Q My daughter, almost 14, is making me doubt my parenting skills on a daily basis. Nary a kind word comes out of her mouth, whether she’s talking to me, her dad or her sister. ¶ When we assigned some simple chores for her to do every day, she simply refused to do them. After a week of refusals, we took away her electronic device and told her that she would get it back when she did her work. And when she was disrespectful and used cruel words with us, we took away her screen time. This discipline isn’t working, and bribery and rewards don’t work, either. We have also tried to nurture her and to encourage her interests, but these attempts are greeted with disdain. ¶ She makes unkind comments about the food I prepare, about our “loser” careers and about our financial status, and says that she is ashamed and embarrassed to bring her friends into our “pathetic” house and that our car is “a cheap piece of junk.” She also says that her friends “are afraid of us,” that they — and their parents — think we are too strict and that we are the only parents who discipline their children. ¶ This behavior started last summer. Before that, she was my cuddly, affectionate and thoughtful daughter, and though she always had a temper, she was never unkind. Now she stays in her room, rushes through dinner and only communicates with us when she wants or needs something.
Her grades are excellent; her teachers have high praise for her and they say that she is sweet, responsible and considerate.
What gives? What are we doing wrong? What can we do to help her become the kind and responsible person we know she can be? And why has she suddenly become such a spoiled brat? I’m frustrated, and, yes, I’m a little scared, too!