Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My teenage daughter has a diagnosis of ADHD, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. My ex- husband was abusive and an addict. We haven’t had contact with him for years. I have an excellent boyfriend who lives with us.
Our daughter becomes angry and takes her aggression out on her much younger sister.
Our raging daughter calls our other daughter names and threatens to punch her.
She’s physically abusive with me because I stop her from throwing things. I had to defend myself and I smacked her while she was kicking me.
She accuses me of being selfish and then went to be consoled by my boyfriend.
When he didn’t defend her, she rolled in the dirt while screaming and throwing rocks at the house.
She goes to Grandma’s house, where there are no rules or boundaries. She also goes to church with her friends while she’s there and complains about me.
Her doctor has her on medication but it’s not working. We’re looking into finding a different peer group too.
She’s a survivor from her father’s abuse and but uses it as an excuse.
She’s also scratches her arms until they bleed when she is freaking out.
First things first: forgive her, love her and continue professional help.
Think of your daughter’s issues as if they were physical illnesses instead of mental illnesses.
If she had broken bones, you would not be frustrated with her for her injuries. Please don’t blame her for the state of her mental health. She does have “broken bones,” which is evident by her scratching self-harm.
Don’t find her a new peer group. They will eventually not be right for her either because your daughter is the one who needs to make changes.
She isn’t a survivor yet. She’s a victim, but she has the power to choose not to stay one.
Your daughter is trying to deal with abandonment issues. She can’t get past them until she also learns how to get through the grieving process of being a victim, which takes time and professional help.
She needs to try to forgive her dad. Her PTSD will improve when she can forgive others, but that is most difficult, even for adults, let alone for a teenage girl.
It would be a good idea for your younger daughter to receive professional counseling also.
One more thing: having a live-in boyfriend is not ideal for your whole family. Even though you’ve been married before, marriage is a sign of true commitment. It could help make your daughters feel safer and more secure.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri