Today I feel as if my world just got a lot more bearable and why…… I think I may finally be learning how to handle my thirteen year old daughter, no doubt things will be different next week but this week being the Mum of my teenager is OK.
According to an article in The Times yesterday 13 is the most difficult age for parents to deal with and since reading the teensy weensy, five liner (should have been front page, stop us all from overdosing on Tequila) I must say I do feel a little less alone; frankly I have been on my knees trying to figure out what on earth is going on in her beautiful head, she is so everything I can’t bear in a person at the moment and has been for months now; it’s been driving me crazy UNTIL!! I made the phone calls; the ones during which your friends have to kick back, grab a strong coffee and listen while you blub, dribble and rant, they in turn kindly advise, you try the advice and lo and behold it works; you wonder why on earth you didn’t think of the solution before!
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” C.S. LEWIS
Sharing our parenting experiences can make us feel vulnerable, not up to the job, but as the saying goes “A man will not be judged on how he falls but on how he gets back up”; practically every day throws to the table yet another master puzzle for parents to figure out, we are not alone, children the world over have the same needs and as parents we are continuously trying to find ways of meeting those needs; of course because we’re not inside the brains of our teenagers we have so little to go on as they’ve stopped communicating, making it ten times harder to figure out the best way forward.
An extract from a piece written by Monica Malpass an American journalist, on parenting:
“First, let’s describe the typical 13-year-old and what they’re thinking, feeling and going through. Clearly, it’s an age of back and forth, where your child seems to regress to childish behaviors one minute, then flip to adult behaviors the next. First, they’re bored, then over stimulated. They can be insecure one minute, overconfident the next. Life is confusing to them and certainly for you.
Thirteen-year-olds are excited about new freedoms and informal rites of passage – hanging out just with friends, being in school with older high schoolers, more telephone and computer time. Obviously, girls and boys are going through puberty, which brings huge physical and emotional changes.
This is the time when boys and girls are most different. Don’t be surprised if they retreat to their room and constantly redecorate it as they continually redefine who they are and want to be. If you allow them to have a space that is theirs alone, make sure that freedom is coupled with responsibility. Now they have to do their laundry or find their belongings if they’re lost somewhere in their room.
Be willing to give in on the territorial issue, with the disclaimer that ultimately parents have the right to knock and walk in if they need to or want to… or at the least parents should be able to ask when is a good time to come back. Most 13-year-olds are desperate to talk to their parents, but they don’t know how to start the conversation. They need you to make that first move!”
These are some typical traits of 13 yr olds that mean your child is behaving completely normally:
- They’re fixated on personal appearance (foundation, foundation, foundation)
- They can be quieter than 12s and 14s, moody and sensitive
- They feel peer pressure about clothes, music and conversational topics
- They worry about schoolwork (hmmm not sure about that one!)
- They become more sarcastic (learned from Country School teachers??!!!!)
- They answer parents with loud, extreme language, and like to challenge your authority. (GO AWAY!!…is a good one!)
So, having bared my soul to friends and googled furiously about the current relationship I have with my daughter I have a renewed positivity around the subject, most importantly I have learned that the way she is behaving is one hundred percent normal and probably the best advice given to me by Annabel was to take a good look at her two wonderful daughters, who are also my God-Daughters, and remember that both have been through exactly the same issues and have come out the other side in pretty perfect nick.
Look ahead rather than look too intensely and personally at the present with regards to moods and changes, this mantra should keep me going for a week or two before the next drama surfaces and flattens me into a pizza base…..