Dear mom of a teenage daughter,
Remember when your kiddos turned 2 and everyone did that deep sigh thing and even rolled their eyes a bit knowing the choppy waters you were about to enter? You have returned to the waters. The difference is your 2-year-old stayed in the boat and your teenage daughter has jumped off. Welcome to your new world.
Just like any storm, this too shall pass, but what we do in the middle of the storm can be the difference between surviving and capsizing.
First off, you are not alone. Yes, you will find girls that show signs of kindness to their moms, and I am guessing there are moments when you see glimmers of kindness too, but don’t compare yourself to anyone during this time. There are many different reasons that girls stay close to their moms during the teen years; sometimes they are for healthy reasons, but sometimes they are not . This is the time for teens to push away, test boundaries and strive for independence, so know that what you are experiencing is not unusual.
Second, you are feeling the hurt and growing pains that moms experience as your little bundle of joy becomes less little and less joyful. We long for that sweet girl in pigtails to look at us and say, “Mommy, I love you!” followed by a big hug that can last for what seems like forever. Bubble popped, that time has passed and boy does it hurt! We now get rolling eyes, slamming doors and cold shoulders. This can be infuriating!
Be aware of the feelings behind your anger. I promise it is fear and sadness. We fear that we are raising a cruel and mean girl and we are sad because we are slowly watching our daughter grow up and leave the nest. Knowing it is fear and sadness, we can take a deep breath, call a friend to vent, cry and process and then put on our armor to join the battle field again.
Third, our daughters need our strength. If we go back to the boat analogy, they are swimming in difficult waters (hormone changes, brain changes, body image, relationship, academics and on, and on, and on!) They don’t need our hurt and anger, they need our strength. Our daughters need us to be their anchor when they are feeling out of control. If we role model strength, they will learn to use that as their coping mechanism. But too often we jump into the out of control waters with them which only forces them to swim further away. Stay in the boat and be their anchor.
Fourth, focus on what you want your daughter to learn. If we can take off our emotional hat and put on our teaching one, we will help our daughters learn from the experience. But instead, if we become angry and escalated we have put ourselves in the crazy corner and our girls only learn that we are crazy. In order for our daughters to learn, we must stay calm and firm.
Fifth, pick your battles and when you do, set the boundary. We set boundaries to teach respect, responsibility, health and safety. If you feel your daughter has crossed the line, hold her accountable. That is how we become their anchor. When she is not being respectful, teach her, when she is not being responsible, teach her and when she is not being healthy or safe, teach her. She is feeling out of control and she is looking for you to be her strength, even if it feels like the last thing you want to do.
No matter how mad she gets and no matter how hard she pushes you away, remember, she does need you. It is just different than how she used to need you. Be her anchor and once the storm has passed you can get back in the boat together.
Hang in there,
Another mom in the middle of the storm