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Teen Angels

by Jean McGuire in Family, My life

I am a survivor. I haven’t reached this age and stage in my life without going through some ups and downs. One of the accomplishments I am proudest of is that I survived raising three teenage daughters. It wasn’t easy, but we all made it.

A friend with a teenage daughter recently asked me what I would tell my younger self if I could go back as an older, wiser, me. I wish I could tell you what words of wisdom I was able to use to comfort her, but my mind literally went blank. I’m not sure there is any good advice on how to deal with teenage girls.

When I look back on the days when my daughters were young I truly can only remember a swirl of little girls circling through the house. They were constantly underfoot and constantly demanding my attention. We lived in a neighborhood of all girls around the same age, so it wasn’t just my girls, it was an entire pack.

When I think back to the days when they were teenagers, I barely remember seeing them. Unless they needed money, they avoided my company like the plague. It seemed at that time that they thought that my only reason for living was to torment and embarrass them.

I loved my girls as teenagers, but to this day, I don’t know if there’s anything I could’ve done to make raising them easier. For one thing, although there are similarities in behavior, there are also vast differences in each child.

One daughter only wanted me around to chauffeur her and pay her way. She was absolutely humiliated if I showed any emotion or had any suggestions about her life. She also wanted no hint of the fact I was once a young woman too. That was just gross.

Another daughter tended to clam up. Getting information out of her about her day or her feelings was almost impossible. She accepted that I was a human being, but she really didn’t want to acknowledge that I might be able to give her advice about some of the things that were bothering her.

Yet another daughter LOVED to share. She would come home from school and share almost every conversation she had that day in school, pretty much verbatim. There were times I wished she would hide things from me like her sister’s had. The sharing part was great, and I acknowledge it was a compliment, but at the same time, we had our moments. I have never met another human being quite so stubborn about things as that daughter. On the times when we did disagree, there was no budging her.

Much like three-year old’s, teenagers tend to ask a lot of questions and throw a lot of tantrums. In many ways, they have as limited a vocabulary as a three-year old, at least when they are talking to their parents. Teenagers also don’t always appreciate how hilarious their parents can be when dealing with them.

I tried to raise my daughter’s to be responsible people, so I used to make them do chores to earn their allowance. At the time, they felt this was grossly unfair and couldn’t understand why I made them work for their money. My answers:

  • I make you do chores because you live here and that’s your contribution to the household. – Exasperated sigh
  • I couldn’t afford a maid so I had you instead. – Exaggerated eye roll
  • Life’s not fair and you better get used to it – Exaggerated eye roll

All of my daughter’s names start with the letter “M”. They used to ask me all the time why I had to do that to them.

  • Once we named the first two with “M” names, I had to finish it out with the third. No one would want to feel left out. – Exaggerated eye roll
  • I like walking around mumbling the “M” sound while I try to remember your name. – Exaggerated eye roll, followed by a deep sigh
  • Life’s not fair and you better get used to it – Exaggerated eye roll

My children’s birthdays are all within an 11 day spread. When they were growing up, they would ask me why I had to have them all so close together. They didn’t like my answers:

  • Your dad and I were only intimate once a year. – “Ew! Gross, Mom.”
  • Evidently, I only ovulate once a year. – “Ew! Gross, Mom.”
  • Life’s not fair and you better get used to it. – Exaggerated eye roll

It has long been my theory that children tend to idolize their same sex parent when they are young. That parent is their role model on how to behave as an adult. Unfortunately, when the child becomes a teenager, they then tend to rebel against the same sex parent more. In their journey towards independence, they only see what they don’t want to be when they look at their former idol.

I’m not naming names, but there were multiple occasions when a teenage daughter would flare up over something I had said or done and dramatically stomp out of the room. On many of those occasions, their step-father would look at me in sincere bewilderment and ask me why they were being so hateful towards me. All I could do was shrug my shoulders and mutter, “hormones, it’s gotta be hormones.”

I never had the pleasure of raising a teenage boy, but I have a fantasy that he would have been much easier to raise than the three girls. I have visions of a boy who would put his arm around me and tell me I was the best. All of his anger and angst would have been focused on his father, not me. Please, I entreat you not to disabuse me of that fantasy.

(This was originally posted in September of 2017 on my previous blog, Jasmine Petals Thoughts.)


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