Bad. Worse. Relief. Now what?

Reagan lied to us. She asked to go to her friend Ashleley’s house and we said “Yes. Are you going anyplace else?”

“No,” she assured us, “just Asheley’s.”

Total B.S.

She and Ash met up with two boys that are in their grade and they walked around town. Ash is dating one of the boys; Reagan is not.

I found out when Ash’s mom called to have me send her home.

Yes, the heart-stopping call in which you realize your child is not only not where she is supposed to be, but also, you have no clue where the child might be. Or what she might be doing.

47 minutes of non-stop worry.

The admissions came slowly, first “we went on a walk,” then “we went on a walk with A. and N.,” then, “Yes, we went in A.’s house, but his mom was home.”

Feeling suspicious and distrustful, I checked her myspace page. Her status for the day said “Going to A.’s.” Obviously the deception was planned in advance.

She was extremely upset about my checking her myspace account, which made me MORE suspicious and MORE distrustful.

Curious, I started with her inbox, nothing interesting, then decided to go to her “sent mail,” normal stuff, a little bad language, a crush on a boy.. nothing major.

Then Reagan came back in the room and said “I need to talk to you privately.”

Oh, shit. What does she want to confess before I read it?

We sat, she cried and said that she has been really stressed out. That she is “ALWAYS in trouble!” That her brother “NEVER gets in trouble!” and that she has too much homework.

And that the night before she had considered killing herself.

(BTW, this was the same day she attended a suicide prevention program at school.)

I calmed her down, talked to her about being stressed out, suggested dropping a couple of activities, then ran her a warm bath.

Once she was in the tub, I went back to the computer. Her myspace page was still up. Her friend Ash was online.

All of her “sent mail” had been deleted and her inbox was rapidly disappearing.

Yes, my daughter used the threat of suicide as a ruse to distract me so her friend could erase the messages.

Of course I am relieved that my daughter isn’t actually suicidal. However….

How exactly does one punish such a deed? It’s, it’s, it’s…
unconscionable.

Currently she is grounded for a month. But it doesn’t seem like enough. I’m not sure if I’m overreacting… her initial wrong-doing was pretty common for her age. But her co-opting a tragic occurrence (suicide) to manipulate me, well, it’s horrifying.

I feel like I need to do something more, something bigger, to somehow make her realize how wrong, how horrendous her deceit was, but I just can’t figure out what.

Any suggestions?

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18 Responses to “Bad. Worse. Relief. Now what?”

  1. 1BadDad Says:

    Uhm, for starters, her computer in her room needs to disappear. Probably the cell phone, too. You got out-classed w/the help of technology (MySpace, Texting). A good grounding for the ie to cover another lie and a bit of a lesson about crying wolf.
    I think she’d crack in three days without the tech and being grounded to a room with no phone/email.

    They sat you need to pick your battles, and this sounds like one of those that you need to pick…and win.

  2. raoul duke Says:

    Do you really want to know the stuff you were looking for?? She planned to go to his house to get high and have sex….. do you believe that? Would you if you read it in an email? Would it change how you were raising her? Would it change the punishment you handed down? Assume it is so and continue on with that in the back of your mind and remember when you were her age.

  3. Jennifer Says:

    Good questions, and yes, the grounding does include all technology, no phone, no computer, no tv, no friends over, no unchaperoned activities.

    And while I can understand how she felt about her privacy being invaded with my reading her messages, I guess I am just having a visceral reaction to her using, as a diversionary tactic, something that is every parent’s worst nightmare….

  4. postsimian Says:

    I agree with 1BadDad. It’s time to go Neo-Luddite on her ass.

  5. Billy Dennis Says:

    I am so glad I don’t have kids.

  6. Maria Says:

    I don’t have children, so I don’t have much in the way of advice, but I do think that Ashleys parents should be kept up to speed on the whole situation.

  7. Robert G. Says:

    Whats worse than her lying is your invasion of her privacy by posting her private business on the internet. It is your decision to discuss your personal affairs but I am left wondering if you have permission to discuss hers. Demanding respect from her begins by giving it. Is that her real name? If so, shame on you.

  8. 1BadDad Says:

    As a minor….her “rights” belong to her parents, not to her.

  9. Katie Says:

    Jen – I think you did the right thing. I think that R lost her right to privacy as soon as she got caught lying to you about where she was. But I think that the second offense is far more heinous. Good for you for grounding her. And I think that it wouldn’t be too bad of a punishment for her to lose all extra-curricular activities after her false threat diversionary tactics.

    I am so sorry that you are going through this Jen. You are a wonderful parent with great kids. Hopefully this is as rough as it will get!

  10. Jennifer Says:

    My husband emailed me this morning and said “Rea has been so good this week. Maybe she should be in trouble more often?”

    Which kind of cracked me up!

    And I really did debate posting this, as I don’t want to give the wrong impression of my daughter. She’s a really good girl, overall, an A student, treasurer of student council, active in athletics and, normally, pretty well-behaved. This has been our first real instance of teenager-y deceit and I think I kind of freaked out, fearing it might be indicative of the future, rather than a momentary aberration.

  11. Rixblix Says:

    I also think you did the right thing. R’s world as she knew it should cease to exist during her punishment. And I have NO problems with reading the boys’ emails and/or going through their rooms if need be. I couldn’t DISAGREE with Robert G. more. I wonder if he has kids and if they are anywhere near teen/pre-teen age. I see, everyday, the results of parents who don’t take charge at the first sign of trouble. They ALL tell me how much they wish their parents had taken control before it was too late.

    I’m sorry you have to go through this. You’re a good mom and she’s a great girl.

  12. Conniesue Says:

    Jennifer,

    I feel for you, being a parent is not easy. I don’t think you are being too hard on her. I kept a very short leash on my daughter as a teen, and she only drinks socialy, doesn’t do drugs and doesn’t smoke. I work for dept of corrections, and she use to belly ache I treated her like an inmate, yes I would search her room if she gave me reason to worry. Anyhow later she told me she was glad I was strict she said many times other friends would do things she knew was wrong and she would say my mom would kill me, I was a good excuse and it kept her out of trouble.
    Keep up the good work and ps around 20 they start to like you again, somehow you are smart again. lol
    Have a good weekend.
    Connie

  13. Susan from Food Blogga Says:

    Hi Jennifer

    You won the kona kampachi! Woo-hoo!

    Please send me your full name and mailing address so I can forward them to Kelly.

    Take care,
    Susan from Food Blogga

    ps-I left this in your comment box b/c I didn’t see an email listed.

  14. HollowSquirrel Says:

    You won the kona kampachi! Weeee! I don’t know what that means, but I can’t imagine a more bizarre post to have that comment on.

    Sorry about the daughter and deceit and OH SHOOT I don’t want to deal with that, but I see it happening with my neighbors’ kids, too. I’m all about being a tough ass (well, at least my parents were with me), and I’m with whoever said using your strictness as an excuse gives kids a good out when the pressure is tough to be an idiot. I’m so sorry this happened. Your heart and blood pressure have been through the ringer!

  15. 33postsimian Says:

    Rix, agreed. It’s always the people without kids (and therefore have no clue what they’re talking about) who bitch and moan the loudest.

  16. Jennifer Says:

    Thanks for your support everyone. I’m hoping that 13 (maybe that’s why it has the reputation of being unlucky?) is the difficult age and things get easier from here on out, right? Right?

    RIGHT?

  17. East Bluff Barbie Says:

    Maybe you should have someone talk to her who has personally been affected by suicide. Then she may realize the seriousness of her action. I had a friend shoot himself when I was a senior in high school. It is something that isn’t easily gotten over.

  18. Josh Says:

    My oldest is 5 and I don’t look forward to these problems any time soon. That being said, I’d have my foot so far up her rear, faking suicide thoughts would be the least of her problems. You did the right thing and like Conniesue said, one day she’ll thank you.

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