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Dear David Coleman: My 15-year-old is so ungrateful

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Q My daughter who is 15 is just so ungrateful. We bent over backwards for her during the Christmas holidays, with lovely gifts, facilitating her meeting her friends and so on. She just doesn't appreciate it. We never get anything back, not help around the house, not even a 'thank you' unless we insist on it. Even then it is grudging. I'm ready to hand her back if someone would take her!

David replies: You sound very frustrated. I am sure yours is a common-enough experience for parents of 15-year-olds. They can be a very self-absorbed (sometimes self-obsessed) bunch. They are also still probably in the stage where their friends (and their friends' feelings and opinions) are far more important to them than the opinions and feelings of their parents.

Your daughter may feel a sense of entitlement to the "things" she gets from you, whether that be money, her dinners, her clothes, her warm, safe room etc. It is a difficult process, but it is always good when parents have an expectation that their children will contribute and take responsibility. If she perceives that things come too easily then she may not realise that she must give back too.

Teaching her these kinds of lessons doesn't have to be an unkind experience. She needs to prepare for independence and so it is fine to shift the social contract to expect her to give in return for what she receives. When we have to work for what we have, we learn to appreciate what we get given.

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