Ask a life coach

Ask a Life Coach: Teenagers


Hi Jackie,

I am a single mom with a teenager at home who is getting into trouble and has no respect for me. I am constantly receiving calls at work from school about her. She never pays her phone so I end up covering the bill. She doesn’t work but wants new clothes and makeup. She has friends over constantly and they leave everything a mess. I am exhausted and tired of all the fights.

Please help,



Dear Lisa,

First off, without knowing when this behaviour started it is hard to assess the whole situation, but here we go.

If this is new behaviour and uncharacteristic I would be concerned – about drug use or something else that might be wrong. I would start checking her room and talking to the school counselor. Also you didn’t say if you have always been a single mom or if this is a recent development. If this is recent, big changes like divorce or a death in the family could be causing your daughter to act out and seek attention. Also you say she doesn’t respect you. Well, we all have to earn respect and if you have been allowing this behaviour to occur in the past, she will likely keep on producing it.

You can change it, but it is going to take effort and work. Because you say that the two of you argue a lot, I would write her a letter or make an appointment with a school counselor or another professional who can help you discuss the new rules and expected behaviour.

The conversation might go something like this:

Daughter’s name,

I know the last while has been difficult between us and I would like to apologize for that. I haven’t been doing my job as a mom but that is about to change. From now on we are going to have some rules in our home and they are non-negotiable. I have allowed you to speak and treat me disrespectfully and that is going to stop. For now there will be no friends over until you show me that you can keep your room and house tidy. When you do have friends over, they will clean up after themselves and not leave it for me to do. You will have a curfew each night, and you will respect it. You will do your homework and if it is not done, you will stay in at school to complete it. You have a phone bill you can’t afford which means that you have two options: you either get a job to pay for your phone or complete chores around the house to pay for your phone. Until that time, I will be taking the phone away. This phone is a privilege and not a right. You will need to earn that privilege. The same rule applies to earning extra money for clothes and makeup. I will help you to write up a resume but until you can afford your own clothes, you will wear what I can afford to buy you. As long as you are living in our home you will be expected to go to school and to keep your grades up as well as helping out with our household chores.

I will be setting up a meeting with the school to discuss your attendance and your behaviour at school.

On my end, I promise to stick to my guns and help to make sure you are doing the things you need to do in order to improve our relationship and to succeed in life. That’s my job as a parent. I love you and I know that this is the right thing to do for both of us.

Love Mom

When calling to set up a meeting with your daughter and a counselor or principal at the school, I recommend that at the same time you request a regular call time so that the school is not constantly calling your work. You may also set up email correspondence to help cut down the calls.

Good luck in your parenting. Raising a teen takes a great deal of love, heaps of patience, and lots of forgiveness.

Jackie Lee



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