Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

I need some help here, peeps

Maybe you parents of teens could give me some help with a couple of issues I'm currently facing. I'm once again floundering, clueless of what's the right thing to do.

First, the Girl has her first real boyfriend. I'm soooo not ready for this. I knew it was coming for a while now, and I've tried as hard as I can to dissuade her, but the fact is, it's puppy love. The flirting that goes on between them is so sickeningly sweet it makes my teeth hurt. So far, they have had absolutely no opportunity to spend time alone together, and I'm extremely cautious about allowing her to spend too much time with him, but he 'drops by' a lot, and he really don't quite get that the rules don't apply to him. He's called a number of times knowing she's lost phone privileges and tries to talk me into letting him talk to her. It's a no go, but that doesn't dissuade him.

The fact is, I'm not overly enamoured with this kid. He's perfectly nice, but not in ways that I trust. He can be charming, Eddie Haskell charming in fact. But behind it lies a kid that doesn't get consequences, has a LOT of issues, and needs some professional intervention in my opinion.

I've mentioned this boy several times before, and those of you who are longtime readers will recognize him as the Runaway. Yup, doesn't that make you happy? (Dripping sarcasm here.)

This is a kid who has real temper issues and needs some anger management training. He's told the Girl that he is unable to control his anger and that he thinks he's bipolar, but his guardians have not begun to seek any outside diagnosis. Sad that the kid knows more than the guardians about this stuff. I've met him mom, and she seems perfectly nice, but not effective as a parent. He doesn't live with her anyhow.

The fact of the matter is, I just don't trust him. And I'm just beginning to regain my trust in the Girl after she has lived through some really dumb teenage stunts. I need to feel comfortable about trusting them both, but I don't. Period.


The Girl has been even moodier than usual the past couple of weeks. Young love, sadness over her friend who isn't in town right now, dealing with school issues she can't understand, and a friend with a depression problem that counts on my Girl for continual support. OK, with that in mind, yesterday after she came out of therapy she was incredibly upset. She appeared to have cried and she was furious and very confrontational. When we got home she went upstairs and must have cried for a long time, then came down and started a fight with the Boy, when back up and cried some more, and then came down feeling a bit calmer. She refused to tell me why she was upset and would not give me even a hint as to what's been bothering her for the last couple of weeks.

So, I called her therapist today and asked simply what the topic was. I didn't ask for details, I just wanted to know what has been bothering her. She refused to tell me anything. Not one thing. My kid has been seeing this woman for over a year and a half and she has never once spoken to me. I'm a big believer in confidentiality between teens and their therapists, but this is the first time I've ever asked anything, and it's also the first time she's ever even acknowledged I exist. I don't want details, but I'd like to be at least pointed in the right direction so I can start a conversation without "are you upset about X?" "No, what about Y?" "How about Z?" That's irritating on a grand scale and I feel strongly that she should have given me at least a hint. She gave up nothing. She did offer to let me come to next week's session to see if the Girl wants to confide anything at all. Whooo hoooo! I feel special.

So parents of teens, what would you do? Would you go to the session? Do you think that is intrusive? Would you keep questioning your kid, or would you let it lay and hope that things improve on their own?
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Blogger jane said...

I think 13 is too young for a boyfriend, sweetheart, puppy love, etc. I don't care what the other kids do, it's too young. Maybe you could set up a joint therapy session where you could set boundaries, like: no dating until you're 16.
That kid is trouble. Follow your gut instincts with him. Everything about him screams BAD NEWS. He also has no respect for you or your rules & thinks he can con his way into speaking to your daughter.
The therapist is doing what she has to. It's confidentiality & she can lose her license, even for telling you 1 little thing. Plus, she may be the only person your daughter trusts 100% & someday, that may be a lifeline.
I can totally feel your frustration though. I'd try to get support from school counselors, parent groups, rabbis, etc.

21/4/06 1:51 AM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Well, I am not a mother and so therefor have no teenagers, but...having said that, I think you shoild go to the session to see if The Girl will be foryhcoming in the 'therapudic' place where she possibly feels comfortable enough to say (with her therapist there) what it is that is bothering her...if you don't want to do that, I would do nothing. Let it lie there and wait till The Girl either gets past whatever it is or on her own, talks to you. Just an opinion, my dear...

Incidentally, I never counted my posts...Blogger Dashboard tells you how many posts each time you go on there. Have you not noticed that? It's over on the right side...at least that's where it is on mine.

21/4/06 3:04 AM  
Blogger Christa said...

First of all, sorry to hear that you're having these worries. I've been a parent for the past 23 years and I've seen kids of all kinds.

One thing I know you shouldn't do is to forbid her to see this boy. That will only make it more exciting and it might even make her run away with him. At the same time they need a firm hand.

I would go to the session. As you said, it might give you a better clue in what direction to take this.
I hope it all pans out well for you.

21/4/06 9:48 AM  
Blogger sarah cool said...

I was a not-so-innocent teen, not-so-long ago.... teens like to test boundaries and explore new territory, as I'm sure you know.... limit their alone time! :-)

21/4/06 9:54 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

I don't have teens - yet - but I would proceed with great caution here. There's a fine line between concern and being overbearing, though I understand your concerns with her boyfriend totally. But, as I'm sure you know - if you try to dissuade her from seeing him or anything, it will only make her want to see him even more. Her therapist did her job - she is not allowed, by law, to disclose anything (unless your daughter were to threaten to hurt herself or others) to you. I know, it sucks, but it's the way it is.

If I were you, I wouldn't force myself into a session with her; but tell your daughter that you would like to go if it's ok with her. If not, if she's uncomfortable with it, let it go, but let her know how much you do love her and that you are there for her to talk to if she ever feels the need to. The more you pressure her, the more she's going to pull away from you, and you do not want that. Obviously, if she's doing something dangerous, you have to step in, but otherwise let her live her life and show her that you trust her.

I'm no expert, but I was a "problem" teenager, and my mom handled things very badly - I'm talking from the perspective of a teenager here.

Good luck to you... (((hug)))

21/4/06 11:44 AM  
Blogger margalit said...

THanks for your comments. After reading them and thinking more about this, I am going to ask my daughter if I can come to her therapy session. As for the Runaway, I'm not going to restrict her contact with him but I am making sure that she understand clearly that she is never to be alone with him. She knows I don't trust either of them, and that trust has to be earned.

He called today and she answered the phone and I just said "NO" and hung up the phone. He KNOWS she can't talk on the phone and I don't think that was pushing it too far.

I'm hating this whole situation though.

21/4/06 2:49 PM  
Blogger MomToJandE said...

You're scaring me because I'm seeing my future. I feel strongly that kids shouldn't date or have boy/girl friends until they are 16. Factor in a boyfriend who isn't the best of influences and it's even more troubling. I'd just say no and let her hate me for the next few years...that's just what teens do anyway. If you think the therapist is helpful to her, great, but personally I wouldn't allow therapy at this young of an age unless I could be part of things, which is likely impossible. I wouldn't trust another adult not to put weird ideas into my kid's head. I would want to *know* what is being said. I usually don't comment, but I feel strongly about the dating and therapy issues so couldn't resist. Basically I think you sound like an in-tune, savvy mom and I don't think you need to turn things over to a therapist assuming she will do better than you. And you don't need a punk ass kid coming in stirring things up either (talking about the boyfriend here).

22/4/06 7:44 AM  
Blogger Marisa said...

I also don't have kids, but, for the past 6+ years,I have worked with them -- troubled teens are my specialty.

So I just have to say, I admire the difficult job you have right now, being the mother to a teenage girl. Because you have to be strong, "mean", and set boundaries. You won't always be liked, she may someday even tell you she hates you, but -- trust me -- she'll appreciate it later and be better off for it. Stay strong. Many teens, I've found, are relieved when their parents/guardians say "no" and make the hard decisions for them. It's not easy and the harder it seems for you, the better a job you are doing.

Michele sent me to you again, it's been a while.

22/4/06 9:36 PM  
Blogger Carmi said...

He needs a shave.

I admire your spunk in trying to do the right thing for your kids. Clearly, limits must be set, and respected. Your game plan is entirely reasonable. And if it makes you feel any better, I'm learning from your experience as my own kids slowly head toward the teen years.

22/4/06 10:06 PM  
Blogger Grins said...

I have a teenaged son. Not sure that I'm of any help on the boyfriend issue though because for the most part he has avoided dating even though he is 17.

Not sure you'll like this next response but I agree with the therapist's decision to not betray the confidence of a patient. However, have you suggested a family counseling session for both you and your daughter? Your daughter will want to approve of course but if approached in the right way and with her understanding that her therapist hasn't betrayed her it might just be helpful for all involved.

22/4/06 10:51 PM  
Blogger jane said...

I hope I didn't sound preachy, I'm sorry if I did.

23/4/06 2:25 AM  
Blogger margalit said...

Just to make it clear, there is NO WAY in hell that I would allow the girl to date one on one with a boy until she's 16. She knows that rule is hard and fast and strangely, she actually agrees with it. But that doesn't stop young love from taking root, and this is her first real 'boyfriend'. Meaning he calls all the time and hangs out and all her friends think they're a couple. No dating, they've never even been alone together at all, but they still are emotionally attached and I can't stop that.

24/4/06 12:29 AM  
Blogger txt said...

all i have to say, is good luck to your daughter on getting her second boyfriend. the way you describe her life, her therapist, her moods, details on how her boyfriend runs away and doesn't live with his mom who's a bad parent- i'm sure all the boys at school are lining up to be part of your, um, i mean her life. you should pat yourself on the back for being such a good parent. keep up the good work.

25/4/06 9:56 PM  

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