Life as a teenager's Mom - A Mom’s story
Created by Shikha Batra Updated on Jul 22, 2020
You will teach them to fly,
But they will not fly your flight.
You will teach them to dream,
But they will not dream your dream.
You will teach them to live,
But they will not live your life.
Nevertheless, in every flight,
in every life, in every dream,
the print of the way you taught
them will remain.
As a mother to a teenage girl Riya, who has recently turned fourteen, I can vouch for that it has been a rollercoaster ride which is perhaps draining for both of us. We both have had our lows as well as highs in this mother-daughter relationship. There were times when we failed to understand each other completely to when we easily connected with each other. Of all the stages this has been the most awkward phase of her growing up as she remains exposed to a range of emotions. The mounting pressure of studies, bodily changes, coupled with hormonal changes turned her into a child with whom I as a mother had a lot of difficulties in connecting with. The heated arguments every now and then, slamming of doors and “ you don’t get it, you never will” remarks had become an everyday scene in the house. It became so stressful for the entire family that is when I decided to take charge of the situation so that it doesn’t turn permanent.
As I still witness Riya, facing many challenges on a day to day basis which included dealing with hormonal changes, peer pressure, social expectations, bodily changes, the building of self-esteem and self-image, life choices, attraction towards the opposite sex and perhaps even romantic relationships for the first time, it became clearer to me its been a journey with daunting hardships for my girl and for that matter for any teenager who is going through this transition from becoming a child to a young adult. I was becoming worried watching Riya, cruise through these range of emotions which resulted in emotional outbursts every now and then. I could sense her uncertainties, her doubts on herself whether she is looking good, or will her friends make fun of her if she wears that particular hot fiery red dress for the school party, her constant staring at herself in the mirror, her struggle to remain fit and fear of failure or rejection which persistently harrowed her.
All these changes in her gave me sleepless nights and that’s when I decided to take command of the situation and started preparing myself with a positive mindset to help her guide as she made this transition from tweenage to teenage. I realized my patience is the key and understanding is the mantra that would work the best as she undergoes physical and emotional changes and tries to explore her own identity and finds her place in the world. I decided to shift gears slightly by donning the hat of a friend and counsellor to her by lending her a patient ear and opening the channels of communication with her whenever she needed me. This made her feel that her opinions matter and she is valuable to me. Besides, she has become upfront with me and we discuss possibly everything under the sun including potentially awkward topics such as sex and relationships.
Perhaps the most exasperating part of the tween to teen transition which is not easy to accept for any parent for that matter, was that she who used to agree to possibly everything that I suggested to her as a child, undermined my authority as a parent now as she transitioned to teen. There were times when she had a different take to situations and decided to go against me. Probably she did that as she felt it would be more acceptable and would give her a chance to be considered “kewl” (slang used for cool) by her peer group. ‘Don’t take it personally/ was the mantra which worked for me under such circumstances. I decided to give her more autonomy and learn from her own mistakes. This made my belief stronger that the lessons learnt this way would stay with her for life.
Fortunately, I tried to equip her early on during her childhood years to make smart decisions which would help her navigate every difficult situation. Sadly, most parents try to take complete charge of their children’s lives by keeping decision-making as their prerogative with little involvement from their children.
Building emotional resilience over the years by equipping her with emotional tools to handle disappointment was a daunting task which I believe I managed to do pretty well. I was pretty sure this would prepare her to deal with the bigger challenges that life will bring to her in her teenage all the way to adulthood. I always encouraged her to pick up a hobby or pursue an interest outside of her usual school work. Riya chose to pursue playing guitar as a hobby which not only provides her with a crucial outlet but also helps her in alleviating stress.
I guided her to form a support team by making her have a core group of friends who would prove to be the cheerleaders for her by being loyal and supportive to her. They would not only be helping her through the tough times but would be celebrating the joyous ones too. I was quite certain that this would turn out to be the biggest asset to my child in case she would be uncomfortable approaching me directly for advice. Trust me, it has been!
All this was possible as we spent lots of quality time together which helped us in bonding with one another and opened up the channels of communication. Even as my child is learning adjusting from being a tween to a teen, I realized I am growing too into my new role as the parent of a teenager. I constantly keep searching for innovative ways to connect with my teen and be a better parent to her each day.
The transition from a tween to a teenager can really turn out to be a bumpy ride for us, as parents and for them as well. Whereas parenting teenagers can be the most harrowing and a nail-biting experience to be endured and conquered before they safely get launched as young adults. To make it a smoother one we need to understand what our teenager is going through their lens.
This was all about my life as a teenager’s mom, I would really appreciate it if you could share your side of the story as a parent of a teenager, helping them deal with this transition from being a tween to a teen.