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  1. #11
    The Black Knight Domino's Avatar
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    Take ALL mention of suicide seriously, even if they don't. They're just kids. You're the adult. If it's for real, you stopped a tragedy. If it's an attention getter, they'll learn what suicide really means and you'll learn why your child would go to such lengths to get your attention. A 13 year old's brain is a very chemical and unstable place.

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  2. #12
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Agree. She wants your attention or she's in emotional distress (or both). Either calls for you to change your whole lifestyle, not just respond to that specific crisis. Even for people who threaten suicide for reasons of control or being on center stage, it still indicates a serious deficit in their lives that needs to be filled.

    Diet specialists remind people that their problem is not usually too much food, so much as the wrong kinds of foods, in the wrong quanitities and at the wrong times. They recommend eating nutritious, balanced small meals several times a day.

    Emotional meals are similar. Humans can not receive a gigantic load of emotional sustenance and be expected to live on it for days at a time. They also should not receive the wrong kind of emotional sustenance at the wrong times or it will lead to lifelong bad habits, nutritional deficits and deep highs and lows. Even your gas tank cannot accommodate more gas than enough to keep you going for a 5-7 hour trip before needing refilling.

    When we eat, we eat small meals, but we have them steadily throughout the day, every day. Then we also allow for rest time so that the body can develop properly and repair itself. In an emotional sense, children need many little shots throughout the day of emotional support and evidence of attachment. They need to be able to have a way to keep you near even when you are not available. They need to know that you will provide more than is actually called for. They need to know that they are not too heavy of a burden for you to carry, that they aren't "too much" for you. They also need to know that you actually WANT to be near them. When they receive this kind of support, the brain then can turn it's attention to normal maturation, the individual can attend to the needs of others around them, they demonstrate gratitude, they are less demanding, and they do not need to induce crisis to receive your attention and care because they know it is always available to them.

    Many parents feel ill equipped themselves to provide this kind of support because they themselves have very little margin emotionally. They also are not willing to make the required changes in lifestyle that would allow for several emotional "feedings" throughout the day. They see parenthood as a temporary obligation, rather than a lifelong one, and are looking forward to the day when their child will have others such as a boyfriend or peers attending to their needs and a job to occupy their time and give them spending money, so that the parent is free to pursue their own interests. Sometimes they are not sure what it is that their child needs and so they feel someone who is more of an expert (such as school etc) should offer it instead. Sometimes they have lost the connection with their child to such an extent that they don't believe it is possible to get it back. For many, they would feel relieved if the child was diagnosed with a label, that would make the parent feel less responsible and would also alleviate the need to work with the child (because it's part of their condition!). Some do not want to cross their child's will and so just want to make them happy (by taking the path of least resistance), rather than making them be good (which will make them happy). Some parents did not get their own earlier needs met, and so are reluctant to allow their child's needs to receive first priority and get out of the limelight themselves. Many single parents are trying to deal with the emotional havoc wreaked by past failed relationships or traumatic events by finding themselves a new partner. This often means that the child becomes marginalized in their own home and there is no place left for them where they are truly emotionally welcome to exist.

    Providing an emotional attachment to a child and leading from an alpha role is a big order and it is why parenthood requires preparation on the adult's part. If parents enter into parenthood without some of the needed skills, they need to understand that it is their responsibility to equip themselves with these skills ASAP, by reading, talking to other people, getting more margin in their lives, and most importantly, spending purposeful time with their child. They do not have the luxury of evenings spend entertaining themselves or medicating their own problems, at least not without very detrimental effects on their child.

    Just as we budget our money, it is important for us to budget our time and our emotionally energy so that we have more than enough available to pay our "bills" and to allow us the freedom that margin offers. If there is something that is draining large amount of our time or emotional energy so that we are prevented from caring for our child's requirements in those areas, it may mean that the different aspects of our life needs to be shifted around so that we have more collateral in those areas.

  3. #13
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Oh yeah - I also would highly recommend limiting media that would allow her to be in constant touch with peers and others without you monitoring. It is very easy to get in over your head as a kid or make errors in judgement and then not know what to do or want to admit how serious it is. It also provides many more avenues for the child to become dependent on other people who have less stake in the child's interest than you do. Also anything that encourages a lot of solitary/non-relational activity. Reading books is a little different as it exposes her to new ideas and people. All books are not created equally though.

    This would include: having her own phone, having her own computer (particularly a laptop which can be carried to a private space), getting a car at a young age, having a job (gives a lot of time away as well as increasing financial independence and peer time), facebook account, time in chat rooms, computer surfing (you'd be surprised how many propositions teens get online without them even recognizing what/who the person on the other end likely is!), TV in her own room, DS etc. If you do choose to offer these things, it should be with your involvement and guidance and with limits. Do not drop her off at the mall with a phone and consider that equivalent to actually being there with her!

    I'm not saying that you should isolate her from the world, but rather than you be the one who creates those opportunities and leads the way towards activities that are going to not be isolating or dangerous in the long run.

  4. #14
    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    Thank you everybody. I have been away from the computer a bit but I have been able to read and relay what you have said to the mother. The girl is acting pretty bad. She was given a trip to cheer her up with her friend and had a fun time despite being grounded for some other past bad conduct. In the evening they tried to sneak out but I caught them. Then the girl told her mom that they just wanted to talk to a friend in the parking lot. This was about 9pm and the mother was responsible for watching the other girl too and was supposed to take her home at about 9:30.

    The girl vehemently promised her mom (pinky promise even) she would just to this. After 10 or so minutes passed the Mom when outside and the girls were gone. The mother was very upset and when the girls didn't return by 9:30 nor answer their cell phone, the mother called up the other girls mom. A couple hours later the girl called her mom and she picked her up and dropped off the girl after they gave this dramatized story that they "had" to walk this other girl home and some other BS on why they couldn't call.

    Despite the girl acting bady I told the mom that my opinion was to give the girl what she wants transfer the girl to an another school. I also recommended a psychiatrist to see the girl and give an evaluation. The mom made calls about a psychiatrist and had a long talk with the girl. She said it sounded worse than she thought and she was going to see if she could transfer the girl to the other school Tuesday.
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  5. #15
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    This peer thing is going to work at cross purposes to anything the mother tries to do. This is also one of the reasons why you want to not equip her with additional stuff like cell phones that allow her to remain in constant contact with other friends. She has many more tools at her disposal to foil her mother and the peer influence is going to undo all efforts her mother is making at building more relationship.

    A psychiastrist may have some useful insight, but really the mother has most of what the child needs right there. She is going to have to decide though if she is prepared to alter her own life though. She's lost touch with her child, and she's going to need to get that back. She cannot have any influence on her child's behaviour without access to information for why the child is acting the way she is, and without the child trusting that she really loves and has the child's best interests at heart. Right now the child is not at all assured of that and so will fight her every step of the way.

    Generally, grounding is a very ineffective long term way of disciplining, as it doesn't affect the child's heart and can become a game for the child (as it did the other night) to see how she can outsmart the mother. Since child responsibilities tend to be less than adult ones, the child has more time to work on this. She doesn't have to get up for work the next day, she doesn't have bills to pay, she doesn't have anything really do to except figure out a way to get her own way. Once the child gets big enough, anything a parent can DO to them is gone. You have to work on the heart instead! Another reason grounding is ineffective is that it takes away the few things the child really does care about without replacing them with anything else. This inflicts further wounds and makes the child more closed to relationship. Instead of removing something (which the child will then fixate on), you have to crowd it out with more positive options. Any rewards given should not be in response to good or bad behaviour, but rather be in line with your ultimate goals and with a view towards building more relationship between parent and child. Therefore a reward of a trip with a friend etc is going to undo much of what you are trying to accomplish.

    All bad behaviour has its root in something. When you trace it back to the root, you can deal with the real problem. Otherwise, it is like clipping off branches on a plant - immediately 2 or 3 grow back in its place and the plant is still going strong. You have to attack it at the roots. The comforting aspect in this is that there are many manifestations of bad behaviour, but there are only a very few main roots that cause it. Once you start to recognize the problem (eg lack of attachment) and address it, it will clear up many different bad behaviours all at once.

    Schools have for the most part adopted a behaviourist approach to problem behaviour. They reward good behaviour (even if it is very minimal) and try to address bad behaviour. However, they ignore what is causing the bad behaviour. After awhile, it is almost as if they are paying the child to be good, since they have very few ways of punishing bad behaviour available to them. The child continues raising their price, ones they realize that they are the ones that are in control. In this model of thinking, the adult is a sculptor, attempting to mold the child to the image they desire to create. A sculptor can leave off work indefinitely and then come back to it, but nothing will happen without their assistance. Similarly, they believe that a child needs to be shaped by the adult for the desired outcome to happen. They are more likely though to respond to crisis (which again puts the child in the lead - alpha position), rather than work on prevention or maintenance.

    Developmentalist thinking instead assumes that maturation will naturally occur unless there is something standing in its way. Once you remove the impediment, the behaviours naturally will right themselves. in this model of thinking, the adult is a gardener, providing the child with the emotional equivalents of water, air, sunlight, soil etc. They cannot make the plants grow any faster by pulling on them or doing anything. The plants actually will put down deeper roots too if the wind is allowed to blow on them, as long as those winds are not so harsh that they crush it. In this model, the gardener needs to constantly attend to their duties. Crisis situations only indicate what kind of care is needed in the future, rather than being a one time response. This is a much more constant job, but actually is less intensive, as nature will take its course without needing the adults' perfection, as long as the "growing conditions" are right. Children are resilient and can accept a lot of flaws within adults as long as they are getting the main things they need to stay emotionally alive.

    Relationship is going to be the only way she can turn this thing around. There will be a lot of unpleasant noise at first, but it is really well worth it and the child will be very grateful. If you expect noise and resistance and persist through it, the child will know that you truly care and will go to any lengths to protect and care for their needs.

  6. #16
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    To the OP its hard to know, I've dealt with behaviour which was manipulative and pseudo or really suicidal from family members before, in the end what I have found myself is important is not their behaviour or motivation, its just a fact, analysising it will seldom change it, understanding it will not make dealing with it any easier, what is important is your response to it. Are you actions conscienable or not with the information you have? What risks and consequences are you prepared to deal with?

    I know people who've been prepared to call the bluff of suicidal family members in the past, to the point of very near death episodes, in those instances if death had resulted from the behaviour I believe they could have dealt with it and they had already thought about that as a likely outcome, more as it would happen than the family members making the suicide bid because they revealled in therapy that they had no intention to die and where convinced that they could rely on said family members intervention anyway.

    So far as the use of suicide or suicide bids as tools of emotional manipulation goes I doubt that the trend in people, particularly young people deploying that sort of behaviour, will change until there are enough deaths to create a tipping point, no matter what anyone says the majority of suicides are not straight forward bids to end life, they are seriously misguided attempts to communicate something and, yeah, sometimes its something insane, there's very few suicides like Primo Levi who just took out a gun and shot himself one day without a whole back drop of behaviour preceeding it.

  7. #17
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    I know, like, four people who killed themselves as teens, so please always take this sort of thing seriously. She's very young to be acting out this way - I don't think I snuck out or did things even close to that until I was about fifteen or sixteen, and it was because I was very unhappy - but in my situation, there were different reasons, but still family oriented.

    The last thing she needs is to be called a brat. She's 13 years old and needs help and guidance, even if what she's doing seems selfish, manipulative, and unpleasant, it's also self-destructive.

    I think transferring schools and seeing a psychiatrist are good steps for her, and it's important to stay very involved her life. I think it's really good that you caught her sneaking out, and that you and her mother are both concerned enough about her to take serious steps. I think that's already half the battle won when the parents/guardians/etc. are willing to be that involved and care that much.

  8. #18
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    @fidelia. Wow I wish I had someone like you when I was growing up. Great advices. Yes, talking about suicide should be taken seriously. The fact that she's even commenting on stuff like that should already be warning signs for anyone. Whether jokingly or not, it still crossed her mind.

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