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How can a Dad regain trust in his daughter?

I have a 14 y/o stepdaughter who I have completely lost all trust in. She lies, is sneaky, has gotten arrested for shoplifting (8th grade) and just recently got caught smoking pot at another school. I also found pot, papers, lighter, body spray and a condom in her bag. My husband really doesn't know what to do anymore. He has taken all electronics away, has had her delete all social media on her computer. I have pretty much stopped talking to her because I simply don't trust her. She does see a counselor. There is a lot more to this than I have room for. It seems to me there is a total lack of respect for her father, myself and authority for that matter, herself too. She really doesn't seem to have remorse about any wrong doings she does. She has created this and I don't think I will ever trust her again, but how can her father regain trust in her? Any comments or suggestions?

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A.Muir

Asked by A.Muir at 6:51 PM on Jan. 24, 2013 in Teens (13-17)

Level 2 (7 Credits)
Answers (20)
  • ALANON, AA
    group therapy for ALL of you
    been there

    taking the computer eh, makes you feel better doesnt bother her
    if she using she needs help not a shut down on communication from parental figures in her life.

    Where is her mom in this ?
    luvmygrandbaby

    Answer by luvmygrandbaby at 7:58 PM on Jan. 24, 2013

  • He will begin to feel trusting of her when some of the behavioral issues that are overwhelming him resolve, and she is more "on track." I wouldn't emphasize her "earning" his trust back. It sounds very much like she has no incentive or wish to. You might be able (via punishment/restrictions) to force some compliance, so that she can avoid something unpleasant or the loss of privileges or possessions she likes, but this is leveraged behavior. It is not coming from her and it should not inspire trust (as if she is "choosing" more positively.) Until she feels differently & is not so driven to act out, she will not likely behave in ways that can encourage trust.
    But if you focus, instead, on addressing the underlying issues that her behavior is expressing, you will have a better chance of seeing some resolution of the problems driving the acting out. That internal resolution will resolve the behavioral issues.
    girlwithC

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:59 AM on Jan. 25, 2013

  • Your reactions (taking away electronics, deleting social media, etc.) showed that you were upset about what she was doing. It showed that you were unhappy & insisting on change. But it is not going to accomplish the change because it punishes, rather than addressing the issues causing the behaviors.
    Take the step of recognizing that the behaviors express the existence of real problems, and put your attention on responding to that. Then the issues causing so much upset & fear in you & your husband will be signals (or symptoms) of something that needs attention, and you can get help. Whether this is by consulting with her current counselor or taking steps to secure family counseling through a different source, start looking at these options. Consider it dire "acting out" that demands a response. Getting mad because she created this mess (which is a TOTALLY understandable reaction!) ignores the fact that the mess is a big signal.
    girlwithC

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:08 AM on Jan. 25, 2013

  • We have a 15yo boy at home - he's a great kid but it's largely in part because he has boundaries and expectations he knows he has to meet in order get what he wants
    He knows NOTHING is his unless he bought it - therefore EVERYTHING is subject to being taken away for not meeting his responsibilities. If he owned the laptop/game station/anything electronic, the electricity is ours and that gets shut off to his room if he were to lose computer privileges (breaker box switch resolves this). If he bought his own cell phone, the service is ours and his gets disconnected should he lose phone privileges. (he didn't buy any of that, but if your daughter has, there is your solution). He's fully aware that as his parents are responsibilities are
    1: provide food, shelter and clothing (doesn't have to be stylish, just needs to be covering for your body)
    2: to raise a responsible and respectful human being

    ...continued
    daylily888

    Answer by daylily888 at 2:53 PM on Feb. 1, 2013

  • EVERYTHING else is a privilege to earned. To earn these he must hold up his end of the deal - be a respectful and responsible human being. We have reasonable expectations he must meet and he has responsibilities he must complete
    1: Do well in school
    2: Have a willing attitude and be helpful and respectful
    3: Stay out of trouble

    We have a contract we renew every year with him (started this in high school). I can send it to you if you'd like
    It's very much grade and attitude based. If he has all B's or better and is willing, helpful and respectful and passes random drug and alcohol tests he has all the freedoms he could want within reason. It lays out what he doesn't get access to should x,y,z occur.

    ...continued
    daylily888

    Answer by daylily888 at 3:00 PM on Feb. 1, 2013

  • We explain to him that he loses these things because he effectively has demonstrated that he needs less distraction and more time to focus on his responsibilities and as his parents it is our responsibility to provide an appropriate environment for a successful outcome.
    We make sure he understands that while we can provide an appropriate environment he and only he is responsible for his success and privileges granted to him. If he wants something he doesn't have, he can look at what is required to earn those things. This takes away the "punishment" aspect of daily parenting. You want to hang out with your friends? Are your grades all B's or better? Are your chores done? Have you been respectful and helpful around the house? If the answer is no to any of these things, then he knows the answer to the question. We don't even really have to answer, we let him tell us if he's earned it be answering the questions.

    ...continued
    daylily888

    Answer by daylily888 at 3:04 PM on Feb. 1, 2013

  • This has worked EXCELLENT for us. He understands he holds his fate in his hands, and this is a tool that is helpful for the rest of his life. "Ain't nobody gonna look out for you in life but you."
    This last semester his grades struggled because he decided that he didn't want to spend time studying. We didn't have to hound him, but slowly he lost friend time, game time, computer time, TV time then he'd study and get TV and game time only to lose it again. At the end of the semester he came to us very upset because he REALLY wants to spend time with his friends and play his games. We calmly were able to have a discussion with him - Do you understand why you have to earn these things? School is your number 1 priority because it sets you up for the REST of your life. If you put the time and effort you need to to succeed in school you can spend all the time you want with your friends provided you continue to pass drug tests

    ..cont
    daylily888

    Answer by daylily888 at 3:12 PM on Feb. 1, 2013

  • there is nothing that your dad and I want more than to see you enjoy your high school years to their fullest, but you have to take care of your responsibilities first! That means you have to put the effort into doing well in school - your full-time job. Once you satisfy your work requirements, you can play to your hearts content.
    (Note, if he were studying more than 1 hour before a test (say every night for a good stint) and were still struggling, we would pursue outside tutoring or assistance with his learning. This has not been the case. He's had a case of the "lazies")
    He understood and has a new fire in him for this second semester. Without having to badger him to study or read or do his homework, he takes every minute he needs to keep his grades up. He's happy, we're happy and we don't have a daily war in the house trying to get him to do what he needs to do. His choice.
    daylily888

    Answer by daylily888 at 3:16 PM on Feb. 1, 2013

  • When you give kids the power to control their destiny and they are 100% clear on what is expected of them, they WILL rise to those expectations. It might take time and there will be a period they test the boundaries, but if you hold firm they will respond, trust will be restored, and everyone will be happier because of it.
    Kids CRAVE direction and boundaries. They don't know it, but they do. Once you have them FIRMLY in place, things get better.
    Remember as teenagers how we felt "all grown up" and wanted to be independent and not have our parents over our shoulders? She's the same way. Except teenagers don't have the experience and wisdom to make the right decisions for themselves yet - their brains are still developing.

    ...continued
    daylily888

    Answer by daylily888 at 3:24 PM on Feb. 1, 2013

  • So instead of always fighting with them, if you set up the expectations and let them make their choices and live out the consequences based on their actions (laid out in a contract so it is crystal clear - you do x, y happens); if you begin to develop in their young minds that action = consequence always and forever (good action, good consequence; poor action, bad consequence) they will be better off for it.
    It's also an important lesson that if you make a series of poor decisions, it is that much harder to obtain what you want - it takes a whole lot longer to earn something BACK than it is to just keep it from the get go.
    These are all things that she will take with her through life, no matter what path she decides to take. You only have 18 years to help them, the rest is up to them.
    daylily888

    Answer by daylily888 at 3:28 PM on Feb. 1, 2013

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