Dear Mom: I am deeply concerned about my 14-year-old daughter. Until recently she followed our house rules but now she is coming home after her curfew and starting to be disrespectful to me.
I exploded last night when she came home after midnight. Four hours late! My daughter did not answer her cell phone or my texts.
After she came in the door I screamed at her and then she went into her room and slammed the door.
Can you help me?
— WORRIED MOM
Dear Worried: I understand that having your daughter come home four hours late can be quite upsetting. You must have felt very scared and not sure if your daughter was hurt.
I imagine your anger and fear grew after the phone and texts were ignored as well.
So let’s think about what happened and what we wish would have happened.
I imagine when your daughter came home you were close to the door and your adrenaline was pumping out of fear and anger.
It is important to remember that anger is secondary so it is probably safe to say there were many feelings going on like fear, frustration and/or sadness that your daughter was doing this.
Let’s look at two scenarios. I understand when your daughter did not answer her phone or your texts you must have thought she was hurt or just ignoring you. Either way this can be frustrating and maddening.
So when she came home it probably went like, "Where were you? You are so grounded! Go to your room!"
She quickly then walked to her room and slammed the door, right?
So let’s think about when your daughter came home.
When she opened the door and you knew she was safe my guess is that your fear came out sideways. This is common. You are not alone. It happens a lot.
It is excruciating not knowing where your daughter is and feeling out of control.
I bet what you really wanted to know and say was "Where were you? What happened that you were four hours late? What was so important that you could not call me or answer my texts? And most importantly, I was worried sick!"
I wonder what it would have been like if you said, "You are so important to me, and I am so glad you are home and safe and when we both get a good sleep we can talk about this in the morning."
Maybe even giving her a hug too. This perhaps would have released your stirred up energy and let her know how much you care about her and that you were paying attention.
Teens are similar to toddlers. They need to know you are paying attention. They will never tell you, but they notice.