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Obnoxious Teenage Daughter

Obnoxious Teenage Daughter


Dear Rachel,

I am going nuts. I have a teenage daughter (age sixteen) who has turned into a totally obnoxious individual! She used to be a sweet girl, but for the past year or two, things have been getting more and more out of hand. I don’t think that I have made a request of her, made a comment, or tried to engage her in conversation without some kind of response that involved a major sigh, eye-rolling, or exasperation (“whatever”) in the tone of her response. It has gotten to the point where I spend very little time with her. I am really not interested in being with her, and, sadly, she doesn’t seem to want to spend time with me either. On the rare occasions that I have tried to spend time with her, it usually results in some kind of meltdown, and not just on her part. Is there anything that I can do in this seemingly helpless situation?

Given Up Mommy

Dear Given Up Mommy,

Welcome to the world of teenagedom! Many might call it teenagedoom, because, well, this is a very difficult point in development for both the kids and their parents. Parents everywhere can relate to your tales of woe, and many a potentially or previously good relationship can get either temporarily or permanently derailed around this time in a teen’s life. But, there are things that parents can do to try and make things better for all involved.

The first thing that you should try very hard to remember is that the teenage years are not just hard on the parents. This time in a child’s development wreaks havoc for the teen as well. Their bodies are changing, hormones are surging, and their brains are rapidly evolving as well. All of this is extremely disconcerting for them, and they are not even consciously aware of these feelings. For example, research has shown that the sleep cycle for a teenager shifts. Their bodies naturally want to go to sleep later, and consequently, they want to sleep longer in the mornings. Given the way most people’s schedules work, this is obviously not something that most teens can do, so many of them walk around perpetually tired. Coupling their constant state of exhaustion with body changes that may leave joints slightly achy and hormones grossly surging, and you get one unhappy person.

In terms of the emotional aspect of your relationship, remember that it’s up to you to be a stabilizing force in your child’s life. Make time every day to just spend time with her. There is probably some point in the day when she is more amenable to talking, and you should make every effort to be available then. Use this time just to chat. No requests, no reminders about the wet towel left on the toilet, just a time to schmooze. You may want to try and engage in this by “bribing” her with a favorite activity: going shopping, getting some pizza, going out for ice cream. You may meet with some initial resistance, but over time, with consistent, gentle effort, you should see some improvement.

If she is not willing/able/wanting to talk to you, then you talk to her. Tell her about your day, how things are going, something good or bad that happened during the day. This helps in different areas. First, you are teaching her some important skills, which include making small talk and sharing things about yourself. Second, by engaging her about your day, this will eventually encourage her to share things with you about her day. While you are talking to her about yourself, watch that it is not a ten-minute monologue, but rather that you offer pauses and other ways for her to join in.

Teenagers, like all of us, need to feel valued. Ask her what she thinks about different things in the house. These things could include what to make for dinner, what to wear for an evening out, where to hang a new picture, and how to handle a dilemma that you are experiencing. You are not obligated to necessarily follow her advice, but if you are asking her, then you must be willing to take it seriously, and you should on occasion follow what she says.

Make a point of reminding yourself everyday all of the positive aspects there are about her. “Nachat (appreciation) Reminder Moments” are useful for the parent, especially when there are seemingly few of them. Take out the baby album, watch her when she’s sleeping, or call upon a favorite memory to help sweeten your opinion of her on a daily basis. Even better, making a point of telling her about your special memories will make her feel good as well.

There is a famous book in contemporary Jewish literature called Planting and Building, a book on child rearing. The author, Rav Wolbe, talks about how a relationship with your child, like all relationships, takes time to develop and nurture. Like a growing thing, it needs to be cultivated and cared for to help it reach its potential. Therefore, it is important to focus on what your ultimate goal is for you and her. It sounds like you want to have a relationship with her, and that you would like to be close. This takes time, energy, and patience. Invest in your relationship with her by remaining calm in the face of her distraught behavior. By being a stable force for her, it will help her feel more stable. As mentioned previously, since teenagehood is such a time of upheaval, you are giving her a tremendous chesed by being calm.

I know that it’s challenging, frustrating, and seemingly bears little reward, but if you give it time, you will see how things will improve. Like a seed takes time to grow and reach its full status as a plant, so does your child need the same attention and care to reach her potential. Try to hang in there—being a teenager doesn’t last forever.

“Dear Rachel” is a biweekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Beryl Tritel.

Beryl Tritel, MSW, is a therapist with offices in Jerusalem and Ramat Bet Shemesh. She has been living in Israel for over 10 years with her husband and their 5 kids. She also offers Skype sessions. She can be reached at
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Discussion (52)
November 10, 2015
I am very thankful i found this site. Now I am fully aware of the behavior of my daughter...Hoping that I could built a good relationship with her..
November 5, 2015
My dear! I read all the comments, and I feel the pain of all the mothers, it is horrible disappointment and scary even to think that we are loosing our daughters. In the middle of the teen years it seems it will be always like this, I can not imagine my daughter will ever change. On top of it I'm a single mother no one to talk at home except her, but not as my friend. I just don't understand how much frustration they are able to carry from day to day, and nothing seems good enough for them, that is drives me crazy.
My daughter walks around like she lost her mind, at 2 years old she was much smarter. She just do not like me her grandparents her father and other grandma. She yells at all of them and call everyone names. She elianated herself from every single family member including me. I am sorry about her because no one cares to help her anymore. She puts frustration out she gets frustration back, it is simple.
May 27, 2015
As I sit in the waiting room while my daughter is at her counseling appointment I feel glad that I am not alone. My daughter is 14 and for the last two years I haven't been able to talk to my Daughter without the eye-rolling, long exhale, whinging, abuse and meltdowns. I love my daughter but I have given up. I hate who she has become. She has torn me and my 8yro son to shreds. I have enough on my hands with my son having a disability without her obnoxious, rude, brat behavior. She even tells me to stop and that I'm an embarrassment. I hate it so much
Amelia Joyce
ballatat, Victoria, Australia
May 24, 2015
Not just me
Thank you! As awful as it sounds, I was so glad to read someone else saying the exact same thing as how I feel. I just don't understand where my helpful, thoughtful, caring and loving daughter has gone. It started when she was about 12 and now she's 15 and is lazy and rude and doesn't give a hoot that she constantly hurts my feelings. But I don't think you can say it's being a teenager. I honestly was not like that at her age. I always helped Mum and Dad, without being asked, because I wanted to. I was always outside doing something and not laying on my bed involved in my own self-centred world. I don't get what went wrong because she actually helped me more when she was little, around 5, 6, 7 years old. She would always help me vacuum and tidy up when I didn't even expect her to. Now, I prefer not to ask her anything because I know it will end up with her being snarky and me being sad. I can't even have a different opinion to her now, as she thinks I am "having a go" at her if I do.
May 11, 2015
OMG! I thought I was the only mother in the world going through this with her teenager daughter. I love my child but I don't like her. I know it's awful to say but it's true. I get to the point where I don't want to be around her. I can't wait until she goes off to college. My teenager, is rude, disrespectful, angry (all the time at me) she lies and O she is a great at manipulation. She wants me to give her big praises for everything she does. If I don't give her praise or the praise she thinks she should get, she goes off at me. She won't do her chores, when I tell her to do her chores or pick something up she goes off. My teenager daughter tells me that she wants to live somewhere else. She can't take my strict rules, my nagging and she doesn't have any freedom. No, she can stay let me leave. I've been dreaming of running away for a long time. I just can't take it anymore. I feel like I' a bad mother and that I've done a horrible job at parenting. I have one TG!
December 14, 2014
Obnoxious Teenage Daughter
I am a foster parent of 4 teenage boys, all from broken homes and some child abuse. They have short tempers, swear at me, threaten to punch me , punch holes in the wall etc. Be thankful that she's only rolling her eyes etc. Your in heaven and you don't know it yet. However my advise to you is pray for her a lot, it will cause you to love her more, and it will cause her to love you more. Buy her the Torah , it can change a life. It changed my life. G-d , is the G-d of miracles. Don't give up. Give her something to believe in. The Torah says "without a vision the people perish". I told one of my boys the Passover story and he told me he'd like to read the bible.. What a breakthrough. He has only lived with me for 2 months.
Bernice Needham
London, Ont/Can
November 7, 2014
Some kids aren't reachable at this age. I have one such child at home. All the stuff in this article, this is how I raised her for sixteen years. But making time for her when she's surly and throws things at me? No thanks. It's already bad enough that she treats me like a cash cow with little regard for anything I want. My daughter has told me that if I asked her to do her chores differently (what, begging?) that she would perhaps be more motivated. Uh huh. Right. I will say this: it is somehow comforting to know I'm not the only one with a nightmare on my hands. I'm sorry for what you all are going through, because I get it.
July 29, 2014
I absolutely understand. I was a single mother of three girls and when they reached adolescence I asked myself why I had children at all. I didn't know how to handle it, I don't know how I handled it but in the end, the three of them came out really nice young adults. When I was an adolescent I was in boarding school so I did not have a chance to have crises with my parents. Believe me, it's better they have them right now that become eternal rebels with a very deep emotional gap. That being said, I have no advice to give you. It's tough. The lack of gratitude and consideration is hurtful, no doubt. I guess the best advice is to try to prepare them for adolescence ahead of time. Otheriwse it's a time bomb that will explode in your face. Cheers!
July 7, 2014
Look all of us were teenagers before,doesn't mean we have the same experiences.They get the eye rolling and talking back from strangers,kids at school,or even the TV.I ruined my relationship with my brother forever.I watched a show where no matter what happened the brother and sister always love each other.What I didn't know about my brother....he wasn't the same on the TV.We didn't and still don't get along but doesn't mean we don't love he each other.I mean,he doesn't say I love you or hug me but I hope deep in that heart he loves me as his sister.Its the same as guardians but the one thing is different,it's a female and a female.Females have more hormones and they are always growing and she's being different each day.My advice?Tell her your regret in your life.Thats what I wanted my mom to do,and she did eventually.It made me a better person to my mom to know what I am going through is most of what my mom went through.All moms want their children to be happy.
April 30, 2014
I can't even begin to tell you how hard it has been with my 16 yr old daughter. There is absolutely no respect in our house for us, foul mouthing, 4 letter words are the rule in our house coming from her. I get her everything she wants, but she tells me I do absolutely nothing for her. She wants me to praise her and compliment her like other parents do for their children but I feel that I could do that only if I get the respect I deserve as a parent. Surely that is not too much to ask for !! Many times she will argue, get mad and ask her friends to pick her up and spend the night in their homes. She probably tells them how bad and mean we are; the actual truth is that we do everything for her and it only appears that way to her because we ask her to clean her room, take a shower, keep up her grades etc, usual parenting type things. I face stiff resistance and opposition and getting her to do simple things like cleaning her room is an absolute nightmare.