Reply To: I'm overwhelmed

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I agree that handling things in a matter of fact way with her (calmly taking her phone without engaging in a discussion) is best so you don’t get sucked into the drama and let her push your buttons. She is going to likely be “game on” when you take her phone, and might come home with a new one tomorrow. All you can do is keep taking them. Keep telling her that when you see she’s ready, you will allow her access to the internet. Keep trying to show her that even if you don’t like her actions, you still love her.

I know how hard all of this is but forever it’s worth, I do think you are doing the right thing relative to her phone and access to the internet right now because she has clearly shown you that she is not emotionally ready for that kind of freedom–she’s 14 chronologically, but due to the ADHD, she’s certainly not a typical 14 year old emotionally; most of us wouldn’t give an 11 year old access to instagram, right? She’s shown you she’s not ready to handle it either.)

In terms of her behavior and attitude in general, I know you’re worried and are scared to death that she’s heading down a very slippery, dangerous slope but all you can really do is take each moment as it comes and make the best decisions you can in those moments in terms of your parenting, and the most important thing of all: take care of yourself emotionally in the meantime.

The bottom line is that you really have no control over what she does or how she acts and you will go crazy trying to police her entire life (not to mention how resentful you will both become toward each other). For as hard as all of this is, the unfortunate reality is that the best teacher for her in life is going to be the natural consequences of her behavior. You can tell her all day long, “If you do x, y will happen,” and she’s not going to think any of it is a problem or understand the importance of changing her behavior until she sees for herself, like when one of them says, “I don’t want to hang out with you anymore because all you do is hurt my feelings,” or whatever. In the meantime, all you can really do is keep her safe in terms of setting emotional-age-appropriate limits and boundaries. And, find ways to stay calm and sane yourself in the midst of all of this chaos (getting help and support for this if you need it.)

You mentioned she’s in counseling. Is her counselor aware of all of this type of behavior? Does she has a good rapport with her counselor? I have found in these types of situations that the more non-parent adult help/support/perspective a teen can get, the better (even if they tell her the same things you do, she’s likely to be more open to listen if it comes from someone else.) As the saying goes, “it takes a village” so the more interaction she can have with level-headed loving influences, the better (adult relatives, the respected mom of a friend, a trusted teacher, her school counselor, etc.) These members of her “village” can all be valuable members of your ‘parenting team’. Also, you didn’t mention if she’s on medication. It might be a good time to get a medical doctor or psychiatrist on your team so you can make sure that those bases are covered and she’s getting the help she needs that way.

Hope this helps! Hang in there!

Joyce Mabe, Parenting Coach, School Counselor, mom of adult son with ADHD, author. Website