11 Feb Mothering a t(w)een daughter the best way I can
Combining her accomplishments as a teacher, coach, therapist, mentor, sacred space holder and her admiration for women everywhere, Niki Moss Simpson launched SHINE. SPARKLE. RADIATE in 2017. On 8th March this year Niki launched her first book as co-author of the best selling Pay It Forward series: Notes to My Younger Self. In an exclusive article for MumAbroad Life, Niki talks about being the mother of a teenage daughter.
I held her in my arms and gazed into her deep, dark eyes and loved her.
A surge of something I had never felt before rushed from my heart, coursed through my veins and engulfed me in a knowing that this was primal, unconditional love and I would do anything to keep this baby girl safe forever.
Barely accustomed to being her mum, the warnings start.
“Oh, a girl? Those teenage years are going to be hell,” the nurse said.
“Just wait until she hates you!” the random stranger in the supermarket declared.
There is no doubt in my mind that parenting through the t(w)eenage years is hard. Really hard. They’re battling hormones, developing at a pace similar to the toddler years, but facing academic, friendship, relationship and societal pressures, influenced by social media and celebrities, lacking sleep and self-love and doing all of this whilst trying to find themselves. You’re watching them change, grow, pull away, battle their inner demons and trying to keep them from making the mistakes you made at their age.
But does being the mother of a t(w)eenage girl have to be the miserable experience sitcoms, commercials and strangers in supermarkets make it out to be?
I honestly don’t think so. I do think it requires patience and commitment and presence and should be seen as a partnership not a pain.
She’s moody and unreliable and can swing from one emotion to another before you can blink and it is downright frustrating to be the bystander to this hormone controlled she-wolf. Your clothes, shoes, make up, hairdryer etc will mysteriously wind up anywhere but where you last put them! Nothing is yours anymore. It’s hers to borrow whenever she wants. Food can become a battlefield. She may want to change diet. My daughter became vegetarian at 13 and vegan at 15. You have to keep up mum. She wants your help one minute then rejects you the next. She clams up for days and hides out in her darkened bedroom amongst the debris and school books and doodles. She wants a lift to her friend’s place. They fall out. She wants picking up in floods of self-righteous tears. She wants to tell you all about it but does not want to hear your advice. She wants to push the limits of your family rules and customs by not turning up to meals, by wanting to stay out late because her friends do, she wants to wear her own style, dye her hair blue, take risks and try new things and you mum need all the PATIENCE you can muster to get through this with your sanity intact.
What I mean by saying it takes COMMITMENT to mother a t(w)een daughter is that you really can’t give up when it gets really challenging. That is exactly when she needs you and your unconditional love the most. That is when she is struggling the most with all the physiological, neurological, physical and emotional changes going on and when the critical moments of self-identity and worth are overwhelming her. For her to become a confident and powerful woman, she needs your guidance. Not in a “I know what is best for you and do it my way” way but in a loving, gentle and kind, calm way. Family members may want to give you advice like she’s going off the rails, set more rules, make her toe the line, but in my opinion this just isn’t the answer. She is behaving exactly how her development intends her to behave. She is no different to any other t(w)een girl at this time in her development and she is just as confused about it all as you are. This is not the time for shouting, heated arguments and punishment. This is the time for listening, creating mum and daughter time and rituals and setting easy to enforce and negotiated boundaries. I remember my daughter shouting at me and when I quietly asked what was wrong she shouted back, “I don’t know.” After a shared exchange of confusion we both laughed and it broke the tension. She genuinely did not know why she was feeling anger and nor did I. But allowing her the space to accept it, gave her permission to feel it and express it is what works. Blocking our emotions is what we women are good at and it is time we changed that BS. COMMIT to allowing your daughter to go through the gamut of emotions that accompany this developmental stage in her life and COMMIT to being there for her.
I have kind of already hinted at the value of PRESENCE in mothering a t(w)een daughter but can’t emphasise the value of it enough. She will never ever admit this one. So please don’t show her this or you risk ruining this for mums world over if this somehow goes viral across Instagram.
But you are actually her person.
You are the person she needs most in the world right now. Yes, you are highly embarrassing, not remotely funny, your clothes are ghastly, except the ones she has “borrowed’ forever, and let’s not forget that you are outstandingly lame; but she needs you. She is a mini version of you and she will become the adult version of you no matter how hard she tries to pretend otherwise. She is watching how you treat yourself, how you treat others and how you treat her! Keep listening. Keep searching for and finding the good in her friends. Keep loving this gangly, pimply, awkward growing girl! She is becoming a good, kind, decent human being just like her mum. Be PRESENT, give her your ear, time and love and mother her with all your heart and soul.
Alrighty, so I hear you if you are experiencing difficult times with your t(w)een daughter. I understand your frustration and confusion. I really do.
Please know this too shall pass as all the stages of childhood development do. Think back to the so called “terrible twos” and the “no” stage. You got through it and looking back it wasn’t THAT bad, was it?
Partner with your daughter because she needs you. She needs you to model what life will be like on the other side for her. She needs you to be calm, be patient, be present and commit to her through the journey.
As always, I would love to know your experience and how you are doing with this stage. If you are not there yet, enjoy where you are and enjoy your daughter every single day.
If you would like help and support, reach out for a FREE discovery coaching call or just message any questions you have.
You can also join my Mums of Daughters Facebook group for lots more support.