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Letter to my 13 year old daughter
Can you make it shorter and less rambly?

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#1 tr2

Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:24 PM

My daughter is 13 and I am really trying to give her more freedom but don't feel she is really appreciating it or making it easy for me.  I do put restrictions on things - for example, she wanted to do 2 nights at a friend's place.  I said it was o.k but please take her phone and have it charged.  She didn't.  I called her friends mother's phone and eventually my daughter called me back and got the sh*ts when I asked why her phone wasn't charged.  I let her go to a disco and instead of staying inside she hung around outside.  Just waiting for friends but my instructions were very clear - be inside!! I said she could go to the pool with her friends but no rough housing out of the water as she has an injury that could be worsened - fine to wrestle in the water but not on dry land where the impact is greater.  She ignored that too, and got the sh*ts when I called her over to remind her before I left.  All small things, but if she can't do the right thing with small things, how can we build up to bigger things IYKWIM??  And how can I get her to realise that I am not castigating her when I remind her but giving her the opportunity to rectify her behaviour?

Any reminder of the rules has her immediatly yelling in a sulky, defensive way, and not only is it completely unproductive but it's bloody embarrassing!  Her friends and their parents must think I'm having a real go at her the way she carries on after I have a quiet word to her or speak to her on the phone.  And then I do get angry at her for reacting that way.

I really want her to be able to enjoy her teen years, to have freedoms, and she is usually pretty responsible although some of her decisions recently have been pretty questionable :-/ .  I'm thinking of giving her this letter.  Is it too long winded, lecturish, annoying, accusing, judging??  Help me make it better if you can please, and any other advice would be great too.  I want to be able to communicate with her much more effectively.  I want her to count her blessings when she gains permission to do something rather than concentrate on how unfair it is I have placed conditions on it.

Dear Daughter,

You have been growing up very fast and needing more independence and time with your friends.  I know you are generally a responsible girl so I am trying my best to let you develop independence and do your own thing. Independence, responsibility and good judgement are not something you can develop over night.  It is a process with lots of small steps along the way.

Each time I say ‘Yes’ to an activity or outing it is a small step to further freedom for you.  Each time you go out and show me you are responsible and well behaved and making good judgements it is easier for me to say yes the next time and know you will be o.k.  Sometimes (actually, most times) I will place some conditions on an activity that I feel keep you safe and let me feel less anxious about you being out in the big wide world without me.  Each time you happily accept the limits and responsibilities that come with the freedom you gain more and more of my trust,I feel more and more confidant that you are developing good judgement and can make sensible decisions and as a result, over time, I will feel o.k. to give you more freedoms with less limitations.

On the other hand,  when the conditions are ignored or forgotten about I worry I have misjudged the level of responsibility and independence you are really ready for and want to take a step back to a lower level of freedom and responsibility.

Some examples of the conditions I place on you are asking for you to have your phone charged, to stay where you are supposed to be, and be gentle with your injured knee.  When I ask you why you have not done one of these things, or remind you to do them, itis an opportunity for you to stop, think, and rectify the problem.  I am not asking because I am mad at you.  I am not reminding you because you are not allowed to make mistakes.  I am asking and reminding you because I want to help you succeed in gaining as much freedom and responsibility as you desire. I am trying to help you develop good habits now that will mean more freedom for you throughout your teenage years.  

Please, next time you are off to do something or go somewhere, when I ask you to have a phone, remind you to stay with the group, or ask you to give me a quick call when your day is done and you are safely in bed, or any other little things that make me feel you are safe, don’t react with anger and frustration.  They are small things to do that mean the difference between lots of fun times or being stuck at home because I’m too worried about you to let you go out.

I love you lots Daughter and I hope we can be friendlier to each other in the future when discussing these types of things.

Love Mum

Edited by tr2, 09 December 2012 - 08:25 PM.

#2 belindarama

Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:34 PM

I think the first 3 paras are really good. Then you get to the examples and the message got a bit lost in the 'telling off' part.

I would leave the first three paragraphs only and then let her read it, absorb what you are trying to tell her and discuss it later.

That way she gets the main message and has time to think about that without getting defensive. She can consider what you have said and will probably get there on her own. she will probably think back on those things without you reminding her.  Once she has had some time to think about it I would then talk to her and use one or two of those examples to illustrate your point, eg, I wanted you to do X but you did Y which made me question your ability to be responsible with the freedom I was giving you. The more I can trust you the more freedom you will get. If you disappoint me by abusing that freedom I will have to pull it back until I know you are ready for it etc.

#3 JapNFeral

Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:46 PM

Personally I would ditch the letter and instead be really clear and if she doesn't do it, she just doesn't get to go next time.

My mother used to send me these kinds of letters but there was a gap between the words and actions.

Let your actions speak loud and forget the verbage.

#4 Bek&H

Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:47 PM

I think its perfect the way it is

#5 ~Jodama_Feral~

Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:57 PM

I would ditch the examples paragraph because I think she will possibly take the rest in but that may get her back up and then the letter will be ignored.

I would also include that you will both be starting fresh from after this letter with the understanding that you will listen to her issues with the rules but at then end of the day you will decide what is best.

Good luck. Your DD sounds just like I was as a teenager and I ended up doing all kinds of things I now know were dumb but at the time it was great.

#6 nup

Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:08 PM

I agree with PP who also experienced the gaping chasm between written word and actions. Writing letters is not a good idea IMO. If you can't say it, then does it need to be said? And if your spoken words are all castigating and controlling then you probably need to learn a new way to communicate with her. Time for you to loosen the reigns from the sounds of it as the things you're complaining about all seem way OTT.

#7 Froger

Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:22 PM

Honestly, going by the young teens I know (my kids and their friends) I think a 13 yo is just going to laugh at a letter like this. There would also be lots of eye rolling.

#8 annie13

Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:31 PM

If you go with a letter be short and sharp, to the point. Also let her start experiencing the natural consequences of her actions. As a mother of a 14 yo I'm just starting to realise the importance of this.

Edited by annie13, 09 December 2012 - 09:32 PM.

#9 MrsShine

Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:47 PM

The letter is good - for an adult. I do not think a teen would comprehend it well even if she understands te general gist. Try relating to her more on her level.

#10 Fright bat

Posted 09 December 2012 - 10:07 PM

I know you've put your heart into that letter, but it will be meaningless to her. She 13. She is testing the boundaries of her independence.

Besides, I think your gripes/rules are silly. Adults forget to charge their phone, if her friends were outside at the disco was she meant to sit inside because her mum told her to, and the line in the sand between mucking around in the pool and on the land is hard to comprehend even for me.

If you send her to her friends, call the other parent to check up on her. If you are worried about her knee, tell her she can't muck around at all. And at her age, eye rolling when told off is par for the course, take it in your stride.

Don't give her the letter. Give her better rules.

#11 babychacha

Posted 09 December 2012 - 10:24 PM

I think its good as it is.

Whilst PPs have suggested about talking one on one is good in theory but only if you have a willing/captivated audience and not a moody teenager.

The letter will give her time to think it over (stew on it maybe) but it clearly spells it out.

You can always remove the agreements re two nights at a friends place etc if she can't respect your conditions.

My SIL once said to me, the best place to "talk" with a teenager is in the car. Minimal eye contact and time to think over what has been said before responding.

#12 cira

Posted 09 December 2012 - 10:32 PM

I think keep the letter for yourself or maybe give it to her when she is much older just to show her how much you worried and cared.

I agree with PP that suggested better rules and better punishments. You told her that the 2-night stayover was contingent on her having a charged phone - a logical punishment is to cancel the stayover and go pick her up when she admitted to simply forgetting. For the pool water wrestling thing I think its better if you don't make it a rule, just suggest how she can keep herself safe and if she doesn't she'll suffer the natural consequences of an injury.

#13 beebs09

Posted 09 December 2012 - 10:41 PM

My take on your letter. Take what you like out of it. I felt like it was written for an adult and not a sulky teen. Of course I don't have teenage children, but I agree with other posters that chatting to them would be the preferred mode of delivery. Non the less, a letter could still be useful.

QUOTE (tr2 @ 09/12/2012, 09:24 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Dear Daughter,

You have been growing up very fast and needing more independence and time with your friends.  I know you are generally a responsible girl so I am trying my best to let you develop independence and do your own thing. Independence, responsibility and good judgement are not something you can develop over night.  It is a process with lots of small steps along the way.

Each time you go out and show me you are responsible, it is more likely i will say yes for the next time. I will place some conditions on an activity that I feel keep you safe. If you stick in the limits, you'll get more of my trust and get to do more next time. Go outside the limits and behave irresponsibly, you will get to do less next time.

If I pick you up not sticking to the limits and have a chat with you about it, please don't sulk and carry on. I'm giving you a chance to do the right thing. Ignore me and stuff it up further and there will be consequences. I will keep you home and not let you go out with your friends if that's what's needed.

You're an amazing, intelligent young woman. Being young, it can be hard to decide whether to follow your friends in doing something irresponsible no matter how fun it might seem at the time, to standing up for yourself to do the right thing even if it feels like you're missing out.

It's all about trust. Trust me to look out for your best interests, and I will trust you to be responsible.

I love you lots Daughter and I hope we can talk about these things easier in the future.

Love Mum

#14 Spa Gonk

Posted 10 December 2012 - 01:14 AM

I don't see the point in sending it.  She has broken your rules on numerous occasions and I can't see in your post that consequences have been applied.  You need to deal with each breech as it happens, not wait until she does it multiple times, and then send off a letter hoping that will fix things.  She is pushing boundaries  and sees she can get away with it.  I think a letter maybe more likely to show her that she can do what she wants and you aren't going to do much about it.  I doubt she will suddenly have a revelation that she was wrong and needs to do exactly what she is told.

Edited by chatem, 10 December 2012 - 01:14 AM.

#15 JustBeige

Posted 10 December 2012 - 08:50 AM

I dont think the letter would make much of an impact on your DD.  She doesnt follow your rules now, nor does she talk to you about them (you havent indicated if she does this) so giving her your very heartfelt letter will not make any difference to her.  If she is capable of empathy then she may feel guilt but otherwise she will just resent you.

sit her down and talk to her.  give her the permission to discuss any rules with you.  I have the rule with my very nearly 13yr old.  She can talk to me about my restrictions and I will consider her words and explain what my reasonings are.   If she chucks a 2yrold tantrum she gets nada and depending on the level of tantrum she may not get to do 'whatever' at all.

This is teaching her to reason out my requests and to come back to me in a more adult fashion to discuss any changes.

#16 ///

Posted 10 December 2012 - 09:00 AM

QUOTE (chatem @ 10/12/2012, 02:14 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't see the point in sending it.  She has broken your rules on numerous occasions and I can't see in your post that consequences have been applied.  You need to deal with each breech as it happens, not wait until she does it multiple times, and then send off a letter hoping that will fix things.  She is pushing boundaries  and sees she can get away with it.  I think a letter maybe more likely to show her that she can do what she wants and you aren't going to do much about it.  I doubt she will suddenly have a revelation that she was wrong and needs to do exactly what she is told.

I agree with this.

If she sulks then let her. Learn to ignore it or it will be a long couple of years for you.

#17 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:30 AM

QUOTE (Madame Catty @ 10/12/2012, 10:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am a big fan of P.E.T (Parent Effective Training) and I think you would enjoy the book too.  So out of my reading of that, the only thing I would suggest is to set the rules together and ask her for suggestions - put the ball in her court.  Tell her what your fears and worries are, and ask her to work with you for a solution.  When you are part of the decision/rule making, you're far more likely to follow through.

Agree with this.  If she takes some ownership of the conditions for increased freedom/independence, she might be more aware of the consequences.

I like the first couple of paragraphs.  Just give her those and sign off by saying that you'd like to chat with her about where to go from here so that both you and she work together towards her having more independence.  Give her the letter, suggest that she comes up with a couple of specific situations that she would like and some suggested scenarios for how it could work (eg. going to movies with friends, staying over friend's place).  Let her have a few hours to read it, consider some scenarios and then have a conversation where you both work towards an agreeable solution.

Good luck.  Most teenagers don't listen.  I know I didn't and looking back, I would have been considered a "good girl".

#18 ///

Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:44 AM

QUOTE (Madame Catty @ 10/12/2012, 11:20 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It will be a far longer if her only solution is punishment and ignoring her daughter's feelings.  Way to alienate a child.

My son has not been alienated and he is just about to turn 18. He knows that when I say no I mean it because I pick my battles. Say no rarely but when you say it mean it.

If I gave in to every sulk he had and tried to fix it in fear of alienating him he would have never learnt to deal with negative emotions.

#19 opethmum

Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:10 AM

I am in the ditch the letter camp. The letter in my opinion really is telling of your lack of follow through. You need to talk to her and tell her yourself and not hide behind a piece of paper that will be promptly torn up and laughed at and the behaviour will continue.
You need to put that foot down and if she sulks so be it, you need to stress to her that HER choices in life brings her rewards or consequences. If she sticks to the rules she gets rewards, when she breaks the rules she gets the consequences and how she reacts to the consequences are HERS and HERS alone and that she is the one that needs to change not you.
You can only change yourself, you can not change her, you need to stress that if she going to live in your house, your rules apply and she needs to accept that. No need to use emotional manipulation to get your way. Don't try and get her to be upset about a letter, I would be very upset if I go that letter from my parents and I would feel frankly sh*te about myself and I am sure that is not your intention but words on a paper that are trying to elicit a contrite emotions may backfire and cause all sorts of emotions of anger and self hatred.

#20 JapNFeral

Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:42 AM

QUOTE (Madame Catty @ 10/12/2012, 11:20 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It will be a far longer if her only solution is punishment and ignoring her daughter's feelings.  Way to alienate a child.

The problem is so far there is NO punishment.

The OP's DD continues to ignore her mother and does what she likes.

When the DD understand there is conseqeunce for her behaviour, she may also then understand she can change the behaviour and therefore the outcome.

#21 boatiebabe

Posted 10 December 2012 - 12:04 PM

The letter to me seems so distant in some way. I think it's a bad idea and will be ignored.

Can you not have a conversation over the dinner table or in her room?

Tell her what's in the letter. Talk about it. If she refuses to listen to you then the consequence would be she doesn't get to go anywhere until she hears you out and discusses a solution with you.

If you have rules and she breaks them then she loses the ability to be out with friends etc.

I don't think it's rocket science. You are setting boundaries and if she breaks them then she has fewer freedoms. She'll get with the program eventually.

#22 unicorn

Posted 10 December 2012 - 12:27 PM

Relax a bit and sit down with her over a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, while shopping for clothes whatever and talk WITH her (not AT her). A letter is talking AT her.

#23 kittennic

Posted 10 December 2012 - 12:34 PM

I like the idea. Like others have said, maybe leave off all the examples of prior misbehaviour - I'm sure she'll remember them already. Focus on the future. I also like the idea of ending the letter by asking her to come and have a chat with you about how she feels about it all.

When I was a teenager it's the sort of letter my mum would have written to me, and I would have responded fairly well to it. At least it would have made me think about where she was coming from.

Edited by kittennic, 10 December 2012 - 12:35 PM.

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