Once when I was talking to a friend having problems with her teenage daughter, I said, “You know, sometimes I think mothers and teen daughters say mean things to each other because otherwise they can’t bear the separation that happens at 18.” Since my children were young, I think those words simply came through me.
Now I know—it’s true. Our teens feel like we parents believe they’re idiots or incompetent. We don’t think those things; we know the dangers of naiveté, especially for our daughters. And no matter how hard we try to prepare them for ‘the world,’ we worry in our sleep that it was not, and never will be, enough.
The most important thing I’ve learned is to keep in touch. My sons didn’t want to answer my calls when they first moved out; that’s when I learned how to send a text message (slowly and stiffly), so they would know why I was contacting them, allowing them the space to decide to answer right away, later or not at all.:) If it’s important, they always respond, but I’ve had to grow into letting go—after all, they are living their lives, not mine—but it’s not easy.
Mothers and daughters, though, know exactly how to hurt each other with our words. It’s an instinct, I guess. And since we, the mothers, are older, we need to step back and if necessary, hold our tongues. We may have to learn how to speak from our hearts what we really feel, while not projecting our fears onto our girls. It’s an art for sure, with maybe a little magic thrown in. And all the yelling does make the separation easier to swallow.:)