For so many years while my daughter was younger, I was dedicated to bonding with her. It was a long road and I am just figuring out, I was the issue all along.
Why don’t you want to follow my lead? I am okay, I’m enough right? Wrong.
My daughter has always been a bit opposite of me, but in a few ways mirroring me and I was so concerned.
In her teen years, she was pretty laid back, did well in school, and enjoyed a few friends. No rebellion most thought would push through like a storm and she actually didn’t mind spending time with me…until the mall.
It’s at the mall that seemed to set us off to be at odds.
We both enjoy the mall; the people, the scenery, the food, music, and the window/and actual shopping. Everything would be fine…until choosing her clothes.
There would be this strange tension when she would not like the clothes we’d find that I thought were great.
I remember having a feeling that it was more about not liking something about me rather than it just being she wasn’t interested in the clothes we were viewing.
By the end of the 1–2 hours, we would be there, we wouldn’t even be talking and that is not like us.
During that time, I would be trying to figure out why she didn’t want anything that I suggested? Was it me? Was she no longer caring about our mall time? Did I say something?
All this time, I thought my daughter was the issue, but it was me. Here’s why:
- I’m the mom! Because I’m the mom (the divorced single mom), I thought that I needed to be the end-all to make up for the void. I was just smothering her.
- I missed the mark thinking that she was supposed to like what I like…for her. What in the world did I think that would fly. There should have been space for her to be an individual, no matter how quirky or savvy, sharp or casual, ready or not. I made that tougher than it needed to be. My job was to see who she was and appreciate it up close and from afar.
- Understanding and accepting that my way is not always the best way. Respect her enough to trust the process she was going through (Of course if there was a risk of danger, I would react differently…but there wasn’t).
- Trusting that I raised her well. I not only told her the values I upheld, she saw it in action. Not only did she know my responses to things before even asking it but I practiced what I preached.
I have learned that it was necessary for her to learn what she would choose to practice and not me give her the list with my somewhat strict expectations. My actions taught her everything.
Honestly, this list could go on for hours but that is the epiphany I have currently. It is has been such a blessing and learning experience for me as I have raised my daughter and am still raising my son.
Our mall experiences now (that she is 21) are ones to remember with a smile. I enjoy watching her be who she was meant to be. To hear her goals and dreams.
To laugh when I choose a shirt she would NEVER wear, when years ago she would just walk away.
There is so much to glean from self-reflection as a parent and years of possibly missing the mark to understanding that we are all okay.
She is not only my first-born adult child, she has become my friend.