Monday, February 25, 2013

on my mind RAISING TEENAGE GIRLS


This letter written from a teenager's perspective to her dad is an extract from Steve Biddulph's new book Raising Girls


Dear Dad,
I am a teenager now. It’s very hard. My emotions feel like Melbourne weather. Life is stressful, what with school and boys and not liking how I look and the mess the world is in and hating my hair.
I need to chill out quite a lot – to watch some TV when I get home from school and be vague and dreamy and waltz about the house. If you criticise me, it’s just kind of the last straw. So I will yell back at you or storm off to my room. But it’s not my fault. My prefrontal cortex has melted down for a re-build and won’t be right again until about age twenty-two. So my amygdala has taken over and all it knows is fight or flight! Scare me, and you can choose which one I give you back.
You think, because I can out-argue you, that I am smart. But I have lost the most important faculty a person can have – I can’t see anyone else’s point of view. Or at least not easily. It’s enough to keep track of my own point of view! In fact, I will try on lots of different points of view to find out if one fits. Today I am an emo-punk-Goth-angel and I plan to get piercings in my cheeks. Tomorrow I might volunteer as a nurse in Angola.
You worry about boyfriends. You worry about me navigating sex. So do I! We’re not on different sides.
You worry that I won’t do my schoolwork. Well, how would you feel when they tell you your whole life depends on a couple of days of exams, that it could all be over at eighteen if I have a bad night or forget my pen? It’s enough to paralyse you with fear!
Please – don’t criticise me. I am already criticising myself so much, it just might tip me over the edge. And I’d be so upset if I killed you.
Talk gently. Ask about my life. Watch the timing: I will sometimes want to talk and sometimes not. When I do, you’d better have a couple of hours! Be gentle. Be funny. Be patient. One day I will be over this and we can be the best of friends.
Your (loving) daughter.

As a mother to teenage daughters and step mother to two adult girls (who was there through the teenage years) this certainly puts everything into perspective. Sometimes as parents we need a gentle reminder of what they are going through and to take a step back and realise that they are and do not think how we do. Oh yes it can be tough, and I have had my fair share of arguments and disagreements but sometimes we nee to look at how they are thinking and look at life from a teenage girls perspective. As a mother I think we cop the full force of their anger and frustrations as we are there all the time and they need to vent somehow. The way I see it better at me than out on the streets and not coming home etc. I have to say I am lucky as they do not mean to do the wrong thing and are always letting me know where they are and what they are doing. I am blessed to have two such beautiful teenage daughters who are sailing through life as normal headstrong teenagers. 

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