

Oct 2012

My daughter, almost 13, has become so negative! Is this a phase? She puts down everyone, and almost everything. And last spring started complaining about feeling left out of her group of friends at school and her competitive dance team. She is an amazing dancer, a straight A student, beautiful and thoughtful. Something she's always struggled with is that she really likes one on one friendships, but hasn't met that one friend that she really clicks with and also wants to be her BFFL. I can see that she's a little competitive(a lot actually) and the things she complains about are people getting more compliments in dance, especially girls that are not as good as she is(they know), or at both school and dance, there is a different girl at each, that are really gregarious and loud and everyone pays attention to them, and somehow they're leaving my daughter out. I tried explaining to her that everyone responds to that feeling of not being included in different ways. I become that person that is loud and funny and talks a lot because it makes me feel a part of what's happening, where she tends to remove herself. And both are okay.

At first I really got sucked into the negativity. I would listen and fret, I even called my friend whose daughter dances with mine. But nothing was resolved and now I find myself wondering if its something she's going through or if I should be really concerned. She's always been on the serious side, an old soul, and went through a really funny outgoing phase, but really seems to be struggling with her confidence right now. So far, I've been trying to react in a more positive way, instead of getting caught up. Or listening and saying, ''I'm sorry'' or something like that when she complains. For instance at a sleepover she was texting me about the girls being loud during a movie, and I just said ''try to have fun, at least you've seen the movie before'', and then when someone was hogging the bed I left it at, ''I'm sorry'' and her phone died. I want her to talk to me, my mom wasn't available or kind when I was this age, but really?? Is it a phase? My gut tells me it is, but I am worried that because we're so different I'm not taking it seriously enough. Thank you

I WISH I had written your post when my daughter was 13! Instead, I wrote a similar one when she was 15. Our girls sound ver similar: My daughter was/is competitive, had few ''good'' friends (or was critical of the ones she did have), quit volleyball because she was not ''the best'' on the team, texted me a lot (also for situation like the slumber party situation you describe)....

What I did not realize was that she suffered from anxiety! It came to a head in high school, and I finally took her to see someone, and with therapy and some anxiety meds, she is 100% better. I did not realize that she had performance issues, had some perfectionist issues, and pretty severe anxiety. The medication has worked wonders for her, and I have seen her blossom in high school. Once she realized what was going on, she told me that she has always felt this way, even as a small child. My heart breaks that I did not know or did not help her sooner. I always just brushed it off as her being a ''high maintenance'' kid or self centered or whatever. I am much more supportive of her now, knowing how her brain works, what she is feeling, and how to help her.

I don't know if your daughter has anxiety, but your posting of your daughter sounds EXACTLY like something I would have written a few years ago. There is a good book called, ''My Anxious Mind'' that you may want to look at, just in case. It's for teens.

Good luck. I never thought I would support anxiety medication, but that, coupled with some therapy, saved my daughter. She is an amazing senior now, has much more confidence, and is currently applying for college. There is NO WAY she would be in this place if we had not gotten her help when we did. My heart goes out to you!

My daughter went through a similar phase at 13 while at an all girls school. Girls at that age can be very catty and yes they are very competitive. In addition, as if that wasn't enough, their hormones are raging (causing swinging emotions) and their brain synapses are forming new pathways. All this plays a factor in this negativity. 6th grade is very rough (it was for me and many a night I cried bitter tears). Hang in there. It's important to show that you support her (which undoubtedly you do), but also try not to ''solve'' her ''problems,'' but rather try to listen with your head not your heart and try to guide her to a positive resolution (letting her define her solution). I've learned that my daughter wants me to hear her problems but not necessarily solve them. She is still forming her identity and this can be difficult in addition to figuring out who her true friends are(which btw, my daughter does not have many but few good ones), and who she can trust. I hope this helps. It will get better, my daughter is now in 10th grade in a public school and doing very well. This is where I cry....ahem she pretty much doesn't need me anymore boo hoo!!! Gloria
Dear Mom, Oh, it sounds like your daughter is really going through it. It's so hard to see that happening and not be sure what to do! While it is '' normal'' for young teens to go through some negative self awareness and difficulties navigating the social environment, from what you wrote it sounds like your daughter is really hurting and is letting you know that she needs your help. It's really important that you don't write it off as ' just a phase' and miss the opportunity to help her get through this. Adolescence is a really challenging time for kids. Their identity is developing and suddenly who they are in relation their peers appears critical. It's great that you are empathizing with her but it sounds like she's asking you '' How do I do this?'' and of course you don't have all the answers ( what parent does!).

I would suggest that you get curious with her, get a sense of what she would like to be happening with her friends and then do some collaborative problem solving with her. Most Importantly you don't want to lose the trust you and she obviously have. And that is at risk if she feels like you don't '' get'' what she is going through. As her parent you are the best compass she has, and you can't figure it out for her. It's the beginning of her growing into her own person and you get to stand by and watch and, if she lets you, sometime hold her hand. ZS

7th grader hit puberty and is so sad!

June 2012

My 7th grader just hit puberty and all of a sudden is so sad! She was never like this before, and I don't remember being like this (although apparently my sister was). She cries and cries, alone in her room. We have always been very close, and now she just wants to be alone in her room. Normal things that I used to do (like open her shades in the morning, or open her window) she gets very upset about. I am finding that I cannot keep up! She went from being a little girl to a teenager literally over night (I have read about this, but could not imagine it ever happening to my daughter). She has always been exceedingly sweet and honest and caring, and over night she is moody, crying, sad, and very frustrated. Is this simply puberty? Will it mellow out? I am surprised at how lost I feel. Advice from those who have walked this path would be wonderful! Mom of teen

A friend of mine likened the onset of puberty to being hit by a truck - all of a sudden, everything is different. And very difficult. I think it's particularly hard if you had a close relationship with your daughter, as I had. It takes a while for everyone to adjust to the new dynamic. So first, give yourself a break. No, the sweet pre-adolescent girl is not going to return, so it's appropriate to grieve that loss. And your role is most effective if you're a little detached. (My stock response for a couple of years - once I adjusted to my new role - was ''I'm so sorry you feel that way.'') The good news is that they do return. My sister, who teaches high school, tells mothers of her students ''A monster is going to take over your daughter for 5 years, but at the end of those 5 years the monster leaves and you get your daughter back.'' For us it wasn't a full 5 years, but I could tell crazy stories about lying, meanness, betrayal. That said, now I'm now calmly teaching my 15-year-old daughter how to drive a stick shift, and on New Year's Day she actually said to me ''Mom, it's, like, such a relief that I don't have to lie to you...'' Take a deep breath. Find fellow mothers to commiserate with. It's not going to be easy, but it won't last forever. Good luck. Been there.
I missed your question the other week, but saw this week's response and want to reiterate that although the initial shock of adolescent moodiness/nastiness/coldness is pretty awful, daily life eventually improves quite a lot, usually after two or three years. If it's any consolation, our daughters DO realize, sooner or later, when they've been mean; mine would sometimes apologize very sweetly for being cruel, especially if she was left alone or allowed to talk out her emotions. I think they actually want to stay close, but worry that they can't grow up unless they separate (and that's probably true). And I really agree with the value of becoming detached. I found life worked best when I refused to be treated rudely, but reacted to her moods as calmly as possible, even if it meant I had to go out later and take a walk to cool down.

One idea: See if you can get her laughing. I'm convinced that a lot of teenage awfulness resides in their emotional turmoil and the resulting physical stress and snappiness. When my daughter was being obnoxious, I'd suggest an after-dinner Monty Python or M*A*S*H episode, and that almost always lightened things (and gave her an excuse to mellow out while still saving face). Also, look at Mike Riera's books on parenting teenagers--very good, practical advice.

Lastly, if your daughter is on the intense and obsessive side, this is a useful technique when she gets into an emotional tailspin and won't be consoled. I came across it a few years ago, and realized I had done the same thing with my girl (only less structured and minus the new-agey trappings):

Best wishes to you and your daughter. Some day she'll be pleasant company again, and probably love and admire you all the more for putting up with her so gracefully. Melanie

12 year old is not jazzed by anything - suggestions?

May 2011

I am concerned about my 12 year old son. He is not involved in any sport, music or any other extra curricular activity. His dad is not a ''doer'' and we are separated, therefore I have no control over what he does half of the week. His dad will not listen to my concerns that this situation is leading to isolation, depression and a lack of self confidence--and maybe ''idle hands'' down the road.

Our son has some good friends from elementary school but has not really made any new good friends since middle school started this year. He is being treated for depression and inattentive ADHD, so when he comes home from school, he just likes to chill with his pets and his video games and the occasional bike ride or hang out with a friend, that is, he doesn't like to do anything structured. And, of course, there is homework.

He has tried Little League, music lessons, tennis lessons, martial arts and a few other things but not for a long time. His school has lots of after school activities, but I have not been successful in getting him to participate for the reasons listed above. I don't know what to try and interest him in that I can have him do just half the week, and am looking for suggestions for activities and any ideas for dealing with this situation. Anon

We have 3 children 13, 14 and 18, who have never liked the ''organized activities'' in general until after age 12. I think that is perfectly ok. They love to do stuff at home, they are never bored. They wanted a pet for many, many years and finally got a hamster and were completely thrilled, now they have a bunny. Eventually each one found an activity(my son tennis, and my daughters violin, orchestra) which they enjoy, but it had to be the right one, they were not interested in trying out a bunch of them. Kids know what they need. I think it's ok not to worry. It is great to offer, but not necessary to worry about it. You can be more creative during unstructured time. Pets and an occasional friend seems great for that age! A.
My son was like yours. No sports no extracurricular anything, just wanted to be on the computer, watch TV. Then last summer a friend asked him to do a crew camp for a week at Oakland Strokes, and they ended up joining the Novice team in the fall. It has been transforming for my son. it is very different than many activities-you don't need to be an amazing athlete, a lot of the boys don't fit in elsewhere. My son loves it. Try to convince your son to do a camp there, they have them for middle schoolers and high schoolers. I have heard this from many parents-their son was not really interested in anything, and then they joined crew, and it changed their lives. anon
Sports and music are not the only extra-curricular things out there. If he enjoys animals, try 4-H, Lamorinda has a great program, and just through the tunnel from Berkeley. 4-H is a great program, it really teaches kids leadership and public speaking as well as anything your son is interested in. The 4-H club also has other things such as, small engines, robotics, cooking, you name it. And if they don't have something he can create his own project as long as you agree to be the ''leader''. And he only has to commit to 2 meetings a month (One general meeting and 1 meeting about the project, the rest can be on his own time). Another option, When I was a middle schooler I volunteered at a vet clinic on weekends and got to be around animals and see how a vet hospital was run. Last, but not least, I see that one of the members here is looking for a short-term host family and that might be an option for you. A ''big-brother'' who can spend some time with your son. If they hit it off, a little brother takes on similar interests as the ''older brother''. I do have a little experience in this as I also work for a non-profit exchange program. I find that a lot of times, kids that do not have a specific interest are just really interested in a lot of things and would really benefit from meeting kids with different backgrounds and perspectives. Good luck and don't give up! He just hasn't found ''his thing'' yet Candace

Typical 13-year-old behavior: need a reality check

May 2011

A few months ago, my husband and I became foster parents to a boy we knew who had to be removed from his home due to significant abuse and neglect. I'm educating myself about the issues that come with this territory, so I'm not asking for support about that part here (I have in the past--thanks all!).

What I'd really appreciate is a reality check from parents of 13-year-olds (boy or girl) about typical behavior. My grown daughter was really mellow at this age, so I've been unprepared for just how hard it is to live with a teenager this time around. I think lots of his behavior is related to his past, but plenty of it also just comes with the age.

Have you got a moody, unpredictable, sullen teenager? I'd love to hear about it. Please help normalize this confusing experience for me! How have you risen above the rapidly fluctuating moods without feeling crazy? Is your teen childish one minute and then talking about asking a girl out the next? Was 13 particularly bad and then they settled down? Throw me a lifeline, someone! I need some encouragement that this is normal, and this too shall pass. which way is the wind blowing now?

YES! This is all normal, even for kids who are not dealing with the enormous emotional issues that are associated with your particular situation.

Deep breathe - one day at a time! encouraging

Moody teens? What?? Unheard of!

I had a moody girl and I'm afraid to say that it lasted for quite a few years. She is a really sensitive person and feels things very acutely. I think lots of people are like this. It makes for a deep thinker, a creative person, and often a depressed person. My daughter was in therapy and did end up going on anti-depressants after hitting rock bottom, which was very hard for all of us. She was on them for several years and has finally weaned herself off at 19. Sounds like you are doing all the right things for this kid. Good for you! But yea, it sounds like his normal moodiness might be compounded with his past. Be aware of him falling deeper into himself. You might mention to him that if he feels really bad, and doesn't want to talk to you, he should call someone to talk and make sure he knows who that someone is. Does he have any creative outlets: writing, drawing, painting? It helps.

Keep talking to him and loving him! Good luck! anon

13 was the worst in my experience. 14 was about as bad, 15 was better and 16 is much better. My daughter seemed to have two personas. One was affection, silly, babyish but basically cooperative. The other was a sullen, nasty, foul-mouthed brat from hell. She would switch between the two so often -- many times a day -- that I would sometimes feel I was going crazy. I used to joke to my friends that the evil twin sometimes took control of her body, and I never knew which once I was going to get. Also I'd find myself reacting to one when the other had taken over, so my reactions were often out of sync with her behavior. Now I look back and can actually feel sorry for her, at the time I only felt sorry for myself. She's not perfect now, but much better. I can tell when I call her if she's alone or with friends. If she's alone she answers in a high-pitched cheerful ''baby'' voice ''Hi Mommy!'', but if she's with friends I get ''Hullllo'' in this ''I'm bored out of my skull just talking to you already'' drawl. And I've heard her friends use the same voice to their parents! It's really kind of funny, if you can keep your perspective on it. They are torn between wanting to grow up immediately and being scared to death of growing up. I think you just have to endure it, give what guidance you can and try to keep the relationship intact. Been There
Moody, sullen, changeable, depressed 13 year old? Sounds normal to me. Even a kid with everything going for them (friends, academics, activities) can find high school unbearable. Plus 13 is the beginning of the steps towards life independence that good parents encourage, even as they wince while boundaries are tested. Although you can physically take away privileges for disobedience, this is the point where you might prefer to rely on the strength of your emotional bond and open communication with the young adult.

In your case, the bond may need extra effort, to compensate for its newness. If it were me, I would offer activities as treats: ask him what he'd like to do-- on Saturday, or for his birthday: Shoot hoops? A movie together? An outing with friends, made possible by you? A modest dinner out? A daytrip to SF? A music festival? Camping or hiking? Visit a rock climbing gym? A football game? You want him to have some memories of good times and guardian support and appreciation. This can be as simple as asking him what he wants you to buy at the grocery store for lunches or dinner. Or expressing interest in his interests. Or cooking him breakfast.

We found it helpful to frame some complaints with teens as ''good roommate/bad roommate'': A good roommate picks up after himself, does his share of cleaning/taking out garbage, listens politely, controls his anger, doesn't swear at adults, doesn't borrow stuff without asking, lets people know if he won't be home for dinner. With our kids, this sent the message that we were thinking of them as adults in the making; with a newly adopted kid, it might be scary (''I'm not permanent''). You sound very conscious of his issues and baggage.

General teen survival recommendations: Encourage exercise (sports, and make him walk or bike to school). When you do drive him, encourage talking (''no texting in the car''). Provide as much fresh fruit, veggies (with dip if necessary), and protein as you can (milk, eggs, meat, beans-- can be in the form of sloppy joes or hot dogs and beans); in the afternoon, boy teens will often eat whatever you put in front of them. Make the junk as healthy as you can: ice cream, or a glass of milk and homemade oatmeal cookies with raisins, nuts, wheat germ. Calcium is supposed to be good for impulse control; fish oil (tuna, salmon) and vitamin B is supposed to be good for depression. But sadly, the only way past an ordinary miserable teenhood is time.

One warning: IMHO, parents of kids over age 12 should have an adult at home afternoons and evenings, if at all possible. Good luck!

13-year-old daughter pitting mom against dad

March 2011

My 13 year old daughter is a middle child, does well in school, has friends, an artistic temperament, and is a sensitive and moody young teenager. She and I have similar personalities and clash more often than she does with her father. She also argues quite a bit with her sisters. My issue is this: over the past year she has started to go to my husband whenever I set a limit and get into an argument with her. He listens to her ''side'' of the story and then the three of us have to discuss it. She knows it drives me crazy when she doesn't get her way and says ''I'm going to tell Dad'' and goes to find him or even texts him about what's going on. My view is that he needs to tell her to turn around and solve the issue with me. He thinks he can add value to the discussion and that this is a good family communication style. Sometimes he has useful feedback and sometimes we disagree about how to handle the situation. I think this is a dysfunctional style of parenting, pitting the parents against each other while she's in the middle. I also feel undermined. Does anyone have ideas about how to resolve this? thanks for your help

Have you been spying on my household? SO familiar. I'm the dad and my 12-13-yo daughter did that numerous times, literally leaving the house (sometimes at night) in a rage and going to mom's. Not the only reason, but daughter is now in a residential treatment facility and doing well. And on home visits this behavior no longer takes place. One thing I learned, and it is now an agreement within the family:

Family rule: If you are residing (or with, at any time) one parent and you have a problem with that parent, you work it out with that parent, no exceptions. A violation (by the child) brings consequences (more chores, loss of privileges, whatever).

You obviously need a buy-in from dad on this. The way you laid it out (and I can't tell if you and dad live together or are in different households, but no matter), dad is NOT helping, and whether or not his intentions are good (probably are), he is feeding a manipulation. Without dad's buy-in, you're kind of stuck, and the situation will not improve. ''My view is that he needs to tell her to turn around and solve the issue with me'' is exactly right. If he is firm on this 2-3 times, your daughter's behavior (on this point) will stop. But 1) you need to both explain the new rule to daughter and 2) if she violates, there need to be consequences, imposed by you and supported unequivocally by him (or I suppose, consequences can be imposed by him if you are in the same household, but dad may not be as motivated to do this). Once your daughter buys in, there may be ways to incorporate dad's feedback into difficult situations, but not while she's playing the two of you like an accordian.

Been there, in spades, but it is history now. Hope this helps.

A good book we were assigned at the RTF is ''Common Sense Parenting.'' I forget the author. Great guidebook. rg

well, I agree with both you and your husband. I think YOU should take the initiative (when possible) and when she approaches you with a tough request, say, ''your dad and I are going to have to talk about that.'' Then the two of you can talk in private, then all three of you can talk about it, then the two of you can talk again if needed, then you present your decision to her. But obviously this process isn't going to work for all the zillions of little decisions that have to be made every day, so you and your partner have to agree ahead of time that you each have the authority to make those decisions that need to be made on the spot, and if she runs to dad afterwards, he should say something like, ''Mom already decided on that one, but this weekend we can sit down and talk about it for next time.''

I'm the ''tough'' parent too, and I know it is hard. It also helps to have blanket policies. Like one for my daughter around that age was only one sleepover/weekend (cause otherwise she was a basket case). That was exactly the kind of thing she could talk dad into, until he and I agreed on a ''policy,'' rather than deciding about each request good luck!

Wow. You may not like to hear this, but, from my perspective, it does not sound like she is 'pitting' one parent against the other. Your husband, from what you say, often adds to the discussion. He IS her dad, And, as, you wrote, since you and daughter have similar temperaments and clash more, having the dad enter into the discussions may be a good thing. As long as he does not actively undermine you, but it becomes a joint discussion. Sorry. Another Mom

13-year-old daughter's resistance and hostility

Feb 2011

My 8th grade daughter is with me every other week. Her father and I have been divorced and living in separate households for 2 1/2 years. Her visits, while I want to relish them as I so regret only being with her every other week, have been nightmarish and I find a feeling of dread bordering on depression creep up on me as her visit nears. She has ADHD, is often oppositional, which I don't often handle well, doesn't usually get invitations to hang out with friends on the weekend which means she's with me around the clock, and homework struggles make weeknights hell. Her father refuses to co-parent, is extremely lax about what she does after school, TV and Facebook time, homework and school work (plus he's a teacher), and he refuses to acknowledge how her ADHD is impacting her ability to focus in school and has undermined her willingness to give medication a try.

All this and the normal separation process that happens at this age is just about breaking my heart. I had a very close relationship with my mother, was an eager-to-please child for the most part, did well in school-no one had to ask me to do my homework, and I had good friends and a social life. I think these difference make parenting her all the harder.

I have been in touch with all her teachers to support her getting her homework done, but honestly, with her resistance and hostility, just asking about her homework sets the stage for an unpleasant evening. She either outright lies, doesn't know or doesn't care about the assignments, or a combination of all three.

I can go on, but I think those of you who have had or are having similar experiences get the picture.

I would like to know how other families have handled these issues and would like referrals to supportive services. Also, what to do when your child is resistant to getting help and equates your trying to help them with your saying they are stupid (I have repeatedly told her she is very smart which is true, but she needs help focusing).

I live in Berkeley, so referrals to therapists, etc. who live in this part of town would be great. Thanks.

My heart goes out to you! I am married with a noninvolved spouse. My daughter is a great student, BUT CONSTANTLY breaks rules and I fear is becoming promiscuous. So, I give a consequence for each rule infraction. I tell her what rule she has broken and give the consequence. The first time, the consequence is little more than nominal, but not too strict. The second infraction, much, much stiffer consequence. No arguing, no emotion, you broke this rule, here is the consequence. In the past, I've asked her what should your consequence be? Never has an answer. Now, 8 months later, today she for the first time, told me the consequence and it was pretty stiff! Yeah! She does not take responsibility. Now, she is starting to take it. anonymous
Check out a wonderful program that empowers girls called; Girl Ventures in San Francisco. They have special 2-week programs each summer. She's at a perfect age for Project Challenge'' and there are wonderful young women that run the programs.

In the meantime, set a structure in your home for the important things, curfew, phone usage, homework, chores, and under no circumstance allow her to disrespect you. If you are uncertain about a decision say '' I can't give you an answer until I think about it'. Don't allow her to push or manipulate you. Even if you are feeling unsure, address her with confidence and be consistent. There's nothing worse for her than you being a soft touch or letting her wear you down. Find a good behaviorist in your area and work with them. The biggest thing about her behavior is how you react. Once you change your behavior she won't like it, but she will respond. You can't do anything about the Dad but you can learn to set limits for yourself. The best you can do for your child is to learn how to parent her. ADHD kids are tough and you will need to learn what she needs. Anger and reactive behavior doesn't work in any scenerio. It causes explosiveness. Practice calm, assertive and most of all consistent. It means sometimes saying the same thing over and over and often with a smile until they know you are not going to budge. It's not going to be easy but it will get you further in the long run. Good Luck. Jan

Dear Sad Mom, I hear your pain and frustration and believe that, while what I have to say can't help in all your challenges, at least I may offer a way to relieve one of them. I am referring to the issue of homework. As one who works in the school system in Special Ed. I can tell you that if your daughter is diagnosed as having ADHD, then she is entitled, at the very least, to a 504 plan (see previous discussions about 504 on BPN). With such a plan, she should be able to receive reduced and/or modified homework (and even classwork, if they do it right). You should have input into the plan. It is possible she would even be entitled to special ed. services, but she has to be struggling academically pretty significantly. But either way, you could and should be able to significantly reduce and modify her homework. (Even without a 504 or an IEP, try talking with her teachers). Homework has become way too overwhelming and stress producing compared to how it used to be, and there are several movements afoot to abolish it altogether. Perhaps you can get your daughter's school to screen that wonderful new documentary ''Race to Nowhere.'' Even if you didn't have an uncooperative ex-spouse and a daughter with ADHD, the level of stress that schools put on kids and families these days, FOR NO REASON AND TO NO PROVEN BENEFIT!, is outragious and ought to be challenged and changed. Best of luck! Fellow sufferer of mother-daughter angst!
Hi. Your situation sounds all too familiar. I have two teenagers with ADD/ADHD and had a uncooperative, in denial type husband for many years. My daughter (now 19), in particular, had a lot of issues. I finally found help in these ways: First, I decided to take initiative without trying any longer to involve him and gain my husband's consent. Second, I got her therapy with a wonderful therapist named Jesse Cohen. We have Kaiser and Jesse works with teens primarily through a program for teens struggling with depression there. But she also has a private practice. You could try reaching her by calling the Kaiser Child Psychiatry Dept. Also, get yourself therapy and, if possible, meet with a therapist together once in awhile. If she's unwilling to get therapy, focus on changing her school environment. I finally sent my daughter to a school called Tilden Prep in Albany. It is a highly individualized program that works very well for kids with attention issues. It gave her confidence academically which was huge for her and I wish that I had sent her there sooner.

I don't know what kind of school your child is currently attending, but I would NOT send her to Berkeley High School, if you can avoid it. There are huge temptations for a girl like her there that are unhealthy and dangerous. If you have no choice, there are some helpful adults I could put you in contact with and you might consider putting her in a small school like AHA.

There is hope. After my daughter received therapy, some short term medication (which is necessary, I believe, for many kids either for the long term or short term), and a new school environment, and some maturity that, thank God, time mercifully provides, she finished high school, and is now working full time. She plans to go to community college in the fall and has, if not her pre-adolescent mother adoration, a sensible and more pleasant attitude. I no longer dread parenting her, which I did for a few years. Also, and do not trivialize this,TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Find time to be a happy person with interests and activities outside of parenthood. I was consumed with worry and allowed my problems to become my identity for too long. This only makes things worse. If you are happy and can deal with her calmly, she will do better. Good luck, and remember, this, like everything, is temporary. Feel free to contact me.

Pre-teen attitude: talking back and contradicting

Oct 2010

Hi there, Our used-to-be-oh-so-sweet daughter has turned into a sassy pre-teen with attitude (talking back, contradicting on everything, eye-rolling, etc.) who does a lot of texting. She's still our pride and joy and we love her more than anything, but we're now doubting the wisdom of having a child.

How are you handling the talking back and the constant contradicting, while allowing the kid personal growth and in the meantime maintaining your own sanity?

We'll take the eye rolling and the shoulder shrugging without complaints. We very much appreciate any advices you have. Anonymous

There is not much you can do about the attitude and the correcting. I take on the correcting as a dual mental challenge:

1) If my daughter corrects me, and I really am right, I calmly point out the flaw in her logic and move on. When she is right (actually quite often) and I thank her for pointing that out.

2) Staying calm. :)

The attitude change is very interesting to observe for me. I try to think like an anthropologist observing a teenager ''in the wild''. :)

Whenever I get some attitude about her having to do something she doesn't want to (like taking her lunch to school instead of buying it), I just say ''It's good for you. It builds character'' and leave it at that. By now she knows whining isn't going to work, so she does some more eye-rolling and then drops it. :)

Those are my coping mechanisms.

Well, first off....this is normal teen behavior? Does this really make you question your decision to have had a child regardless of your comment that she is (or was) the most special being on earth? WEre you ever a teen? I was! And when my own teens act like raving lunatics, I recall my own antics, along with keeping in mind the 'continuum' on which mine fall. Someone just told me how great my son is, how politely he behaves, and I said, 'could this really be the same kid that called me a f***ing idiot last week?!!?'' Sounds as if your daughter is separating from you (normal), and identifying with her 'peeps'(also normal!). It's ugly behavior, and to 'go along' with it seems complicit, but fear not! By all means, do not alienate her. Have you tried telling her that he untoward behavior will just result in consequences like her 'iPod Touch' being confiscated? Perhaps rather than making it punitive, you might tell her how it hurts your feelings ( if it indeed, does?!) Very difficult raising difficult teens! Be easy on yourself! Anon

Husband losing it with 12 and 13 year olds

April 2010

I need help and advice and I don't have anywhere to turn. I've been with my husband since I was 15 - almost 26 years now. Our relationship was rocky at the start but has been pretty darn steady since our early 20's. The only thing we've really had trouble with since having kids is parenting style differences. That's pretty much all we fight about. I work with kids and while I'm not lenient, I'm also not harsh. He wants to see results more quickly.

Now that we have 12 and 13 year old boys (soon to turn 13 and 14), things are getting really tough. My older son and my husband argue constantly. When I feel like things are getting too intense I butt in to try and bring down the emotion level some. I know that's not going to work, but it elevates to the point of being scary to me. My husband gets really upset when the 13 year old makes mistakes, and is constantly controlling his emotions. But he doesn't understand that our son can see through that. He'll say things to him like he's destroying our family and then be upset that our son doesn't agree. How could he possibly? What adult let alone child feels they can take on that level of blame? That's just an example.

So now my husband is feeling he might move out. He has been my lifeline since I was a teen and I can't imagine life without him, but I also can't imagine life like this either. It's not emotionally healthy for any of us. I'm so afraid of being a single parent. I have a big job and work so much. I'm not good with handling finances. I guess one thing I'm wondering is if there are other couples who have separated for a time for this kind of reason and things worked out in the end? We have been in family therapy and I imagine we will continue. I think it's actually brought up more emotion for my husband who is a very passionate person. I'm all ears - hoping someone is out there listening and can help! anxious

I feel for you; this is a scary time. But it is just a period of time -- in my experience, this kind of raging tempest can blow over. My situation is different from yours in that I am a divorced mom with a thirteen-year-old son who spends half his time with his Dad. But it is the same in that Dad really wants to control son's behavior, can't tolerate any level of challenge to his authority or doping off from son, Dad says really hurtful things to son (''you disgust me'', etc.). Last year my son refused several times to go to his Dad's house when it was Dad's turn to have him, but because it is important to me that son keeps up his relationship with Dad, I persuaded him to go. There were tears, son would take off for an afternoon or walk out of Dad's house at 9pm on a school night, etc. etc. Drama. His Dad and I went to see a therapist about our issues with son, and therapist urged Dad to be less punitive and controlling, at which point Dad told therapist that she favored women and stalked off in a rage. It was awful. But that was last year. This year things have mellowed between Dad and son. Son seems more oriented toward pleasing Dad. Dad has softened somewhat toward son. I am not sure what happened, but I think that my constant emphasis on ''we have to try to get along,'' and my insistence that Dad and son work together had something to do with it. I kept out of the way, comforting my son when Dad said hurtful and stupid things (as your husband does), and letting Dad know that son was hurt by the statements (without adding my moral judgment to the mix). Long story short: it can get better. Stay your course and be sympathetic to both son and Dad (Dad has issues, they came from somewhere) and stress how much you want to support their relationship. I think that it will pass. in calm waters... for now
We have a 13 year old girl and have had major stress due to that, as well. Again, I am more tolerant, and my husband more strict. What I have done is to talk to each of them individually, and explain that I am trying to help them. With regard to my husband, I have backed off a lot, and actually walk away from the room when they get in an argument, unless I feel he is being way to unfair. I also explained to my husband why I feel the way I feel, and have had him read books on teens (Staying Connected to your Teenager by Michael Riera is a great one), so he has also calmed down a bit. I explained to my teen that we have different parenting styles, and that she needs to learn to deal with both, but that we ultimately love her, and want what is best for her, though it may not come across that way. I try to spend one on one time with her, talking, talking and listening. You don't want every conversation to turn into a lecture! And by all means, continue the counseling. If this counselor is not effective, find another one. Remember, your husband and you are in this together, and remind him of this also. Tell him how you feel, that he is your lifeline, etc. and that you need to do this together. When my husband finally understood how much I needed him to co-operate, and how much he was affecting me (and my daughter), he did calm down and try to soften up a little. He is still strict - that is what he is, but at least they are nor at each others throat all the time now. Good luck! Timi
There is actually a tremendous amount of help and support available for parents, teens and their families here in the East Bay. Feeling like your own identity and that of the family is in crisis...or feeling in over your head...are not uncommon experiences in parenting teens, especially if you're not on the same page with your spouse. Please feel welcome to check out the materials on my website at and you're also welcome to contact me if you think that having a consultation might be of help. Sometimes it's really good to turn in the direction of a third party (or other outside perspective), so that you two can limit fighting each other, and join together more in the service of figuring out compromises and really determining if this intense strain can be lessened--either through some increased support and education about the challenges of parenting teens, or by determining whether you really do need to consider separation.

You might also want to really comb through the UC Berkeley Parents Network website for resources and family, couples or individual psychotherapy seems like a pretty good idea given what you've described. All the best.... Michael Y. Simon, MFT

Demanding dads and their sons - argh! I think sometimes it is better to have a male therapist. Guys DO think differently. Michael (Mick) Hausauer is fantastic. Non-judgmental, calm and solution oriented. Not one of those therapists that forever says, what do you think?. He has ideas and solutions. He's good with the dads and good with the sons.

His office is on Piedmont Ave in Oakland and his phone number is 510- 654-2311. He was good for my son but even better for my husband. Men need results. They need to be in charge, to fix things. Talk is not enough. peace maker mom

13-year-old daughter does not want to talk to me

March 2010

I have a 13 year old daughter who, only recently, does not want to talk to me about her life. She will tell me what she needs (clothing washed, food, binder paper...) but does not want to talk about anything that might be happening at school, with her or her peers. I know for a fact (based on discussions with other parents) that some kids in her circle of friends at school are smoking pot (or have been offered pot), are having sex (or playing around sexually), and skip classes. I do not believe my daughter is doing any of these things, but at the same time, she refuses to participate in any discussion with us around these topics. She finds us ''overprotective'' and if we try to talk to her about any of these issues, she accuses us of ''not believing'' her (although we have never accused her of anything).

How do you talk to your teen without them shutting down? We do not have discipline issues at home, and she is an excellent student. BUT, she will not talk about any of the life issues that we need to discuss. I am concerned that she is going to start thinking that the behavior of some of her friends is ''the norm,'' and will use their experiences as her compass for what is acceptable behavior for a 13 year old.

HELP. Any talking points/resources/books are greatly appreciated. Need a mother's helper

My daughter is the same age, and starting displaying the same behavior about 6-8 months ago. We have always been very close, so it was a big shock for me, in addition to the worry of wondering what she was up to. It really escalated after she became interested in a boy who she wanted to date, but I thought she was too young for dating at 12. Books I have found very useful are ''Staying Connected to your Teenager'' by Michael Reira, and any books by him. There is no easy solution, but he has some useful tips (such as staying open to talking late at night, when they are more prone to confidences, taking long car rides with them during which time they often open up, etc.) Just remember that they will grow out of it - so I hear from many of my friends whose kids are now grown, and are again close to their parents. Timi
my daughter, now almost 15, has never been very forthcoming though she is more so now. I just tell her what I need to tell her and preface these conversations with, ''I know this is difficult/embarrassing, but I've got something I want to talk to you about.'' Then I say what I want to say and ask if she has questions or comments (no). So in your case, you can say, ''I know some of the other students at your school are smoking pot, and here's what I think about that'' or ''here are the consequences if you do it'' (probably avoid saying ''I know your friends are...'') best wishes
As recommended (probably) by many in the past, I would strongly suggest picking up Mike Riera's ''Uncommon Sense for Parents of Teenagers.'' It's a fantastic companion for parenting teens. In addition, there are ''parenting teen'' support group listings here on the UC Berkeley Parents Network website and I have some resources listed on my own website at I would also check out A. Rae Simpson's Harvard Study (available at this site: Parenting teens and figuring out the right balance between preserving privacy and autonomy and keeping our kids connected and safe is a difficult art, but there is a lot of help available to you. Hang in there with your daughter as she pushes you away. She doesn't really want you to go away, she just needs you to understand how and when to reach out to her. These resources will help you with that challenge. Michael Y. Simon, MFT
I think the trick to getting teens to listen is to talk about both sides of an issue. At first glance, you may see no upside to smoking, but people do it so they must be getting something out of it. So when you talk about smoking, for instance, talk about the cons, but also talk about the pros, and then give your opinion. Also, once a kid gets out of elementary school, you can't control them anymore, so don't think that they will talk because you ask them to. You just have to accept their decisions. Make sure you compliment her generously, also. Sanon

11 yr old daughter seems to live to cause me grief

Jan 2010

Our 11-year-old daughter seems to live to cause me grief. I realize this is normal behavior, but I need help with communication skills and coping skills lest I be completely stressed everyday of my life until she goes off to college, and do more harm than good in terms of my relationship with her, and also my husband, as this is affecting all relationships right now. Our daughter does everything she can to push all my buttons, and push them hard, virtually everyday. She says hateful, mean, and hurtful things to me (and very occasionally to her dad, with whom she has always had a wonderful relationship), is just generally nasty and rude, obnoxious, bossy, and has major attitude.

I have read a variety of books already, some more helpful than others:

''Reviving Ophelia'' - interesting, but didn't help my particular situation much

''Get Out of My Life, But First Can You Take Me and Cheryl to the Mall?'' - am I the only one who does NOT find this book funny? The little dialogues in it were painfully true. I felt like the author had been spying in our house the examples were so real! At the same time, I didn't find it helpful in that it basically was saying to me that the behavior is normal, and sometime, years down the road, it will get better. I need help now!

''How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk'' - this book was the most helpful to me and pointed out very clearly that I have work to do in terms of my own communication skills.

At the same time, I feel like I need more than reading books. I could really use either a parenting group or, better yet, some sort of therapy with someone who specializes in family communication issues.

In recognition that all kids are different (parenting strategies that work with others' kids never worked with ours, e.g., our daughter has always been very strong-willed and things like time-outs never worked with her), I would welcome hearing what strategies have worked for you, and also whether anyone has any recommendations for parenting groups and/or therapists in the Lamorinda/Walnut Creek area. Speaking of therapists, anyone know of anyone who is covered by our United Behavioral Health benefits? I've never explored UBH.

Thanks! stressed mom of 'tween

I'm afraid it's just another book, but maybe something to read in the waiting room of the great therapist I hope you find. I found ''Yes, Your Teen is Crazy'' helpful. It also has the message that this is normal, but combines that with a dab of science and some what -to-do's. Good luck. Valerie
I recently discovered a great book and website with free downloads on communication with tweens andteens. Vanessa Van Petten wrote a book at l7 years old called:''You're Grounded! How to stop fighting and make the teenage years easier, A teenage perspective''. It is: ''a book by a teen for teens and their parents''. Website is: I also got a 50 page free download '' How to communicate with your teens'' written by Vanessa, then l7yo, now about 21, from her website: There is a portion for teens, another for parents, you can write a question and her panel of teens will answer you. I really have enjoyed Vanessa's perspective. There are videos of her talking, discussions that your teens can read and they can also write questions in. It is novel that a teen tries to help us parents. Enjoy! Hopefully improving mother-teen communication
Hi stressed mom, sounds like you so long for some harmony and real connection with your daughter and although you understand that's it ''normal'' what she's doing, it's just plain hard to take day after day. I have a similar 11 year old boy, although he's been like that since he was about 4! I found that non-violent communication based books, classes and training helped me enormously. Best book I ever read was Raising our Children Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort. The basic idea is empathy--perhaps first and foremost for yourself! You try to acknowledge how bad you feel hearing all that, and this provides a lot of relief, so that you can then focus on your child. You try to hear what she's really saying underneath the rudeness, etc., about what she's feeling and offer to listen, be a receptor of the huge feelings, even if her response is no--what's going probably has nothing to do with you, and your act of compassion in such a moment might trigger a release for her and an opportunity for closeness, for understanding, between you. It might go like this: ''It sounds like you're irritated/upset/angry.'' She might not respond, or might say, No, I'm not! or even dish out some more rudeness. You can say, okay, well if you ever are angry or irritated, I want you to know that it's okay for you to vent your anger here, at me, if you want, it's okay, you won't hurt me or anything. Or you can say, okay, I want you to know that if you are upset, you can vent it at me, even if you don't want to tell me the details, that's okay, you can just express your feelings and I won't take it personally, and I won't even ask any questions if you don't want me to. You can try some short hand version of this every time, and maybe even if not right away, eventually she will trust you and let it out, and these moments are a chance to reconnect with her on an emotional level. I would highly recommend doing an intro evening to nonviolent communication: Best of luck mom of teen, tween, and wannabe
I highly recommend Sharon Tom of the 'Ohana Resource Group. She is a family dynamics facilitator and has helped my friends improve communication with their kids as well as helped siblings communicate with each other. You can reach her at (510) 821-1881, ohanarg [at] or Mom of Teens

12-year-old son being labeled as a bad kid

April 2009

Any advice on how to repair a child's reputation? My son, 12, was involved in a dirt-throwing incident 6 months ago. He was among a group of 7 boys who threw dirt at a wall. He was the only one who admitted guilt and we supported him. (Others lied or cried and escaped punishment). Problem is, he has now been labeled a bad kid. To make matters worse, a parent of one of the kids involved, phoned other parents whose kids were not involved to say her son was just following my son's lead. (She drunkenly apologized to me at a Christmas party that she'd hoped to garner sympathy and more play dates for her son by phoning other parents). A second parent whose son competes with mine for academic team spots, is spreading the rumor of my son's questionable personality in having him remain on teams. Stunned, we met with my son's teachers, coaches and principal and were assured he's a great kid who made a dumb choice. Their advice is to ignore it. However, play dates have dried up. I wouldn't care, except he's walking on eggshells, doubting himself and is really sad. The unfounded reputation could also keep him from the private high school he wants to attend. He is losing confidence. Any advice? Sam

Hi. I think you're worrying WAY TOO MUCH here about what other people think of your son. You say that you think his reputation might hinder him from his private school pick? How so? You stated that you talked to all of the relevant people who simply stated that your kid is a good kid who made a bad decision. Your answer is right there. Again, these are the relevant people (the ones you described principal, etc) who said this. So, please, now drop it! I work in juvenile court in SF. A lot of smart kids sometimes run across dumb pals and let ''stupid'' take over. He made a mistake. Drop it. His friends or the parents of the other kids (who aren't perfect) are what! At least your son had the COURAGE to speak up, which speaks volumes about the type of young man that he is. Instead of worrying...praise him! And move on, so he can move on...what his little pals and their little parents think, really, is irrelevant...stop holding on to the past as it's obviously just bringing you and more important your SON down because you, parent, can't let go of it. Get stronger for your son's sake!!! Mother of 3 sons
Throwing dirt at a WALL? What community are you living in that something so incredibly low on the harmful scale would generate that amount of fuss? When I think back to what my brothers were doing at that age... Well, let's just say throwing dirt at an inanimate object that can be washed pales in comparison. Really. Were these people never kids? Have they never met a normal boy before? Your son is a normal, good kid. Some people need to lighten up. Or read Tom Sawyer, for the love of Mike. Tell these people to go to h-e-double-toothpick, they're way out of line. And read Tom Sawyer with your son. Should pick his spirits right up. raised among wolves, apparently

12-year-old son has morphed into a sullen, intolerant know-it-all

Oct 2008

In the last year, our gentle, compassionate and respectful 12 y.o. son has morphed into a sullen, intolerant ''know-it all'' who rolls his eyes at everything we say. I know this is arch-typical teenage behavior, but my husband and I are not rolling easily with the punches. Since I spent many years of schooling to prepare myself for the position I hold, it seems reasonable to get some education for the even more important job of parenting! Winging it seemed easy and natural until now. :) Any good suggestions of books on how to successfully parent a teen supportively without losing our cool? Thank you!

Read Mike Riera's ''Staying Connected to your Teenager''!!! It's saving both my sanity and relationship with my teenage daughter. On the subject of teenagers he is one of the most intelligent, sensitive, respectful, humorous, and compassionate thinkers I have ever encountered. Good luck! anon.
I think what I am going to say will not be the usual or most popular approach.

Now that my boys are 20 and 17, and I've seen so many other families go through the teen phase, plus experienced it myself, I do not think this kind of behavior from teens is to be expected or to be tolerated in your family. I think it is a warning of problems you are not aware of.

I think it is worrisome and something that needs immediate attention. Young teens are still children, and your child needs you as much now as when he was six. TALK to him about this behavior..find out where this anger is coming from, and do not put up with disrespectful behavior. How will it feel when he is 6 inches taller than you and wants to drive, and acting this way? You need a peaceful, respectful home at all times during a child's life.

Any dramatic change is something to pay attention to. What's going on in school? with friends? with substances? Do you go into his room, sit on his bed and talk? Give him hugs? Ask what he'd like for dinner and invite him to cook with you? Open up the lines of communication, and set the limits. Tell him that in your family, rude talking, eye rolling, etc is not acceptable behavior for any of you. Tell him you love him, and that it hurts you to see this happening and that it is going to change. Find out what is going on, and help him make changes, immediately. Don't wait. Happy boys, happy home

13-year-old girl is falling apart

Jan 2008

I need advice about helping my daughter, who's having medical, psychological & school problems. She's 13 & in 7th grade. She used to have lots of friends, love sports, & do well in school. With the onset of her period 9 months ago, she's fallen apart. Medical & psych problems: First she dropped out of sports & withdrew from friends. Then she developed severe headaches & missed 90% of school days. I'm an RN & taking the lead in coordinating her care; my husband is very engaged. We've had her evaluated by a behavioral pediatrician (for neuropsychological testing), a Stanford pediatric neurologist & a psychologist. Major medical problems have been ruled out. Diagnoses are: 1)chronic daily headaches; 2)anxiety disorder, social anxiety & panic attacks; & 3)executive function deficits. Chronic daily headaches are among the most debilitating & hard to treat. Hers most likely are due to severe stress at school. (They disappeared during our recent vacation.) Next steps I see are a child psychiatrist to evaluate for anxiety & depression; possible endocrinology consult; & a new therapist (she refused to open up to the current one). She's on 2 anti- headache meds, which she surreptiously quit taking during the vacation & now refuses to take. She probably needs meds for anxiety &/or depression. Am I overlooking anything?

School: She's gifted academically, but her grades dropped from A's to F's due to refusal to do homework (''it's stupid''). Her school counselor arranged for a home teacher 5 hrs/week, but my child refuses to do the work even when she feels OK. The school district wants to put her on home schooling &/or hold her back to repeat the 7th grade (which will devastate her). I feel confident dealing with the medical system, but I'm lost about school bureaucracy & our rights. What do I need to do?

She's creative & artistic, spending hours deeply absorbed in writing,reading & drawing. She wants me to find another school, but we can't afford a private school. She'd thrive in a school for the arts or in independent study. How can I help her find an environment like this?

I'm overwhelmed & super-stressed about this. I'd appreciate any help you can give me. Mama tiger/ Earth mama

My heart goes out to all three of you. 1). Have you looked into evaluating her overall health balances, including hormones, with a practioner who is a naturopath? I can recommend Dr. Zhao Su, a fantastic diagnostician, with a 360 degree look and comprehensive review. She is gifted, and uses all sorts of training/disciplines to get the full picture. She is also a young woman, very gentle and loving, no judgment at all. Just kindness and curiousity as to the root of the problem and finding the right quick solutions. Zhao Su, L.Ac, D.C. New Paradigm Health Center 2287 Washington Ave. (Marina Exit EAST, off 880, corner of Washington and Marina., San Leandro, CA 94577 510-346-2688

2.) Have you looked into the sexual pressures at her school? Becoming a menstrating young woman can have all sorts of ramifications in the teen world.

Knowing you will find your answers! Louise

You might want to consider consultation with a naturopath who addresses hormonal issues to complement your traditional medical evaluations. Amy Day of South of Market Acupuncture/Natural Health in San Francisco does phone consultations. Teens with executive functioning issues often do not do well with traditional therapists. My son's neuropsychologist, Terry Doyle, is excellent but is booked in the short term. Her office might be able to make a recommendation. With your daughter's issues, she qualifies for accommodations under section 504. The Disability Rights Education Defense Fund can assist you in making a request for accommodations. While you await a medication evaluation, you might consider giving your daughter natural supplements. My son is successfully using 5-HTP, N-Acetyl Tyrosine (depression) and GABA (anxiety) while awaiting a medication evaluation. Good luck. Anon
Please understand that I am saying this from having had a virtually identical experience with my now 16 year old daughter which started when she was in the last half of six grade.It is extremely apparent to me that your daughter is very highly likely to be experiencing relational aggression by the girls in her school. I suggest that you run, don't walk, to get a copy of Queen Bees and Wannabes to read before the end of the weekend. And that you rent a copy of the movie ODD GIRL OUT and watch it with your daughter, the sooner the better - tonight if possible. Also, google ''relational aggression'' and read all the articles tonight! I doubt that your daughter has ANY of the problems diagnosed and suspect that she has had more anxiety raised by all the doctors. She is probably too embarrassed to volunteer to you what is happening to her at school every day in the social life. And the school probably is not tuned in. You very well may need to move her school; all good private schools have financial aid available, as well as scholarships. But this problem is at every school today. The doctors simply don't know what girls today are dealing with at school. The bullying is endemic and deadly. She needs your unwaivering support to reassure her that she is completely okay and that there is nothing wrong with her, in fact, I'll bet there is everything right with her. I am sure your daughter is a talented, bright, caring, loving, probably gorgeous young woman. And she is encountering jealousy turned into bullying. Monitor her text messages, her email, her instant messaging and keep copies of all the mean things you probably will find. Start right now; her life might be at stake. The good news is that there is a lot that you can do to help her and that there are a lot of resources for help. Email me and we can talk more. sg
I would suggest consulting Bodin Associates: They're educational consultants, who are aware of all sorts of resources & alternatives. When my son had similar issues, they pointed me in the right direction. Liz
I really feel for you!!! My daughter was falling apart around the same time, but in different ways.

Firstly, I'm a pracationer of living life fully and healthily, and mom of a happier and sweeter 16-year old daughter, not a medical anything, just so you know where I'm coming from.

It sounds like school is a real problem and if I were you I would FIND the money for a different school. I don't think medicating her in order for her to fit into the round hole is the way to go. That said if she is SO depressed and verging on being suicidal you do what you have to do to save your girls life (which is what happened to us-she's taking anti-depressants). Is there anyone such as a counselor at school or a group that your daughter could connect with? My daughter joined the gay-straight alliance at Willard and it helped her to feel a part of things and that school wasn't all bad.

If she's interested in anything physical (sports, dance, acrobatics, yoga, etc.) sign her up! I think sports have also saved my daughter.

We went to a great Art Therapist. It was the first time I had done anything like that, and us both being artists, it really resonated and helped us to get at things that we couldn't put into words. Her name is Ava Charney-Danysh, in El Cerritto, 527-6112.

I don't think there has been very many studies done on this but I am convinced that the onset of hormones and periods changes a girls brain! We know very well about PMS in adults, but don't really attribute PMS to the difficulties that our daughters go through starting at around 12-13 (or earlier). We tried a lot of different modes of healing (homoepathic, accupunture, talk therapy, chiropractics) and finally found a WONDERFUL nutritionist to help with my daughter's irregularities in her period. This woman really knows her stuff and recommended a few good supplements for hormones and overall health. In fact, I started taking them for my PMS and it has really helped. You might call her and ask her if she thinks she can help your daughter. She also talks about healthier foods to eat. She makes it really clear to my daughter what the different supplements and foods are good for. Her name is Anasuya Batliner, in Berkeley, 848-8439. Her website is It looks more ''groovy'' than she really is. She's very straight forward and practical.

It's a really stressful time for all of you. Take care of yourself too because you need the strength to keep trying things and to be there for her. I think the teen years have been MUCH harder than those early infant years. Try and do things that you both enjoy on your days off or after work/school. Do something out of the ordinary to break the spell of a stressful day. Take a walk at night by the water, take a run together, Kabuki Hot Springs in SF has a women's only day on Sundays, eat out at your favorite cheap restaurant, have a picnic (when it gets warm), pet some animals, you know...

There, I think that's all I know how to do!

I wish you the best of luck! anon

Hi -
My daughter had severe anxiety / panic attacks and physical symptoms too starting around 8th grade. The source was entirely socially related (she was a great student). A queen bee friend betrayed her and publicly led everyone to shut her out, this lasted a year. By then her own low confidence I think reinforced it. I found out several years later. She internalized it and was ashamed to talk about it. Cognitive behavioral therapy was a good first step for her, I mean more than a year of it with her being motivated and engaged in the therapy. That eventually eliminated the panic attacks and almost all anxiety. It was hard work, most of it her practicing techniques in her day-to-day life and looking inward.

Then she became aware of the layer below that and articulated that this was no less than a trauma. She put the blame where it belonged and got really angry. She requested more typical talk therapy to deal with the feelings that whole thing generated. She had someone for a while and will find someone in the near future. She can function pretty happily without that immediate kind of help.

She had major, serious physical symptoms - the most obvious but most superficial aspect as it turned out. Medical experts were almost no help. She's still dealing with one of the physical symptoms at a low grade, not a crisis any more. I'm convinced and so is she that that trauma and her inability to talk about it or deal with it for a couple of years was at the root of everything.

By the way, we changed schools and she got into other activities and made different kinds of friends. Her trust in people is still not 100%, but she's open and her new experiences with people have shown her that she's not a freak and the world is not made up entirely of mean people, and these realizations are comforting. I had told her this earlier but it was not possible for her to take it in from me, she has to keep knowing it more and more herself.

To this day, that girl's name is the ugliest word in the English language in our house.

I wonder if something happened with your daughter unrelated to her period? I forget whether you mentioned, is she in some kind of counseling?

Hope this helps. Good luck.
been there

Mama tiger/ Earth mama -
Sorry to hear about your 13 year old's problems. They sound similar to ones our own 13 year old daughter is experiencing. I'm reluctant to blame everything on hormones, but she's been diagnosed with PCOS, and that seems to be a significant factor. Like many with PCOS, she was put on YAZ birth control pills, which helped for a couple months, but which now seems to have made many of her symptoms worse. Back to Square One. Good luck to you! Oaktown Dad
I am sorry both you and your daughter are suffering. I am a therapist who works with adolescents and their parents (when necessary) and have an office in Rockridge. I have been in practice many years and am comfortable working with this age group. If you would like to set up a one time consultation with both you and your daughter, feel free to e mail me. I do accept insurance but I'm no longer on any managed care panels. Alison
Hi Stressed Out Mama,
I don't have all the answers here, but wanted to say that as a clinical psychologist and fellow mother in the trenches, you seem to be doing all the right things. You are headed down the right path, it is just long and painful. I absolutely feel a psych medication evaluation could be really helpful.

I also think the match between your daughter and her therapist is critical. If she does not feel comfortable and safe with the therapist your daughter will not prosper from the treatment. Shop around if need be, but be picky about the match. It is key. You are going through so much watching your daughter suffer. I also hope you are engaging in good self care, which might include getting your own support. Good luck and know you are not alone.
Another mom

My daughter and her best friend had similar issues at this age. When girls start their menstrual cycle their hormones can fluctuate wildly and destabilize them. My daughter became extremely irritable, was moody, anxious, and had headaches. She saw a neurologist and was diagnosed with migraines. Many girls develop anxiety and depression when they start their menstrual cycle-- their rate of depression is equal to boys before menstruation and double after it. My daughter's pediatrician put her on birth control pills and this helped a lot. She still had headaches but they became less severe over time and she just ignored them. Her mood became more stable. We started her on meds for her ADHD at age 16 and this helped her a lot because her difficulty concentrating was affecting her grades and self esteem. She is currently healthy, has lots of friends and is getting good grades at UCSB. She got into UCSB on appeal, in part, by writing about her ADHD and how meds helped so much.

What your daughter is going through happens to a lot of girls. It sounds like her self esteem is a big factor now.

Could she transfer schools and get a fresh start or do part-time home study and part-time classes? anon

Maybe my response under ''Looking for recommendations for family therapist/teen issues'' will be helpful. Hugs,
mom of struggling son in residential treatment
I can totally sympathize with you on this. I would highly reccomend consulting with Dr. Lisa Hardy in San Ramon. She has extensive credentials and can be easily googled. It is well worth the effort, time and money. Call her practice immediately and start getting your daughter on track to well being. anon
Have you looked at the Maybeck School in Berkeley? It's near and I hear it's wonderful (friends' children go there). We are looking at Hyde School in Maine, which is extreme and extemely expensive. This problem is a huge weight, I feel the same unhappiness and pressure, and I feel for you and your daughter.
You're Not Alone
Our daughter, when she was 12, went through a very similar thing -- daily headaches, visits to specialists, out of school for several months.

Ultimately we were helped enormously by the San Mateo Teen Anxiety Clinic. They offered (i hope they still do - it was great) a 6 week class for both parents and kids (meeting in separate groups). I believe non-Kaiser members can join for a fee.

If you still are looking for direction or just want to compare notes, I am happy to talk with you.

Best to you,

13 yr old - hormones flaring

March 2007

Our just-turned-13 yr old daughter is new to the public school system. We have never talked to her about dating, sex, relationships etc. She has mentioned many times that ''she knows everything''. we accidentally came upon some of her emails - from which it seems that she is somewhat obsessed by boys/sex. She has not been on a date so far. But she has told us that all of her friends in school have had boyfriends. so looks like we have to have some long overdue conversations with her. we need some advice:

what realistic limits can we set (and expect her to obey) on dating and sex. I am looking for guidelines that have worked (or not) for you.

- is no dating till high school a realistic limit?
- is no sex of any kind till 16/17 a realistic limit?

we definitely want emphasize to her that relationships with boys is not restricted to sex. we want to be supportive as she explores new horizons but at the same time we want to educate her about her responsibilities.

- would allowing her to meet more boys - either in a group environment or one-one-one - help her appreciate non- sexual realtionships.

we were under the impression that we would not have to deal with this situation until high school. how many of you have had to deal with this in 7th grade?

please help Concerned Dad

The only real damage you can do to your 7th grader is to adopt the attitude that your standards are unrealistic -- or to allow her to think that they're arbitrary. My daughter knew we did not want her to have sex in high school or drink or do drugs. She also knew WHY that was the case. My parents had the same expectation, but didn't need to explain it to me because it was an expectation shared by the parents of all my friends, and most of my community.

What has actually changed between my generation and my daughter's is that we have to talk to each other, and be honest about expectations and why they are appropriate. You will find the public schools to be your ally in this, as your daughter's classmates self-destruct under the pressure of being teenagers with parents who have either given up, or think their morality is obsolete... or hold their kids only to the standards they remember from the '60s (a very different time). My daughter has had friends hospitalized for drugs and depression, for cutting and for attempted suicide. She has had teen friends get pregnant and either have or not have a baby. She has had friends throw up on her, go to jail, go to rehab, go to character-building boarding schools... and one just went crazy.

The excitement wears thin pretty fast... and despite parents who think its just the way it is... all these examples supported our expectations and request that she not drink or do drugs, or have sex, in high school. Yes, she and her friends stepped over the line from time to time -- but where would they have been if there were no line??? My heart breaks for her friends who flamed out trying to react against parents who wanted to be cool and figured nothing they said would matter. Or whose parents weren't even paying enough attention to know what was going on.

I would encourage you to start talking with your daughter about the future, and the fact that she HAS one... Make your expectations known to her on a routine basis -- by talking about other kids, or things in the news. My daughter and I used to watch Jerry Springer and the Maury Povitch Show when she was home sick... with the spoken rule that she would NEVER DO ANYTHING that would get her on a show like that. Don't talk about your own foibles -- its dull and in my case would have involved some ''don't do what I did''...even though what I did was not much by modern standards...

My mantra when my daughter was your daughter's age was ''No one told me how much of my life I'd be OVER 18....what was the hurry?'' Anonymous for the sake of my Good Girl

Please!!! Lots of girls have birth control and are ''deeply in love'' at 13 years old. While some 13 year old girls are still kids, some girls consider themselves very mature.

My advice to you is to start hanging out with her. Take her to something that you want to do. Girls will tolerate even ball parks with Dad if it's one on one. You sound great and I am sure she adores you. So talk about everything. Talk about STDs and crazy sex things like 10 year old mothers. Talk about what guys think about girls......about the paradox of nice girls and girls who are nice and about names girls can get called if they have too many boy friends, wear too much make up etc.. and about infatuation/love and talk talk talk...she will roll her eyes but take everything in.

Tell her stories about people you have known.... Moms are great but she is so lucky to have a Dad so for her. The voice of experience

Girls are under all kinds of pressure to date and be sexually active at a young age. My girls have always been in public school, and from the time that some of her friends had ''boyfriends'' (5th grade), we told my oldest that she was not allowed to date until she was sixteen. Now we didnt tell her she couldn't have a ''boyfriend'' or go out with a mixed group of kids, so when these instances came up, we let her because we thought she was mature enough to handle them. And it worked. She didn't have a steady boyfriend until 11th grade, mostly because she really wasn't ready. She is 18 now, and I'm not sure when she became sexually active, but we have had many conversations about protecting herself, birth control, Planned Parenthood, etc. My younger daughter is 15 now, interested in boys, but she knows she can't date until 16.

Something this limit also does is give the girls an excuse if they're not ready to put the blame on their parents (my parents are So Strict, they won't let me date until I'm 16!)

Good luck. Its an important job we have to bring strong young women into adulthood. Jenny

I really wanted to respond right away to your posting, but waited until I talked with my 16-year old daughter to see what she had to offer. Firstly, you better start talking and fast! (Public school is not the only place that the issue of boys and sex will come up, by the way.) 7th grade is not too late to talk with your daughter, but don't wait any longer! She's at the right age to be thinking about these things, she doesn't have to act on any of it of course. And she's not going to have intercourse before she has her first kiss! (The first kiss, is very poignant too.) My daughter's suggested that she ''not do anything that she will regret the next day.'' And I will add to that: don't do what doesn't ''feel'' right. You have probably been instilling in her to listen to her inner voice about what's right and wrong for her on many levels, so now's when she will begin to test that out. Imposing limits are good for you, and for her to know what is okay with you, but there are no guarantees! She's going to do what she wants if she wants it badly enough. Now's when you have to trust her and also to give her advice about how to get out of situations or what to look for ahead of time. To not get herself into a situation that she will be uncomfortable getting out of. As far as dating you can lay down the law, but if she's determined enough she will find a way to see a boy she likes.

I think the number one thing to do is keep the channels of communication open between you all. Let her know that she can talk to you about stuff, be open and without criticism. You are helping to guide her now and you want her to come to you to ask for help or advice, not to sneak around behind your back because she's too afraid to bring something up. If you have another woman family member who she is close to, maybe sugest to her that she talk to her also for another point of view. It's so sweet and sad to hear the stories they tell!

Even if she says she ''knows everything'', I'm sure she doesn't as she's only 13. You can talk about sex without assuming that she's having it or giving your okay for her to have sex. It's just a conversation about real life issues. Don't be afraid to talk to her, just start talking even if she squeels! A good book for you and her to have is ''Out Bodies, Our Selves''. It has lots of very practical information, and can be a good conversation starter. Let her keep it in her room so she can look at it without you.

There are few things for young teens to do in Berkeley, but some of them are fun like ice skating, going to Mel's Diner for a snack, the movies, swimming in the summer, etc. are things they can do as a group. Let her lead, you don't need to organize stuff for her, but you can suggest things if she seems at a loss.

For me, going through this bittersweet time with my daughter brings back a lot from my past. It's a good lesson to look back and try to remember how you felt and what you wish had or hadn't happened! It's her passage to womanhood, help her do it as joyfully and safely as possible. been there and returned!

I have a 14 year old I sympathize. The first thing to remember is you can't stop her from having sex, you can only guide her to make good choices. Here are the things that have worked for us so far.

My daughter's first date was in 7th grade, we insisted it be chaperoned by us. we all went out to dinner and then a movie. We tried not to hover or be geeks. They broke up in 2 weeks. Relationships do not last very long in middle school

Next bf lived in neighborhood so we knew him better, he was at our house a lot! We specified group dates-Notice we are getting more lenient as she has been responsible.

Keep in mind that in middle school conforming to the trend is what's comfortable maybe her school is date crazy-frankly TV etc. shows nothing but dating, teens HATE to be different in their social circle, they may be rebelling against you but they want to be doing, talking and dressing like their friends, if you try to mess with that you are making her be the outcast.

That said you want to help her make good choices so provide her with reading material about responsible sexual behaviour, relationships etc. Then have your wife discuss it with her, don't push too hard and don't freak out, stay calm and state the facts.

Inform her that prior to having sex she will need to be examined by a Gynecologist, explain what the 1st exam is like. This seems to slow girls down, they respect the doctor (just like you get a physical every year before school starts) and they really don't like the idea of the speculum! It helps them wait.

Expect and understand that you will be out of the loop on this-she probably does not want to talk to you or your wife about sex or the boys she likes.

All boys my daughter knows are terrified of her dad, my husband. He does not threaten them in any way but all his dealings w/them are very old school, father knows bestish. One boy was disrespectfull to our property after a breakup and my husband let him and his mom know in no uncertain terms that itt was unacceptable. This boy still is around (again relationships move fast! They went from ''dating'' to friends to flirting again) and he behaves toward us and my daughter much more appropriately. I thought this was awful at first-but it seems to keep those boys respectfull-so your wife is their pal, you make them sweat.

We let her know we will be her bad guy if she feels pressured, ie if she doesn't want to do something I take the blame by saying she can't. This gives her an out that saves face in teen world. good luck! feeling your pain

As a nurse who has worked with adolescents for over 25 years, I think it's very important (particularly when discussing difficult issues like sexuality, drug use, etc.) that we always present accurate information. The parent who wrote in suggesting that telling a teen girl about the unpleasantness of a pelvic/speculum exam might deter her from sexual activity may be barking up the wrong tree.

For quite a few years, in many teen-friendly clinics, teens have had access to birth control methods (including birth control pills) without pelvic exams of any kind. Testing for common sexually transmitted diseases (i.e. gonorrhea/chlamydia)can also done with just a urine specimen.

SO.....if one does want to use fear tactics, it might be better to be accurate.Accurate information helps build trust. There are many genuine risks that teens face when making the decision to become sexually acitve.For instance: adolescents are the fastest growing group of persons newly diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It's important that adolescents get to discuss the pros and cons of sexual activity with people who care about them, in an honest, respectful way. Lori

12.5 y-o daughter: How do I parent a teenager?

April 2006

I could really use some advice - and some support - on managing my own feelings as I adjust to our daughter's adolescence. To begin with, she's a great, smart, literate kid, a terrific student, a loving big sister, nothing has gone at all wrong - thankfully - in the big picture. Now 12 1/2, she's probably right on schedule, which is to say that: she always runs late, she's become a total slob, she never helps around the house without a huge amount of cajoling, she wouldn't take a bath for a month without our insistence, she is often morose, grumpy, overhungry, bored, totally picky when it comes to food, and would rather just eat an ice cream sundae for dinner if given the option. And it wasn't so long ago that she was a sweet, happy, flexible kid! I find my very long fuse getting shorter by the day. I don't want to engage in huge power struggles with her. I want to respect her privacy. I don't want to pick her laundry up from the floor every time I enter her room. I guess I just want her back. And of course, time marches forward, and I need to march forward with it into her adolescence. Additionally, we moved about a year and half ago from the Bay Area, and she left her fabulous school at the end of fourth grade, and she has yet to make new buddies in our new home. We also moved away from a big city, and there's a lot less to do in our new setting, so she's home a tremendous amount with a lot of time on her hands. She is actively pissed off about being here, and I can't tell if it's because she really doesn't like it or it's age- related (probably a mix of the two). I keep trying to suggest activities, but she's too teen-age now, and most everything lacks appeal. So we rub up together a lot, and that is just a feature of where we live now. So, I'd really like some tips as to how to maintain my patience, save the power struggles for the things that really matter, and keep my loving cool as we plunge into the next few years. Thanks!! surviving ophelia

The best book I've found is called ''10 Best Gifts for Your Teen'' by Patt and Steve Sasso. It's a quick read with a lot of insight. The best mantra to remember ''It's not about me.'' Mother of three teens
I hesitated to reply to the questions posed by the mom of a growing adolescent, but changed my mind when I saw only one response. I'd been thinking about it all week, but assumed that more parents would weigh in. So here it goes.

I'm the mom of three girls, two in college, one still in high school. When the oldest reached puberty, my husband and I realized that because of our own histories, neither of us had any idea at all of how to be the parents of teens. It took some time to figure out, but here are the strageties we used and are still using to get through the challenging teen years. First, let me recommend any book written by Michael Riera - his writings on the subject of raising and parenting teens was invaluable to us.

We bagan with a daughter who went off the deep end in eighth grade - counseling didn't help - it just made us all angry. We came up with a number of strageties based on Michael Riera's books - sorry I can't remember the name of the book. But he was pretty popular then, I'm sure you can find one.

Basically we set some rules, changed our own behavior and attitudes and committed to being the safety net no matter what. What follows is a list of our strategies and rules.

1. We were honest with the girls, and told them that we had no idea of what good parents of teens did. But that we would make desicions based on our own thoughts, opinions and through discussion with them. So, we required that they ask permission of us, that they know all the details of who, what, when and where before asking, and committed to giving a reasoned answer. Sometimes we had to think things over, so they learned that to push us meant an automatic ''no'', but that letting us discuss and think usually meant des''would follow, although often with limits. We learned to listen to them. We also learned that many plans fell apart last minute, so it was easy to say ''yes'' and set limits.

2. Dinner together on school nights (Sunday through Thursday) was required, and dinner was scheduled at 7. Eventually they each took a night to cook a meal. We made sure to ask everyone the news of the day, and made sure to talk things through, listen to opinions, not to judge ideas, but to ask for more information. It took a looooong time for them and us to get used to talking and listening. But we stuck with it. When each one took responsibility for a nightly meal, we all agreed that it was not ok to criticize the cook. We agreed that ''Thank you for this nice meal.'' was required, especially on those nights where the new cook (or the old one - me- screwed up.)

3. We told them, and we meant it, that we would pick them up any time, any place with no questions until everyone was calm. And we did that. We've picked up our kids, and other peopli's kids in many odd places over the years. But they know that they are safe. A corollary to the rule became that if someone threw up in the car they had to clean it before noon the next day. That only happened twice. But there was more than one occasion where one of the kids scared themselves and we were able to help out. We really did wait a few days to discuss these disasters, and then took the approach of asking what happened, what they would have done differently and listening.

4. Understand that as they get older that you become the ''consultant'' more than the guide. This is key. We listened, shared ideas and opinions, pointed out problems with logic and asked questions. We also shared our own experience - as appropriate. Most kids can figure out what their mistake was, and in fact, you may find that the quality of the childs logic and processing is a good indicator of their readiness for more (or less) freedom. These discussions ranged from the big subjects like drugs, alcohol, sex, abusive parents or boy/girl friends, the nature of trust and friendship to politics, teachers, school issues or the small but critical issues of flip flops versus sandals or sweatshirst versus hoodie or pierced versus clip on earrings.

5. Chores were required. We explained that our family is a team that cannot function without the participation of all concerned. And we cleaned house together every Sunday morning for quite awhile, eventually one daughter asked if she could be responsible for the laundry only. Sure! It was easier for her schedule, and she was better at not mixing the reds with the whites than I am. We didn't insist on them cleaning their rooms, just the public areas and our bedroom (the perk of being the parent).

6. Finally, we told them that we wouldn't ask a question that we didn't want the answer to, and that lying to us would have worse consequences than the action itself, no matter how simple or serious. We haven't always liked the answers to the questions we asked. But having committed to listen and discuss later, there have been few blow ups. And we committed to punishing the lie, not the mistaken action itself. Doesn't mean that there weren't consequences, but that the most serious consequences came for the lie.

7. Another small but critical item. When daughter number 1 fell apart I made sure to go into her room every night for just a few minutes of private time. It began as mundane ''how's it going?'' and eventually became time for discussion. Yes she resented it and thought I was wierd, but those discussions became the breakthrough when she confessed to drug and alcohol use and asked for help. Ever since then I have spent a few moments with each child on their own before going to sleep. THose 5 minutes have become critical in my relationship with the other two girls - they have become the forum for some very personal discussions as well as some downright silliness on our part.

8. Looking this over, it seems like i'm saying that this was easy. It was not. We were lucky. Although most kids get through adolescence without too much trauma, some do not and it isn't easy to predict who will or won't be harmed, or how serious the damage will be. So keep your eyes and ears open, stay involved and stay aware. Some of the most involved parents still ended up with children in serious trouble. What saved them was that they were involved.

Take my opinion and ideas for what they are worth. Things weren't always smooth or simple, the girls did lie to us and misinform us, we did have to intervene and set limits, but we always tried to reason things through, to have reasons for our decisions and to respect their growing intelligence and maturity. And sometimes we just had to say ''because I'm not comfortable, and can't think of a reason, so no.'' The two older ones tell us that we did a good job and were good parents. They call us and talk to us daily even now, so I feel like in our family at least our strategies worked.

Take this for what it's worth, use what you can, ignore the rest, adjust what doesn't feel right. Have faith in your daughter.

One last thing, never let a day go by without telling her that you love her and complementing her on a good choice, an accomplilshment, a mature decision. Let her know you care. Carolyn

To Carolyn who responded to ''Adapting to Daughter's Adolescence''! As a parent of two boys, I just wanted to say ''thank you'' for taking the time to respond and for your response. YES! you made it sound easy, but we all know it wasn't. I appreciate soooo much your insight and wisdom. I always take those gold nuggets & use them for raising my children. I'm going through those tough ''teenage'' years with my boys--and boy oh boy! So from one mom to another , Warm regards, Renee
There's very little more to add to Carolyn's message -- it's awesome!

The only thing I can think of to tell you is to talk about responsibility. If they went to school, did their chores, let you know where they were, came home on time, etc. I would let them know that I was giving them permission to do XXX because they had shown that they were being responsible and using good judgement. Demonstrating more responsibility leads to more privileges. Coming out the other end

The suggestions from the mom with 3 daughters are great. We have 2 boys in college and one daughter graduating from high school. We got our kids into sports in elementary school and when they got to high school the sports were every day after school. This tires them out and keeps them out of trouble. Sports also boosts their self esteem and they want to take care of their bodies better.

Our boys were a lot easier than our daughter. Girls mature earlier and they can be more interested in having boyfriends in high school than boys. Nevertheless, we were there to pick our our daughter at any time and we did rescue her from a situation she felt too young to take part of. Our boys are in frequent contact with us now and often call to run things by us, something they did not want to do in high school. If you get through the tough times your relationship with your kids can improve when they are a little older. Judy