Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email

My daughter refuses to speak to me

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 22 September 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have one daughter aged 16. Her father left us when she was a baby, and we were on our own until I met my present partner 2 years ago. She used to be the most adorable daughter, and it was wonderful to see how well my partner and her got on. In fact, everything was perfect until just recently, when we told her we were expecting a baby of our own.

Since then she refuses to speak to us, slams doors and is rude to us. We have tried to reassure her that having this baby won't make any difference in her life or between us, but any mention of the baby and she either becomes angry or bursts into tears. I have tried to be patient, but she has turned into a nightmare child and spoiling what should be one of the happiest times of our lives. Please advise.

Patricia Marie says...

I can understand how worried and upset you are feeling. As you say, this should be a 'happy' time for you. At the moment you are seeing your daughter's behaviour as unreasonable and unfair. Nevertheless, labelling her doesn't help. Understanding her feelings can. Step into your daughter's shoes and start to see things from her point of view. After all, having a baby may be exciting and wonderful for you and your partner, but your daughter perceives this news as a threat to her place in the family. Of course she's unhappy. For 16 years she has been the number one in your life. She's scared she's no longer important, and is understandably feeling rejected, hurt and unsettled too.

Recognise the confusion and pain your daughter is feeling. What she needs is plenty of love and understanding. Don't pressure her to be more accepting of the news, or make her feel guilty about not having a happy response. Instead, give her time and space to get used to the idea. Perhaps she would like to help decorate the nursery. Ask her opinion on name choices. Involving your daughter in plans around the forthcoming birth will make her feel very much included, and will also help her to come to terms with your pregnancy.
Be honest and tell her things will be different, but the love you have for her will never change. As your daughter gets used to the idea of having a sister or brother she may become far less angry and anxious. Gently explain to her that although the baby will initially demand your attention, you will also ensure the two of you get to enjoy special time together. When she trusts the fact she's still loved and wanted, she will soon grow to accept and adore her new sibling, and in time you can all get to enjoy the special times that lie ahead.

For further help, advice and guidance, I highly recommend Family Lives (formerly Parent Line Plus) There help line is open 24 hours. 0808 800 2222
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