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I am worried about losing my daughter’s love and her disrespectful behaviour

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Dear Life Coach,

I am a 42-year-old mother of a 16-year-old daughter. When my daughter was an infant, I left her with my cousin, due to work related responsibilities in the country, and visited her on week-ends every few months. Needless to say, my daughter is now attached to my cousin and sees her as her mother, which causes me a great deal of pain. My greatest concern, however, is that my daughter is disrespectful to the adults at home. She is also not doing well in school; poor grades, suspensions, lack of interest and disrespect to teachers.{{more}} Over the years, I have beaten her whenever I visited and received negative reports about her behaviour, but I can now see that it is not helping, especially since she is older. I am worried about my daughter, since she is not having a good relationship with any of the adults in her life. I am also worried about losing her love completely.

Regretful Mom (RM)

Dear RM,

You regret some of the choices that you have made in relation to your daughter. In addition, teenage is a turbulent time for both of you.

Your Situation:

A number of factors are at work here: developmental stage, attachment, possible physical and emotional child abuse, feelings of abandonment and rejection, depression, relationship/communication, extracurricular activities, supervision, discipline/rewards, among others. These I will address briefly.

Developmental Stage

Your daughter is at the early adolescence stage of her development and must resolve the psychosocial crisis of identity versus role confusion. In other words, your daughter must decide who she wants to be in life – a constructive member of society or a delinquent (and this will be determined by the various factors occurring in her life).

Attachment

Attachment is a close emotional bond that infants form with parents or other caregivers during the first few years of life, which progresses through four phases. During phase three (7 to 24 months) infants/toddlers develop a specific attachment to the particular caregiver (in this case your cousin and as such sees her as mother).

Physical and Emotional Child Abuse

Physical abuse involves physical aggression directed at a child by an adult (e.g. when an adult is disciplining a child when angry) or intentionally causing physical injury. Signs of child physical abuse include: actions that place the child at obvious risk of serious injury or death, bruises, scratches, burns, broken bones, lacerations, and welts (e.g. from being beaten by a belt). Physical abuse is often accompanied by emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse occurs when a child is deprived of emotional warmth and understanding which affects his or her emotional adjustment due to the behaviour of caregivers, such as loud yelling, coarse and rude attitude, inattention, harsh and or excessive criticism, belittling, name-calling, ridicule, degradation, destruction of personal belongings, torture or killing of a pet, inappropriate or excessive demands, withholding communication, labelling and humiliation. Children or adolescents who experience emotional abuse may react by distancing themselves from the abuser, or fighting back by insulting the abuser. Emotional abuse can result in poor attachment to the caregiver, self-blame, learned helplessness, and passive behaviour.

Abandonment/Rejection

Since your daughter lost you partially due to work, she is most likely experiencing feelings of rejection and/or abandonment. Deep down she is likely to believe that you do not love her, since your work took priority over her.

Depression

Depression is a condition in which an individual experiences unhappiness for a prolonged period of time. Some of the symptoms include boredom, loss of interest, and feelings of demoralization. During adolescence, depression may be expressed through aggression, acting out behaviour, and defiance towards parents and other adults.

What to Do:

Relationship/Communication

Establish or rebuild a relationship with your daughter. If you are absent for most of the time and only scold and punish when you are present, then your daughter is likely to be angry and/or resentful towards you. Get to know your daughter by spending time talking with her about things that are of interest to her. Take her to places of interest to her. Let her know that you love her.

Recreation/Extracurricular Activities

Adolescents should be constructively occupied at all times, since they love to learn by doing, love to experiment, feel invincible, and are highly energetic. Getting your daughter involved in extracurricular activities such as drama, sports or music will expose her to positive peer relationships and eliminate boredom, while under supervision of a responsible adult.

Adequate Supervision

Both children and adolescents need supervision and protection because their decision making ability is still in the process of being developed and so they cannot be expected to make sound decisions on most occasions. Furthermore, they love to experiment (the world is new and exciting), and have a sense of being invincible (believe that nothing can harm them) and are gullible (easily led astray by negative peer elements) and susceptible to being bullied and abused.

Discipline/Rewards

Discipline is defined as training that produces orderliness, obedience and self-control. Develop a system of rewards and consequences for your daughter. This will help her to understand your expectations and the consequences for her behaviour. For further assistance on discipline and rewards please email: dynacii@gmail.com to schedule an appointment to speak with the Life Coach.

RM, as parents we often make mistakes, however, in most cases the damage can be repaired to some extent with corrective action on our part.

Life Coach

DYNACII

Need help with relationship and other problems? Ask DYNACII’s Life Coach. Email your questions to dynacii@gmail.com. To Chat with the Life Coach, visit: http://www.dynacinternational.com. Dynamic Action Center International Inc. (DYNACII) a non-governmental organization committed to social and spiritual empowerment.

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