Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dos and Don'ts for Moms of Teens

In high school and college (after I'd graduated from Seventeen), I used to read Glamour magazine every month. My favorite feature was the "Dos and Don'ts" page. Photographers would catch women going about their business in ensembles that were particularly well put together ... or not. Then they'd publish pictures for all the world to see. I always thought that the narrow black bars covering the models' eyes were a sorry consolation for being identified as a "Glamour Don't."

It all seemed a little harsh.

Now, about a million years later, I live with a rather harsh critic in my own home. Don't get me wrong. My teenage daughter uses remarkable restraint when it comes to judging my outfits. (Yes, I'm sure my mom jeans, print top, quilted vest and Aerosoles are looking ultra fashionable right about now.) Rather, she judges my behavior, the decisions I make and the discipline I try (try being the operative word there) to uphold.

She's quick to argue — especially if the answer to a request she just made is "No." But, it's more the look. There's a look she sometimes gives me that speaks volumes. It says "You think you're hip, but you're not." Or "You think you know what's going on, but you don't." And most often "You think you can control me, but you can't."'

Meanwhile, in my defense (this is, after all, my blog and I can defend myself 'till the cows come home), I truly believe that I am cooler, calmer and more collected than most moms. I say "Yes" more often than "No." I'm supportive. I'm loving. I'm generous with my time and money. All right, sometimes I'm generous with my opinions too, but ...

What can I say? I'm a mom.

And that's really the crux of the matter. My daughter is a healthy, normal teen. As her mom, I am often — and naturally — the enemy. In this minefield I wake up in every morning, I'm learning to butt out, to choose my battles, to stop before I say something that may set her off.

Here are a list of Dos and Don'ts that may help ...

Do applaud her for doing well in a changing and challenging world.
Don't compare her choices (or study habits) to my own from 35 years ago.

Do loosen the reins when I can.
Don't suck the fun out of everything by imposing too many conditions or curfews.

Do respect her common sense — and privacy.
Don't snoop, stalk or otherwise undermine her efforts to grow up.

Do offer respectful observations and advice.
Don't deliver edicts, absolutes and ultimatums.

Do focus on the things that matter most.
Don't sweat the small stuff (like unmade beds, dirty laundry on the bathroom floor or empty chip bags on the rug).

Do love her for the remarkable young woman she is becoming.
Don't ever make her feel that she's less than she is.

I make a lot of mistakes (my daughter would probably say "A LOT!"), but I'm trying. Letting go is difficult for any loving mother — and, especially so for a control freak like moi. We are negotiating new territory on a daily basis, and I need to say "adios" to my Don'ts to make room for a whole bunch of Dos.

And, if anyone happens to take a picture of me today, please have a nice thick black bar ready.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.  

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