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I Tried Setting Limits, But I Have a Spoiled Teenage Daughter (and a Spoiled Dog)

Today was a banner day. My 16-year-old daughter finally realized that she is behaving like a brat. She got ticked off at me because I wasn’t setting limits with our dog. He’s so cute and I’m too tired to be an effective disciplinarian.

I let him beg at the table. I let him bark and I give him treats for no reason. He’s just so tiny and endearing. I don’t yell at him and I let him run the show. My son says we need a dog trainer.

The other day, I let the dog come into the house with a stick in his mouth. For some reason, that moment in particular caused my teenage daughter to have a fit.

“Mom! You let him do whatever he wants. That stick is dangerous for him. You’re not setting any limits. You’re spoiling him!” she yelled as she tried to get the stick out from between the dog’s teeth.

And then I saw a light bulb go off in her brain.

“You never set limits with me, either and I’m screwed up, too.”

Setting Limits for Teenagers (and Dogs)

I have to say, though, that I know I tried. After years of struggling, I finally gave up. Maybe it’s because she’s the youngest. Maybe it’s because she’s a stubborn red head. Or maybe it’s because I admired her independence and knew when I was a kid I had pulled the same stuff on my own mother.

So I explained, “Oh well and sorry. I did the best I could. I guess I took the path of least resistance. It’s too late now. When you didn’t listen to our guidelines as a toddler or kid, we knew you certainly wouldn’t pay attention to input as a teenager.”

And she’s a great kid. She does well in school, has lots of after school activities, and hangs out with a good group of friends. My issues with her revolve around the fact that she doesn’t get enough sleep and that her mess has invaded the whole house.

Today I have a childhood friend coming over for dinner. It’s probably one of the first times she’s been to our house. “Emily’s” junk is all over our house, and I had a fit. So she cleaned up some of her mess and then ran to a party. My husband and I just picked up all the rest of her stuff and threw it in her room. I know that that doesn’t constitute setting limits with teens. Perhaps if I’d set limits when she was younger, the house wouldn’t look like a cyclone hit it. And then I wouldn’t have freaked out like I did.

So it turns out that I am consistent. No discipline with the dog or the kids. All I can say is, I can’t wait to see how she brings up her own kids. I know she’s going to be super strict. I wish her good luck!

Valerie Newman lives in Connecticut with her husband and two kids. When Valerie started mixing up her kid’s college applications with her mother’s nursing home applications, she knew she was part of the sandwich generation.

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