Advice from the Trenches:

Dear C & Dr. B,

When my daughter turned 15 and started high school there was an immediate and total change in her and in the dynamic of her relationship with us, her parents. She went from being our daughter, who liked to run things by us, ask our opinions and spend time with us, to being this unknown boarder who lives in our house. She uses our resources, but doesn’t interact as part of the family unit. She became all take and little to no give. She talks over us and never let us finish what we were asking her. She answers with a curt, “I know.” She has her own time schedule and gets frustrated if we ever asked her to do anything now. She doesn’t even want to be in the same room as us. She wants us to tolerate what I see as rude and entitled behaviors. Our position went from parents to Uber drivers.

My friends offer different types of advice. Some advocate stern discipline, even corporeal punishment. Others say ignore it, she’ll grow out of it.  In looking at how these parents’ own teenage daughters turned out, it was a surprise. The indulged and tolerated kids, monsters when 15, did not, as I expected, grow up to have dysfunctional lives. They actually seemed happier and had better relations with their parents today. The kids who had parents who disciplined them and took no shit seemed anxious and had poorer relationships with their parents today. This is opposite of what I have read in psychological studies on families so I am left at a total loss. My own parents were of the take no shit variety, even used physical force for discipline and I must say none of us are close to them today. What is the answer?

Perplexed

 

Dear Perplexed;

Life is a social experiment and as such I don’t believe there is a one size fits all, ultimately correct answer to this question of what parents should and shouldn’t do to raise their children. We all do our best. I generally believe that true unconditional love is only possible between a person and their dog. But the people we live with, their actions affect our well being.

I too have seen indulged children grow to be responsible, caring adults but I have also seen the opposite to be true. Textbooks on the subject change their advice almost every 6 months. I think the best way to answer this question is to open a conversation, so I’d like to ask our readers for their opinions and experiences. I can’t answer this question definitively, I would just be making something up.

Dr. B

C says: I don’t think you need parenting advice here as much as you need advice on how to act like a self-respecting, yet fair, adult. You, as parents, are role models and you teach your daughter by the way you handle your own life. How would you want her to handle  someone who began treating her with inappropriate disrespect? That’s what you should do, not what some study, or your friends, tell you to do. You can’t control your daughter’s behavior, but you can control your own, and you should never swallow disrespect in your own home. The next time your daughter treats you like an Uber driver just calmly look at her and say, “I’m sorry, did you mistake me for an Uber driver? I can set up an account for you if you’d like to pay for it with your own credit card, but that’s not my job.” Will she get mad at you? She’ll probably throw a fit. That’s what teenaged girls do. Remaining calm, yet firm, is what a good parent does.

Here’s something else you may want to consider – before, your daughter shared with you because she had no secrets. When those teen hormones and sexual urges arrive, this is not something a teen wants to share with mom and dad. Don’t take this personally. If your daughter was sharing all her new sexual thoughts, that would be sort of weird and creepy. Stop feeling hurt about it! Your daughter probably sees your desire for inclusion and approval as needy and pathetic. She has a point. Secrecy about sexual feelings is pretty normal for all of us – you don’t need to be worried unless her grades are falling or she is showing signs of drug abuse or other risky behavior.

In general, I’ve found that people who are indulged as kids tend to expect to be indulged until acted upon by an outside force, such as the Real World. If they have no coping skills as adults, when thwarted, all they know to do is throw tantrums and pout. If they have somehow acquired coping skills from sources other than from their parents, they will cope. Most people who have had everything handed to them don’t bother learning and can’t cope very well on their own. The lucky ones have trust funds and can hire minions to do their bidding. Or…is that really lucky? I think we need look only to the Oval Office to find the answer to that one.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com

You can’t visit C’s website. Some jackass pirated it.

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