The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

February 7, 2014

Parents must stay in touch with 14-year-old daughter

DEAR ANNIE: Our 14-year-old daughter is not a terrible kid — probably just a typical teenage girl. She can be rude and obnoxious, she talks back and curses, and she leaves her room an upside-down mess and is obsessed with her iPhone, constantly posting pictures of herself online and chatting with friends.

We have another daughter five years younger. We were concerned she might model her behavior after her older sister, and so we set rules about cursing and using her cellphone. Our 14-year-old could not abide by the new rules, and after much fighting, she decided to move in with her grandparents, who are much more lenient.

She’s been there for several weeks, and by all accounts, she is more responsible and respectful to her grandparents than she ever was with us, and they are happy to have her. Our home is a lot more peaceful now, too. It seems like a win-win-win situation, but it doesn’t feel normal not to have our daughter living with us. And one time, she even said she doesn’t consider us her parents anymore, but she still calls us when she needs something.

Should my wife and I be concerned about this situation? — Daughter Dilemma

DEAR DILEMMA: No. Some teenagers are more difficult than others, and the relationship with parents is often harder for them to deal with. What your daughter says is less important than what she does. If her behavior has improved because she no longer feels she has to rebel against you, that is a good thing. We do recommend, however, that you keep interacting with her in a positive way and not only when she calls asking for something.

While she is away, we hope you will examine your parenting methods and determine whether there is anything you could do differently to produce a better result. Both too lenient and too strict are not advisable. Your pediatrician can make recommendations, you can ask for books on parenting at your local library or bookstore, and you can also go online.

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