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07 Feb 2004

teenage daughter
Dear CyberShrink. We have a beautiful daughter, aged 17. She is very artistic and dresses real weird at times. At the moment everything has to be black. Nails, hair, clothes, etc. She says it makes her look slimmer. She is quite tall, 1.78m and weighs about 65kg. She battles with ecsema and has already gone the path of roacutane. My husband is an Engineer and some days finds fault with her wherever he can. He also pressures her in taking maths at school. She hates every minute of it. She does very well in her other subjects and even finished grade 12 Afrikaans and English in her 11th year. She recently just said that everything is too much for her. Nothing ever falls into place and that she feels like giving up. Also that my husband cannot accept her the way she is. I am quite concerned because she is very quiet (not like usual when she chats a lot). She hardly ever smiles and says that she wants to Au-pair next year in Germany. My heart aches for her and I cannot see her living in another country without love and support from us.
Please help!
Answer 348 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear juli,
Let's see what our other readers can contribute, after their weekend break ! It's difficult to guess what's going on, from a distance ( even you, caring and intelligent, find it hard from really close up ! ). I find that kids who feel out of the main stream often dress more oddly than the others, as if they're saying : "OK, if you guys won't accept me as one of you, and treat me like a freak --- I'll dress freaky, and embrace that role, and make it my own." Another kid might respond to a similar situation by becoming the class clown, so they have to laugh with him, rather than at him.
The chronic problem with aczema has probably not helped her to develop a positive self-image, either ; and dad's not managing to understand her or communicate uncritical acceptance may not have helped. Going abroad could be a major strain --- or it could be very refreshing for her, to be somewhere where nobody knows her, so nobody has any preconceptions about her, where she might feel comfortable being herself, without attracting criticism. But it might be worth encouraging her to accept a period of counselling, not because there's something wrong with her, but because there ISN'T something wrong with her, but she seems uncomfortable in some aspects of how life is working out for her, and she could, maybe, sort things out usefully within a relatively short space of time, with neutral professional help.
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