NORMAN — Q: Our 13-year-old daughter has a very bad attitude, mostly when it comes to our family. She stays in her room most of the time, reading, and only participates in family activities if we force her, and then she does her best to make life miserable for the rest of us.
Unfortunately, she usually succeeds. The incredible thing is that her teachers, coaches and friend’s parents all love her. They constantly rave about how helpful and personable and mature for her age she is. That frustrates us even more.
We’ve tried everything under the sun to reach her, but to no avail. Help!
A: I guarantee that you have not tried everything. Furthermore, I can all but guarantee that what I am going to recommend will bring her out of her room and transform her into the personable, helpful, mature individual she is obviously capable of being.
But first allow me to speculate as to what is going on here. All too many of today’s young teen girls seem to feel that a life that’s devoid of drama has no meaning, no significance.
In the absence of truly valid drama (of which very few of them have claim to), they invent drama. In these invented soap operas, they play the role of victim.
The list of antagonists includes certain peers (rivals, ex-boyfriends), teachers, administrators, various emotional issues that supposedly beset them, and, of course, their parents. The invariable theme: My life would be wonderful, as it should be, if it weren’t for (fill in the blank with the imagined victimizers).
How does it feel to have loved a child unconditionally and taken excellent care of her for 13 years, only to have her turn you into a villain? Ungratefulness is the price many of today’s parents are paying for having made sure their children lacked for nothing. The most generous hand is the one most likely to be bitten.