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Talking To A Stubborn 16 Year Old

by Laura Riley
(Knoxville,TN)

Hi Annie,

My name is Laura. I have been divorced for 3 1/2 years. I left the marriage. My 16 year old daughter lives with my ex and his wife. Not necessarily a good thing but, better for her to live with him than me.

When she comes to visit, I try and talk to her about issues that might be bothering her. She clams up. Always has. She won't talk about anything substantial. She never went into therapy for what happened with me and her dad.

I know she is not happy about her dad's marriage to his wife, but she can't talk to him either. She has always been an introvert.

Please, tell me what to do?

Thanks,
Laura
P.S. Just want to have a relationship with her.

Comments for Talking To A Stubborn 16 Year Old

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Building A Strong Relationship With A Teenage Daughter - Part One
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Laura,

The best way to have a great relationship with your daughter is to have lots of fun times with her. You may not be the person she can talk to about all this, as you are involved, and she may not even be ready to open up to someone about it all. She might feel talking to you would be disloyal to her father, and she also may not want you to be upset in any way.

Often a neutral person is best as they will not have any expectations, nor will they have their own stuff about the situation so won't react or respond via their own filter of experiences. However she may not be ready to see a therapist or counselor. You can gently suggest the options if she seems to want to deal with stuff, or is acknowledging something is bothering her.

More often with teenagers, though, is they want to live in the moment, and the soul searching dealing with stuff may come later.

As parents we want to fix it up for our kids, particularly when we can see they have pain or something is affecting their life. But all we can
do is model to them how WE deal with our own stuff and the processes we use to get ourselves to feeling strong and confident and at peace.

You may also still have your own stuff that pops up when you are with your daughter. Maybe guilt for leaving, or sadness that the issues with her father have hurt her. You may be wanting her to understand your perspective, or even some curiosity about your ex's new relationship. She will sense any of your stuff and of course she is not the one for you to talk to about it. It could be that part of her reluctance to talk to you is because she knows you have stuff going on around the whole issue.

So long as your daughter knows you love her and support her and love spending time with her, that is the best base you can provide.

Making sure you have lots of bonding times with her, it may be that having a refuge away from the other family is something that is more important than talking to you about what is happening. It is better to put your focus on building a great forward thinking "new" relationship with her rather than focusing on the past stuff, if she is
not wanting to open up and share it with you.

Part Two Follows . . .

Building A Strong Relationship With A Teenage Daughter - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

Don't underestimate the power of sharing seemingly superficial conversations. All these little interactions still add up to substantial
building blocks for a close relationship. Teenagers often relate on a deeper level with their peers, but of course they still need to know that Mom and Dad are available if they need to talk something over.

She is at a great age where you can start to build a more adult relationship with her, starting to trust that she has a lot of internal
resources and show that you know she is able to deal with things or can ask for help when she needs it.

The more you can build fun sharing times with her, the more she is likely to open up to you anyway. When my daughter was 16 we used to do lots of Mother daughter things like get a manicure or do each others nails - hair styles or hair play days are also another fun thing to do together. We also used to cook up feasts and have movie nights and watch chicky movies. Sometimes shopping for clothes can be fun if you can just go with the flow of her choices!

Think of fun activities you can do together to make the most of your time with each other. Find out what she is interested in, have an afternoon listening to her music, stick a pin in a map and go explore that area, maybe even take up a class together. Find out what she would like to do with you - perhaps she wants to learn a skill you have like cooking or sewing or maybe you are creative in some way. She may even be able to teach you something, like using a program on the computer.

I found my daughter would often start talking in the car when we were on the way to regular activities. If you have lots of positive time together without the pressure of trying to sort
something out, then sometimes kids will just start talking in their own time.

Then the challenge is to just listen. Simply listening is far more powerful than trying to sort it out or find solutions. My daughter would
often say "Mum I don't want you to fix it, just listen to me".

In our love and concern we rush into solutions and suggestions, but in fact that is dis-empowering to our children because we don't give them the chance to find their own solutions or ways to resolve issues. Being a sounding board is far more powerful. It may be that your daughter is reluctant to talk to you because she senses that you think she SHOULD talk to you, or that you think she needs to deal with the issues
of the divorce. When the pressure is off and she doesn't feel like she is under the Mom Microscope, it may be she feels easier about sharing how she feels.

Part Three Follows . . . .

Building A Strong Relationship With A Teenage Daughter - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

Lots of Teenagers do internalize their feelings, and are at the age of finding their own way in the world and starting to pull away from family. She needs to feel it is OK to be private about how she feels and that you love her and support her even if she doesn't choose you as the one to open up to.

If you put down good building blocks now, maybe she will open up to you later in life - it may even be when she has her own children!

Most of all, show how you deal with your stuff, and share lots of positive times with her, and you can't go wrong.

EnJOY your lovely daughter,
Wishing you well,

Annie Desantis

My stubborn daughter!!!!
by: Anonymous

My 16 year old daughter lives with her dad and gets A's for grades and is doing really good!! She informed me that this summer her step mom set her up with a full time babysitting job!! I was very upset since she is a wrestling and football cheerleader I had to forfit my weekends all school year!! And now she will not be able to come over for a couple weeks this summer!!!! I was very upset!!! It feels like I'm losing her to her stepmom!!!! Now she hasn't talked to me in over a month and didn't even call, text, or face booked me fir mothers day!!! I'm heart broken over it!! She ignores all my phone calls and texts!!! What can I do to get or relationship back?????
From a sad mother!!!!:(

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