Should I Force My Older Teen to Eat Dinner With the Family?

I was quite upset last evening, as in sad, angry, frustrated, and confused, when my sixteen year old daughter called an hour before dinner and said she wanted to go out to dinner with friends. I said no and when she started complaining , I responded with a martyr’s response of “Do what you want.” So, she did, and I fumed the rest of the night. 

When she came home and I tried to talk to her, she was cold and distant and that made me even more irritated with her.  I told my husband and younger child in a impulsive, angry comment that she was being a bitch, and this really upset my other child, understandably so. I immediately regretted saying it and felt horrible for hurting my younger one. I apologized profusely and, of course, started in with the self-hate inside my own mind. 

My husband asked if he thought it was the topamax cessation that was effecting my temper since I had this type of reaction when I started it way back when. I don’t think it is that. 

I think I’m just missing my daughter, who is hardly ever home now that she is driving. I think I have a hard time with last minute changes.  I think I am frustrated when I have food cooked for her that goes to waste because she doesn’t come home to eat it. I think I am trying desperately to keep as much family time intact as I can, and eating dinner as a family is something that has always contributed to that. 

So now I am struggling with the idea of requiring that she be home for dinner with us five nights a week or letting it go on as is and learning to accept it as part of her growing up. 

Last year she was at a different school with no friends and in the midst of a severe depression. Now, she has friends to spend time with and life is going really well for her. I have to take that into consideration, too, and not keep her from too many social opportunities.

Is there anyone out there with older children that have experienced this whole letting go- holding on struggle?  Am I being selfish in wanting her to be home for dinners or is it in the best interest of the family as a whole?  Is it unreasonable to make her eat with us?


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