Disconnected from 12-year-old-daughter

Question: For some reason, I feel like I have a chronic “dis-connect” from my eldest daughter, 12. I worry I’m failing her as a parent and really need help and advice. I know that we have a pattern of my asking her to do something, her not listening, then I get frustrated and bark orders at her until she does what she needs to do. The positive to negative ratio for our interactions are more on the negative end and I desperately want to change how I relate to her. I want to do better and help my daughter and I have a better relationship in the end. Thank you.
Signed: Desperate to Connect

Answer: Dear “Desperate to Connect”,

I am so happy to hear that you are recognizing the “disconnect” between you and your daughter now, when she is 12 and did not wait until she was in the throes of her teens and entrenched in peer relationships before wanting to do something about it. It would be so much harder to re-establish yourself as her main influence when she is only interested in her friendships with peers.

I strongly encourage you to start “courting” your daughter. Plan events where you will have a lot of one on one time with her. It will force the two of you to address your relationship and start building on it. Go out for walks or take weekly drives in the country. Take an interest in something that you can do together on a frequent basis—gardening, take a painting or pottery class. Read in bed at night together. Create an environment of proximity.

Take the time to listen to her and allow her to be known by you. She may resist at first but present it in a way that she has no choice except for maybe choosing the activity. A fabulous book I recommend you read is Dr. Gordon Neufeld’s Hold on to Your Kids! He addresses the need for parents to consistently attach to and connect with their children, regardless of their age.

With respect to your interactions always being negative try the 80/20 rule. Interactions should be positive 80% of the time. The other 20% is reserved for corrective instruction. So the next time you have the urge to say something negative, turn it into something constructive or positive.

Answer by Dyan Eybergen, author of Out of the Mouths of Babes: Parenting from a Child’s Perspective. Dyan is a paediatric psychiatric nurse, has more than ten years experience working as a therapist and parent educator. Dyan and her family were guests on the cable television show “For Kids Sake”, along with parenting expert Barbara Coloroso. Eybergen resides in St. Albert, Alberta, with her husband and three sons.


  1. What I wouldn’t give to be able to have given this article to my mother 20 years ago! When I was eleven our relationship went south and has never recovered, unfortunately. My own children are 3, 5, and 7, however I am so grateful to have read this today, and keep it in mind for the upcoming years when the kids want to separate from my apron strings!

    It is really sad that my mom never knew how to handle me becoming more independent; I was not a bad kid, but I did my own exploring, and my mom was so condescending towards my ideas that I felt the need to hide my life from her… and that has been the pattern ever since….


  2. Please read, “The Five Love Languages of Children”. It will totally change the way you see the relationship with your daughter. You will be amazed at how fast the transformation will take place. I just can’t say enough about the goodness of this book…


  3. When I first read the topic of this article my mind went straight to my relationship with my twin daughters who just turned 13. I am so luck I have the close relationship I do with them, and only because I involve my self in their lives without being “pushy’. I do a lot of 1:1 trips out and about and most important I listen…not judge… I make it a point to have their friends over when ever they ask. I can’t remember the last time I did not have a friend or 3 sleepover! I am a very lucky Mom!

  4. It also happens with Mothers and 12 year old sons. We still have a close relationship and he talks to me about mostly everything, but I too have difficulty getting through to him regarding everyday responsibilities and routines.without losing my cool after the 3rd time…. I find it more than frustrating because I was not that way as a child. I was afraid to disappoint my parents. still am to this day.

  5. Wow – I could have written that! And just two hours ago! My 13 year old daughter and I seem to be fighting a lot more lately- because of her friends. She wants to spend all of her free time with them and if she can’t she is very unpleasant. And makes things unpleasant around here too.
    I’m a single mom who is trying to do the best she can – and we DO have time together quite often – it’s just that these friends fo hers are not the kind of girls I want her hanging around with. They are disrespectful to their parents and I’m sure some of them are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing. Of course I don’t come right out say she can’t spend time with them, that would have the exact opposite effect.
    She’d rather spend time with these girls than do her homework or pay attention to her school work. I’ve talked to her guidance counselor and her dad – and there’s not much any of us can do.
    My solution for now is to make my daughter come right home after school – she can talk to her friends on the phone or on the computer – but at least I know she’s home and not doing something she shouldn’t.

  6. Susan Blumberg says:

    I found the article really really lacking. While working on the relationship is really important, your daughter really needs to understand that she has responsiblities in the home. Stay calm, but when she needs to do what she’s told, give her two chances to do what she needs to and then let her know there will be a consequence. So if she doesn’t do her HW, she doesn’t get any TV or computer time or phone time. If she calls you names, she goes to her room. If she doesn’t clear the table, or clean her room, etc, there are appropriate consequences. You get the idea. Time with you, and with the family is really important and you really need to build on the relationship, but she doesn’t get to skip out on her responsibilties, and she doesn’t get to be disrespectful either. I tell families to put up a calendar in the kitchen or family room, and parents mark on it when kids are successful and then they can earn extra TV or computer or friend time on the weekends – whatever rewards they want to earn by good behavior. It really turns around the whole parent-child relationship.

    • Oh how I wish these responses would work. I have an 11 year old son. Just this evening at dinner we had our first major head-to-head. I told him not to use his fingers to eat. He kept doing it. I spoke calmly and rationally and said you get a tick mark every time you use your hands to eat. (We have had a privelege/consequence system of stars and tick-marks going for months that has been working great up until today…he even had earned “screen” time for more stars than tickmarks last month). Then the battle of the wills ensued. He picked up his meat with his hands. I took away his plate and told him to go to his room. He did not. He said “No, make me.” I am a little mom, and while I’m still a bit taller than him I realize I really cannot make him. He racked up at least 10 tick marks and I resorted to telling him I was ashamed of his behavior and the way he was talking and behaving in front of his little sister. And I took away that earned screen-time. I was very angry, but I never did yell (that is a relatively thing for me so I’m very proud of that) and before I walked out, I simply asked him why he was being so mean and disrespectful. I did see his face change a bit but he ignored me and made a snotty remark about our tick-mark system. He did do his chore (trash night) and ended up speaking to me nicely later. I still have no idea how to handle his reaction tonight. I know part is hormones, part stubborness and even personality. But I do need to address it b/c he had a blow up with his father last week with no consequences; and now I realize this is just the beginning. My husband travels a lot so I cannot depend on him to be here when things go wrong. Any other suggestions????

      • Lisa: Wow, that tick mark system sounds awful. How disrespected your son must feel. I think it would be better to do away with that, since he obviously feels constantly judged every minute of the day. Then saying that HE’S being “mean and disrespectful”, that is just the icing on the cake. You have a young man who has a brain and has the capacity to learn. You have to have the patience to discuss things with him, such as the good and bad things you see on the news, or at the mall when you’re together, or in movies, even in commercials – how stupid and manipulative they try to be, etc. Get HIS opinions without judging. Listen to your wonderful boy, don’t waste this magical time when he may begin to talk to you about what HE wants to talk about, or, if he doesn’t talk much, you need to express your love for him ALWAYS. Let him see you as a caring mom who is genuinely interested in conversing with him, about anything – robots, comics, movies, bad kids, good kids, sneakers, favorite foods, sports, life… etc. If he doesn’t talk, then you do the talking and let him sit calmly by you with no pressure to talk. In other words, this is the time to build trust, to bond, and you’re not going to bond if you’re constantly judging and measuring his behavior. Tick marks! Oh brother. I would have rather moved out than have to deal with that. Kids get enough of that sort of thing at school. Home should be a sanctuary for everyone in the family. Show your son how to buy a gift for someone else, such as his grandma or a neighbor. Playfully tell him what you would like him to get you when he’s grown up, like a Jaguar or a mansion. The most important thing you can do with your son is laugh with him!! He must be missing his father. All you talk about concerning your husband is about when “things go wrong”. How negative. You need to MAKE some situations where things go right. The great strategy of “catch your children in the act of being good” is what you need to apply. Tell him you appreciate the way he’s getting himself ready for school on time, let him know you recognize his talents, whatever they may be, find happy things to focus on, rather than keeping score of all his errors. He wasn’t born with good manners, or cleaning skills, or social skills or confidence – that all comes from patiently TEACHING him, over and over again, not like a drill seargent, but like a parent, with LOVE and respect. Let the room be messy until a particular day of the week, and teach him how to clean up quickly, like throwing the dirty clothes into a hamper, taking glass and cups down to the kitchen, etc. Or have him straighten up whenever company’s coming over, not every single dang day. Who does that besides Martha Stewart?? As long as he learns how to present himself and his home, eventually he will take pride in his surroundings. Trust me, I have an amazing 18 year old son who even taught me some things. He adores his dad & me and he knows we adore him. He’s in college and independent and even though he is still developing confidence, he knows we are in his corner always. Good luck & don’t waste time with so much negativity. Give him reasons to enjoy you, his home, and of course, his father.

      • PS – As far as using his fingers to eat, so what??? When he has his first date and he starts to eat with his fingers, the girl will show her disapproval. That may be when he finally gets the message. Meanwhile, remind him, but don’t turn it into a head-to-head. He might actually be embarrassed, or might make it a point of contention because he’s mad about everything else, he might be doing it JUST TO ANNOY YOU, in which case, he’s getting what he wants. If you don’t give it too much attention, he’ll get tired of trying to annoy you. You can keep him guessing. Imagine his surprise when you change your attitude. Give him less attention for the bad things, and lots of attention for the good things; like take him out for pizza or ice cream, make sure he’s into some sport or music or club!!! Without something that interests him he will not reach his fullest potential. That should be your focus – his potential!!

    • This Mother desperately wants to reconnect with her daughter and have a better relationship with her. When parents listen to, and spend time with their children, the child in turn will respond positively. Every member of a family has responsibilites in a home, and when a loving atmosphere is present, the child will instinctively be more apt to fulfill her duties. I agree that consequences need to be in place for poor behaviour, but until a one on one relationship is mended, the behaviour will continue regardless of consequences, in fact may even esculate. The book “Hold on to Your Kids” is highly recommended.

  7. I also recommend reading “The Five Love Languages of Children” by Gary Campbell. It is amazing. I also agree with Susan about consequences. From my perspective, the solution is never one thing, it is always a combination of many approaches, skills, strategies, etc.
    I really like what “Abraham” says in the book by Esther and Jerry Hicks, The Astonishing Power of Emotions. I love the analogy of “the river” and our choices in life, upstream or downstream. It makes every situation a whole lot simpler than we make it usually.
    Enjoy reading the books suggested.
    Many blessings

  8. I have an almost 12 year old daughter who will for sure get her period soon. She definately acts very moody some of the time when I least expect it. My husband sometimes laughs how crazy she sounds but other times he tells her she’s being disrespectful. I say I’m preparing myself for the moody teen. Some days will be good and others bad. I always try to talk to her before she goes to bed to connect.nows the time to do it!

  9. Another great book is “Get out of my Life but first will you take Cheryl and me to the Mall”. It’s all about these teens wanting to be independent but can’t and don’t really know how to deal with the situations and being controlled. It has helped me a lot. I have 2 girls (14 & 15) and a boy (12).
    I think you really need to choose your battles and in a way give them the sense that they are in control when they really aren’t.

    • I have to admit I have never been a person that reads books.. My first book being “Out of the Mouthes of Babes” by Dyan Eybergen. In which I found very well written and delightful!!! I recently purchased “Get out of my life….” and gave it to my 14yr old daughter to give to me as a Christmas Gift. My daughter finds it quite funny when she sees me reading it and says “IS IT HELPING??”…I admit there are many days where you’d like to send them back to where they came from, than often think “where would I be today if my parents had given up on me?”.. I truly believe that love, patience and understanding are key in a child/parent relationship. ” Pick your battles and don’t sweat the small stuff” my Mom always says!!.. If a child is brought up knowing right from wrong, with strong morals and beliefs..they will come back, they have strong roots!!. No one ever said “life” was easy and God will never give you more than you can handle. Keep the faith.

  10. Good comments! I am blessed to have a great relationship w/my daughter where we are able to talk about things openly, but I needed the reminders I read here, esp. the reading/spending time before bed when the last moments of the day can be peaceful, loving, memorable moments for her. As for the not doing what she’s told, and the yelling match/barking orders getting nowhere, I learned this method from Parenting w/Love and Logic where you say, “feel free” rather than, “you are not going to…”. Like feel free to use the phone/computer/tv after you’ve completed (or shown me)your homework. THen you paitiently wait, and when she wants to watch the tv and homework/chore is undone, you state w/o sarcasm, I’m sorry it is not going to work out this time. Basically, you allow natural consequences to teach the child like her beign late to soccer and getting yelled at by her coach because you said you’d be glad to take her to her game after she cleaned her room and she drug her feet to clean it.

  11. It’s a painful stage that I wish I would have been more prepared for. I too am a single mom. Whe decided that she wanted to go live at her dad’s. He is remarried and they have a ‘normal’ family. She thought that would be better. I was too hard on her because I expected that her first priority would be getting good grades.

    After about a year, she discovered that she had made a mistake. Normal means 2 parents who don’t want to do anything but sit in front of the TV. They’re too tired to do anything else. She’s been trying to greaduate high school early so she can come back home. She wishes that they had guided her high school education better instead of letting her make mistakes in her class selections. Mom was right after all.

    I’ve since learned that this is a common occurance in divorced families. The grass seems greener at that age. That doesn’t make it any less painful, but we’ll all come through it ok in the end.

    And there are some advantages to being the weekend fun parent instead of the day to day mean parent.

  12. fernando(parent educator) says:

    Dear desperate for change,

    I love the name that you chose for yourself. It says so much about you and I admire you very much for having this loving desire. My heart goes out to you and because you are willing to change for your daughter, I will do my absolute best to help you in any way that I can. First of all, you are not alone. Every parent has had or will have in one point in time of their life, the feeling of failing when it comes to raising children. Like a friend of mine says, “Raising children is like being pecked to death by chickens”. In these very troublesome times, always remember that all children are a blessing and there are always those who so much wanted to have them and couldn’t. The advice that Dyan Eybergen has given you is very good, and although your daughter may not want to spend time with you, don’t give up. Make sure that the time that you do spend with you daughter is a fun and wonderful experience. This is not always easy to do, but what really helps, is knowing what your daughters interests are. Whatever they may be, always let her know that you respect them, even though you may not always agree with them. Facial expression is very important, so always remember to smile at her when she is speaking to you and show her in as many ways that you can that you are interested in her thoughts, ideas and feelings. Don’t interupt, just listen. As for those ideas that may seem not so good, always remember that you can always give her a better one. Talk to her with respect, which means be careful with your tone of voice. If things start to get tense, take a deep breath, start all over or leave the discussion for another moment. Concentrate on your weak points as well as your strong points. Continue making an effort to be a better parent. Encourage your daughter, but above all, encourage yourself. If you start getting that feeling that your failing, think back of all the good things that your daughter has done, the times she made you laugh, the times when you felt so proud of her and continue with your parenting goals. It will take time and practice, because nothing happens overnight. Your daughter will not be with you forever, so take advantage of the time that you are with her. You are the most important person in your daughters life. I wish you the absolute best with your daughter.

  13. My daughter is 17 and my sons 14 and 11. I have good relationships with them but we’ve had our moments and I never stop trying to improve things by listening to them, talking to other parents and reading whatever I can get my hands on. The latest book I’ve read which is fabulous and may give you a longer term view on things is called TOO SAFE FOR THEIR OWN GOOD by Michael Unger. It is about letting the kids go (who doesn’t struggle with this) little by little, encouraging experiences that might seem a little risky to them and to us (but really aren’t all that dangerous at all) and letting them have the feeling that they are ‘growing up’ which is what they so desperately crave at this age and beyond. I wonder if the ‘dis-connection’ is because she is ready for a little more independence? I hope you read this book and I hope it helps. Good luck!

  14. My daughter’s 13 and we do spend alot of time together since she’s homeschooled (along with 2 days a week at an alternative school). Unfortunately, that puts me in a position of being the taskmaster alot more than the fun parent. Still, we spend time walking the dog and in the car going to her activities, when (if she’s not singing along to her favorite pop songs from the radio) she talks constantly about all the frivolous (to me) stuff in her head. It’s hard for me to smile when (despite less than 5 hrs of TV a week and no cable channels) she seems obsessed with celebrities, pop music, “cute” guys and even every line from every silly commercial she might have seen more than once. I just wish she’d take an interest in something more serious or academic, but it all seems to bore her. She does like to read entertaining fiction but avoids nonfiction of almost any sort. I want her to be herself but worry about her future if she doesn’t begin to develop a more mature outlook. When does that typically occur (if it does) for girls like her?

    • My fisrt thought about your daughter is challenge her more academically… although I do not know all that you do from your letter she sounds bored educationally – she can handle more – it is not sparking her interest!

    • I had to laugh at your comment (respectfully, of course) because I have been a very strict parent regarding limiting T.V. and media and I always talk about popular culture in a way as to encourage my twelve year old daughter to see through the materialism and manipulation. She, of course, has taken a deep liking to all things “popular”. I suppose it is some kind of rebellion. She no longer wants to read “the classics”, but wants to read “The Clique”. On the other hand, she will make these absolutely fabulous observations about the very things she has been, to my dismay, enjoying, and I realize that my values are in there, somewhere. I like to think of them as sleeper cells- they will emerge again, some day! In the meantime, I find it better not to criticize the things she enjoys too much, no matter how lame- it only ends up hurting her feelings- they do take everything so personally at this age!

  15. I agree with Susan Blumberg. It should be our role to guide our children to become responsible, respectful adults. Often that means we have to be a parent – not necessarily a friend. I grew up in a family with 7 girls. My mother raised us to take responsibility for our actions – including the manner in which we treated her and my father. I thought I had a strict upbringing and at the time, didn’t always “feel” the love – but we became very good friends later – and after I had children of my own, I realized just how good a mother she was.

    Try “total transformation” – they are cds you can find online. It is a philosophy that is best suited for troubled teens – but the basic parenting strategies are priceless.

    Good luck!

  16. I am blessed with 4 children , 3 older girls and the youngest is my son .
    Both my wife and me held down fulltime jobs when the children were growing up .
    I had to be the strong no-nonsense father while my dear spouse was the loving soft ever-ready to help and listen to mother . We sent our children weekly to the Bahai Community Children’s class as well as all the other Community Events for children and I was always ready to allow them to attend their school functions and visits .
    However there was a strict timetable of daily activities which included time for Family Prayers and reading the Holy Scriptures of the Bahai Faith which has very precise guidance for bringing up children at each stage of their lives ,from their first 3 years to Preschool to Primary formative education . When they reach 11 and till 15 , they undergo a very empowering Junior Youth program , facilitated by older Youths aged 16 to 25 and also young couples who still remember and understand the different changes young persons undergo physically , emotionally , harmonally and socially at this critical period of adolescence . By the grace of God , everyone of my children crossed this turbulent period intact and subsequently became Mentors and deeply loved Animators to the next group of adolescent children . I observed that the best persons who can really help to make this very vulnerable group of adolescents are those older peers who have likewise been guided .
    To those parents out there who would like to participate in this Junior Youth Empowerment Program and help their precious offspring to weather this life-changing , character building phase of their lives , please look look out for these Bahai Communities which are practically around everwhere and work with them to re-connect with your loved ones . This has been the experience of millions of Young People and it is producing moral , loving , respectful and high achieving , confident , articulate , and helpful young citizens who will make this world a better , more safer world . I wish all my fellow Parents out there to reach out if you are in this difficult , emotionally draining situation. Its safe , practical and you are still part of it as you yourself also help your young to traverse this quantum leap from childhood to young adulthood by being involved in their empowerment by being co-helpers to these young people who really are our future and hope . As a practicing Family Physician , this has been my experience and I too support these JYEP as much as i can . Todays children are a new race of man , lacking prejudice , fear , seeking as much knowledge as possible and want to make their own choices and so capable compared to priveous generations . I wish all of you God’s unending unconditional love and guidance .

  17. Hi. any room for Fathers to comment? I’m on my fifth daughter now, she’s 13 and a treasure. It’s not always been easy, the most difficult was my eldest step-daughter; she’s 30 now and we get on great. I have to say that we are Christians who love The Lord Jesus and have done our best to give our children the freedom to choose whether to know Him for themselves. They all have chosen to do so and that has set them on solid ground to make choices for themselves about their own lives. Ultimately we are only living our lives in openess before them and they have to live their own lives as they choose. I’ve had to accept that ‘My Agenda’ is less important than their wellbeing in every sense. Yes, protecting them when they don’t know better, but then they get to a place where they choose for themselves whether you like it or not, and how you handle that is going to affect things big time. Letting them know they have choices is a great way to show you respect them, and earn love and respect in return. Nothing beats communicating, talk to her and explain the situation in terms she can understand. Ask her how she thinks the matter should best be resolved. Oh and by the way. I think the scariest thing I’ve learned is that actually children do exactly what they want to do, often they think they are doing what they have to do, but actually they only do whatever they want to do. Our skill is getting them to want to do what we know is best for them, then guiding them in learning what they should choose as best for themselves; once you realise that, the rest is easy street……..shhh it’s a secret, don’t let the children know! lol.

  18. I am so glad I read this because I have an 11 year old myself and I am experiencing these difficulties. I want to be her friend not the mom she can’t talk to.

  19. Diane Thoroughman says:

    I have a thirteen year old, an eighteen year old and nine year old daughter and a son. Two of my daughters suffer from some form of mental illness. My oldest has bipolar and my thirteen year old has had depression and is on medication for it, plus monthly therapy which works for her.

    What I have done to help with all of my kids is first I got rid of the rhetorical question. I wanted my kids to learn how to say no. Because in life if you can’t say no then you end up saying yes all the time. So, if they have to do something then I tell them as an order. If I forget and ask them then they have the right to say no without fear from me. I will not get mad, I might be disappointed because I didn’t get my way but I will not hold that against them. They have appreciated having that freedom and it has taught them to say no to their peers.

    Also, I make a point of doing special one on one time. Kids need lots of time with parents, but also they need one on one time with a parent without the other siblings. So if you can afford it take your daughter to a restaurant. Try different foods. Or take her to the museum. Pick her up at lunchtime from school and take her out. It has really helped me when I have done that when my kids were in public school. Now they are attending a public online school which we all love.

    Also, be aware of emotional problems in teens and even preteens. It does happen and it is not always a phase. I am more likely to drag my kids to the pediatrician to talk about their moods and get a referral for therapy if the doctor thinks it is advisable. Sometimes therapy has only lasted for six months or less. But, it has always been helpful.

    Also, consider paying her for a certain chore or something. For my thirteen year old as a middle child she was feeling unappreciated. When she was eleven I would have her babysit my younger daughter. Now my son who at the time was thirteen was the legal person at home, but he was not the responsible person. So it was my eleven year old who was in charge of her younger sister. But, I realized she should be paid for this because if she were not there this would be a job I would have to pay somebody and I felt I would rather pay her than somebody else. I didn’t have her babysit on a daily basis, just more like once a week. Because I chose to pay her her self esteem blossomed. She told me she felt like now she had a job and real responsibility and that she was now important because we were choosing to pay her. It really helped. Now this does not mean I pay for chores because I don’t. Chores that need to be done as part of daily living are not payable in my household. But asking my kids to done something outside of that, I try and pay them what I can afford.

    When telling your daughter to do a chore that you know she hates, you might consider telling her “hey, let’s do this chore together and see how fast we can get it done so that we can do this _________ instead.” Fill in the blank with something you know she loves to do it, be it makes fudge with you or something else. Sometimes doing chores is easier when done with a parent and done faster. But, try not to criticize how she does it. If you feel she isn’t doing it correctly, wait another day to approach her, explain how you appreciate her help but there is something that she does you wish she would do differently. Explain what it is..and the changes you what made. But do this in a friendly voice, think like a boss explaining something to an employee in order to remain objective. Then praise her again and tell her the things she does that you like and appreciate. Then give her some time to accomplish these things. Hopefully it works.

    I don’t know if my comments have helped or not, but they have helped me. Parenting is a hard job. Also attitude helps. Not just our kids attitudes but our own. I enjoy my kids and I keep that attitude. So when talking to them use empathy. Imagine it was your parent talking to you. How would you want to be approached? So remember, while our kids need an attitude readjustment…sometimes it is us parents that need it.

    Also, one last thing. If you have screwed up, messed up, lost your temper and yelled or worse…learn to be and show repentance by approaching your kids and tell them what you did that was wrong. That you recognized it was wrong. Let them know you wished you were a perfect parent but can’t be. Let them see your humanness and then tell them you are deeply sorry for what you did and ask them for their forgiveness. It is very important that they tell you freely not because you demand it that they forgive you. If they cannot forgive you then you both need to get into counseling pronto. Remember to give them hugs…lots of hugs and tell them you love them just as they are.

  20. Lastmate- I think it’s normal. My daughter is almost 14 and she is obsessed with much of the same but I know that she is a good kid who works hard and does her best and will grow up to be a good human being. I swear these are the things that hormonally they are drawn to. They want to fit in. It is a natural response to that when she spouts inane facts. You should be glad she’s talking to you- even about the frivolous stuff. She wants to share her life with you- even if it is ridiculously silly.

    She avoids nonfiction because that is what she has to read for school (even for hsing!) and needs to get away from that. I monitor what my daughter reads for content but I’m just happy she’s reading a lot.

    As for the original and recurring dilemma of how to get away from always having to be the taskmaster- print out her duties. That way a simple, “have you done everything on your list?” is a better reminder than constant harping on individual tasks. I remind my daughter in the morning before she leaves for school to check her morning duties and a quick reminder of what she should get done before I come home from work. After dinner, I remind her of the list again. There is no constant harping that can escalate into yelling and hurt feelings on all sides. She has consequences for not keeping up with her list- lost privileges, lost allowance, etc. This is working well for us and has cut down on the amount of time arguing.

  21. Julia Reed says:

    Dear Desparate!
    Take heart. There is a lot of hope. Aside from the fact that you recognize the need for it, there are a lot of tools you can put into your toolbox that will help.
    Perhaps the first one is absolute honesty. People, whatever age, recognize this and resonate with it and the courage it takes to find it and own it. Aside from the fact that you are teaching honesty, you are living it and that will breed more of the same. It is not always easy, but it is always effective.
    Perhaps the second one is a little rule-of-thumb – if you have a contrarian in your life, preceed whatever you say with the words, “You probably won’t agree with this,” or “You probably won’t like what I’m about to ask you to do.” In disagreeing with you, which will be their natural tendency, their automatic response, they will be agreeing with you! It’s fun, easy, and it will tickle your funny bone at how it works and can help them to turn something around very quickly and innocently!
    A third tool option is to read again and again Eckart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. He speaks at length about the pain body and how hungry it is. If you and your daughter both are feeding off of eachother in that way, this book will help you see that and begin to shift it into something very beautiful.
    My daughter and I were at odds for the middle ten years of her life (from around 18 to 30). She totally rejected me. Then, all of a sudden, enough people who knew me, supported me, loved me, invited her to re-consider. When she did, she was able to see that, in spite of all my mistakes, I had aways been loving her unconditionally.
    So, I can will imagine how frustrating and painful it must be.
    Last, but most importantly, I use Progressive EFT, a form of Energy Psychology on myself, my children, my family, my friends and my clients. It begins with owning your truth and ends with your truth showing you the way out of whatever you are into. It is easy, efficient, always available, and it works.
    You’re welcome to email me with any qustions. I wish you all the best. Take heart that it really is always darker before the dawn
    Warm Regards

    • i really like your response, I would like to know more of the prog. EFT, I have a 12 yr old daughter, I absolutly love her. Thanks for your time.

  22. I would recommend two books – why do they act that way and say yes to no – both by Dr. David Walsh. Why do they act that way gives us parents (who don’t know anything) some insight into why kids in that age act the way they do and also gives some helpful suggestions. I work with kids from 12-14 and both books really gave me some great ideas. I also have two young children of my own which say yes to no has helped with. There are lots of books out there about raising teens, my suggestion is to read as many possible so that you can fill your parent tool kit with all different kinds of tools – if you find something isn’t working with her then move on to something else. The more options you give yourself the better chance you have of finding something that works for both of you. I know I found with my kids that with each stage I’ve had to try different things – and even gone back to old techniques that worked in the past! That’s the thing about kids…..they are ever changing puzzles! Just when you get the puzzle figured out it’s quickly on to the next one! I know it sounds weird and you will find this in the why do they act that way book but we as adults are ill equiped to fight with a teen-ager! Teen-agers are great at it – so we have to fight smarter not harder. I use it with the kids I work with and believe it or not our confrontations are few and far between and when they do occur they are short and sweet! And the kids respond!

  23. I forgot to add the series of how to talk so kids will listen – they have one for teens to – that is another awsome series!

  24. Hello Desparate,
    Now is the time to learn because you want to see a change…Good for you!!
    Lately I have come into contact with 2 things that may help start solving your problem connecting with your daughter. I went to listen to a speaker by the name of Dr.Gaber Mate. His book is called Hold onto your kids and it speaks about just what you are having trouble with. Basically what I got from it is we as parents HAVE to stop fixing our childrens problems for them and start having relationships with them and enjoying them.
    Also I am almost done a book now called The Five Love Languages that is really about how to speak to your spouse but there is a chapter on Love Languages our children have and how to speak to them in their emotional love language and how to teach them to speak to us in ours. Good luck and God Speed.

    All the best.

  25. I didn’t see the above quote from Dyan Eybergen which recommended the book Hold onto your kids…repeat…sorry…The author is who she said but Dr.Gaber Mate is co author of the book as well. Good luck!!