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Old 01-28-2016, 02:24 PM
 
4 posts, read 2,932 times
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Hello,

I could use some advice. I'm male, 51. Two daughters 13 and 15. Last night I really lost my cool w/ my 13-year old. She is a great kid. Very sweet, affectionate, fun-loving, compassionate. I love her to death. But she is having some trouble in school lately. She is getting stressed out about homework and grades to the point where she just simply avoids doing her homework. She got into a pattern of coming home and spending hours on her phone or doing whatever, putting the homework off. Then around 7 or 8 my wife and I would have to brow beat her to get started. Many times we got her started only to find out hours later she's been up in her room not actually doing it. Then she's in panic mode and it's late at night and she's tired and she just completely falls apart crying, saying she can't do it, etc. and goes to school the next day with the assignment(s) uncompleted.

Thing is she feels just as bad about this as we do. She does not like not getting her homework done, either. She knows she is procrastinating, etc. but on the other hand she cannot stand to be nagged about it either. We have recently taken to just staying on top of her, taking away the phone, checking in on her frequently or just flat-out sitting in the room with her for hours at a time. She hates this and often times gets surly and angry that we're nagging her all the time, angrily telling us to leave, "I'm doing it! Leave me alone!", etc.

Last night was one of the nights where she really needed help. She was studying for a final so I was sitting in her room helping her. Things were going fine, except that she kept losing focus. She looks at her phone, pets the cat, leaves the room, etc. I kept trying to be patient calling her back, trying to keep her focused, etc. We were making progress but probably at half the pace we could have been. I was getting frustrated, esp. because she refuses to listen the first time and forces me to ask her 5 times before she complies. But I was being patient and keeping my cool.

Then she gets up and goes in the bathroom and she's in there doing something then she says, 'Daddy there's a bug in here! Get it out!' I tell her, just leave it alone and let's get back to studying. But she just ignores me and goes to start looking for something to get the bug with herself. Now, I'm starting to get impatient and I'm not yelling, but I'm putting more "emphasis" in my voice. 'Will you PLEASE, come back so we can continue studying.' After ignoring me for several minutes, I finally lost my patience completely and yelled, at her, 'Can you PLEASE come back in here so we continue studying!'. Finally I get her attention but now she's upset with me for yelling and she just picks up her books and marches of downstairs.

Now I'm really mad and I'm swearing, etc. and really yelling after her as I follow her downstairs. She locks herself in the bathroom and I start banging on the door and yelling till she comes out. But now, all hope of having a productive study session is gone. She's livid at me, thinks I'm a raving lunatic, tells me she hates me, and if she ever said she loved me, she was lying. Finally, I try to explain my frustration to her, and I why I got mad and she turns around and says 'F*** you!' and marches off to her room.

For what it's worth, I have never heard her swear in her life. She can't stand swearing, constantly complains about the boys on the bus doing it all the time. For her to use that word, much less directed at me that way was shocking. I went into her room and told her she was going to grounded. She asks why. I tell her because of what she just said to me. On top of all that, my older daughter is also angry at me because of how I lost it too.

Half hour later, my wife gets home, I tell her what happened, etc, and I basically get no support from her. She thinks I way overreacted (which I did), and my daughter's reaction is understandable. For my part, I know I overreacted. I was way over the top and I am ashamed of it. Both my wife and I have had these moments before as I'm sure every parent has. But I also think my daughter crossed a line and she needs to understand what the source of the frustration is. Her not listening to us, and constantly forcing us to ask over and over for things. Further, saying what she said is not acceptable.

I feel like this the culmination of years of bad parenting on my wife's and my part. Both my daughters are good kids. Big hearts, generally respectful. Often, surly and distant but I've always figured that kind of goes with the age. But at the same time they both think the rule the roost, that they really don't have to listen to us much. We barely ask them to do chores around the house, etc. and when we ask them to do something, it's not much more than a suggestion. Maybe exaggerating some there but the attitude is definitely there.

My wife on the other hand, doesn't think the way to parent is to say 'You will do as I say or else.' She's the touchy-feely consensus builder type of parent. Let's work with them to find a solution, etc. Not that there isn't merit to that. And maybe I'm on the other end of the spectrum. But my wife and I are in a bitter fight at the moment because I don't feel like she is backing me up. I feel like above all else, parents should show a united front. Your kid should not be able to talk to you that way without consequences. I feel not only undermined by my wife, but I feel like now she gets to play good cop to my bad cop. Even though she has been in similar spots before herself, she is putting herself up as the girls' defender against their mean old ogre of a dad.

I feel like a pariah in my own house right now. I know I handled myself terribly but at the same time my frustration was valid. I'm not sure what to do now. I would like some uninterested 3rd party's brutally honest opinion? Am I just totally in the wrong? Did I deserve that from my daughter? Am I right to expect more support from my wife?

Feeling very lost right now. I want to apologize to my daughter for my behavior but I want her to realize the source of my frustration as well and that the things she said were hurtful and unacceptable. But I feel completely alone and with no support from my wife. I feel this will get swept under the rug and my daughter will learn nothing from this except she can be as disrespectful to me as she wants because mommy will always come to the rescue.

thanks in advance,

Bill
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Old 01-28-2016, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Bloomington IN
5,860 posts, read 7,082,141 times
Reputation: 14068
You have two problems here: one is with your daughter and her poor study habits, and the other with your wife failing to support you in creating a parental team of sorts or a united front as you put it.

First, apologize to your daughter privately. Apologize for the way your behaved and explain that it is not the way to handle a problem. DO NOT apologize for your frustration and for wanting her to study/do her homework. Next, ask her what she thinks the solution is for her homework issues. Really listen and come up with a plan together. No matter what the plan is, she should absolutely NOT have a phone available to her while studying at this point. It's a distraction for her. Instead of studying in her room she should be in a public part of the house. The kitchen table worked well for many generations. Suggest some ways she can set goals in studying. Small bits work well for some kids. For example she might read for 20 or 30 minutes and then be allowed to get a snack or stretch for a bit. Things like that work well. Also at age 13 YOU should not be constantly supervising her studying. Sometimes you need to let them fail.

As far as your wife, that is a conversation the two of you need to have. I recommend a soft approach at a time when neither of you are stressed out. I will offer this though--your wife arrived home after a long day of work, probably hoping to unwind a bit, and you "hit" her with the chaos that has happened. It could have waited. All of that said, parents absolutely need to present a united front to the kids. There were many times my husband and I disagreed about parenting issues, but we never/rarely undermined the other in front of the kids. Most times it was about minor things, and we were both comfortable letting it go. If it was bigger, the disagreement was discussed between the two of us privately.
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Old 01-28-2016, 02:52 PM
 
12,913 posts, read 19,782,209 times
Reputation: 33905
Hmmm. The only thing I see you did wrong was swearing. It won't scar your daughter to be yelled at if she pushed your buttons. I would have insisted her phone be turned off during the study session. I would have grounded any child of mine who swore at me.

In my world, yes, you should have your wife's support. Yes, your daughter's behavior was unacceptable. At least, at 13, her grades can tank without any lasting implications. Let her handle her studying for a while. If she fails, it's on her. Maybe she'll come to appreciate your efforts on her behalf.

I don't agree with the "my way or highway" approach, but it requires mutual respect to raise kids without using it . You don't have the respect you need to keep things democratic.
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Old 01-28-2016, 03:30 PM
 
15,743 posts, read 13,167,427 times
Reputation: 19636
Quote:
Originally Posted by aabill View Post

I feel like a pariah in my own house right now. I know I handled myself terribly but at the same time my frustration was valid. I'm not sure what to do now. I would like some uninterested 3rd party's brutally honest opinion? Am I just totally in the wrong? Did I deserve that from my daughter? Am I right to expect more support from my wife?

Feeling very lost right now. I want to apologize to my daughter for my behavior but I want her to realize the source of my frustration as well and that the things she said were hurtful and unacceptable. But I feel completely alone and with no support from my wife. I feel this will get swept under the rug and my daughter will learn nothing from this except she can be as disrespectful to me as she wants because mommy will always come to the rescue.

thanks in advance,

Bill

1. Apologize. And mean it. Do not remotely bring up your frustrations at this point. You are the adult and you over reacted. You are also human and make mistakes. Good humans apologize for those mistakes.

Additionally, as a father to a daughter, you want her to learn that all people are responsible for their own actions and that real men apologize (and mean it) and take responsibility for their actions. This can help her down the road with relating to boys.

2. At a separate time, bring up your frustrations, and tell her you are frustrated by and for her. Tell her that you need her help to come up with a solution for all of you.

3. Your wife has a right to advocate for your children. And it probably bugs you more because you clearly already realize you overreacted. I do not believe in the fake united front. It is good for children to see that mom and dad don't agree all the time, even about the kids, and for the kids to also see how they resolve those issues. This is actually very different than parents undermining each other. For example, parents may disagree with what time a curfew is, but once they have agreed to a time, for one parent to encourage the child to break curfew would not be ok in the slightest.

4. It really speaks to your character that your instinct to apologize first and foremost. Your daughter is lucky to have a man like that as her father. That being said, sometimes it is hard to appreciate someone right after they have stomped on your feelings a bit. So apologize and giver her some room to be an annoying grudge holding teen...she will get over it and might have learned some really important lessons in the mean time.
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Old 01-28-2016, 03:47 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
13,103 posts, read 17,634,355 times
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I'm sorry but she deserved everything she got yelled at for and you should not be apologizing to her however she should apologize to you for swearing and then you should ground her for the swearing and tell her if she gets bad grades in the next say 9 weeks she will be grounded for that too, so she knows you are serious about the not studying and getting homework done . Also maybe she needs to loose her phone priviledges for a couple of weeks until she can learn to study without looking at it all the time .My son swore one time in my house and that was the last time , cause he got grounded for a month and was made to work in the house when his homework was done , another option you might employ make her work . I think you should also ask your wife why she chooses not to back you up even if she disagrees with how you parent. Maybe she can back off a lil bit or else she will have to be in charge of the homework, if it is too stressful for you .

Last edited by phonelady61; 01-28-2016 at 03:49 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-28-2016, 04:08 PM
 
11,894 posts, read 9,612,778 times
Reputation: 16274
Does she have learning issues? Is she in very hard classes? Does she have ADHD or something else that makes it hard to focus? If you have not already, I would look into these possibilities.

Does she struggle in any of these classes? Not get the material? What exactly is the source of the stress?

I do think the fight you had with her is an issue (the cause of the fight I totally get but perhaps you did overreact), but I also wonder if the school thing is an issue as well. At that age, I don't think it's normal to be that stressed about homework that your solution is to avoid doing it completely, until it gets too late in the night, then have a late night freakout. Having regular breakdowns about it doesn't sound good for her. 13 is usually middle school age, 8th grade, and high school then college will only get harder. She needs to learn to deal with the stress and if she's having any trouble in any classes, get on that. Many teachers offer before or after school one on one help sessions.

You definitely need to stay on top of her to ensure she's doing her work, and ideally get to the root of her problem. The issue here isn't only the fight, I think the whole school thing is also an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Also, your daughter should definitely not say "f*** you" to you, at any age really, but especially not at 13. She is the cause of her own problem, unless there's a learning issue or disorder there. If she's simply procrastinating because she's being a teen, she has no right to get mad at you for trying to help fix her own studying issues. She's creating a problem for herself by staying up late crying because she didn't do her work, then letting her grades suffer (I can only assume) from so many missed assignments. You sitting her down to try and make her study with you for a good amount of time without any distractions is an attempted solution, attempt at helping. Her getting mad and cursing at you is a problem. Now, she's 13 so her behavior isn't exactly surprising (thinking she's right, thinking you guys trying to help is just you nagging), but no I don't think she should get away with saying "f*** you" to her father.
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Old 01-28-2016, 04:11 PM
 
12,913 posts, read 19,782,209 times
Reputation: 33905
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
1. Apologize. And mean it. Do not remotely bring up your frustrations at this point. You are the adult and you over reacted. You are also human and make mistakes. Good humans apologize for those mistakes.

Additionally, as a father to a daughter, you want her to learn that all people are responsible for their own actions and that real men apologize (and mean it) and take responsibility for their actions. This can help her down the road with relating to boys.

2. At a separate time, bring up your frustrations, and tell her you are frustrated by and for her. Tell her that you need her help to come up with a solution for all of you.

3. Your wife has a right to advocate for your children. And it probably bugs you more because you clearly already realize you overreacted. I do not believe in the fake united front. It is good for children to see that mom and dad don't agree all the time, even about the kids, and for the kids to also see how they resolve those issues. This is actually very different than parents undermining each other. For example, parents may disagree with what time a curfew is, but once they have agreed to a time, for one parent to encourage the child to break curfew would not be ok in the slightest.

4. It really speaks to your character that your instinct to apologize first and foremost. Your daughter is lucky to have a man like that as her father. That being said, sometimes it is hard to appreciate someone right after they have stomped on your feelings a bit. So apologize and giver her some room to be an annoying grudge holding teen...she will get over it and might have learned some really important lessons in the mean time.
I'm not arguing your viewpoint lkb, I generally respect it, so I'm mulling it over. But, as a teacher, are you honestly ok with a child focusing on her cell phone while a parent is helping her study? And a 13 yr old swearing at an adult?
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Old 01-28-2016, 04:36 PM
 
5,808 posts, read 3,295,904 times
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Apologize. Then talk with her and figure out why homework is such a problem and help her develop a plan. Make it clear that avoiding her work is NOT an option.

Is she capable of doing the work or does she need some kind of remediation or tutoring?

Is she just being lazy because it's not "fun"?

Is it just poor time management and need for learning to schedule work and friends?

Some young teens really resist growing up and taking responsibility, and they need help organizing themselves in an age appropriate way.
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Old 01-28-2016, 04:46 PM
 
668 posts, read 341,971 times
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If any grades fall below a B in our family, privileges are lost. They are gained back once the grades go back up. I check grades online several times a week. If high school grades fall below a 3.0 then getting a license is pushed back by 3 months. Their Grandpa also pays my kids for their grades. The scale starts at a 3.0 which earns $300 and goes up per grade point by $50 to $800 for a 4.0 at the end of the semester. Also, we have our kids watch 'Where There's A Will There's an A' to give them solid study strategies. This has been a huge help, and that program helped me maintain high grades in high school and college back in the day. The strategies would apply to middle school, and there is a middle school program available on Amazon. Buy the VHS tape and take it somewhere to burn to a DVD. I set a solid plan of action for my kids study routine. Our high schooler puts in two hours minimum of studying per night and we set the timer. He puts in 3 hours both on Saturday and Sunday broken into 3 segments. He studies/does homework for an hour then takes a 30 minute break to do a 30 minute Peloton spin class or a run during the week, and on weekends his breaks are mostly movies. He then studies for another hour and then does ten minutes of push ups sit ups during the week. This is what your daughter needs. She needs needs a solid plan and routine laid out with nightly sub goals to achieve the larger overriding goals of good grades to learn perseverance, self discipline, and goal setting. It's like a muscle she needs to develop, and you need to be her coach for now. Otherwise, it's too overwhelming and difficult to tackle for a lot of kids. They need a plan and schedule to follow, and the adults need to set this up at first. Success will build on success, and she will begin to feel proud of her achievement. Now, you have momentum going in a positive direction as she has her first taste of achievement and success, and will want more. Later, she will likely be able to do it on her own. I highly recommend 'Where There's A Will There's An A.' My grades shot up after I learned those strategies back in the day! Read the review of this program on Amazon, and you will see that it has helped people.

Last edited by Chloe333; 01-28-2016 at 04:56 PM..
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Old 01-28-2016, 05:34 PM
 
6,455 posts, read 9,501,570 times
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Has she always had this problem of not doing her homework in a timely fashion? Is it because she's got some kind of learning disability, unable to maintain focus? Or just a procrastinator in general? If she's just being a surly teenager, then let her fail. But tell her if she does, then there will be consequences at the end of the grading period... like no participation in school activities, since she doesn't want to meet her responsibility.

I remember by friend's mom not allowing her to go to school sporting events and dances since she wouldn't do her homework. It was a huge problem, until she started missing the social aspect of school. We still laugh about it (almost 40 years later).
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