Real Life Answers: Teenage Daughter is Always Depressed and Angry

Question:
I’m the parent of a teenaged girl. My daughter is always depressed and angry. She has a hard time liking certain people. She has a “her way or no way attitude.” Her dad and I have been divorced for a few years now and we’re both remarried. She will have nothing to do with my husband. He stays out of her way and tries really hard to just put up with her meanness. She is stubborn too. I’m trapped in the middle, I love them both too much. We have been blessed in so many ways, but all I do is give her what she wants and I get zero from her. I feel so bad about her pain. We tried counseling and that didn’t work. Now what? I’m praying for this problem all the time. Do you have any answers? I’m really desperate.

Answer:
I’m saddened but not surprised to hear of your daughter’s reactions to your (and her father’s) divorce and remarriage. As you are well aware, there are some messy consequences of divorce in terms of how kids respond and it sounds like you are getting a full-fledged “storm” as opposed to some passing “showers.” Her reactions, however difficult, are not abnormal. Her world is one that has been full of changes in the past few years and it will take time for her to adjust. Don’t forget that most kids have difficult times navigating adolescence in the best of circumstances. Your daughter has additional issues she faces.

As difficult as it may be, she really needs your support during this adjustment period. You stated that “all I do is give her what she wants and I get zero from her.” I am concerned about that statement. Your daughter needs you to express your love, care, and unwavering commitment, but this doesn’t require giving her whatever she wants. Part of the support she needs is for you to be a parent, not her friend. She needs you to provide loving boundaries and discipline.

You stated that counseling didn’t work. Although, I’m cannot say why it didn’t work, I wouldn’t give up on trying to help your daughter find support outside of your home. This could be through the support of your youth pastor or a volunteer youth worker. Some areas have divorce recovery support groups for teenagers which can be very helpful. Also, there may be other professional adolescent counselors in your area that your daughter might connect with, despite not having a good experience with her first counselor.

Have you asked your daughter what kind of support she feels she needs or wants to help her through these adjustments? It is possible that she has something in mind, but hasn’t been asked.

Whatever else you do, don’t give up praying for your daughter. Even though it is sometimes hard to keep this in mind when things aren’t going well, don’t forget that God loves your daughter more than anyone else! He won’t let go of her! Commit her to God’s care. And don’t forget, God also loves you! Commit your parenting to Him. Ask Him for wisdom. He promises to give it (see James 1).  God is big enough to carry you and your daughter through these times. Do your best with your daughter and trust Him.

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