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Teen daughter is going off the rails; JOAN'S SOLUTION.

Byline: Joan Burnie

Q I AM the mother of two girls - one aged 15 and the other 13.

I separated from their father a few years back but the girls see their dad twice a week. They're fine on their own but if I leave the two of them together all hell breaks loose. They can't stand the sight of each other and argue ALL the time.

My youngest has been boisterous but we were always very close. But in the past couple of years her behaviour towards me, and her attitude towards her sister, has been getting worse.

She is cheeky and challenging. I got her home drunk at the start of the year and last week she was caught shoplifting. I'm still waiting for word back from the police to see what the outcome will be.

She seems to enjoy winding me or her sister up and nothing I say or do gets through to her. My ex is no help.

When does this teenage rebellion or whatever it is fade? I'm exhausted.

A IT never fails to astonish me that, while hardly a week goes by without either a new book or TV programme appearing telling mums how to bring up their babies, there is hardly any help for those raising teenage kids.

I think the latter is more of a challenge than your average new-born darling.

For one thing, even when they are howling their lungs out, you know where they are and what they're getting up to.

Furthermore, they don't answer back, drink anything more toxic than milk or, like your younger daughter, steal.

I could tell you it's a phase most teens go through and, sooner or later, she'll get past it and become a reasonable person.

Up to a point that's true. You've got to keep a sense of proportion and while I don't think you're exaggerating how hard it is, she sounds a fairly typical teenager.

In fact, it's your older daughter, who does not give you cause for concern, that could be said to be the exception.

But it doesn't help you with her sister, not when it looks as if you've got three or four more years of potential trouble.

Nor can you shrug your shoulders over shop-lifting or drinking. Maybe they are one-offs but no sensible parent ignores this behaviour, especially from a 13-year-old. Kids who drink get involved in all sorts of dangerous stuff, which can't be ignored or taken lightly.

I presume you've tried talking about it and explained why it isn't sensible or smart. Even if she didn't listen, it doesn't mean something hasn't got through.

You've got to set boundaries. There may not be a naughty step for teenagers but there are sanctions such as grounding her or taking away her mobile phone.

She won't like it. She may say she hates you but parents aren't their kids' pals.

They're make the rules and decide what is and isn't acceptable. It's easy and makes for a quieter life to give in but it's a copout and doesn't help the child.

From what you've written, that appears to be what your daughter's father has done. It's to your credit the girls seem to have a reasonable relationship with him.

All the evidence suggests two parents are always better than one.

But, and it's a big but, when it comes to how the kids are raised they both have to be singing from the same hymn book.

It doesn't matter your ex is elsewhere, what counts is that he backs you up.

What you don't need is his indifference to what's going on or, worse, him allowing your younger daughter to play you off each other. So that you're always the bad cop while he's the good one.

It's time to make it clear to him that he's got to start behaving like a father, which means he, too, has to call your daughter - HIS daughter - to account.

Try not to shout and and scream at her, it won't get you anywhere.

Same with her sister. No matter how annoying her kid sister is, it may be better to simply walk away and refuse to argue back. Not easy for a 15-year-old I agree but less exhausting for her, as well as you.

Finally, for more help and support don't hesitate to contact Parentline on 08088002222.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 5, 2007
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