I recently read an article in the New York Times about parenting teenage daughters. I had such mixed feelings about the woman’s story! I couldn’t quite grasp whether she was complaining, venting, musing, or just rambling. She seemed to be saying that teenage girls are horrible beasts almost all of the time, but that every now and then, she saw a spark of the girl they used to be. I was confused and almost irritated by this. Ever since reading it, I’ve asked myself, is this the way it’s supposed to be? Am I doing something wrong? Am I missing something in my child-rearing skills? Do my children have to hate me, treat me with disgust and disrespect, and talk horribly about me behind my back in order for them to grow into mature women? Should I try to turn back the hands of time and make this happen?
You see, that has not been my experience at all, and I’ve been raising teenage girls for quite some time now. My three daughters and I talk about everything, spend quality time together, and honestly like each other. My girls are the ones who come home talking about how horribly other girls talk bout their mothers, and they always tell me that they say “My mom is my best friend. I tell her everything.” In fact, another teen was recently spending the weekend with us (hoards of teenage girls are always spending the weekend with us), and upon hearing Katie declare this, she said “I know. I tell your mom everything, too.” But there is that worrisome guilt again. Should she be telling me everything? Shouldn’t she be telling her own mother? Where does that line get crossed?
Okay, to tell the truth, things aren’t always so happy-go-lucky between my daughters and me. Sometimes they tell me things I wish I didn’t know. That’s when the “good mother” in me comes out, the one who lectures and admonishes. But then I have to remind myself that I raised them to have their own opinions and think for themselves. Sometimes they tell me they don’t want me to join them, and that’s okay. It’s important for them to go their own way and do their own things. We are not joined at the hip, nor should we be. Sometimes they talk about going far away to college (though my oldest ended up less than three hours away) or moving to another state one day, and I have to smile and encourage them even though I think to myself, what if you get sick? What if you get hurt? What about our monthly family days? How will you join us? What about birthdays, and holidays, and days we just want to go shopping? What am I supposed to do without you? So I have to remind myself that Ken and I have worked hard to nurture their roots but to also give them wings.
And then I look at them, these beautiful young women who come to me with their problems, who text or call me just to tell me they aced a test, or didn’t, who smile when they get out of school and grudgingly answer the questions they claim to be so tired of me asking. I look at these young women and I know, they are my daughters, my lifelines, and my friends. So while I’ve always been told, “be their parent, not their friend,” I will continue to listen to their idle chatter, and dry their heartbreaking tears, and sing with them at the top of our lungs as we drive to school. And I will lay down the law when necessary. Perhaps I will look back and think about what a better mother I could have been if I had been stricter with them and drawn more of a line between mother and friend, but my girls seem to be happy, healthy, and excelling in school and life, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s all that matters.
Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.
http://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com