10 Things My Daughter Wishes I’d Known When She Was a Teen
As a parent, I understand today how the way I grew up impacted my own parenting, especially with my oldest child.
As a teenager there was a lot of things that I secretly wanted from my mom.
For one thing, there were very little boundaries. I had free reign with drinking and partying. I had the freedom to do a lot of things, and in hindsight, I craved more discipline and guidance.
Let’s just say, my mom was the “cool mom.”
Fast forward to when I had my first daughter, and I was hellbent that my child would have rules and boundaries that I had so desperately wanted.
I was protective, to a fault, because that was what I had craved (although as a teen I didn’t realize it). My overexposure as a child made me swing in the complete opposite direction.
I wished my mom knew a lot of things growing up, and so out of curiosity I asked my twenty-six year old daughter what she would’ve wanted from me.
Here’s her list of 10 things looking back she wished I’d known and why.
When I’m screaming, I’m not always mad.
Sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m overwhelmed and depressed, too. If my friends make me mad, chances are I won’t yell at them, but you might catch it instead.
I might not be honest with you because I want to protect your feelings.
I didn’t tell my mom a lot about what was actually going on with me because I didn’t want it to upset her.
The more you react or blow up about things I tell you, the less I will want to say.
I’m the oldest, so everything I did was my mom’s first time dealing with it, but when she found something out and I got grounded for two weeks? My lips were sealed the next time around.
You don’t have to tell dad everything.
Some things a teenage girl just doesn’t want her dad to know, period.
Open dialogue is better than no dialogue.
I envied some of my friends whose moms were a little more loose about drinking, drugs and boys. They didn’t have to keep anything a secret unless they really wanted to. I felt like keeping secrets was the only option I had.
Trust me more.
Give me more autonomy. You don’t have to follow every move I make or check up on me all the time. Let me tell you what my plans are sometimes, instead of having to call other moms.
Lead by example instead of preaching.
If I see that you’re confident, chances are I’ll be confident as well. If I see that you seem unsure in your decision making, chances are I’ll have a hard time holding strong with the choices I make as well.
I want you to like my friends.
I want you to accept my friends. The more you like them and the more they like you, the more likely I am to want to bring them over and want you to have relationships with each other.
Buy foods I like.
My mom, bless her heart, loves health food. Some mornings I just wanted peanut butter Captain Crunch instead of granola.
Make my curfew a little later.
No one wants to have to go home an hour earlier than everyone else and to feel like a misfit.
As a Mom, my first response when I read this list was to be defensive, “Really? You wanted me to like your friend “so and so”? They were getting into so much trouble!”
But I’ve learned over the years how important it is to be less defensive, as hard as that is.
I’ve also learned that my kids are much better off when they can talk to me openly about the hard stuff that I might not want to hear. This simply cannot happen when I parent out of fear and control.
Don’t we all long to be able to tell our Moms or whoever it may be, what we’re really feeling? Healing has happened in my relationships when I’ve listened and been open to understanding my kids feelings and what they need from me.
I’m eternally grateful to have done the hard work I’ve needed to do to have a healthier relationship today with my mother and my daughter. Today we can say the hard things and talk openly (and yes, it’s messy sometimes).
In hindsight, I wish that I’d known these things at the time so I could have made changes that might have helped the way I parented her. But, I hold out hope and tell you with full assurance, it’s never too late to ask your child no matter how old they are what they’d like from you, and for you to be open enough to hear it without being defensive.
My daughter’s list reminds me everyday that having open channels of communication, listening with an open mind and heart and being willing to grow myself is the greatest gift I can give to myself, my kids, and others.