Ask Caroline

Caroline Manzo tackles questions on keeping your kids close, getting "me" time, and discipline.

on Jun 28, 2011

Candiss from Newport News, VA says: Dear Mrs. Manzo - I have watched this show for both seasons, and I must say, you are the mother I aspire to be! I have a 14-year-old daughter who is hard to speak to. She doesn't like doing ANYTHING. She is barely passing, she talks back to teachers at school and has an attitude that nothing is ever her fault. It has caused many arguments between my husband and I, because if she can do it, our other two children feel they can as well. It's easier to stop the younger two. I have tried everything. If you find it in your heart to advise me, please know that your advice will be put into action! Thank you for all you do!

Caroline says: Wow, Candiss, it sounds like you have your hands full. I feel like I need more information. Has there been an incident in your daughter's life that has caused her to behave this way? What kind of friends does she have? Is your home environment a stable one? These are just a couple of things that may have an effect on her behavior.

My first suggestion would be to seek counseling either through school or your physician. Something is wrong; a 14-year-old child doesn't rebel on this level for no reason. You need to go through the process of elimination and try to pinpoint where this could be stemming from.

I'm not sure, but it sounds like you and your husband argue in front of the kids. Big mistake. You need to be united in your parenting strategy, if you disagree, do it behind closed doors. Showing children a disconnect between the two of you only confuses them, and if they're smart enough they'll use it against you. They'll go to the weakest link to get what they want. 

It sounds to me that you've lost control and are beginning to let the inmates rule the jail. You are the parent; you set the rules and the overall tone of the household. Children need boundaries, they crave them, and sometimes they act negatively for attention. Both you and your husband need to take back control and work as a team. Set rules, curfews, and make sure you enforce them. If a rule is broken then a punishment has to follow and above all must be carried through! If you ground them for two days then make sure they are grounded for two days, not two hours! Doing anything less than that only shows them that you're not a force to be reckoned with. It's a matter of respect and a certain level of "fear" of consequences that needs to be instilled in them. By fear I mean being held accountable for their actions, never, ever get physical or verbally abusive with your children.

No one ever said parenting was easy, Candiss, it's probably the biggest emotional roller coaster we go through in life. However, you have to dig in, hold tight, and keep your eye on the ball. Do whatever is necessary to maintain a healthy nurturing environment for your family, don't be ashamed to ask for help and don't blame yourself. As long as you and your husband are committed to regaining control of your household and getting your daughter into a positive state of mind you have nothing to be ashamed of. Keep the faith and good luck.

 

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