need help with teenage daughter

cornflakegirlSeptember 1, 2007

Hi, I'm new to this board and have almost posted a couple of times but talked myself out of it.

I've just about reached the end of my rope with my 14 year old. She is an only child and I'm a single parent. She rarely lifts a finger to help out and when I ask her to do something, she raises such a stink about it that I always regret asking. I don't always back down, but sometimes I do.

When she was much younger she did some pretty wierd stuff and it all came down to her extreme laziness. We had knats flying around and finally discovered that they were coming from behind the sofa where she was dropping apple cores, plum pits, cantaloup rinds, grapes, you name it. The trash can was just too far away. The funny thing is that she was so embarrased when her little hideaway was discovered. A few months later I set a playstation up for her in an extra room and told her that I did not want a mess in there. She agreed but then a few weeks later I found the same kind of stash. I got rid of the playstation.

To this day I still find apple cores strewn about. I've found dirty dishes under the bed and in the closet, with rotting salad no less! I will call her from where ever she is to pick it up and clean it up. Nowadays, with the commencement of her period, she had added bloody pads to her list of things that are just too difficult to throw in the trash. I kid you not! The other day I went to use the bathroom and found one right there at the base of the toilet. I picked it up and put it on her pillow. I just don't know what to do anymore. I asked her today what she thought about that and she looked surprized. She said she never saw anything on her pillow. It's probably under the bed now. Sorry to be so graphic and talk about gross stuff.

I tried to talk to her about it again this evening. I explained that it is almost impossible for me to work at home surrounded by the messes that she must always be told to clean up. I get a little depressed. She just smiled and shrugged her shoulders and said she would try. Sometimes I just feel like I need to get away. Do you have any advice for me? Is it too late? Please help me!

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I'll confess to having been a total slob when I was a kid and teen -- though I was never that bad... But in case this helps, I figured out why I did it. It was a way of being safe -- surrounded by my own stuff - kind of a cocoon. It just came to me one day why I was doing it. Of course, that insight didn't change anything, because that emotional need was still there, and putting things away somehow felt too risky. I just couldn't clean until I was ready.

Anyway -- I'd suggest a generous 'bare minimum' standard for your daughter -- messy is tolerable for now, but unhygenic is not -- and put lots of trash cans everywhere. Couldn't get worse, really...

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 10:20PM
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You know, what you say does make some sense. I walked in her room today and pointed out how her sit down area near the tv is surrounded with trash and I called it her nest. That's what it looks like. I had cancer a couple of years ago and I know she was afraid I was going to die. It seems like she would stop taking me so much for granted though.

Thanks for the reply. I will put 3 trash cans in her room, and see what happens. She really is a sweetie in just about every other respect.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 10:31PM
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You could also try peer pressure and embarrassment. Invite her friends to drop in. Those things would embarrass me if my friends came to the house.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 6:49PM
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My son has a long lost twin! I feel your pain. His friends are just as bad as he is, unfortunately. Oink. My son is slightly less piggy at 16 than he was at 14. There is hope.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 8:52PM
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I think that many teenagers go through this messy phase. I did and so did many of my siblings.
My kids, who are all a little younger, seemed to be leaving food and dishes laying around too. So I
banned food being taken out of the diningroom area.

Maybe tell your daughter that since she has proven she can not pick up after herself that she has to eat at the table and that is it!

With my kids every weekend we have a "cleaning day". I delegate chores to each kid and my hubby and I also clean. I let them know that nobody is playing till everything is clean. They usually do not put up much of a stink about it. And if they do a half-a** job I make them re-do it and give them an extra something to do! If our house is messy during the week I do not allow them to have friends over. So, they have all become pretty clean. (I am hoping that carries over to their teenage years!)

Good luck :)

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 9:55PM
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My first instinct, as someone has already mentioned, is to forbid food to leave the kitchen/dining room. I hope you made her clean up all the garbage you've found.

Actually, I think, putting the used feminine product on her pillow was playing her game and sort of brought you down to her level. I'd have called her in from where ever she was (or home from a friend's house/movies, wherever), and had her pick it up. Maybe you already have a trash can in the bathroom? I have mine placed between the toilet and sink--it's pretty convenient for most bathroom trash that way. Perhaps you can put one close enough to the toilet that it's pretty hard to put the trash any place else?

Otherwise, just stick to your guns. The behavior you describe is absolutely not acceptable. I would suggest that if, after all your best efforts to stop it, she continues for any length of time, perhaps you might want to turn to a professional to see if there is anything underlying that's causing this? While most teens can be lazy, and occasionally sloppy, it almost seems, from your description, that there might be something a little more serious going on here. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 11:07PM
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Thanks for all the replies. I really appreciate it...

I think that humiliation might work as a short term solution but I want her to be neat and considerate without having to do that. I know she would hate me forever. I have thought about it though. Sometimes we have unannounced guests and you should see what a whirlwind job she can do with cleaning, so I know she cares.

Glad to know there is hope!

I'll try what you suggest. My daughter always does a half-a** job so I'll make her do it twice. She actually will sit down to do just about anything. If it's picking stuff up, she will sit and do one area and then crawl to the next area. I've demonstrated for her the process of bending at the waist several times.

Yes, I always make her clean up her mess. The trash can is right next to the toilet. I don't know if this is scatterbrainedness or her trying to stick it to me for being such a nag.

Thanks again everybody.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 12:01AM
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I think there's also a 'total exhaustion' phase that most teens go through about that age.

I relate it to when I was in my first trimester of pregnancy -- not much to show for it, but total exhaustion. I figured my body was doing a whole lot of work -- basically, building an entire little person in there, and that this used a lot of energy. Hence my exhaustion.

With puberty, I think teens are going through something pretty similar. Their bodies are doing a whole lot of growing and changing, and there seems to be a 6-12 month phase when all they want to do is sleep. It ends...

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 10:21PM
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Hi Cornflakegirl

I don't like the humiliation idea, she doesn't deserve that. You said she was a lovely girl, so treat her as that. Help her with love, and happiness in your voice.

I have posted here, about a similar situation with my daughter, and I know how annoying the mess can be, and how frustrated you can get. But you know, I changed my mind about it all, after hearing what people said here.

I think in your situation, perhaps you can just go around together, once a day/week/ etc, and just "show" her how a tidy house should be. It just hasn't registered with her how to do this.

Go from the angle, that YOU must maintain the standard, that means not putting pads on her pillow !

Things will get better for you both. You have each other, you can work together on this, and she will blossom, and be the lovely daughter that you want, and need.

I think a bit of untidiness is okay, and lets face it, her bedroom is her domain, and I think she should be able to have things the way she wants BUT...when its a case of hygiene then you both must stick to the standard. Work together as a team, then she will feel that you are not on her case the whole time.

All the best to you, I wish you and your daughter well.

Let us know how you get on.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 3:59AM
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