Help for a mum of a troubled teen
February 22, 2018 4:20 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a book/article/website to help a mum help a 13 yr old daughter through difficult teen years?

The daughter is fairly quiet, loves to read, doesn't fit in to the mainstream girl culture, isn't into social media, worries about not having enough friends, maybe hasn't really found her people. She is prone to anxiety.

Mum worries about her but isn't sure how to help other than be supportive. Any suggestions?
posted by beccyjoe to Human Relations (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
That sounds very much like me. I wasn't "troubled" in the sense of being violent or risky behavior, I was anxious and lonely.

Mum should look into resources to help her daughter with her anxiety. Learning self talk, coping skills, getting therapy, perhaps medication.

I wish to god someone had provided concrete and therapeutical resources for me, rather than "try to be supportive" which wasn't any help at all.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:24 AM on February 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I agree with Squeak Attack, this is where a good therapist really helps. A school counsellor can give a referral or another parent locally might know one. Helping by being a great parent is a lot but teenagers need to have their own tools and resources, and parents can't fix things for them the way they can shelter smaller children. The answer might end up being enrolling the girl in a great teen theatre group or getting active in sports, but the mum won't know without the teenager having a voice of her own, and that can need an outsider.

I have found this series of books to be good for opening a helpful discussion with my teens on issues, and they cover a wide range of difficulties. This one on Relaxation and Stress Reduction is pretty neutral and calming and the activities are basically written questions and small meditations.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:00 AM on February 22, 2018

Queen Bees and Wannabees, which inspired Mean Girls, may be a useful resource on social challenges. It's a crappy age to feel lonely, I relate, I'm sorry.
posted by mosst at 8:37 AM on February 22, 2018

This was me for a period of time as well. My mother is pretty amazing. (I strive to emulate her in parenting my own children.) One thing that really helped me was that my mom acknowledged that this was happening to me and that it was really, really hard. That is was likely to get better, but that that was cold comfort in the moment. She took a consultative, problem-solving stance with me helping me figure out what *I* felt like *I* needed in order to take control of what was happening. For me that ended up being switching schools. But in a way, the solution mattered less than the incredible validation of my experience and the way that I could feel her love and confidence in me under-girding all of that. She told me in later that is was incredibly difficult for her to watch me struggle but she really managed those motions to the degree that I felt her sympathy and support but not her anxiety. No mean feat. Best of luck to your friend. This parenting business ain't for the faint of heart...
posted by jeszac at 9:34 AM on February 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thanks for responses - full disclosure - I am the therapist! It is hard to work with the girl because she doesn't want to come to sessions without mum, and then she doesn't say much, and mum talks for her quite a lot.

Mum is clearly there for her and wants to help, and wants her to talk to someone else about her struggles, i.e. me. But while I try to make her feel as comfortable as possible, she doesn't open up a great deal, so I feel like rather than connecting with the girl, I talk a lot to mum. I try to engage with the girl, and offer suggestions.

We have talked about the possibility of changing schools; looking for people you might connect with who are under the radar; being bold with making friends; how it's likely to get better once you head to uni. The girl listens and nods and doesn't say a lot. In previous sessions I have offered strategies to cope with her anxiety.

Anyway I have referred her on to another therapist who is better with young people than myself, but mum asked about resources in our last session and I said I would look into it. And here I am :)
posted by beccyjoe at 12:20 PM on February 22, 2018

Not a resource, just a stranger on the internet: when my daughter was 14 she went through similar troubles, feeling terribly lonely, and our amazing therapist advised us to do two things: I should spend more time with my daughter, preferably doing something rather than talking about issues. And she should change schools.
Even though I was a deeply concerned mum, I wasn't being so much with my daughter. There was always a purpose, going to school, doing homework, braiding her hair, talking about her feelings. When we prioritized our common sports passion, our relationship changed, maybe because we were suddenly equal but different. My daughter found her self and her own identity separate from me, if that makes sense, given that we definitely spent more time together.
The change of school was also amazing. We were lucky to find a class in a different school where two young teachers were deeply devoted to making kids with different backgrounds work together. This wasn't an easy quest, but my daughter actually did a lot of the groundwork herself. She talked with friends from our sports activity and from that made a very good short list. She also committed to spending 30 mins each way on transport.
My now adult daughter is still relatively quiet and not exactly outgoing, but she is happy at university and has a boyfriend and many friends.
posted by mumimor at 2:14 PM on February 22, 2018

I recommend this book: How to talk so kids will listen, how to listen so kids will talk.
posted by SyraCarol at 8:25 PM on February 22, 2018

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