Some days, I have no indication whatsoever about how Reagan and I will survive her adolescence.
She is a moody one. I can be a moody one sometimes. Conflict.
She’s argumentative. I’m argumentative. Conflict.
She knows everything. I know better. Conflict.
She is extremely negative sometimes. I cannot tolerate negativity for long periods of time. Conflict.
I find myself, like most parents, wanting to raise my child and try to improve upon my own childhood. I had great parents, but I think we all want to take the things our parents did right and repeat them, take the things they did wrong and try and do better.
But some days, I’m just at a loss.
I know that it’s not my job to be her friend, but I also know that keeping our lines of communication open, making sure she feels as though she can approach me about anything, talk to me about anything, is just as important as making sure that I am respected as an authority figure in her life.
I know that she is going through so many, many changes right now. Maturing faster than your peers is difficult to navigate, and when you’re a girl, you instinctively compare yourself to others and when I have to discipline her, or give her a lecture on something she needs to understand, I never want her to feel as though I don’t think she is good, or smart, or beautiful, or all the good things that she is.
I know her genes. On both sides. I know that much of her personality is inherited, and I try to allow grace in that respect.
My philosophy has always been, “One doesn’t raise children, one raises adults.” And I hold true to that. The purpose of our parenting is to raise healthy, well-rounded, high functioning adults that contribute to society and make the world better. Yet even with that in mind, they are still just children. And they do not reason as adults, nor do they understand everything that life experience has already taught us, because, well, because they just haven’t experienced it yet. And one of the hardest parts of being a parent is letting your child fail, letting them make mistakes. From letting them take their first steps that will inevitably lead to a fall and a bump on the head, to letting them navigate their own friendships, fail at their sports, their hobbies, their academics from time to time – it’s just hard to let them, and not step in to intervene. But we have to – because it’s our failures that make us who we are, that give us the foundation we need to learn, to grow, and eventually succeed in life.
What’s interesting to me, as I write this, is realizing that, spiritually speaking, I am in my own state of “tweenishness” more often than not. Butting heads with my Creator about what I think I know, what I think should be happening, and sulking in a corner when I do not get my way. And it is in that understanding that I find my answer to how to navigate these years of conflict. Grace. Love. Forgiveness. Encouragement. A safety net of all of these things to catch her when she falls.
I was thinking back to my own adolescence the other day – remembering how much my mother and I didn’t get along at times. But around the age of 12 or so, we had a breakthrough. Not really sure why, but I remember us clearly going from a state of constantly being at odds, to developing a stronger, more peaceful relationship. And now, as an adult, my mom is one of my very best friends. So I know there’s hope. That even if my daughter isn’t speaking to me sometimes right now, she still needs me. Will always need me. And the promise of better days is ahead.
She’s growing up so very fast. I’ve fought so many things and constantly refocused myself and my priorities in my effort to be the best mom that I can be. During these tumultuous years, it’s hard to believe that those efforts will yield any worthy fruit. That I will have raised a sullen, discontented, know-it-all that I will still be reminding to shower and groom at 25 years old. But I won’t. Because for all the difficulty of the present, there’s so much good in her. And even the qualities that make me crazy right now can be used for good in her future, if she will but let them.
If she will use her tendency to focus on the negative to appreciate the little things in life that make it so worthwhile.
If she will use her lack of trust in others to make her smart and savvy in a world that will rip your heart out and remember to choose her friends wisely.
If she will use her mouth to speak edifying words.
If she use her self-criticism to improve, not to despair.
And if she will use her criticism of others to remind her that we are all in need of God’s grace, and the grace of one another. As a parent, patterning myself after a Heavenly Father, grace is what I come back to again and again. For my child, and for myself.