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Ask Lisi: Find out what's behind teen daughter's sassy attitude

Your daughter knows that what she’s saying is bothering you, and so she thinks she has found your Achilles heel. Teenage girls and their mothers go head-to-head since time immemorial.

Dear Lisi: My husband and I met at university, became close friends, graduated, and then found each other in a museum in New York City looking at the same exhibit with friends. We started dating that day and the rest is history.

We now have two kids, both in high school. My husband is a professional, works hard, wins awards in his field, and is financially successful. I put my career on hold to raise my children, but now work part-time in an admin position that I really enjoy.

Recently, my daughter has been giving me a lot of attitude, saying she doesn’t need to go to university, that she’ll just marry someone rich like I did, and she’ll never have to work. My husband keeps telling her that’s not our narrative, but she doesn’t listen.

She has two more years of high school, so it’s not really important that she’s saying these things right now. I know perfectly well how kids change throughout their high school years. But it’s rude, sassy, and for some reason touches a nerve with me.

How do I deal with her?

Sassy teen

Your daughter knows that what she’s saying is bothering you, and so she thinks she has found your Achilles heel. Teenage girls and their mothers go head-to-head since time immemorial.

It will pass.

In the meantime, try to discover what is behind these statements. Is she having trouble in school academically? That could lead her to think she’s incapable of succeeding in university, and here’s her out.

Is she having friendship issues? Is there a discrepancy in lifestyle between her and her friends? That could be driving the financial aspect of her comments (though you said your husband is a good earner).

Is she having relationship issues, such that she feels she needs to be dependent on someone else for her future? I’m just throwing out ideas for you to pursue.

You said your husband works hard, but perhaps he can find some time to spend with your daughter. He may be able to get to the root of the problem without getting emotional or being the brunt of her lashing out.

No matter what, she needs to know she can’t be rude to you or your husband.

Dear Lisi: My dad has given up on technology. He recently retired from his office job and took a leave of absence, as he calls it, from his computer. Six months later, he’s decided he never wants to send another email again. He rarely carries his phone with him; if he has it, it’s on silent so he doesn’t hear it; and he can’t be bothered to text.

My mother still works and needs to communicate with him throughout the day. He told her he’d call her at lunch time and again before she leaves the office, in case she needs something. She’s so frustrated with him that when she gets home, all they do is argue.

My brother lives out of the country, so it doesn’t affect him, though he also gets frustrated when he wants to talk to Dad and can’t. I work from home and live close by so I just pop over if I need my dad. But the whole thing isn’t sustainable.

How can I convince my dad to get back in to modern times?


I can empathize with your dad. Sometimes the multitude of communication that we all navigate on a daily basis can feel overwhelming. However, it is the normal way of life.

Take him out for lunch and explain to him how important it is for him to have a cell phone, to keep it on, and to answer when it rings. If he chooses never to email again, that’s OK.

FEEDBACK Regarding the brothers-in-law (March 21):

Reader – “I do enjoy your column, however, felt your response to the brother-in-law showed bias, valueing settled family life over a successful entrepreneur or musician.

“Another possible reason, since they denied being upset or mad at the parents, is they do not enjoy being around the family as a whole; in which case your suggestion for a guys’ weekend is excellent and may allow the opportunity for the brothers-in-law to reconnect and share more insights.

“The writer suggested the brothers-in-law changed since the pandemic. Everyone changed during the pandemic, including the writer, his wife and family. The writer was quick to express his perceived short-comings of his brothers-in-law, without considering how enjoyable getting together with his family really is. I’m certain a boys’ weekend could help the situation (although not necessarily for the sister/mother/wife).”

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: or

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