I'd love a little support here. I am finding 13 harder than I thought it would be, and for sure, harder than anything else yet. It feels sort of textbook, but pretty much we went from fairly easy, very connected feeling child to a growing, privacy seeking hormonal teen in what feels like a split second. Hard to catch my breath sometimes.
Most of the time I enjoy the ride because despite the angst, there are lots of good things happening, and a lot of positive growth. But I am totally not enjoying the boundary pushing, moodiness, and frankly, poor decision making that has happened once or twice.
I read on here about parents who seem to be so much more accepting, or zen about where they fit into the picture, but I have to say, I feel like I am floundering. We are an AP family, but I don't think we always feel so connected these days. There's a little more anger and frustration and conflict than I am OK with, on everyone's part. I don't know why I don't have that same ability to step back, but it's a real struggle for me. I question what I am supposed to be doing, and what my role is? Sometimes I wonder if all of the work of the early years really made a difference?
How do you do it? Did you end up feeling like your parenting actually made a difference? Were the early teen years more challenging than later? Did you ever feel like you acted poorly or didn't parent well in a tough moment, despite your best intentions? I feel like that a lot these days, and it's tough to sit with and makes me sad.
My dd would say that she loves us, and I am definitely her go to person, when she feels like opening up. She has this amazing ability to just move on, try to re-connect, even if it looks like a grudging reconnection-it's still there. I find that I have a harder time moving on, and I am supposed to be the grown up!
I hope some other (supportive) moms can chime in. I love this time, and I wouldn't trade it, but darn, it can be a little rough in it's moments.
I only have a minute, but I was so challenged when my dd was 13 and at 15 I feel like I sort of have my "sea legs" or "teenage girl legs" I find things a heck of a lot easier and seem to have developed some tools and reference points.
Primarily, I really really try to listen as long and carefully as I can- even if it's hard. Lots of listening and lots of understanding.
I'll try and get back on later this week.
It's really easy to be zen about other people's situations. I have two children and my interactions with each is completely different. I imagine I could add 14 more kids and that wouldn't change. You aren't necessarily doing anything "wrong" and you can't look at others who seem to have an easier time as necessarily doing it "right." Sometimes it's just a mix of personalities that make certain transitions easier than others.
Personally, I know exactly how you feel. My DD (now 15) and I were really close until about 13. Then, she pulled into herself, started keeping secrets and making poor choices (not like, doing drug choices... more like, irresponsible, missing assignments type choices.) I admit, I was more hurt and angry than I could possibly express. I found myself picking fights with her just to get her to talk, to yell, to SOMETHING because it was infinitely better than silence and the cold blank stare. Of course, that didn't help at all and once I realized what I was doing I had to work really hard to stop. DH started being "the voice" of the household parenting position because while she'd put distance in their relationship too, it was not adversarial like ours was. I stood my ground where important but I also worked on us having some sort of daily harmony even if it meant doing shallow things we'd never really enjoyed before. I gave her space even when it worried me. We did more shopping, more movies, more nails, less discussing books and more discussing TV shows, that sort of thing. By 14.5 things started to turn around. At 15, our relationship is different but happy and healthy again (and able to do the things we once loved like go to museums and discuss novels.)
Honestly though, it wasn't what *I* did that turned things around. DD had stuff she needed to go through on the road to adulthood and we just had to survive it. I had to allow myself to mourn our prior relationship and accept that while it would be good again, it would be different. I had to keep enough positive interaction around so that when her hormones did settle and she was ready to be part of the family, we were still a family she wanted to be with. I will say, the experience does make you want to hug your own mother though!
Anyway, I know how you feel and I can say you won't feel that way forever. If you had a strong relationship prior, as long as you are willing to accept that your relationship will be different, it will be strong again before too long. Keep telling yourself "this is normal" and you'll all get through!
If you were an unsupportive parent, would you even be here to begin with? ;)
13 was pretty hard. DD is 14 now and is worlds away from where she was last year. She is a great kid but ANY teenager can be challenging. My mantra is just "she is discovering who she is, she will try on many different hats until she finds the one that fits". Poor decision making is part and parcel of growing up. DD had a 4 day weekend, but of course at 8 pm last night she had 5 pages of Algebra to do, and I'm sure a midnight trip to Walmart will happen soon enough when she "remembers" some project that's due tomorrow. Luckily she is motivated to make straight A's, so even though she procrastinates, she gets it done, but I absolutely loathe the teenagery resentment when I say "Actually, I don't feel like driving somewhere at midnight to get you a poster board since you waited until now to tell me" but that's how they learn. You procrastinate, you owe me my driving time in chores. Does she still have a bad attitude? Yeah, but she's a teenager. Nothing is going to be good enough.
We have a good relationship with her at least. We have won her trust by being as accepting as possible, we let her go to co-ed parties with lax supervision and she makes good choices because she knows she won't be allowed to go to those parties if she doesn't. We let her go to concerts with her friends unsupervised, again, because she knows if she makes bad choices it won't happen again. She has gone on weekend trips for gifted & talented and even managed to email us from someone else's phone when hers didn't get service because she knew we would worry if she didn't. Is she rude to her little sister sometimes? Yes. Does she lock herself in her room for hours and only give one word responses to questions? Yes. You just have to take it in stride and know it's nothing personal, there's nothing you did wrong, it's just a stage and she will grow out of it eventually. As long as they're doing well in school and maintaining friendships and not lying constantly, they're probably fine :)
Thanks for the replies everyone--they all helped, and they were so REAL. I needed that! I know myself, and I am happiest when my kids are happy, and my family feels settled. This feels like an unsettled time, as if we are all trying to feel our way toward new, more mature relationships, and it's a little rocky, lol. So, the poor decision making is not dangerous stuff, it's mostly school work related, friendship related, texting related, etc. But, she's an honors student with solid friendships, so something is getting worked out there.
Anyway, I so related to picking a fight, just to hear some sort of communication! The silence and inaccesibilty drive me nuts, but just when I give up, conversation happens. Ah well, this is a big growth curve. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.
It IS a rough age, I think especially for mothers/daughters. I found that I asked myself a lot whethersomething was a hill to die on. A lot of stuff just isn't (and that will vary by family).
One thing I did was be as noncommital as possible when she opened up to me, Lots of "Huh..." and "Hmmm..." and "Oh wow..." type of responses that wouldn't shut her down. Once she realized that, even though the issues were bigger than when she was.... 9/10?... I wasn't going to freak out on her, she became more open. And there came a point where it was easier to give better, more involved comments.
Both of mine pulled the not handing in assignments thing (one did them and didn't hand them in, the other didn't do them at all). I felt that, at those ages, it was their responsibility and I refused to babysit them while they did their homework. I did, however, explain to each that the choices they made wrt schoolwork in 7th/8th grade was going to affect their choices in HS and beyond. Poor grades in MS would determine their ability to take Honors/AP classes, and. In HS, poor grades in any level (even more so if not Honors/AP) was going to affect the colleges/universities they'd be able to choose from. And then left it to them.
Take lots of deep breaths, and I recommend a glass of wine now and again. ;)