Teen daughter out of control

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have a 16 year old daughter that is having several issues. Recently her mother decided she no longer needed to attend school as she wasn’t passing her class. Her mother informed the school that she would no longer be attending.My 16 year old smokes pot in her room, has male friends over with the door closed and I have suspicions she is having intercourse in her room with her boyfriend. Her curfew is non-existent.

When I try to control the situation I am told that she is just being a teenager and that I need to back off. Once I was away on a trip and my daughter had a party and the police were called to the home. I did not find out until 3 weeks after my trip and I had to hear in from my neighbor. When I did find out I was furious. I did yell and I grounded her but when I did my 23 year old daughter threw me into a computer desk and slapped me in my face. My wife then told me to leave and that she was divorcing me. One other time my 16 year old pushed me down a flight of stairs when I tried to get escort her friends out of the home. That resulted in the threat of divorce once again. But when I refuse to come home my wife threatens suicide.I can’t win for losing here…

My 23 year old lets my 16 year olds boyfriend live at her apartment because he ran away but the kicker is his mom doesn’t care. They tried getting me to allow him to live at our home. So far I have been successful in stopping that from happening but that has driven a wedge further in to the family.

My clothes have been thrown out into the snow and I was told that if I don’t stop yelling I was going to be “taken care of.”

Now, I have talked nice, setup family meetings to go over rules and asked that we all go see someone. They all tell me that I need to just back off and let my 16 year old grow up. Their main problem with me is that I yell about these issues after asking nicely over and over and asking for them to cooperate. I do get very angry but I have never once been physical.

I make a good living but my wife makes sure she transfers my pay into a different account each payday. If I do leave she threatens suicide and my daughters call and text me that they will make my life miserable if I don’t go home to their mother. In other words they will make trouble for me at my place of employment.

Lately I have been feeling paranoid at home when I go to sleep. Leaving aside the doors opening and closing at all hours of the night which really freaks me out, and I know this sounds stupid but maybe my mental state and lack of sleep are getting to me. I just feel threatened all the time but even more so when I go to sleep. Every little noise makes me jump. I feel like I am going to be attacked when I sleep.

I have tried to bend to their way of thinking and how they live life but I just can’t get my mind to go there. I refuse to live in a lawless home with no moral compass but I am trapped by threats of violence, suicide and lack of access to funds.

I have told my wife we are critical and we need serious help but she refuses. I really have no options in this situation. My job is the only thing keeping me sane and if I try and leave my home my job is in jeopardy. I feel like disappearing without a trace is my only option.

A: You are living in an atmosphere of domestic violence. If the genders were reversed and you were the woman in the situation, help would be more readily available. But violence is violence. You are being physically and emotionally abused. Your wife isn’t partnering with you to raise your daughters. Your daughters have assaulted you. And your wife uses emotional blackmail by threatening suicide to control you. It sounds like you are being bullied by all three women and only valued for your paycheck. It’s no wonder you’re feeling beaten down.

I’m sure the situation is more complicated than you could fully describe in a letter. There may be good reasons why you are convinced you can’t do anything. But I do have a few suggestions for you to consider.
First, if your workplace has an “employee assistance program” (EAP) , you could access some confidential help there. EAP counselors can make some practical suggestions and can refer you to a mental health professional and to a lawyer. I think you need both:

  • You were absolutely correct to suggest to your family that you all need help. But since they won’t go, go yourself. A counselor will help you regain your emotional strength, will give you much needed support, and may well have some ideas for how to bring your family into treatment. If your company doesn’t have an EAP to help you locate a therapist, ask your doctor for a referral.

  • I suggest a lawyer because I think you need to find out what your rights are regarding protection from violence and threats, as well as your rights regarding how your pay is used. There may be a way for you to protect some of your money. If you had a bank account of your own, you wouldn’t feel quite so trapped.

You made an important first step in writing to us at Psych Central. Please now follow through and get the help you need. No one deserves this kind of treatment (even people who yell). You need to extricate yourself from this situation both for your own sake and for the sake of your daughters. This is not a healthy way for anyone to live and it certainly isn’t a positive model for how family life should be.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Mar 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Teen daughter out of control. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/03/09/teen-daughter-out-of-control/