She’s growing up…how do I cope?
I’ve ummed and ahed so many times about writing this post. I feel it’s something I need to get off my chest. Teenage daughters and growing up, where to start? Wow, how about beginning a conversation which seems relatively harmless with an almost 15 year old. All of a sudden you need armour, a huge shield and a war hammer. Old wives tales will tell you that girls are ‘easier’ than boys. If so they haven’t met my gorgeous, headstrong, independent young lady.
I’m proud of the fact that my daughter is growing to be confident and resilient. However, especially recently, as the hormones take over, she has been asking more of us and pushing boundaries. Remember dear reader, that she is my first, and I learn by making mistakes. We have boys in conversations, asking to go out in the evenings with friends. I was kind of expecting it, but recently I haven’t been coping too well with the anxiety it causes me. So, I’ve decided to shake a few things up, hence this post!
Growing up and the enabling parent
She very much needs to feel empowered and in charge of her own destiny at this age. We’ve argued about three main components of her life. These areas are curfew, communication and respect for us, others and herself. I like to think that I am an enabler, so I want her to be her best. Her best may be different to other people’s kids, but I don’t want her to feel pressurised. If her school work is done, she has no classes or study to do, she should spend time with her friends. Makes sense, right? She doesn’t need to be attached to me by the umbilicus any more. But tell my brain that. I’ve had a chat and this is what we’ve come up with.
We live out in the wilds, so, every time she goes to a friends it means travel. On school nights it makes this difficult as our little one goes to bed accompanied at 7ish. Is it fair to ask her to be in at 7pm on a school night? To be fair in winter I’d rather her be home than wondering around with a crew of 15 year olds in the dark and cold welsh rain. I don’t like the thought of her wondering the streets either. A lot of the kids here congregate around bus stops and the local shop. Not that they’re up to no good (they’re just noisy usually). Do I want her to be one of these kids? No. I never did that. But you see, she isn’t me. This is where I fall down.
When I was 14, I was in book club, teaching myself French, always on the piano. My daughter is definitely not interested in anything I did at that age. I was always in for 7:30 and in bed for 9, albeit watching X-Files or reading yet another Steven King…
She is not me. She enjoys company of her friends, Snapchatting, taking photos. Half of her life revolves around what’s going on in her Snapchat story. It’s not that she’s wrong, it’s just that life has changed. So weeknights a curfew of 8 has been set. She never pushes the weekday curfew.
Weekends are a whole different ballgame. Recently she’s been doing the “I’m staying over at….house” game. Ok, I don’t mind it if I know where she is. BUT when she phones you in the morning asking to be picked up at another friends’ house I get anxious. Questions like why, where, when and what flood my brain. I remember she is only 14, and maybe not capable of making those adult rational decisions just yet. That’s why we have rules.
Weekends it’s 10pm. But I still don’t like the thought of her trapsing about in the dark. Which leads to my next point:
Today’s teenager has a smartphone permanently welded to their hand. There is no reason for them not to use it. I think this started my anxiety ticking away, as she would be with friends but there would be a communication blackout. I’ve since sat down with her and explained that I need at least two texts or communications from her if she’s out. One to tell me where she is, and one later on to tell me how she’s coming home, or what time I’m to get her.
I accept she’s growing up and needs some freedom, but I would like to be to be informed on her whereabouts. Does this sound unreasonable? I hope that after our chat she sees how important this is. She needs to know we love her and worry about her. I just don’t want her to be stuck somewhere.
This is a biggie. Respect for us, our lives and our prior commitments. Once or twice she’s asked us to drop things to take her out. Our answer to this is we do what we can but we can’t guarantee or promise. Some weeks she can’t go because we have a prior appointment with her brother. Sulking or crying over something that has been preorganised isn’t adult behaviour. We’ve had a few episodes. Life isn’t fair is one of the most common responses. Also she hates her life, and it’s not fair (whatever IT is).
Respect for others. So phoning a friend or a friends house to ask if she can visit before she just appears there. Also, realising that other people’s parents aren’t her taxi services either! Also knowing how to behave out of the house and with her friends. There is a fair amount of boisterous behaviour that goes on in crowds of kids. Heckling, shouting, loudness which elderly people may find intimidating. Again this has been communicated to her rationally.
We’ve tried to be adults with her, and respecting herself is one of the main gifts that we can give her as she approaches adulthood. So many young girls are subject to peer pressure, and we’re quite open about sex. There are things she now needs to know although she pulls faces. She needs to know how to respect herself, and sometimes people will think less of her for having respect for herself. It’s a toughie.
All in all as a parent you can only do your best. Don’t blame yourself, and try to guide your child in a way that suits them. I’m no expert, and I’m still learning. Any hints or tips you have to offer would be happily accepted!