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Parenting "derech challenged" unhappy teen
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amother




OP
 

Post Wed, Jan 12 2022, 10:55 pm
My 15 yr old daughter has always had issues with yiddishkeit and I am unsure of how to cope. It started out very slowly and it was always very lowkey.
I don't even know if it's worth describing the whole situation here.
She's not chutzpadik, she's not being mechalel shabbos in front of us, or bringing treif in, she's not dressing pritzus, or anything like that, but she's just deeply unhappy with yiddishkeit, and the more time passes, the more she obsessively talks about moving away from home "one day". None of our kids, not even the oldest one in shidduchim, talks actively about moving away from home like that.
I can feel that every day is a heavy burden on her, she doesn't even want to join us for meals anymore. She tried different therapists and didn't like them, and said therapy is not for her.
She says she hates BY and in her perfect world, she would go to public school and dress however she pleases, but "she knows that's not an option, so don't worry". She works babysitting and at a grocery store and we've heard her say she's saving up to move away, and is constantly budgeting and looking at apartment listings.

I don't know what to do. I can see her being unhappy. I can see hear her crying sometimes at night in her room.

We've tried to talk with her about what makes her unhappy and what we can do, and she always says to not worry, because she won't do anything "unkosher" as long as she's living with us, and even "the day she moves away, she won't embarass us". I don't even know what that means. She's put up a huge wall and all we know is she's unhappy, probably thinking of going OTD, obsessively day dreaming about leaving our house, and just counting the minutes until she turns 18. I don't know what to do.

I don't even know what kind of advice I can get here but I just wanted to vent and maybe someone would have something to share that could help.

What can I do? I don't want to force her to do anything. I just don't want her to be this miserable anymore.
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amother




Amaryllis
 

Post Wed, Jan 12 2022, 11:15 pm
amother [ OP ] wrote:
My 15 yr old daughter has always had issues with yiddishkeit and I am unsure of how to cope. It started out very slowly and it was always very lowkey.
I don't even know if it's worth describing the whole situation here.
She's not chutzpadik, she's not being mechalel shabbos in front of us, or bringing treif in, she's not dressing pritzus, or anything like that, but she's just deeply unhappy with yiddishkeit, and the more time passes, the more she obsessively talks about moving away from home "one day". None of our kids, not even the oldest one in shidduchim, talks actively about moving away from home like that.
I can feel that every day is a heavy burden on her, she doesn't even want to join us for meals anymore. She tried different therapists and didn't like them, and said therapy is not for her.
She says she hates BY and in her perfect world, she would go to public school and dress however she pleases, but "she knows that's not an option, so don't worry". She works babysitting and at a grocery store and we've heard her say she's saving up to move away, and is constantly budgeting and looking at apartment listings.

I don't know what to do. I can see her being unhappy. I can see hear her crying sometimes at night in her room.

We've tried to talk with her about what makes her unhappy and what we can do, and she always says to not worry, because she won't do anything "unkosher" as long as she's living with us, and even "the day she moves away, she won't embarass us". I don't even know what that means. She's put up a huge wall and all we know is she's unhappy, probably thinking of going OTD, obsessively day dreaming about leaving our house, and just counting the minutes until she turns 18. I don't know what to do.

I don't even know what kind of advice I can get here but I just wanted to vent and maybe someone would have something to share that could help.

What can I do? I don't want to force her to do anything. I just don't want her to be this miserable anymore.

Are you absolutely sure that this poor sad girl is not being abused?
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Rubies




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Jan 12 2022, 11:17 pm
amother [ Amaryllis ] wrote:
Are you absolutely sure that this poor sad girl is not being abused?


Or something else that's too big for her to cope with but doesn't want to upset you so she's not sharing?

She doesn't seem rebellious at all and seems to want to protect you. It's interesting.
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amother




Navyblue
 

Post Wed, Jan 12 2022, 11:25 pm
Based on what you wrote in your OP- I would say to just keep telling her how much you love her. Spend time with her, go on special outings, let her miss school once in a while just because, and give her lots of positive attention whenever you could. Iyh she’ll find a way to enjoy yoddishkeit, but that shouldn’t come from a place of having no choice. Let her reach that on her own.
I had a friend who said she didn’t believe anything for years (in HS, sem, college) then one day she asked me for recommendations of books that explain yiddishkeit. She told me after that her whole life felt like she was doing something she didn’t understand and didn’t have a reason to believe. She had to reach her own understanding of Hashem and yiddishkeit and she did.
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amother




Marigold
 

Post Wed, Jan 12 2022, 11:50 pm
My 16 year old son is having issues with Yiddishkeit. He is so much different than your daughter so this is interesting to me. My son is angry, rebellious and lets us know that he can do whatever he wants and we can’t stop him. The way he dresses, speaks and the things he does goes against everything we stand for. It’s very painful to watch. I always wonder what I could have done differently when he was younger.
Op, your daughter sounds depressed. If she is crying to herself she is in a very bad place emotionally. The seems confused, not angry. Does she have good friends? I don’t think you should talk about religion/ hashkafa at all. Just let her know that you care about her and you want her to be happy. Is there any way she would go to a competent therapist? Don’t suggest this yet. First build up her trust. Let her feel how much you care. Perhaps if she feels the love she would be receptive to the idea of therapy.
May Hashem help our children to have menuchas hanefesh and be inspired by good people who do good things. They should have the confidence and strength to choose right from wrong.
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amother




PlumPink
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 12:28 am
It is crucial that your daughter finds a therapist whose a good fit and start again.
This isn’t a frumkeit thing, this is a mental health issue.
Your daughter is sad and needs help. Please call relief right away for a new referral
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Rubies




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 12:34 am
amother [ PlumPink ] wrote:
It is crucial that your daughter finds a therapist whose a good fit and start again.
This isn’t a frumkeit thing, this is a mental health issue.
Your daughter is sad and needs help. Please call relief right away for a new referral


This might backfire as she is burnt out from prior experiences with therapy.
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amother




Topaz
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 12:37 am
amother [ PlumPink ] wrote:
It is crucial that your daughter finds a therapist whose a good fit and start again.
This isn’t a frumkeit thing, this is a mental health issue.
Your daughter is sad and needs help. Please call relief right away for a new referral


I agree that the religion is not an issue here. Focus on mental health and your relationship. Might as well teach her real life skills too - budgeting. Meal planning, cooking if she will indeed leave the house early
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amother




OP
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 5:33 am
amother [ Amaryllis ] wrote:
Are you absolutely sure that this poor sad girl is not being abused?


We thought about this but it seems impossible. She's at school all day, and we know the families of the girls in her classes well. If there was anything going on at school, someone would tell us.
Then at home absolutely no chance and she has her own room.
No chance at work as far as I know- she babysits for nice frum families, and works at a grocery store owned by family friends, and is never alone there.

Am I missing something? Are kids abused in environments where there's absolutely no chance of anything like that? Are there other signs than a constant morose state?
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amother




OP
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 5:47 am
amother [ PlumPink ] wrote:
It is crucial that your daughter finds a therapist whose a good fit and start again.
This isn’t a frumkeit thing, this is a mental health issue.
Your daughter is sad and needs help. Please call relief right away for a new referral


Therapy is seriously a no-go. The only time we fought about anything was about this, she absolutely hated therapy (she has tried 4 different therapists since she is 12, for different things)

I'm saying this here in reply to a few other posters, I think this is both a mental health thing AND a frumkeit thing. We normally don't allow secular music and books except for very clean exceptions, but I know my daughter goes to the library and listens to music on their unfiltered computers and reads all kinds of books. But so far this seems to be her only outlet for whatever is making her miserable so I don't even want to mention it.

In fact, (sue me), I somewhat encourage it, I've taken her to the library or a bookstore at different times and was hoping to get to know her more through that, have her show me what books she likes, show her the books I liked when I was her age. And while it was nice, she clammed up and didn't give me real answers.

I also don't push her to do anything at all regarding hashkafah.. My husband and I have even said that if she were to actually ask to change schools or dress differently, we might agree just to see if that's what's making her unhappy.
So far she just keeps saying things like "in her dream world, she can do x and y" and "when she moves away...." when we've never actually forbade her to do anything and at this point, we wouldn't.

also thank you all for your replies so far
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LovesHashem




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 5:58 am
I definitely say work on your relationship. No matter what happens with her yiddishkeit wise would you rather have a daughter move away and barely hear from her, or a daughter who visits, texts and videochats you, and shares her life with you?

Tell her you won't judge her for whatever you reads or watches. Maybe even watch a movie with her privately (not at home. Go to a theater or something and watch a popular movie with her, have her pick).

Make her feel loved and cared for.
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amother




Feverfew
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 7:05 am
I would actually sit down and ask her if she wants to switch schools.
Sometimes good kids are sure nothing is possible, and just fester away in their misery.
Let her know that if she wants, she can go to a more modern school. Or even public school. Mental health above all.
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ora_43




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 7:12 am
JMHO for whatever it's worth, but I think I would:

- decide what I'm willing to offer. Examples: access to secular music at home; access to secular books at home (eg a Kindle with a monthly budget); after-school activities with kids from non-yeshivish or even non-frum homes; a week-long trip to visit a relative who is less frum/ lives in a cool area (ie somewhere where she can feel less pressure to fit the mold for a little while); switching from BY to a less strict orthodox school. Doesn't have to be something big, the main idea is to have something to proactively offer. What can you live with?

- talk to her again about how unhappy she seems to be. If she gets into "don't worry, I'm not planning to start wearing jeans" or "I won't embarrass you," say straight out, "I'm not worried about how you dress/ what you're planning to do when you're older. I'm worried about how unhappy you seem to be right now."

You can't make her talk about it, but you can get it out there that she's not protecting you by keeping you out, and that you're reading to listen whenever she's ready to talk.

This is where I'd make my offer. Even if she tries to shut down the conversation by insisting she's OK. "Abba and I were talking, and we were wondering if you'd like ____ ."

- ask if she'd like to see a psychiatrist. She hated talk therapy, but would she reject a screening for depression?
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amother




Jean
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 7:16 am
Yes she can be abused in all the environments you described. Kids have been abused under their roofs by siblings too. I would not not cross it off the list as a possibility.
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ora_43




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 7:18 am
tl;dr version, sounds like the current "don't ask don't tell" model you all have going on isn't working for either of you. You can't make her lower her walls on her end, but you can break the barrier on your end by talking about your concerns + being proactive in trying to find ways for her to feel more freedom now, while still at home.

You sound like a good mom and she sounds like a good kid. I hope it gets better soon.
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kenz




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 7:21 am
It sounds like she may need a low dose anti depressant, rather than therapy. Talk to your pediatrician but definitely don’t just ignore it.
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salt




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 7:23 am
ora_43 wrote:


- talk to her again about how unhappy she seems to be. If she gets into "don't worry, I'm not planning to start wearing jeans" or "I won't embarrass you," say straight out, "I'm not worried about how you dress/ what you're planning to do when you're older. I'm worried about how unhappy you seem to be right now."



This seems to me a very good way to put it.
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ora_43




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 7:30 am
Abuse is always a possibility, sadly.

But you already have one potential explanation - the one she's given you (not straight out, maybe, but close enough). I'd start there, for two reasons.

First, because that might really be the entire issue. Feeling out of place in her own life could cause the kind of deep unhappiness you're seeing even if there was no abuse.

Second, because if chv"s she's experiencing abuse (or bullying, or a toxic relationship, etc), the only real way to know would be for her to say something. And the best way to encourage her to talk would be to show her that you're willing to listen to whatever she has to say, that you can handle whatever she tells you even if it's disturbing, and that you believe her. And right now, the best way to do that is to show that you're listening when she hints at how unhappy she is with her current derech, that you're not going to panic or get mad even if she says "mom, I don't want to be frum," and that you believe her when she points to this as something that makes her unhappy.

IOW treating the "derech challenge" issue as if it's the main issue could davka be the thing that opens the door for her to talk about other issues.

Again, JMHO. If there's a strong reason to suspect abuse, beyond what you've said here, I'd talk to a professional about how to approach it.
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amother




Candycane
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 7:34 am
If you have a decent relationship with her, I would try to really get on her level and communicate with her to understand where she’s coming from, without judgement or intention to change her. If you come to the conversation with any goal other than loving her and being supportive to her, don’t start. Is it impossible to believe that she really feels another way would suit her best? Maybe this is genuinely what she sees herself being happy with. Even if she eventually chooses differently, I believe she’ll be better off with a parent who chooses to interact with her with honesty and unconditional love. Having a relationship with a parent who you know is consistently disappointed in your real desires is very hard.

It’s very possible there are other emotional issues triggering this, but even if there are, it doesn’t make her disinterest in yiddishkeit less legitimate.

I would also be curious to know what her social life is like as that’s a huge factor in teenage unhappiness. Maybe she needs a new school and environment, perhaps one with more secular exposure.
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amother




Tealblue
 

Post Thu, Jan 13 2022, 7:42 am


OP, you will learn a lot from this.
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