Archive for the 'Adolescence' Category
My oldest daughter and I had a conversation about sex yesterday. I tried to play it cool, but inside I was in a turmoil. She is 14 and very interested in boys. I can remember that age well, very well. My daughter thinks and says to me all the time that I am ‘cool’. We like the same music, enjoy the same style of dress, and I do not judge her for her choices.
It may not look like it, but each and every time we have a conversation about something that is deep and this important, I hold myself back from giving what she would say is ‘uncool’ advice. Condemning her or her friends for that sip of alcohol, throwing a literal fit over the fact that she has a friend who smokes pot, and restraining myself from interrogating her on her activities when she is with her boyfriend.
It isn’t the fact that I care if she thinks I am cool or uncool. No, I feel that to have my child trust me, I have to trust her to make her own decisions. While we talk together about personal things quite often, it is nice to know I am the only person she confides her deepest thoughts to. She feels safe enough to tell me her concerns about her friends who drink, the ones who smoke pot, and to express that she just isn’t ready to have sex yet.
It isn’t always easy to be the open and accepting parent. You can feel as if you are being punched in the stomach at some of the things your child tells you. But when they tell you, with real sincerity in their voices, along with relief, that you are the only person they feel as if they can turn to and be so open. It is so worth it.
Is your child open with you? If not, are you willing to step back and let your child make a few choices without judging? This may be the step you need to take to become closer with your child. Please share your thoughts.
I think I have finally gotten over worrying about becoming my mother. It took me almost three decades, but I am (almost) there. I have spent a lot of time wondering where this common disquiet amongst women comes from. I think I have become more interested now because I have daughter. I would be horrified if she ever felt like being able to relate to me, or making some similar decisions in her life, was the end of her world. I got a little insight this weekend — my Aunt Rose and Uncle Bob came to visit.
Aunt Rose has three sons, no daughters. I am about the closest thing she has ever had to a daughter — she and I are pretty tight. We talked a lot about my mom and my relationship with her. We spent many (many…) hours talking about family history, the good and the bad, and really got to the bones of what our family is about. I talked to her about how I and just about every girl I know has an innate fear of becoming like their mother — of repeating histories and making the same mistakes as the women in their family. I brought this up to her because it seems this emotion isn’t shared with women of her generation — at least it isn’t with her and my mom. They seem to work their hardest to be exactly like their mother, even though they know that she wasn’t happy for a lot of her life. As she talked about her mother, I realized it was pretty complicated — you have to know the long a drawn out history of my family, which I won’t delve into, to really understand. But the bigger picture is this: for them, they are, in some strange way, trying to make their mother’s life work out long after her death, hence the urge to recreate her emotional choices. It almost seemed a duty — which made me wonder why I don’t feel that same duty to my mother. This led to another conversation with a girlfriend of mine — we both have wonderfully, crazy, brilliant mothers whom we love more than life itself, we just don’t want to ever be identical to.
We talked about the inevitableness of some of it and how we have already made decisions that set us apart and have taken us on a different journey. What we realized was that we simply wanted to have the ability to define ourselves without any preemption. We didn’t want to be sized up based on what the women in our clan before us had done or not done. As younger women we had yearned for a clean slate. Thankfully, none of us are born with one. The older we get the more we realize that if we are anything close to the greatness that we have in mind for ourselves, it will be because of all the history and layers of the women in our family - not in spite of.