mothers and teenage daughters

If You Won’t Respect Me, I Won’t Respect You

The Healthy Family Connections Podcast

Episode 228 · Duration: 00:26:23

In this episode Neil along with his co-host Robin, respond to a mother who is concerned that her well functioning 16-year-old daughter has suddenly become oppositional.

Today we’re hearing from Amy of Montreal, Canada. Amy writes:

Hi Neil,

I have an overall good 16-year-old. She does good at school, works part-time, has friends, and is appreciated by those around her. She even cleans her room regularly once in a while. She confides in me on important subjects. She is very bright and loves to have verbal exchanges.
Lately she started a new pattern.

Let's say I ask her to collect her glass from the table, she will say she will do it later. Then she won’t do it, so I become more directive: "I told you to pick up your glass." Or she changes the radio in the car 10 times, and I said: "Stop, it's getting on my nerves." So she will look at me and say very calmly: "I don’t like when you use that aggressive tone, it hurts my feelings. Say you won’t do it again or I won’t pick up the glass/do whatever you are asking."

Surprised, I reply “I am not yelling or using an aggressive tone.” I explain that I can’t promise her not to do it again as I have to ask her things and that I don’t like her exaggeration. She then replies something along the lines of: "I am sharing my feelings and you are invalidating them. If you don’t respect me, I won’t respect you."

And off she goes with that righteous victim attitude.

Or if someone in the family tries to pay her a compliment (talking about 70-80 year old grandparents) saying : "You look good or nice outfit," she will stay polite but then rage in the car after: "Why are they commenting on my appearance, they have no right, I don’t want to see them." Of course, if they make any other kind of comment they are wrong too: "They only ask about school, they're boring."

I really don’t know how to get out of this cycle, because of course, her feelings are her feelings. I've tried to discuss afterward when she is calmer, but she is still in the "You're invalidating my feelings so it means you don’t respect me, so I won’t respect you."

I really don’t know how to get out of that. I thought that she was deliberately overdramatic and using it to gain control/avoid doing tasks. But I am now starting to think that from time to time, she is not overly dramatic and that she really believes that she is a victim with her feelings not being respected.

So how can I get out of that cycle?

Neil and Robin help this mother see her daughter’s behavior in a more empathetic way and give her some ideas and skills for moving forward.

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Posted in The Healthy Family Connections Podcast.