How do I help my wife and daughter?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

we have had arguments with our 16 y/o daughter for several years, always over curfew/cell ph./ attitude etc. often she slams doors /walls etc and really acts out.we get frustrated and try to contain her /it only gets worse /she makes threats to run away/hurt self . we have been to dr. w/her but no meds/therapy [they said she is manipulating} i am firm and my wife never says no so....
..tonite we had a huge/fight we almost took her the hosp and called police..but settled it down but about 1/2 hr later i found my wife crying hysterical in a kitchen corner asking for her mother and repeating she wanted to be alone on a mountain ..she was rocking and looked confused almost not there..for about 10 mins...then she came through and did not remember this or most of the incident..she was fine/rational...it was about 3 am and i wanted to take her to hosp..she refused..what do i do? is this a psychotic episode or other? we are under a lot of financial/other stress..i actually fear both may be bipolar..my daughter has been off add/meds for 3 yrs does ok in school...my wife is in full menopause and has been acting emotional /angry and down at times she had a full physical [all ok] and see’s a counselor .we seem to be falling apart as a family ..i am also stressed ..have 2 younger kids.. where do i start to address this..thanks for you time…

A: You are wise to look for some additional help. Emotions do run high during the teen years and during menopause. But what you are describing doesn’t sound like the usual drama between menopausal mother and teen daughter. You and your wife need some support – both to help this daughter and to protect your younger kids.

You and your wife apparently aren’t on the same page which makes it more possible for your daughter to get around you both. My guess is that you end up feeling unsupported and criticized by your wife. Your wife ends up in hysterics.Your daughter once again gets her way. And the younger kids see that the people they count on to keep them safe are powerless. Not good. It may be true that your daughter is manipulating but, as you’ve found, being given a label isn’t at all helpful. What are you supposed to do about it?

Not all therapists have the same training or the same experience. I urge you to get a “second opinion” from a family therapist who specializes in acting-up adolescents. Ask your family doctor for a referral to someone who has a good reputation for handling out-of-control young girls. If your wife and your daughter refuse to go, go yourself. You could use some practical help and support. Once they see that you are serious, the rest of the family is likely to join you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Mar 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). How do I help my wife and daughter?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/03/10/how-do-i-help-my-wife-and-daughter/