I have three wonderful daughters, whom I’m very proud of. They are growing into independent, strong, intelligent and caring young women – all I’ve ever wanted.
But, as any parent of teenagers will tell you, it ain’t always easy!
In fact, it’s a good job my long-suffering hubby gets to travel away with work a lot, because right now he has three teenage girls and a menopausal wife – talk about House of Hormones!
I had a moment the night before last I’m not proud of, and completely ‘lost it’ with my middle daughter because I thought she was being rude, disrespectful, self-centred and downright hurtful. I had the classic parental over-reaction caused by huge anger and frustration (because I wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable), underlined by fear that I can’t have done a good job of raising her if she behaves that way.
The encounter shook me up, and left me upset and hurting for over a day, with much self-recrimination, as well as still simmering anger.
I tried taking a dose of my own medicine, remembering that the other person is never the problem; it’s only my own behaviour I have any control over (I apologised later to my daughter for my part in the argument, and did a good job of not spiralling back into the vortex when it was not reciprocated!).
But I was still left feeling lost and helpless – what am I doing wrong? How can I navigate these difficult teenage years when rational argument just doesn’t work?
So I did what I always do when I’m feeling lost and stuck and know something needs to change these days; I go back to some of the principles laid out in my online course The ALIVE Programme – step back, take stock, get clear on what I want and reach out for support.
Now, I have a lot of good friends with kids much the same age, but our conversations tend to revolve around school, qualifications, the future, their relationships etc etc, and rarely does our private shame allow us to openly confess the difficulties we can encounter, or our own sense of inadequacy as a parent.
To talk about it would also somehow feel like a betrayal or disloyalty to my daughters, all of whom actually in the scheme of things are wonderful kids and I love them very, very much. But…they are also norms.
So instead today I talked to my coach supervision group about it, who provided fresh perceptive, support and understanding; I felt seen and heard, and was able to restore some self compassion.
And then to follow up, thanks to Amazon Prime, today I received a fabulous book in the post which has spoken right to my soul, relieved my troubled mind and made me laugh out loud called “Get Out of My Life…But first Take Me and Alex into Town“, a bestselling parent’s guide to the new teenager, by Tony Wolf & Suzanne Franks. It’s discharged the uncertainty and anxiety I was feeling about my parenting skills, wholeheartedly reassured me that ‘it’s not just me’, and restored my sense of humour and perspective.
So, to all you parents of teenagers out there – I salute you, and remember you’re not alone!