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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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Daniella FULHAM GARDENS April 12, 2017

Please help.
I have a 14 year old daughter who has been diagnosed with depression after a survey by a psychologist.
My daughter seems to be depressed more so, when she doesn't get her own way or i say no to something. Particularly when shes in the wrong, the 'depression' comes up.
Generally she is lazy, rude, disrespectful and selfish. She also guilt trips me and manipulates me so i feel stupid mean.
My husband thinks im being soft and making it worse because of the depression. Myfriends tell me shes just a teenager.
Please help
An over it mum Reply

Guy Australia April 20, 2017
in response to Daniella :

Hi Daniella, I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. You are not alone with this. I have some questions for you ...Are you able to communicate with her or has she closed up completely? Is there a good-intentioned dad involved in her life? what are the key influences in her life like - music, friends, tv shows, because teens are highly impressionable as they look to work out their identity and value in the world. Are you involved in any religious community where their are good role models? Reply

Anonymous October 14, 2016

It's part of human nature@g Here is why it is so miserable to live with a teen. Because, we, as human beings, are suppose to separate from the nest much earlier than 18 years old. I know that sounds very insane to most people reading, except to maybe those who are going through the torture right now. They get exactly what I mean. We are going against nature to force teens to stay at home until 18 years old. Everything we do today as society goes against human nature. School isn't for everyone. We are suppose to work and live off the land. Our bodies want to procreate as soon as we hit puberty. There are 3 human instincts: Hunger, survival and procreation. They cannot ever be defeated. So when we prevent nature from happening, it gets replaced by promiscuity, drinking, drugs, talking back, major attitude, so on and so forth. Now there are exceptions to the rule. There are teens out there that are nothing but a true pleasure to be around and they do everything they are suppose to be doing, but that is rare. Reply

Guy Australia April 20, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I'm sorry you've had that experience, but teens who are are pleasure to be around aren't as rare as your experience has told you, and hence your interpretation of what's best during teenage years has been somewhat colored by this. There are plenty of communities of families that have a different experience. We are heavily influenced by others, and especially teens by their friends, and so I encourage families to get involved with communities that have families at their core with teens who are doing well. Learn, and have you and your teen influenced by them. I agree about school by the way, but more from the point of view that you have no control over the influence your teen has at school ... the wrong influence is very damaging. Reply

Guy Mullon Australia September 27, 2016

It is ALL about relationship - it can be awesome with your teen! Hi Beryl, I really like your snippets of advice in this article:
1. to spend one-one time with her daughter
2. find ways to show you value her
3. find things to be grateful for about her
4. focus on the ultimate goal of awesome relationship.
I know this is letter was from a mum, but I meet many dads who have the same concerns. It breaks their heart when all they hoped for with their daughter seems to be going up in smoke. I do have one important thing to add though. Mums and dads do not have to settle for grumpy, rebellious teenagers. It doesn't have to be so.As a daughter of 7 girls - some past or in their teenage years - I now enjoy relationships with them that are BETTER than they were when they were pre-teens. I don't want to discourage you by this, but rather I want to encourage all mums and dads that it is possible to have awesome relationships with your teenage girls. Keep going. Get the right skills. Pursue your daughter.Thanks for the great article. Reply

Anonymous Parkton September 12, 2016

Nice to read about other parents with teenage daughter's that make u can't stand being around.I'm a 40 yr. old father of a 17 year old that hate's me and my wife.My 40 year old wife has Mastatistic breast cancer in her lungs.It come back from 08'.Trying to stay strong for her and trying to keep daughter on a straight path with school.Thanks for having post for me to read and not feel alone. Reply

Anonymous Rockwall July 17, 2016

eb 14,2014 update response to real life solutions I posted originally on 2/14/14 and again on 12/1/15. It is now 7/17/16 and things have finally shown a little bit of improvement. This all began when she was 14 and she is now 20. I see that the last post calls the advice patronizing and I sense lots of anger there. I completely understand the anger part because I was so mad at my daughter for everything she was doing to herself..her family ...her father who never seemed to lose his temper and ME! I hated her and could not believe I would feel that way. Anger, shame and pain were all I have felt. I learned to be grateful for 5 min of happiness...learned compassion for other set hard boundaries and avoid expecting her to change. I learned to remove expectations even that she might outlive me. Too bad her 14 yr old sis is acting up. But I am an experienced mom now and I know that if someone wants to learn the hard way let them. I am grateful for this site because it lets me know I am NOT ALONE. Reply

Anonymous England July 15, 2016

The advice is patronizing I found this site because I have struggled with my daughter since she was three. My first two children were fine and downs but fine... She has put such a horrible strain on the whole family. Now divorced after twenty years I've had to deal with her on my own. Since she was eight (now seventeen) she has the ability to send me in the depths of depression and I find myself hiding in my bedroom with a lock on the door. I've tried all the advice detailed here as I m sure most of you have. I think you come to find places like this because you've tried all the options described and nothing seems to work. Reply

Anonymous May 9, 2016

We learned several months ago, that our daughter is bipolar and has general anxiety disorder. Once she was put on medication, something she refused for years, many things have improved. her moods are now much more stable, she eats some meals with us and talks to her dad. She is much easier to parent and get along with. Reply

Anonymous Florida May 8, 2016

Wow I am so glad I found this thread. My 14 year old daughter is the most disrespectful, ungrateful, selfish person I have ever known. I feel like no matter what I do for her it is never enough. We constantly fight because I am so over the disrespect. She has gotten suspended from school twice this year and once was for fighting. She acts like it's no big deal. As sad as it sounds I count the days til she is 18 and old enough to move out. She says I'm a bad mom because I'm in her business. She does nothing to help me around the house, constantly talks back and treats me like crap but yet I'm supposed to bend over backwards for her and give her everything she wants. I'm at my breaking point. Reply

Daniella FULHAM GARDENS April 12, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I felt like these were my words, i had originally wrote a post and lost it. So when i saw this i thought 'oh there is my post '.
I feel exactly the same, its starting to get me down. I hope she changes soon. Reply

Anonymous UK May 13, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Hello Anonymous Florida.
I can totally relate to what you are saying. It might help though to think that it is a 'transient time' which you can both come through together: she is counting on you and you are her only hope - be her saviour! I found with my daughter that she had pyroluria-type symptoms - severe zinc & B6 deficiency - some teens genuinely have pyroluria (look it up!!!) whilst others have pyroluria-type temporary symptoms because they are going through growth spurts - that means they are using all their zinc/B up for the growth spurts and that leaves them sort which equals hormonal and deficiency issues. I can tell you it is worth trying supplements of magnesium & B6 and 15mg zinc each night after supper - tell her anything - that they will prevent spots, help with growth, help with menstrual issues, anything, but get her to take them. Within a couple of weeks reason and calm may begin to return - it worked for us.Hang on in there - she won't be like it forever. Reply

Yolanda Australia November 12, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I feel your pain - exactly what is happening to me. My 16yr old daughter has taken paracetomol overdoses twice in the last two years so I try not to upset her - however, she upsets me. I'm going through stressful house renovations at the moment so , for example, this morning she had to get the bus to school and she told me to stay away from her because she was angry I wouldn't drive her. I was never driven anywhere as a kid but she feels I have nothing to do except cater to her and gets very angry and abusive when I say 'no' to something. I actually don't like her at all but have to pretend I am interested because I had a bad relationship with my mother and I don't want to perpetuate that. Reply

Yolanda Australia November 12, 2017
in response to Daniella :

Me too Daniella - lots of miserable mothers around I think. Why do we do it? I live alone with my sixteen year old. She's rude, selfish, uncaring, mean, lazy etc. It is a great disappointment because she was a bright young child. People tell me eventually it will pass but it's been a hard couple of years with no end in sight. Reply

Anonymous local asylum March 17, 2016

NO!!!! this woman is telling you how desperate she is and all you can do is advise her to do the things she has tried to do and failed!! This 'teenage' behaviour is torture and I for one am looking for a flat and moving out of our home because I am becoming depressed and ill due to the constant stress and unpleasant atmosphere in my home - directly caused by my teenage daughter. So cut her some slack when she says she is struggling its a nightmare that we cannot wake up from. Reply

Not in Texas anymore Kansas March 12, 2016

I posted about 2 years ago and my situation was about as sad as it could get. Things aren't perfect now but they have vastly improved. My husband and I have divorced and maybe that was the real problem. But my daughter and I have patched things up with better understanding. She and I are a great deal closer. I posted this because I wanted all of you to know it does get better! They grow up and we grow as adults. Reply

Yolanda Australia November 12, 2017
in response to Not in Texas anymore:

I hope you are right. Reply

Anonymous Dublin March 9, 2016

obnoxious teens I an not Jewish, I'm an Irish Protestant but thanks for the advice! It appears vile teenage girls are univerally dreadful - will this end? I am ashamed to say that mine has just made me break down and cry - she is hormonal and I am menopausal - not a great combo! Reply

Anonymous February 14, 2016

yep i totally understand i have a 15 year old daughter living with her dad who has taught her its ok to steal lie and disrespect me..we currently have no relationship because i refuse to accept her behaviour Reply

Garrett Denver, CO January 30, 2016

I am a single father of a 16 year old behaving the same way. But there is another layer she puts us both in that is frightening and that's the legal system. She is extremely defiant not only to me but to the courts and probation. This is not a phase but a path she's putting us unnecessarily both in. I gave up and I just don't have the energy to try anymore. Reply

Marra Jamaica December 17, 2015

Wow.. Hi im a 16 year old and this is exactly what a teenage life is about. Some. Parents and grandparents wouldn't understand what we face daily. Some aren't motivating at all, hence we rebel and do the craziest of stuff. You might think that we dont want to talk to you or we dont do alot of stuff around the house, but as a student, girl, daughter, friend we have alot of challenges some parenrs wouldn't imagine. Some believe that we shouldn't be going through problems at our age, but we do have feelings. But the best thing that we can do is ignore when you guys flare up. That just me as a teen. Reply

Anonymous Rockwall December 1, 2015

Feb 14,2014 update response to real life solutions wish I had an answer that turned my daughter around. She is now 19 since I last posted. When we let her leave home it was with the hope that she would better find a solution to her problems and because we had done everything we could. She has veered from one disaster to another and finally back home because she has no place else to go. We let her come home mainly to find a career so she can learn to support herself. We have endured all the horrible consequences of her own poor choices that you could possibly think of. She does have a therapist she likes but since she is an "adult" won't follow med recommendations. We have a diagnosis of bipolar type 2. therapist gave ME a book on accepting losses such as having to accept this is WHO my child is. Only God can change her but ONLY if SHE will let him. It's the last time we will let her move in and the last time we plan to shoulder the financial burden. I focus on my own mental health to deal with stress by reciting lots of bible verses Reply

Anonymous December 1, 2015

Have any of you found a real life solution? My youngest is the same and hates spending any time with us and would rather be with friends families than ours even at the holidays. I'm a good mom and person and raised two other daughters, I'm near the end of my rope!! Reply

anonymous philippines 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.. Reply

Nikki Us 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. Reply

Amelia Joyce ballatat, Victoria, Australia 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 Reply

Joanne Adelaide 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. Reply