My Daughter's Anger Is Destroying Her And I Can't Seem To Help
(Nevada, MO, USA)
My daughter is 12 years old and has Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD. These conditions affect children differently and make the challenge of parenting a little more intense at times. Lately my daughter is getting angry very easily, at home and at school. Her teacher told me that she gets angry and then refuses to do anything she's asked to do. She will refuse to do assignments, refuse to go to gym class when the rest of her class goes, etc.
I know she is angry and I suspect it is because of a situation with her father. He and I are divorced and he has been very active in taking me to court and trying to manipulate and use our daughter.
She has dealt with that very well as she has gotten older, however, she has always felt that her dad does not love her. Then, in August, he got angry with her during a weekend visit and became physical.
She became angry as well, and told him she never wanted to see him again. He told her that he would be available when she decided to be his daughter again, and has had no contact with her since. She feels like he has taken her through every level of hell in court to get his way, and then just gave up on her when she got angry or too much of a challenge for him.
She feels abandoned. I cannot fix that problem. I do not have a relationship with anyone right now, and even if I did, I doubt that I would consider getting married again any time soon. I am not really convinced, unlike a few family members, that getting a man in the house to be a daddy to her would help the situation.
Her anger is causing a great deal of stress, it is disrupting her classes at school, affecting her grades, and seems to be connected to no end of troubles. I have tried talking, reasoning, grounding, removing her games and various items, such as the phone, etc. She sees a therapist every 2 weeks and she sees a child psychologist once a month and is on prescription medications. Still, she seems to be getting worse. What can I do now?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Laura, and thanks for telling your story here. It is clear that you are facing some major challenges with your daughter. I will try to help.
I know you're already getting a lot of professional help, and that's good. I also understand from you that your daughter seems to be getting worse (at least that was the case when you submitted this story).
I encourage you to read all you can find about the medications she is on, and decide if you think they are really helping. You need to be in charge of this, as the child's mother. We professionals are your consultants, not authorities over you (although I know at times it seems like doctors are the authorities). In my professional experience, I have found that medication can in some cases do more harm than good. Each situation and each individual are unique, that's why you have to be the judge, as the adult in charge.
I also encourage you to start trying to focus on your daughter's positive aspects, as much and as often as you possibly can. This will help you to shift your own emotions and perception of her, which will help you in your interactions with her. This positive journaling process will help you with that.
Believe in yourself, Laura. You can resolve this, and get the help you need to help your daughter. Make up your mind that you will succeed, and you will.
My very best to you,