Reader Mom Without Hope writes,
I have a 15 year old daughter who has been controlling, bossy and rude to me for many years. We have tried punishments, groundings, chores, etc., over the years. She is still impossible. I feel terrible but I don't want to be around her anymore. She is manipulative and always saying mean, rude things to me. I am beginning to say to her things I feel terrible about. Like "I don't want to do this anymore."
Three years ago, she was calling me names and yelling. I told her to stop but she continued. I put my hand up to stop her and she leaned towards me, same time... I accidentally tapped her lip, she had braces and her lip started to bleed. I told her I was so sorry repeatedly... However, she called the police and I was arrested as she told them I hit her. No charges were ever filed and we hired an attorney as well. I have numerous acquaintances, teachers, principals, friends, family, her friends even, that offered to testify on my behalf as they had all seen her horrible treatment of me.
I resent her to this day. She tries to bait me to get me mad so she can call the police again, I fear. I really don't like her as a person at all. I love her more than anything and I still do too much for her probably. She is a straight A honors student, but does not have many ongoing friendships. My life is hell daily. She upsets me every day. I cry all of the time. My husband is not really very helpful but he tries to be supportive to me.
I don't want to live with her anymore. I feel like I am going to have a nervous breakdown. I used to be a very happy and positive person. I now am isolated and depressed. I don't know what to do. I feel I am seriously abused emotionally by her.
I have been to counseling and am still going. Most of them agree she and I need to find a way go live together or I should maybe take a break. Am I wrong to move out and let my husband raise her for awhile? I don't like her and I feel terrible.
Please please help me.
What a horrible situation. I believe that your daughter needs to be fully evaluated by a skilled psychologist or psychiatrist. The behaviors that you discuss may indicate borderline personality disorder (BPD) or some other issue. Other children who struggle with BPD have similar anger and violence issues. I suggest you read Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder, and see if it resonates with you. If it does, then you need to seek immediate psychological help for your daughter. Another clue that something is severely wrong is that she cannot maintain lasting friendships. So, the problem isn't just with you.
However, that doesn't mean your relationship with her is out of your control and you should abdicate your role as a mom and move out. You should try almost anything else before you leave the home, as this would almost definitely be experienced as betrayal and abandonment by your daughter, no matter how much she insists that she despises you. This is your child. I am of the opinion that until she hits adulthood, you owe it to her to be present in her life.
You need to first accept, completely and fully, that this is how your daughter is. Acceptance can be life changing. Then, you can see your possible paths more clearly. Family counseling is one option. Another is just taking the high road and loving your daughter as much as you can. Perhaps she will rise to the occasion if you treat her like you like her. Maybe then you'll really start to like her, genuinely. No matter what the cause of your dislike, your daughter understands that you don't like her and I believe there is no way that this could NOT make things worse.
Try to bond with your daughter. Take her to lunch or to a movie, if she'll go. Tell her stories from your own adolescence. Try and move past the horrible incident with the police, if at all possible. The fate of your relationship with your daughter depends on you accepting what happened and moving forward. Work with a therapist who specializes in adolescents, to figure out new and different ways of connecting with your daughter. Almost any change would be an improvement, after all.
It is possible that your relationship with your daughter is activating issues from your own childhood. If you had any difficulty with your own parents, then your troubles with your daughter will be even more devastating, as your chance to "get it right" has been taken away. Conversely, if you idealized your own mom, you're going to have no basis from which to understand how your daughter may feel toward you. This too would be very difficult.
I can only imagine the heartache that you feel in your situation. However difficult it may be, if you can continue sharing a home with her until she is 18, I believe that you will be glad that you stuck it out. I think that from what you say, you would always regret leaving the home. Your daughter is obviously troubled and hurting. Kids who act out the most often need the most love, and as her mom, you are the one who has to give it to her. Read We Need to Talk About Kevin, one of my favorite novels, for another perspective on this.
Good luck, and till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, But That Doesn't Mean You Can't Take a Girls Trip With Friends. Every Month.