Ch 8, Post 3 A New Way of Talking with My Teen

Relaxing Parental Control

The next Friday, when Sharon asked to stay out late after the basketball game, instead of immediately saying “No”, I said, “Well, let’s talk about that.” We did talk, and we reached a compromise. That Saturday morning, she was tired from staying out with her friends and I was tired from sitting up writing until she got home. We were equally irritable.

“I told you I don’t want anything but juice and toast for breakfast!”

“Well, excuse me!  I guess I got your order mixed up with someone else’s!”

“And why do we have to have such a small, wobbly table to eat on?”

Suddenly, I remembered the little speech I’d prepared for the next time we both got snippy.

“Sharon, we’re both a little tired right now, so let’s just be quiet, including me, until we feel better. Remember our problem is the problem, not each other. And our problem right now is this little kitchen and little, wobbly table.”

Our tiny table was a problem (picture from Dreamstime)
Our tiny table was a problem (picture from Dreamstime)

This little speech I repeated countless times in the ensuing teen years, sometimes out loud, many times silently, with one or the other of our problems plugged as the subject:  the lack of money, the lack of a car for Sharon, or the lack of privacy and space in the apartment.

Investing in My Daughter When She Needed It Most

Besides investing my emotional energy in maintaining our relationship, I determined to invest monetarily as well. I made it an irregularly regular habit to surprise her with a pizza date or a trip to the mall for the stone-washed jeans, hemp sandals, or silver anklet I knew her friends had but that she hadn’t even mentioned.

She would be a teenager only once, and she had already spent so much of that tumultuous time of her life working too hard and doing without too much.  I knew she cherished each little unexpected pleasure as much as she had those two unexpected mechanical pencils the Christmas she was ten.

She still appreciated the little things
She still appreciated the little things

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