In Which Everything is My Fault

So, you know that thing that people do where they paint a rosy picture of their lives for the internet? Maybe it’s because they don’t want to be judged, or maybe they don’t want to seem ungrateful for the good things in their lives. In any case, I think I’ve been doing that a little bit lately, particularly when it comes to parenting.

The truth of the matter, on one level, is that I have a really awesome kid who is generally easy. She’s kind, smart, mature, and helps out around the house with very little issue.

On another level, however, she’s been a little bit of a struggle lately. And I think it’s better for me, and maybe everyone else too, if I talk about that. I don’t know if I’m looking for advice, are just looking to get all of my thoughts out. In either case, here I am.

I’m in one of those parenting places where I feel like I’m constantly failing, and I never know if what we’re going through is normal. It’s nothing awful, I guess. Just…alot of arguing and attitude.

Fights where my crazy-smart kid swears she doesn’t know what she’s doing wrong. It’s always over such stupid things too…getting dressed in the morning, putting away laundry, finishing an easy worksheet. She uses this super snotty tone, calls me mean and ridiculous, pushes every one of my buttons. I do everything in my power to stay calm, which I manage to do about 80% of the time, but I think my calm just makes her more angry.

If I insist, however calmly, that she do (or not do) whatever thing we’re fighting about, she gets full-on ragey. I’m taking red-faced, stomping, screaming rage sometimes. Once or twice it’s gotten so bad that she had trouble breathing. Twice I’ve had to physically restrain her to keep her from hitting, kicking, or other violence.

She yells at me to leave her alone, and then keeps prodding me verbally if I do. If I leave, she follows me. I worn her over and over, in specific detail about what privileges she will lose if she continues, and she says she doesn’t care. Then she goes insane when I take them away, claiming I never told her that and insisting I’m just mean.

Worse still, in the long run she’s nearly entirely unaffected by any punishment, no matter how much righteous rage it invokes initially, so I don’t even know if it’s helping anything.

I can’t let her sass me like that, rolling her eyes and calling me ridiculous. I can’t let her ignore my requests to get dressed, clean her room, get in the shower, or whatever else. The fighting stresses me out SO badly, and on the times I lose my temper and yell at her I just feel that much worse.

I struggle with the whole thing, because she’s a really good kid overall. She worked hard. She gets incredible grades. When she’s good, she’s happy and helpful and affectionate. But when she’s mad, which is happening more often and with less preamble or obvious trigger, I worry that she’s getting too angry.

I don’t know how to help her. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Maybe nothing. I don’t know how I’m going to survive her teenage years if this is what 8/9 is bringing. We talked to her therapist about it and have a new “time out” tool we’re going to try to use. We’ll see how it goes.

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