“Jaw With John” – Teenagers Scare The Living Shit Out Of Me

My middle daughter (I have three children) is 18 years old and a senior in high school. She has been a challenge to me, as she has always been very private about her emotions and what is going on in her daily life.

Over the last several months, I have noticed her withdrawing from friends and activities, and spending large amounts of time in her room watching movies on her computer. She will not talk to me and in fact gave me a 10-day silent treatment when she was caught trying to skip classes. (I turned her in when I learned she had falsified an email from me to get out of going to class.)

She occasionally talks to her dad, but when he has expressed concern about her apparent depression, she just says she is sad and doesn’t see the point in reliving the problems with a therapist, as they will just make her feel bad all over again. She is refusing this option.

She still goes to school, makes good grades, goes to a part-time job, and is now shopping for a prom dress — so she is not entirely hopeless in her outlook. However, she wants to attend college out of state, and I am concerned about the effect of such a transition on her mental status. I tried to talk to her pediatrician, but there can be no discussion without my daughter’s consent, because she is 18. My daughter won’t give the OK.

Any ideas? — Mom who Cares

Dear Mom:

You’ve given her enough space to let her try and work things out on her own but that clearly hasn’t worked. It’s now time to get positively involved and see what is at the root of this funk. Part of this might be the dreaded “Middle Child Syndrome” where your daughter feels as if she has been mistreated since she is smack dab in the middle of the first child and the “baby” in the family.

Maybe that transition into college is exactly what she needs. She could find the support and guidance she needs in a new place because there isn’t that fear that Mom & Dad are lingering and she can finally be her own woman. But if that doesn’t seem worth the risk, then you need to sit her down and talk with her. Not to her. Listen and respond. Don’t try and force her do anything she doesn’t want to because that could drive her further away. If talking with her doesn’t work then you should seek a professional with whom you can talk to and get some actual insight into your daughter’s life and how to proceed.

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