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My 19 Year Old Daughter Is Out Of Control

Question:

My daughter has been acting out more often now than ever before. The word “no” she does not understand. Anytime my husband and I tell her “no,” or disagree with her about something, or, put down ground rules, she has tantrums. We can’t take the screaming matches anymore. She is not working so we are now paying for her car. She is going to school at night and she thinks everyone is against her. She is always threating to move out and she now hates my house and her siblings. She plays on my husband and it is just making everyone in the house sick.

What can I do?

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Answer:

Yours is a problem that many families experience and, so, you are not alone. Please understand that, with my next comment I am not criticizing you. In many ways American culture and attitudes to child rearing has created the type of problem you have with a rebellious adolescent, in your case, an older adolescence. The attitudes that I am referring to has to do with too much permissiveness. I am not suggesting that parents should be authoritarian dictators. That would be counter productive. What I am suggesting is that we set firm limits and expectations for all the people living under our roofs.

It is very striking to me that your daughter is not working, yet, you are paying for her car. How easy for her. She does not have to work to pay for her own car? Of course she is behaving in ways that are outrageous. She has no limits set on her and she believes that she can get away with anything. Well, I hate to say it but she is right. She doesn’t work yet you pay for her car. She screams at you but there are no consequences. She lives in your house but is not required to contribute money to the household, even though she eats you food, uses you heat and electricity and occupies a room. She intimidates you with her threats to move out. Yet, she does not move. Things at home are too “cushy” for her.

At her age it is not unreasonable for you and your husband to set the ground rules for living in your house. If she cannot or will not abide by those rules, she needs to move out and find a place to live. She is not a child. Young people her age are fight and dying on the battle fields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stop allowing her to manipulate both you and your husband.

It will not be easy for you and your husband to set real limits and insist she moves out. It never is for parents. However, it is something you need to do.

By the way, if she does not comply with your rules, you must truly mean it when you tell her to move. It must not be an idle threat. In fact, it should not be a threat at all. You and your husband must unite and the two of you must stand tall.

Best of Luck

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Comments
  • William

    Both the question from the parent and the response are contrary to true reality in relationships.

    The daughter is 19 yrs old. Therefore the daughter and her parents have related closely to one another on a daily basis for 19 yrs.

    Yet the letter writer, the good doctor, and we readers will all pretend as if this family were only recently mixed together in a petri dish and this chemical reaction has no roots in any past experiences.

    Guess what, parents? You have been grooming your child to act and respond to you this very way since her birth.

    To rephrase the letter How can I get my child to change without taking responsibility and changing myself?

    W

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