It is now common knowledge among my closest friends and relatives that my relationship with my eldest daughter has become strained as she was growing up. The little girl who used to adore me so much, who couldn’t sleep without holding my hand, who would fight her younger sister to keep her place next to me, who seemed to constantly seek both my opinion and approval, and more, is now a certified teen and seems to have little to do with me (and the rest of our family) now.
At first, I took everything personally and dealt with every infraction she committed in a rather rigid manner. I stressed out over everything and made her feel responsible for how I was feeling. I refused to acknowledge her good deeds, assuming she only did them as a form of penance. I was so tough on her, thinking it would do her good, especially when something happens to me and she and her sister would have to be on their own.
Looking back, I’d say I’ve been such a meanie. In time, I realized–and have to remind myself constantly now–that what my daughter needs is a mom who would love her unconditionally, will not tolerate her wrongdoings but will be forgiving as well, is always kind even when she’s not being kind to anyone else including herself, and tries her best to be a good role model of Christlikeness.
I’ve lost so much ground, and I’m in the process of gaining back that lost ground for some time now. There are days when my love and compassion for my daughter would win over my selfishness. However, there are also days when the mean, immature, and selfish person in me would simply leave things the way they are, leave her to clean up after her own mess, nag her, belittle her efforts, even make her feel unwanted.
I get impatient with myself too. The high standards I had set and tried so hard to live up to, are the very same ones that keep me frustrated when I don’t meet them and when my daughter doesn’t meet them either. There were days when I get paralyzed by my own shortcomings and would simply shut myself away from my family and friends. I’d stay in my bedroom night and day, sleeping, reading, or watching Netflix on those days. I would only go out of the room to bid nature’s call, fix lunch or dinner for the girls, or do errands that could no longer be postponed.
Since I have acknowledged the reality my family and I were in, my role in the mess, had quit feeling sorry for myself, realized how I needed to change and improve, and finally responded to my daughter’s plea for help and sought help for myself and for her, things have started to improve gradually.
I don’t know how much longer it would take, or whether I could really carry on before my daughter goes to college, at least, before our relationship is fully restored. (Ha! I guess you could say this is one reason I should be thankful for the K–12 –– I get to buy more time.) But I’ll continue to trudge on, especially as I see some developments no matter how little they seem since I have learned to control my temper. Some days, I may still exhibit some inconsistencies, but that’s still better than going back to exactly where I used to be, so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself and learn to celebrate small wins.
Parenting a teen––no, make that two teens now––and overcoming one’s bad habits and self-defeating way of thinking can be very challenging. Thankfully, I now got a bunch of godly girlfriends, a discipler, family advisor, some close relatives, and a psychotherapist as members of our family’s support team. Not to mention, there are always helpful seminars, podcasts, and books I could also turn to. I’m happy to be taking one step at a time now toward healing by God’s grace. ❤
(Featured image by Khadeeja Yasher on Unsplash)