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typical teen behaviour or do we have a problem? *update post 39*

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 
*update in post 39*

I am worried about 12 year old DD. She's not the same as she used to be. It basically started this year with a new girl that came to her school. The new girl left her old school because she said "the girls were mean". The story as told by DD, is that the girl was friends with the popular kids but one day did something to tick them off, then they started being mean to her and eventually this girl didn't want to deal with it anymore so switched schools.

We've had the girl over to our house a few times for sleepovers. She's polite enough to us, but always mentions how much she hates her 3 year old little brother, hates her mom, doesn't want to go out of town with her family, etc. She is also a "texter". This kid texts non-stop and then gets DD going on the texting. And she is always on the phone. They'll call other friends when she's over at our house and talk in 3-way conversations. After the 2nd time over at our house doing this, I told DD the next time she comes over, they are to leave their cells downstairs on my desk and spend time hanging out with each other, NOT on the phone.

When she's at her own house, she calls DD 5-10 times a night. Often it's because her mom needed the phone and so she needs to call DD back, but still, it's ridiculous. She makes outrageous plans like going to a 14A movie (means you have to be 14 or have an adult with you) with DD and a bunch of grade 8 boys. DD knew this was sketchy and I told her I'd be happy to take her to the movie (Avatar) and she could take a friend along (with their parents permission). She seemed to understand and be fine with it. So she went with DH, my dad and a different friend yesterday.

The other girl has also "dated" several boys in their class and a few grade 8 boys. Now, I'm not exactly sure what "dating" constitutes right now, but from what I gather, it's texting each other, hanging out at recess and talking on the phone. When DD and her talk on the phone it's all about boys. I don't know the details of the conversations as I am trying to give her freedom and privacy because she's growing up.

Now, onto DD's issues. This is a kid who LOVES hanging out with family. Up until the last couple of months, you could NOT leave her at home alone for even 5 minutes because she wanted to do whatever you were doing. Now, she's happy to stay home alone and get nothing done other than texting friends while we're gone (although I've only left her twice, this isn't a regular thing) even if I asked her to do a few things like put away her laundry or clean up the DVDs.

She was also a kid who slept in our room until she was 7, then almost ever Friday night on the floor in our room until the last couple of months. Now, she just doesn't get her sleeping bag ready anymore. She was also a kid who had a nighttime tucking in ritual. She still likes to be tucked, but if I'm busy with the three year old, she'll just give me a kiss and say goodnight and head up to her room. And her room is another thing, this is a kid who always wanted to be in the same room as everyone else, she wouldn't even have needed a bedroom other than to store her clothes. Now, she spends a bunch of time in her room alone. Sometimes reading, sometimes cleaning, and sometimes texting I'm sure.

She also seems in dopey a lot. I see this in tons of kids her age, but I figured my kid wouldn't be like that and now she just seems like the rest. It's kind of like they have their mind on other things and aren't really listening to you and really could give a darn what you were saying.

Then, last night I told her I was pregnant and she was going to have another little brother or sister and her response was, "really?". And I said, "yes. Are you excited about having another brother or sister?", and she said "sure" and that was it. When she found out about her now 3 year old sister, she basically did cartwheels and was uber excited and talked about it non-stop for the next 9 months. This time she really didn't seem interested at all. And now she fights with her 3 year old sister all the time. She used to love her to pieces and be thoughtful and kind and now the little one is always yelling at her, "I hate you, go away" and she just ignores the little one.

I've tried to put some limits on the texting and explain to her that texts do NOT need to be responded to immediately. That she can set her phone downstairs and check it a couple times over the evening to respond to friends because it seems like that constant buzzing of the phone and constant need to read what it says and reply, is stressing her out. I've also said no texting or phone after 9pm. But the rules always seem to get bent a bit, "oh I didn't realize the time", etc. She does always get off the phone when I ask or put her cell phone away when I ask. But I feel I need to do SOMETHING different but I also don't want to limit her freedoms. I really would like to cancel the texting, but am not sure if that's reasonable. I checked text messages on our bill from last month and from Nov. 7 to Dec. 7 she received 300 and sent 275. I think that's an insane amount since I've sent 40 messages TOTAL in the last SEVEN months but I live in an adult world where email is more common than texting. I've read a few of her texts at times when the situation allowed, but don't make a habit of this as I don't want to invade privacy. They are often "what's up?" and low key little messages but I'm sure they are more in depth conversations as well.

She doesn't share a lot either anymore and she used to talk about everything. She did tell me that a boy in grade 8 asked her "out" so that she is "dating" him now and I know they text each other. This has only been for a couple of weeks so there isn't much involved to this relationship as they went on Christmas vacation from school the day after he asked her "out". We've talked lots about relationships and what people may expect out of them so I can only hope she's listened and makes good decisions. I am trying to not panic about this boyfriend thing so I've just been making lighthearted conversation about it. For example, asking if she chatted with him about what he got for Christmas presents, how his trip to another city went over the holidays, and asked her to get me a picture of him with her cell phone if he gave permission for her to take a photo so I could see what he looked like (not to judge, just to be able to say, "hey, he's cute! Thanks for sharing with me!").

Her school is a school that buses kids in from a few of the less fortunate areas in the city. And this is going to sound super judgemental, but lots of the kids have parents that don't participate in their education, don't provide supervision, etc. Lots of these kids have been wandering the neigbourhoods alone since they were six (and I don't just mean within a few blocks of home). Most of her friends aren't involved in any after school activities and seem like they have nothing to do but talk on the phone and text. DD is involved in dance, music and martial arts and doesn't have the free time like they do, but yet seems to feel she needs to do the things they are doing to fit in.

I feel like things are getting out of control and I am unsure of how to stop what's going on since I don't really know WHAT is going on. I am not sure if this is typical teen behaviour or if there is something not right. It feels like something is not right.

Can anyone provide me with any advice or suggestions? I am really, really lost here and could use some gentle help. I am honestly ready to pull her out of school and homeschool her.
post #2 of 69
Wanting more privacy and no longer needing to be snuggled with you is 100% normal and healthy. Being kind of self-centered is also normal for this age. But kids DO need limits set, so they don't get "lost in themselves". Sometimes they just need to have an adult tell them "You have to do X,Y, and Z before bed- it's fine to finish this game you're in the middle of but don't forget to do your chores." or "Put the phone down and come to dinner."

I guess I'm just not seeing the "getting out of control" aspects from what you've described in your post. But if it feels to you like she needs more limits, go ahead and set some limits! DD1 has a cell phone, but we don't have texting enabled at all due to the cost. In your situation, maybe you need to physically remove the phone from her around 9:00 PM to stop the texting?
post #3 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
Wanting more privacy and no longer needing to be snuggled with you is 100% normal and healthy. Being kind of self-centered is also normal for this age. But kids DO need limits set, so they don't get "lost in themselves". Sometimes they just need to have an adult tell them "You have to do X,Y, and Z before bed- it's fine to finish this game you're in the middle of but don't forget to do your chores." or "Put the phone down and come to dinner."

I guess I'm just not seeing the "getting out of control" aspects from what you've described in your post. But if it feels to you like she needs more limits, go ahead and set some limits! DD1 has a cell phone, but we don't have texting enabled at all due to the cost. In your situation, maybe you need to physically remove the phone from her around 9:00 PM to stop the texting?
Your succinct response has already made me feel a bit better. I think you hit the nail on the head, that she's getting lost in herself. That's exactly it. And I just don't want it to get to a point where she's so self absorbed that she doesn't make good decisions, is scared to share problems with us, etc.

I'd like to disable texting all together, it really seems to get her in a tizzy. But, I know she will feel like she's being punished if I disable it. I think since Christmas vacation is over I could reiterate the texting rules, "not while doing anything with the family (i.e. watching a movie together, eating dinner, etc.) and not before school and phone must be off at 9pm and I will now add "and put on my desk". Then I'll make an effort to make sure she's involved in the evenings so she doesn't purposely escape being with the family so she can text, talk on the phone etc. And I don't mind any of that, I just don't want to want to feel like we have zero idea of what is going on in her life because she's always on the phone and texting instead of talking to us.
post #4 of 69
You could have described me at that age.

I often tell my SIL that I would not be 12-14 yrs old again for a million doallars. I think it is a terribly hard age for young people. The insecurities and hormones and moodiness-I mean oh my lord!!

I needed space from my Mom to grow up and figure some things out, but I also desperately needed her to set boundaries and keep me close at the same time. It is a tightrope to walk and we had some fierce battles. But, no lasting scars and we navigated those years together pretty successfully.

My 13 yo neice also texts constantly-it is really kind of annoying to ME and I don't live with her. I wish my SIL would set more limits and I think you are wise to set limits on your daughter.
post #5 of 69
Could part of the problem be that now she knows that it's like to have a baby/toddler in the house and therefore is less thrilled about? You having a baby is about you. She really and truly doesn't need to be all happy it. Few 12 year olds would be. (Congradulations, BTW!)

Quote:
It's kind of like they have their mind on other things and aren't really listening to you and really could give a darn what you were saying.
She does have her mind on other things! If you want to talk to her, talk to her about the things she is interested in -- the books she reads, the shows she watches, etc. I think this is a big transition point. Parenting that worked before isn't going to work any more. It's time to adjust your style.

Quote:
DD knew this was sketchy and I told her I'd be happy to take her to the movie (Avatar) and she could take a friend along (with their parents permission). She seemed to understand and be fine with it.
This is really good! There was a situation with a peer. She was open and honest with you. You found an alternative that made her happy and was more appropriate. There is NOOOO problem. Stuff is going to come up, and having her talk to you and find solutions that work for both of you is the best possible outcome.

Quote:
DD is involved in dance, music and martial arts
I'm guessing that since you don't mention her grades, the are fine. She's doing GREAT.

Limits on phone use and texting are reasonable -- not during meals, not after a certain time, etc. But I don't think she is doing any thing wrong. She's just growing up. You aren't going to like all her friends. My mom doesn't like all my friends.

Find ways to connect with her that work now. What worked in the past may not. My 13 year old and I like to go to bookstore together, browse, and hang out in the coffee shop for a while. One hour with just the two of us and no agenda is very pleasant.

It's very normal for her to start separating from the main family and do her own thing. Even if you took her cell phone away, that might not change. She might just stay in her room and read a book. Part of growing up is wanting your own space. Homeschooling her wouldn't change that.

So while I'm in favor of rules like no cell phones for 30 minutes for dinner, I think that taking them away in hopes that it will make your child chat with you more is pointless.
post #6 of 69
My oldest is a little younger than yours, but we're on the cusp of watching her want more space, freedoms, etc. Like you, I could count on dd wanting to be w/us constantly, but it's a bit of a mix now. I've done what Linda, above, suggested. I'm trying to meet dd where she's at in life. I've read some of the books she's into an we've seen some movies together. I've listened w/interest to the music she is suddenly interested in, and we talk about what goes on the ipod. We do talk about boys and friends--to the degree she wants to, but enough that the door is open if she needs it.

Lately I find that driving in the car places together is a good vehicle (excuse the bad pun) for conversation together as well.

I don't think that your dd sounds out of bounds. The friendship piece wouldn't thrill me either, but something about the stability of your dd, and you as a family, sounds like it's very attractive to the friend. I think kids hang out where they're comfortable and feel safe. No reason not to help your dd establish some relationship boundaries if she needs that help, though.
post #7 of 69
She sounds totally normal. My oldest loves us, she's totally healthy and normal, but she's become quite a space cadet sometimes, and she does love her privacy, so much more than she used to. I think they just become sort of "internal" at that time, similar to a pregnant woman. So much going on physically, mentally, and emotionally--I think they just need a lot of down time, time to unwind, and they have so much internal dialogue going on that they don't notice as much what's going on around them.

A couple of things--

Don't ban the texting. It's like if your parents would have completely taken away the right to use a phone for you. My daughter rarely talks on the phone, she just texts. I think expecting them to do their communication via phone instead of text is similar to expecting us to go back to using snail mail instead of email. Ain't gonna happen, and is completely unrealistic. Instead, help her have some boundaries.

Our house has these two rules: No phone at the table, and all phones spend the night in the phone caddy (a basket on the kitchen counter). They get charged up, and no one is sending or receiving texts or calls during the night. Our rules apply to parents as well as kids, and it helps them learn some limits and boundaries without being punative. No phonecalls after 9pm for kids, and if one of their friends calls or texts, I answer, simply telling them, Hey, head's up kiddo, L can't take phone calls or texts after nine. I've only had to do it a couple of times and now all her friends know and respect this.

One way we get our girls (11 and 14) to talk is to have dinner together every night possible. When they were little, we had the "rule" that everyone had to say three things about their day, and everyone had to ask each person a question about their day. It sounds very structured, and it was in the beginning, but it helped the girls and us as well develop this great habit of inclusive dinnertime discussions. Every once in a while if someone is being quiet (or too talkative), one of us will say, "Hey, X, I haven't heard three things about your day today!" and it gets the ball rolling.

When they were little, it helped them develop their listening and conversation skills. It also taught them about our own lives outside of the home (ie, what mama and papa do at work). Now, it helps keep us parents informed of what's going on in their lives, what their interested in, what's not working, what they're reading, doing in school, etc. We also often invite their friends for dinner, and then we always say something like "Oh, and we have this three thing rule, you have to tell everyone three things about your day!" and it's a niceway ofgetting to know those kids.

All in all, your daughter sounds great. It's so hard for them to grow up, but I think she sounds like she is finding a good balance between home and school, and family and friends.

Keep up the communication and love!
post #8 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by lorijds View Post
When they were little, we had the "rule" that everyone had to say three things about their day, and everyone had to ask each person a question about their day.
We do something similar. We all say one thing we are grateful for. It often leads to chatting about positive things.
post #9 of 69
All sounds completely normal to me. She's growing up, and that is her job - she is supposed to grow up.

As far as the cell phone goes, some plans will allow you to inactivate the phone between chosen hours, you might want to go for that.
post #10 of 69
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. That's why I posted, wanted to know if this was normal and sounds like it is!

I reiterated the texting rules to her last night. And told her that she's to leave her phone downstairs in the charging area (where everyone charges their cells) for the night. In Canada, there isn't a provider that offers the parental controls liking blocking texting or calling at certain hours unfortunately so the rules are all I have.

I am actually reading two of her books, she has good taste in books and I don't have the time or energy to find my own books right now so it's great to have her library to choose from. We also share lots of the same taste in music although I am less poppy than her. She gets to listen to her favourite XM station in the vehicle on the way to school or home from school. On longer trips she plugs her iPod into the vehicle so we call all listen to other stuff as well rather than just the most popular, trendy stuff.

I'd like to start the "3 things about our day" conversation at dinner time. That sounds like a great idea. I might get some eye rolling about it, but hopefully it will fall into place.

As for the pregnancy, I was just surprised that she didn't have ANY questions like, "when will the baby be born?", or "will I have to share my room now?" or "does that mean I'm going to be more crowded in the back seat?" or ANYTHING. This kid has been asking for siblings since she could speak and even six months ago she was talking about another brother or sister. And she didn't even any questions not even any selfish ones!
post #11 of 69
Part of it might be that......

Once kids get to a certain age, knowing someone is prego means knowing they HAD SEX. Which is fairly shocking. And everyone else will know that her mother HAD SEX (at least 3 times since there are going to be 3 kids). And once recently.

My god. What will people think!
post #12 of 69
I think I would make her pay (part of) her own text messages, because it's a great learning and deciding moment.

Other than that, it just sounds like she's been hit by hormones. And the friend... it sounds like you're blaming her a bit for your dd's changes, while it actually sounds like she's a great partner in this new phase of her life. I don't get the impression they get into any bad stuff. My daughter (10) also tends to switch friends a bit as she hits new stages.

And ITA with Linda re the preggo = sex thing. That's a pretty mortifying realization about your own mother.
post #13 of 69
I just finished reading Hold Onto Your Kids.I thinks it's an essential book for all parents of pre-teens and teens.
The authors discuss how unhealthy and pervasive intense peer orientation can be.
post #14 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by chiromamma View Post
I just finished reading Hold Onto Your Kids.I thinks it's an essential book for all parents of pre-teens and teens.
The authors discuss how unhealthy and pervasive intense peer orientation can be.
Sounds like your daughter has gotten sucked in by a peer-oriented child and is becoming peer-oriented herself. This will become really bad for her down the road if not addressed now.
post #15 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by chiromamma View Post
I just finished reading Hold Onto Your Kids.I thinks it's an essential book for all parents of pre-teens and teens.
The authors discuss how unhealthy and pervasive intense peer orientation can be.
I haven't read this book, although I see it discussed a lot around MDC. But I admit, I don't fully understand the peer orientation piece. It seems that this is a fairly normal developmental milestone for kids in the teen, and also the pre-teen, years. They are aware of peers, and from I can see, there is a strong desire to be a part of something-a club, a team, a social group. Is there not a way to balance that with the strong influence of family as well?

I don't think that we have unhealthy peer relationships here, but I do see the very strong desire my dd has to socialize w/her peer group, and I do see that girls can develop some strong relationships with one another.
post #16 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post
Sounds like your daughter has gotten sucked in by a peer-oriented child and is becoming peer-oriented herself. This will become really bad for her down the road if not addressed now.
I think there is a balance. Kids should be at least a little peer-oriented. Kids who are not at all peer-oriented have special needs like autism.

Preteens and teens should get along with others and have friends and the teens years ARE about separating from mom and dad and learning to be somewhat indepedant emotional from us.

The idea that we should stop this natural progression seems very dangerous to me. Instead, I think our role is to help them find the balance -- to give them freedom but with reasonable boundaries.
post #17 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post
Sounds like your daughter has gotten sucked in by a peer-oriented child and is becoming peer-oriented herself. This will become really bad for her down the road if not addressed now.
I think it's perfectly normal and healthy for a child to start separating from their family of origin at this age. They slowly start to move away from depending on their parents and start depending on their friends. Eventually they depend on themselves.

Isn't this the point of AP? Raising children who have the confidence to know that when things don't work out with their friends they can turn back to their parents for help and support?

OP - your DD sounds entirely normal. I've done ALOT of work with kids that age through coaching soccer. I've had to be a hard ass sometimes about things like cell phones. My rules now are that the "team mom" has a cell which is on during practices and all the parents are given this number. The players, unless they tell me before hand that there might be an important call coming in, aren't allowed to go to their bags during practices (we take the water bottles somewhere else). The parents were all happy with this and the girls have gotten used to it.

But I've watched them all hanging out before/after a practice sitting in a circle chatting with each other and texting. It's just become part of how they do things.
post #18 of 69
I think you should read the book before you criticize it. That's all.
post #19 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post
I think you should read the book before you criticize it. That's all.
I don't need to read a book to know that an idea goes against years and years of personal experience with that age group. It also goes against how most societies have set themselves up. It also doesn't make any sense.
post #20 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post
I think you should read the book before you criticize it. That's all.
I wasn't criticizing, I'm questioning. There have been two posts that seem negative about peer oriented relationships, and I'm trying to put that in the context of the OP's situation, and the developmental tasks of kids this age.
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