I read your input on Martha Breckenbrough’s blog about entitlement. While my 13 year old daughter was staying with me for Xmas, I asked her to stay at my house while I ran to get her medication that she’d forgotten. She blew up and asked her Mom to come get her (which she did). I got the insults and accusations, just like you said. Her mom is the same way. How does a Dad who sees his kids only once a week (and sometimes less), get through that entitlement mindset?
Fredd, in MA
That is really hard Fredd. I sympathize that it must feel impossible to affect change with such a small percentage of your daughter’s time and attention. However, I think there is real reason for hope in your situation. Consider the following:
- Teen time. Though you have your daughter in your home 1/7 of her week (or less), if you can use the bulk of that (awake) time to actually be in the same room with her, you will get a much bigger impact on her than you might think. For almost certain she spends a lot of her time at her mom’s house alone – most teens do. Engage her, do things she enjoys ( even if you aren’t so thrilled with them, look for something to like about her music, TV, movies, interests) without scorning her choices.
- Keep expecting the best of her. Demonstrate that you know she is resilient (or can be). Ask her thoughts on issues you are thinking about (except about her mother – don’t go there). Take her suggestions and thoughts seriously. Treat her and her ideas with great respect. Eventually (it may take years) she will be glad you expect much of her and believe in her.
- Don’t allow her to treat you badly. Require her to treat you and your rules with respect. If she says that she’ll go home (or complain to her mom), don’t be blackmailed. Tell her you’ll be really sad if she goes home, you have been looking forward to being with her all week. However, hold your line. You must hold her accountable to your rules (which include not insulting or screaming at you) – you’re her Dad, that is your job.
- Be clear and verbal about your love for her. Don’t just tell her that you love her (though do that also, and often), tell her what you love about her. Even if she rolls her eyes or says she doesn’t believe you, she is hearing you and storing up those admirable character traits to think about when she is alone. No one has self-loathing like a 13 year old girl, yet they hide it well.
Your daughter will look for a life partner that treats her however you treat her. So treat her well, but don’t give in to her demands. When that seems too hard remember: if you let her behave badly she will completely shocked when the rest of the world doesn’t put up with that behavior. Especially since you may be the only adult in her life willing to treat her like the adult she wants to be.