Big Talks with the Teenager

M1 loathes any type of helping around the house. Tonight in my exhaustion I begged, literally the kids to put down the video games and help me clean up their mess. I had only had about 2 hours sleep as both M2 and Little Bit had nightmares last night. Three out of four  got up and helped out immediately, M1 walked into her room and shut the door. Three of us clean the house and when I go to check on M1 she is in her room listening to music, reading and had not even attempted to clean the hell hole.  Angry…um yeah…..

I forced her to clean the room door open, she was pizzed slamming everything around. I then made her fold all the laundry and shift over the  loads. I put the others to bed and joined her in the living room. I asked what, aside from having a relationship with her love interest, motivated her and that before she answered know that I wanted the truth I was going to withhold all criticism. It took a moment and then she said “nothing” Well I sort of figured this out but nice to have her validate it. I questioned why this relationship was so critical for her and she fell silent. I reminded her I was not going to critique her answer, I wanted to understand her so whatever answer she gave would be the answer, no criticism from me. After a long while she said “Well I love him” My brain raged, he is a hoodlum, gets kicked out of school yearly for assault of students and has about a C average. She deserves better!!!!! But nothing came out of my mouth, I gave my word and yes it hurt hard to swallow all that!!!

A hard conversation followed where for the first time ever M1 spoke to me honestly about herself. She wanted the relationship to define who she was. If she had no relationship then she was nothing. She is unloveable, ugly and a bitch so no one would ever love her.  My heart broke but I measured my words, I knew she could “hear me” but not really hear me. I told her that I respected what she was saying but was concerned for her. I said I know I can’t make her see things differently right now because “I don’t understand and You’re not me” but that it was critical for all woman to have relationships be a PART of who they were but not define their worth as a person. I also told her that right now she was probably saying in her head “you don’t understand you are not me” and she smiled so I knew it was right on. I desperately wanted to say “Well when it all goes to hell what do you do then?” but when I saw the raw emotion on her face I could not. I love her and that was not something she was able to emotionally accept right now.

Instead I tried a different approach. I asked that she have a back up plan in case at some point in her life she wanted something in addition to being his girlfriend/wife. I asked that she think about some other things that maybe would be of interest in case she ever wanted to add to that title when she got older. She looked at me strangely so I gave an example.

“I had a friend J who wanted only to be a Mom. She got pregnant and stayed home to raise the kids. Her kids are two years older then you right now and she is thinking of maybe working again.  She kept her grades up so going back to college is a possibility. She had some job skills so a career is an option. See she had back up plans for when she was ready to add something more to her goal. What I am asking you is to get good grades in high school so that if later, you want to go to college or have a career you have a solid start”

M1 smiled and asked if J was real and I said yes and pulled up a picture on my computer. She smiled, oh yeah she had met her and did remember her oldest is two years older then M1. I then asked what she wanted to do something right now other then girlfriend/wife and she did not answer so I assured her it was fine. I told her I wanted to support whatever plans she had for her life but NOT so I could control it but rather support her. She looked suspiciously at me and I reiterated I WAS NOT going to do what my parents did to me which was plan my life then point out all the ways I failed as obvious by yesterdays interactions. She laughed and asked “Are you mad at them? Do you hate them? What did they want you to be?” The look on her face was one I rarely see which is that of curiosity. I explained

“My parents wanted me to go to college, get a job, get married and have children. They wanted me to be a journalist or writer ‘because that is all you are good at’ and of course paid no attention to my dreams. I told them when I was 10 I wanted to be in the military, they refused to sign the papers. I went to college for counseling, they refused to pay because it was not writing. I had no interest in marriage or even committed relationships, they told my siblings I was mentally ill. I found out I couldn’t have kids, they accused me of lying. No I don’t hate them it hurts me deeply that they cannot accept me for who I am instead evaluate me on what they think I should be”

The shock on M1’s face was clear so I continued “I WON’T do this to you. It is your life, what do you want to do with it and how can I support that”. I reiterated my love for her and my strong desire for her to be HER OWN PERSON not a copy of me or a replica of what I thought she should be. I told her I would caution her from my mistakes and make her work though some of the potential ramifications of her thoughts but that was just because I cared. She smiled at me and looked really close to grateful. Crap I forgot how hard it is to be a teen, now I remember why I don’t want to go back in time.

M1  headed off to bed and I sat for awhile. I suppose there is no way to make this whole teen thing go faster or better so I guess I will have to hang on and pray we make it out relatively unscathed.

parenting-teens

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2 thoughts on “Big Talks with the Teenager

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  1. Ahhh, same kind of conversations over here re: the status and identity that relationships supposedly bring. It’s so hard to try to teach a young girl what it took me until I was a grown woman to really understand and appreciate.

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