I'm back! Still perplexed w/dear 14 yr old daughter
Am I the first or the ten thousandth Mom who has said: I feel so dumb! I don't have a problem, and yet--every day--I feel like I have a, um, challenge?
I was formulating my thoughts about my dear 14 year old daughter, logged in, and lo and behold, there was my post of one year ago, saying the same thing I'm thinking now.
And there was Miranda's / Mominmomma's fabulous reply (mom of 4).
A year later, may I touch base here for some feedback, insight, vision?
A year ago I wrote the following:
DH and I have 3 DDs--ages 23, 19, 14. Each is adopted from China (why I mention that I'll say later). All three take their issues and problems in stride; each is lucky in academics, social life, health, and each has a positive outlook. The eldest is employed and the middle DD is in college.
Smooth sailing, but for at least three years, I don't feel as though I "read" DD 3 well at all and consequently I wonder if she is not getting the right mothering/understanding. For example:
1. No structured or "be your own boss" design has resulted in less electronics usage. Taking her phone away for ten days or so in Nov because she brought home some failing grades, predictably did not make her think, "Wow! I better get those grades up!" She was devastated. I think I ended up apologizing to her for making a bad decision. Yup. She got over it!
Now she will sleep till noon, use a device, walk around our safe and wholesome village (really) with a nice girlfriend) and eat a slice of pizza before we pick her up at 8 pm.
What prompted this post was finding her watching a movie in bed at 3 am this morning. I credit her for admitting that she just had not gone to sleep at all. I've wised up enough to be gentle, but I waited until the light was out.
Upfront, DD is a dear girl. She obligingly volunteers with children at the library 3 or 4 days a week. Her grade average is above 90. She is composed and confident and has friends. She won the award for best contributor to a teen community service club. A family friend is giving her a few photography lessons.
Additionally, she clearly loves her parents and sisters. She has never sneered, sulked, used bad language, or gotten in trouble.
Before you strangle me, I'm writing to say: I think I have reached the turning point where I say to myself, "Leave her alone," or, more precisely, "Stop thinking about her." I mean, I have to turn off the narrative in my head: (1) She didn't take a shower last night, I should/shouldn't let her go to school with dirty hair! (2) She should not wear those sweat pants to school! (3) It's noon, get her out of bed! (3) Six hours of electronics, OMG! (4) When was the last time she read a book, 4 years ago? (5) DD never wants to do ANYTHING (museum, walk, drive, movie), what's wrong with her?
I hope you can read between the lines that I'm looking to find the right parenting for DD. My instinct right now is telling me that it is "hands-off / I'm there when you need me / uncompromising support" presence. Any brakes I put on (we put on) are "lights out at 11" and routine showers. She is not clueless, but it is baffelling that she needs to be told to take a shower?
Much more than her two older sisters' rooms were at this age, DDs room is awful. When she was out about a month ago I washed, dried, hung clothes, emptied trash, etc. etc., but did "not touch stuff" and DD did not express anger but the next day there was a "Never Go In My Room" sign on her closed door. I sat on her bed and apologized a big deal about not meaning to intrude on her privacy etc and she said she loved me etc etc etc. So now there are empty water bottles on the floor etc.
My expectations are: good grades, interests, friends, health, hobbies, well-being, college planning.
Chinese school and books and anything "cultural etc" are out. And I think that what might make me anxious about her being "okay" is that DD will never ask me a question or share an observation. Things like "Will you drive me to Mary's?" don't count. I think I have to accept that that is NORMAL (because it is new, first two DDs were different and talked and shared a lot and still do). I need some validation that I am giving her what she needs even though she does not want to talk.
I'll just tuck in here that DD is very close to her two older sisters who are, in a way, surrogate Moms (so she needs/wants less from me). She is very close to them ("when is DD2 coming home?).
I mentioned that they are adopted from China because partly by their nature and partly by the way we did things/people we hung out with, each maintains that she has no adoption/abandonment issues and, in fact, it does not appear that any of them does (the future? Who knows.).
Any reflection and advice much appreciated, thank you so much!