Help with 12 year old - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-03-2011, 08:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've always thought my 12 year old is a pretty good kid, lately I have been frustrated though.  Today we went out to get ice cream, and she told me to be quiet in the ice cream place, I guess there were people she knew there and she thought I would say something embarrassing.

 

Then we get in the car and she tells me all these people have all sorts of freedom, have their own cell phones etc., and she does not.

 

Then she claims that she has really high academic goals....but lately I have to nag her to get her homework done, or else she will leave it to the last minute.

 

I also feel like sometimes she treats me as a maid.  Don't yell at me if your clothes aren't clean if they have been lying in a heap..instead of having been put in the clothes hamper.

 

Today I just had a really different reaction though.  Like she can do whatever she pleases and reap the consequences of her actions.  I just also thought, if I am such a huge embarrassment....then I won't take her anywhere anymore.

 

Sort of angry and sad.

 

Of course this whole episode got played at our house like I am a big meanie, there were tears, my husband I don't think sees my point of view.

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Old 04-04-2011, 08:07 AM
 
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I think 12 is a hard year.  Some things that helped:

 

1. active listening. Not everything she say really has to be responded to, and none of it is personal. Really hear her, and say things back that let her know you really hear her. For example, when she says she has high academic goals, listen, ask for more detail, talk to her about her long term plans. don't point out the inconsistentcy between what she really wants for herself and that her imperfections. Just let her know that you really hear her.

 

2. It's probably true that some of her peers own things she doesn't and have freedoms she doesn't. Talk to her about it. Find out which one's are most important. Think about when you will consider those things appropriate for her. My youngest got a cell phone with unlimited texting for her 12th birthday. The world didn't end. If not now, then when? Again, let her know you really hear her.

 

3. I taught my kids to do their own laundry, and they decided at which point in the week they wanted to do it. I do still remind them, but they are pretty independent with stuff like that. I believe a big part of this phase of parenting is about teaching our kids how to function without us. It's not a mean thing on my part, but it does save a lot of drama between us.

 

4. Don't let your emotions be ruled by a hormonally imbalanced adolescent. Find your own center. If you find you center and stay there, it will be easier for her to find her center. She's lost her center -- most kids do around this age. I find it very sad with my older DD, I really missed the feeling of being the fun mommy that that thought was wonderful, but I realized that was just about my ego. With my 2nd DD, I've found this stuff easier. I know it isn't about it. My older DD was much easier to live with after she was about 13 1/2.

 

sorry you are going through this. hug2.gif


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 04-04-2011, 08:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Old 04-04-2011, 09:04 AM
 
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I think 12 is teh age where you need to start redefining your relationship a bit. Like it or not, it's the age that Mom starts becoming less the center of a girl's universe. That doesn't mean that you're not important to her, but that you both need to figure out just where it is you fit into her changing world. WRT to the cell phone (for some reason, this isn't allowing me to put in para breaks, so I apologize for the blob of text) - is it that her friends all have them, or just a lot of kids in school? I broke my two in with prepaid phones, with limited texting at around that age. What does she mean by "freedom"? Going to the mall, the ice cream shop, etc. w/o a parent? Well... maybe it's time to start considering that. I started off with driving them, and then "cause I really don't want to come back in 2 or 3 hours", I hung out at the mall, doing some window shopping, treating myself to coffee/dessert or lunch, reading, etc. We had a deal that she'd call or text me at specific times just to touch base. It eased both of us into her having some more freedom, which it really was time for.


 

 

 

 

 

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Old 04-04-2011, 09:52 AM
 
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The money thing can be about eventual priorities. DD got her cell phone for her birthday present. To me, there would have been better ways to spend the money, but we were going to spend it on her and it's what she wanted. We talked about the up front cost, the monthly cost, and the time commitment. It's part of the "if not now, then when."  I don't run out and buy my kids everything they want, but birthdays and Christmas come around eventually.

 

And sometimes it's nice to talk about things that you can't have right now and not get shot down. I have a fantasy of going on a river boat cruise in Europe, and it's a long, long way off. Still, when I bring it up and talk about how great it will be, my DH just plays along and doesn't point out that it's about a decade away, or all the reasons that it's impractical right now.

 

And it is a weird place in your relationship. It's a re-adjustment. There's a book I enjoyed reading "Get out of my life, but first, can you drive me and Cheryl to the mall."  I didn't get anything earth shattering out of it, but it made me feel better. One of the things it said is that kids go through a phrase where pretty everything they say really means "will you argue with me?" and pretty much anything we say back they interpret as "yes, I will argue with you." Some how, that helped me find different paths through some very silly conversations we were having.

 

And as far as the being embarrassed to be seen with you right now, is it possible that she's embarrassed to be herself right now, like she isn't comfortable in her own skin? Where the other kids with their peers and she was with her mom? Kids can take something small like that and feel like it means that they *never* get to do things with peers and that it's *dorky* to do things with their parent. It's doesn't mean that they don't love us, or that they are ready to stop having quality time with us.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 04-04-2011, 09:52 AM
 
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We're doing 12 right now.  It's a big age, with a lot of growth, a lot of emotion, and changes to your relationship.  My daughter and I are coming into a new way of being with one another, and a lot of it has to do with my letting go, and learning to respect the young woman she is becoming.  I won't say it's been all easy-the hard work of adolescence goes both ways!  But we're definitely finding our way.

 

The cell phone was a big deal here as well.  We gave dd a cell, w/texting, for her 12th bday as well.  It's been a really good choice, and was actually very inexpensive to add her line onto our plan.  DD and her friends primarily text to keep in touch, which is nice for my dd, who doesn't really care to talk on the phone, but craves the connection.  Secondly, I love being able to be in touch easily, and I do think it has enabled dd to have more freedom, and responsibility for her choices, as she begins to organize her time and activities.

 

What's helped me some is to do some reading about normal early adolescent development.  Pretty much everything you're describing fits.  I would say the key is to know where your own boundaries are, but be willing to be flexible and understanding when you feel it will be of more benefit.  12 can be prickly, but it doesn't mean that we're not very much wanted or needed.

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Old 04-04-2011, 10:18 AM
 
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ah, the cell phone.

 

We had quite the debate here over it and decided she would have to pay for it if she wanted it.  The plan she wanted was 20$ a month.  She does earn some money, but it (plus another responsibility she must pay for) would have eaten up most of her money.  She really was not able to commit to 20$ a month - makeup and clothes beckon - so she does not have a cell phone.  It has worked out fine - she has not really asked for one in a while.  She can get one whenever she can afford it.  No one in our family has a cell phone.

 

Are there other ways to give her more freedom?  Ask her specifically what she wants to do.  Some ideas:

-no bedtime

-drop off at mall

-walk around town by self

 

I have had a rough year with my 12 year old.  I feel we are coming out of it.  Things that helped:

 

-Counselling.  Of course, you may not be there yet, but we were.  I do not think she clicked with the counsellor, but the act of going showed her i cared enough to want to fix things.  The counsellor validated that I was right to be concerned and some of DD behaviour was unacceptable - which I think we both needed to hear.  I had always taken my part in how our relationship was unfolding, but DD refused to do the same.  According to her - everything was all my fault.  I think counselling helped her realise that maybe she played a role in how things unfold.

 

-Spending more time with her.  Quality time.  Usually I do not like the term "quality time" but in this case it applies.  Figure out something you both want to do and plan it.  Just the 2 of you if possible.

 

-I like how Linda talks about centering yourself.  This has been so hard for me - but so necessary.  Just because she is in a messy state does not mean I have to go there with her - indeed, it almost always ends badly when I do.  I call time out pretty quickly these days - we address things after people have had a chance to cool down.  Often times things do not need addressing anyways - they were small blowups caused by over stimulation, hunger etc.  

 

I have found talking about others behaviour - in books, on tv, acquaintances very helpful.  Even if she is not able to scrutinize her own behaviour (it is too close) we can discuss others behaviour and perhaps learn from it.  

 

Hang in there!

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Old 04-04-2011, 10:48 AM
 
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Twelve is hard.  So are the teen years.  I have a 15 year old, a 2 yr old and a 6 month old.  I often say, it's not the babies and toddlers that really make you consider permanent birth control, it's the teens.

 

I got my teen a cell when she was 13.  The primary reason was that she was doing activites where I was dropping her off and picking her up, but the end times could change.  The last straw was when she was on student council and they went on a shopping trip for a charity thing.  They got done over an hour earlier than expected, but there wasn't anyone there with a phone she could borrow to call, so she had to sit at wait.  I decided that was enough borrowing.  I did a $9.99 add a line, no texting (DH and I don't even have txt on our phones...I mean we have them, but we pay for each text...and subsequently don't txt much.)  She pays for the txts she makes.  She has a job now, before it was through her allowance.  She's just now starting to ask for unlimited texts.  We have been discussing going prepaid anyway and since she has a job, she will be buying her own minutes that way.  IMO, if she wants a cell with unlimited txts, I would suggest that you tell her that she needs to find a way to pay for it herself, be it through a paper route, doing odd jobs for neighbors, whatever.  It's a great lesson in the concept that everything has to be paid for.

 

In our house, everyone who is capable does their own laundry.  This means I get stuck doing the family laundry like towels and the younger kids laundry, but even then, my 2 year old does help to her abilities, by helping me move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, handing me clothes to fold etc.  If she wants her clothes clean, I think it's time she learn to clean them herself.

 

 

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Today I just had a really different reaction though.  Like she can do whatever she pleases and reap the consequences of her actions.

I do think, in some cases, this really is the way to go though.  That's really kinda the cornerstone of the natural/logica consequences concept.  If you don't do your laundry, well then you don't have clean clothes-natural consequence.  It's not any different than when they are little and you make them clean up the mess they made throwing food on the floor.  Sometimes our kids aren't going to learn best by us teaching them, they have to figure it out themselves.

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Old 04-04-2011, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Going to the mall(with friends) was one of the things yesterday she had listed as something she wanted to do.  The thing was...she has never actually mentioned wanting to do this before yesterday.

 

I'm trying to keep the centering stuff in my mind.  I feel like my role as a mother is changing, and I need people to respect me(and that this is a separate issue from everything else).  Like I don't think my husband would ever understand me passing off the laundry duties to the 12 year old.

 

Some of the desire for more freedom is more about issues with how my husband parents, which I don't understand.  He was raised in a rural area, and he and his friends had tremendous amounts of freedom.  But he has not been willing to grant those same amounts of freedom to our DD.

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Old 04-04-2011, 01:13 PM
 
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It's a pretty normal stage I think. Personally, we're just coming out of it. My DD is 14 but she's also on the later side puberty wise. She hit that "12" stage about 13.5. Ick. She was moppy, emotional, lazy, over-sensitive, uncharacteristically worried what everyone thought of her and I as her mom, could do anything right. We butted heads a LOT. It all came to a head end of  January. We were so sick of her procrastinating on her household responsibilities (which are nominal,) letting her grades drops with missing assignments (and totally easy ones,) staying up all night chatting and texting and being dishonest about it and frankly, just looking like she was miserable at all times. One day, DH had enough, he took her electronics, pulled back her bedtime to 9 instead of 10 and removed the door from her room. This really was the first time we ever had to penalize her as she's always been such a compliant and thoughful kid. It coming from Dad made it hit even harder because they have always been especially close. Needless to say, all that got her attention right away and motivated her to work with us as opposed to against us. We had a series of conversations with her. We found out some stuff about her. She found out some stuff about us. I must say, end of February, it seemed the mope monster fully dissapeared. She's not the same little girl she was prior to "the dark days" and DH likes to call them but she's actually sharing more with us about her ups and downs in life and she's FUN to be with once again. Her grades are back up. Her chores get done regularly (maybe not as often as I'd do them but certainly within reason and without my having to nag her.)

 

Just hang in there. Obviously, conversation is important but it was meaningless for us until she was motivated to listen and talk. That too a bold and united front on our part. No yelling, just "enough."


Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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