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definitive's avatar

Help...how do I get through my 12 year old daughters teenage years.

Asked by definitive (789points) December 4th, 2009

My daughter is 12 yrs old and very hard to live with. Understandably she has lots of difficulties and changes to contend with at the moment alongside hormonal changes.

I have separated from her dad and there is a new man in my life. This new man comes with a package which includes his two boys who are 7 and 3 yrs old. My daughter is finding things really difficult since the boys have been introduced to her and she is becoming quite angry and struggling to accept the changes.

I have tried talking to her on her own and reassuring her, telling her I love her etc…which seems to alleviate her anxieties at the time but issues seem to be going round in circles.

Can anyone advise on how to make my daughter feel more secure?

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20 Answers

trailsillustrated's avatar

I’m watching this with interest as my almost 14 year old is coming to live with me…..yipes

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’d go out of my way to assure her she won’t be expected to become the new convenient babysitter or instant “big sister” to your partner’s young boys. In her eyes, they might still be babies while she is entering teen/young adult years. Maybe she doesn’t want to feel she is one of the little kids and would like more to step into the role of your ally and friend type of daughter? Does she have fears of less involvement with you, less importance in the family hierarchy because of the new man and his boys? I would ask her to join you now and then for a car drive together to just unwind and be with one another and to confide in her that change is weird, exciting and there aren’t any rulebooks but that you are so thankful she is yours and you feel like you can look to her always for patience, love and support.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Get her a mentor. There are lots of mentorship programs that are free. It helps alleviate stress and gives her a special buddy. This seems like the perfect scenario for one. I was a mentor btw and it was great! I saw a huge improvement in my “kids” behavior and attitude.

trailsillustrated's avatar

and perhaps see that she has her own personal space where nobody will nose into her stuff and maybe help her make her room special and private

dpworkin's avatar

You’re still married, and you are allowing a family to move in with you and your daughter? Isn’t that a little precipitous? No wonder she’s upset. Maybe you ought to let the dust settle before you buy a new herd.

rangerr's avatar

I agree 100% with @RedPowerLady. A mentor would be great. I had one when I was in 5th grade and going through the adoption process. She helped me get adjusted to a new house and basically a new life. School that year was probably the best I’ve went through.

Find someone who you can trust to take her out and do things. Just being with someone older than her, but not a parent-type would probably help her with the struggles at home.

I had an older girl from church as my email-pen-pal in middle school. She was always there for advice, and I knew I could talk to her about anything. She’d give my mom updates, without telling her everything I said. It was nice.

I’d definitely look into finding a mentor.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@rangerr fantastic first hand experience :)

gailcalled's avatar

Your daughter needs someone to talk with who is both neutral and trained. Listening to you will not help her. There are situational land mines in the scenario you describe. FInd her a therapist.

Haleth's avatar

@pdworkin, I didn’t get the impression that they have actually moved in together yet. It’s still difficult for a teenager to even just meet a parent’s new boyfriend.

Everyone’s advice about a mentor outside of the family is great. @definitive, you said things have only started to get difficult for your daughter since she has met your boyfriend and his family. When I was about that age, my mother was dating and eventually ended up getting married. Your daughter is probably dreading that she will get lost in the shuffle- she had you all to herself before, and now she will have to compete with your boyfriend and his two sons for your attention. When I was that age, my stepdad didn’t have any kids, but I still appreciated that my mom only introduced me and my sister to him once she was really, really sure that things were getting serious- it was a little before when they got engaged. I’m grateful that she didn’t introduce us to any of the other guys at all. She was already divorced from my father for several years at this point, and in a way my stepfather had to “earn” the right to spend time with us as we gradually got to know him. Even so, it was a big change and the transition was tough at times. Your daughter may feel like you are rushing her into a relationship with your boyfriend and his sons, so you should give her a little more space away from them. Once your divorce is finalized and things are looking more serious with the boyfriend, they can spend more time getting to know each other.

dpworkin's avatar

@Haleth To quote the OP:

I have separated from her dad and there is a new man in my life

That sounds precipitous to me YMMV.

skfinkel's avatar

I would also suggest in addition to the many good ideas above that the mother and daughter go to some therapy together. Maybe even sometimes with the new father person.

justme1's avatar

@skfinkel that sounds like a good idea also. That would show the new guys committment to being a part of their family

Darwin's avatar

One day at a time. :-)

A mentor is an excellent idea, as is therapy. You might also look at group endeavors such as a church youth group, a sports team, girl scouts, or some other organized activity the relates to her interests. This will let her get away from the percieved problems at home, might very well reinforce compliments you have given her as her new friends may like her for the same traits, and possibly open up a new outlet for releasing stress due to the changes in her life.

avvooooooo's avatar

I would think that helping her find and get involved in a club or other social activity to focus her energy on would be a positive outlet. Of course, therapy is an option, but they are likely to suggest the other things that have been suggested here in addition to talking through feelings and issues.

belakyre's avatar

I would say to back away form the foreground and make sure the boys aren’t taking advantage of her. Help the family to get settled, and make sure you are showing to your daughter you will always be there for her (Don’t tell her this over and over again though).

definitive's avatar

@pdworkin Mmmmhh quite a judgemental response…anybody can be separated for a number of years before actually getting divorced…I mean money is a key factor and amicability. Which I assure you I have placed great importance on to ensure my daughter is not caught between any conflict.

Leaving my daughter’s father was perhaps the hardest decision I have had to make and wasn’t a decision made lightly…I was with him for 18 years.

Also in my question I have not inferred that I am living with my new man and the length of time I have been seeing him. I could be inferring that he is ‘new’ in the context that it is stated.

My aim when I chose to leave my estranged husband was to make a new life for myself…not to remain single and I admittedly carry a lot of guilt for my daughters current unhappiness. But I am at an age were if I do meet a new partner then undoubtedly there are more likely to be other children in the equation.

I was asking for advise on my current situation rather than a judgement of it. As I have stated above I just want the best for my daughter and also to move on with my life.

Many thanks to all the other responses…I will take advise on board. Unfortunately we do not have a mentoring system in the UK..but I think it is an excellent idea. I’m actually going to approach my daughter’s school who offer counselling which I think will enable her to have an outlet to express herself.

Darwin's avatar

@definitive“Unfortunately we do not have a mentoring system in the UK.”

Other than things like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, there isn’t such a “system” in the US either. However, you can find someone who might serve as a mentor for your daughter in various ways. Here are some of the things we have done:

We use a “loaner dad” as we call him who we met through our church to help my son start to understand how adult men deal with the world. He has a ranch and a elderly car, so he and my son do various tasks related to both, and sometimes they talk. We also used a neighbor, the father of my son’s friend, who was mechanically inclined as is my son. The three would work on various vehicles and talk while working. Unfortunately, he died suddenly of lung cancer We also have as a mentor one of the SCUBA instructors who taught my son how to dive. He sets up special dive trips for several boys about the same age, and parents come along to sit on the beach and prepare a meal while the guys dive.

My husband as a Scout leader also used to mentor the kids in his troop, and other parents became involved and many also served as mentors. Girl Guides can sometimes provide a mentor to a teen girl. I was very interested in marine science and found two different science teachers who acted as mentors for me, so sometimes you can look to the school to help.

A mentor can also be an adult family member not directly involved in the household. When I was growing up for a while my aunt lived near us, and she served as a mentor to me during part of my teen years. Currently, my adult step-nephew and his mom serve as mentors at times for my son.

So mentoring is generally an informal arrangement even in the US, but it can be very helpful if another trusted adult can listen to the things your daughter needs to say but can’t say to you.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Here’s a good UK Mentoring Site that might be a good start for you.
Mentoring and Befriending

definitive's avatar

@RedPowerLady…thanks a lot for the link will certainly check it out…I’ve contacted my daughters school and made the referral for counselling. Anyway she seems to be a bit more settled over the last few days but I’m aware that there is a boy who she is keen on who has been paying her some attention so she is buzzing at the moment lol. Mmmhh but from a parenting perspective ‘boys’ are another worry to contend with!!

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