Beautiful baby girls start out so sweet and loving, and so ridiculously adorable. But, fast forward a decade and suddenly… they’re not.
The typical adolescent girl looks something like this: She can be sweet and kind; she loves you and thinks you are the best (most often when you give her the answer she wants to hear). And then, with a flip of a switch, (oftentimes when the answer is no), she hates you. She swears she will never speak to you again; she wishes she had different parents, parents who “get it;” she tells you that you are doing everything wrong, you have no idea how to parent, you do not understand her and that if only you would listen to her, then everything would be fine. She knows what she is doing, and if you would just get out of her way and leave her alone, she would be just fine.
And for a split second you think that maybe she is right.
You question yourself as a parent and as a person, “What have I done?!” You wonder if you are indeed qualified for this job. You know you are supposed to remain strong but you feel very, very weak—almost overpowered—but you can’t let her see this. You cannot show any signs of vulnerability or wavering because you know what she will do with that! She will pounce! And she will be at you once again, explaining with incredible articulation that if she doesn’t get to go to the concert that all her friends are going to (without an adult chaperone), her life will surely fall apart. She will miss the most important event of her life and she will never be invited to another social gathering throughout junior and senior high school. Her friends will tease her that her parents are over-protective, and they will never want to come over to her house to hang out so she just might as well just quit school because she is not going to have any friends! And she reminds you again, “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!!! And, did I mention that I hate you and that you are ruining my life?!”
My daughter is now 19 and in college, and I kid you not, I wasn’t sure if we’d make it through her teen years.
The ongoing battles, threats, yelling (okay, screaming), power struggles, each of which I promised myself, time and time again, that I would not engage in, nearly took me down. She tested every ounce of my being at the deepest levels possible. She knew where my buttons were and was not afraid to push them. No stone went unturned within me as I trudged through her teen years with her, leading me to wonder “Who’s child is this? She cannot be mine.”
But wait, before you head for the liquor cabinet right now, this is where I offer the gift of foresight: This, too, shall pass.
My daughter and I presently have a strong, healthy, loving and respectful relationship—one that I certainly hoped and prayed for, but many times questioned whether it would be possible. This relationship is one of the most powerful relationships in my life and I could not be more grateful for it.
It is a continual dance that mothers and daughters do, especially during the adolescent and teen years (mothers and sons dance too, but to a slightly different tune). What I have realized about those tumultuous years with my daughter is that so much of the pushing and pulling that happened during those years were essential in creating the relationship we have today.
There is nothing easy about raising girls, and the difficulties reach record highs during adolescence. But, (and this is a big and important “but,”) your daughter will grow up and you will let her go and most likely, she will come back to you. Maybe in a way that is different than what you expected, but hopefully in a way that feels connected, strong and full of love and mutual respect.
And it will all have been worth it.