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Question
Posted by: Carla | 2007/02/20

Teenager changing behaviour.

(Sorry... it is long ...)

I have a 13yr old half sister (just started high school), living with my dad. Her mom died from cancer when she was 10. She has 4 siblings on my dad's side and 3 on her mom's side. We are all adults now and not living in the house. We all love her a much as we love each other. Problem is that she has become very difficult lately. She used to be sweet and loving but all of a sudden she has become extremely rude and unmanageble. She was caught "practically having sex" with her bf (who is 16 and who we did not even know about), she is not interest in school work although she is very intelligent, she idealises the girls of the playboy mansion and draws satanistic signs on her schoolbooks. She has bad friends who teach her wrong things. She is rude and sarcastic to everybody, including us, my dad, her peers and the lady working in the house. When my dad tries to discipline her she shouts at him and walks away. She is manipulative, lazy, careless, tell lies and has no interest in personal higiene or neatness. I am also concerned about her eating habits as she eats almost nothing. She is beatiful with a body of a 16 year old and she knows it and she uses it. We are all very concerned about this behaviour as this is not the example that anyone in her extended familiy has given her and none of us are like that. We have tried setting good examples, talking to her, being nice to her. But nothing helps. Whenever we try to talk to her she just tells us not to preach for her and that she wish that we will all just leave her alone. As a last resort I have decided to try the "mean" approach and I wrote her a very nasty email telling her exactly what I think about people who behaves like she does. That was 3 weeks ago and I have not heard a word from her. When I visit my dad she refuses to speak to me and hides in her room, and I am giving her the same treatment. However, yesterday her sister on her mom's side called me and told me that she told them about my email and that she is upset about that. Luckily they understood the intention of the mail and tried to explain that to her, and they are willing to join forces with us so that we can try and do something about this. I am married, but don’t have kids and I have no idea where to start fixing this problem. Any advice will be appreciated. Also, is it maybe a good sign that after 3 weeks my email still bothers her and she thinks about it? Should I continue with the bad cop attitude (because I know she used to look up to me and wanted my approval) and let another family member be the good cop?

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Our expert says:
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Teenagers sometimes do things like that, especially when they feel hard done by ( realistically, or due to their unrealistic expectations ) --- and when they want attention. Drawing silly satanistic symbols is a highly efficient way to freak out older folks. And shame, idealizing the bimbos of the Playboy mansion --- that's like idealizing the fluff that gathers under the sideboard. She needs to be reminded that she is doing nobody a favour by allowing others to look after her. If she truly doesn't eat, she won't retain that wonderful body she's proud of.
It sounds like she lives within no organized and consistent system of rules, and needs to be handled like the kids in Supernanny. A set of rules for the important things ( don't sweat the little things ) , to be applied consistently by all adults in the house, with penalties she can expect, depriving her for a time of whatever she values --- no phone-calls to the friends, no going out at night, whatever.
Make it clear that so long as she keps within these reasonable rules she can indeed be "left alone" --- but when she breaks the rules, she is inviting the negative attention she says she doesn't want. It IS a good sign that she is bothered by your email still --- presumably that indicates that she likes to think of herself in a more positive way than the way you portrayed her in the email. But the snag with such messages is that usually, you have bottled up the illfeeling for so long, that that is usually all that pours out, and the message doesn't leave room for redemption, nor does it usually emphasize what she does or can do right.
What one needs is a good cop / firm but fair cop approach --- but like all good cops, that only works within a system of law and rules.

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: J | 2007/02/20

This must be hard on you cause everything she does from now on might determine her future. Maybe find a book on how to deal with teenagers. She is also going through a lot of hormonal changes and my goodness.

Reply to J
Posted by: sweetguy | 2007/02/20

She has discovered her sexuality in a negative way,she realises that she power and dominance which is a very bad thing for a young girl.She does not have the responsibility yet to accompany this power. as well as her bf has most probly manipulated her in the way of thinking about her body and turned her into a sexual object that is why she idolises the playgirls. The worst way to change this is by confronting her, will only make her rebellious. try finding movies that communicate a negative effect of her overpowering sexualty and find ways or use her own friends or people she trusts to manipulate her into realising the error in her ways. be gentle and not obvious though.

Reply to sweetguy

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