She’s sixteen now, this beautiful daughter of mine. She’s grown and changed so much, so fast, but some things have stayed the same.
Our friendship is one of those things.
When my three little women were tiny, people would look at me and shake their heads. They would gaze at me with sympathy and say things like, “The teen years with three girls? I’m so sorry!”
I tried not to take offense. I never believed these strangers, these naysayers. I was convinced that the teen years didn’t equal misery. If I ever dared to tell a naysayer that, they would quickly respond with a smirk and “wait and see.”
Now I have proof. The teen years aren’t at all miserable in our house. Don’t believe the lie that your teen is your enemy and you must rule and control them. If you want to your relationship to thrive in the teen years, listen to them. Start listening right now, and take their thoughts, ideas and yes, even complaints seriously. Add in a little respect. Respect their opinions, choices and goals. Do your best to avoid being a dream crusher. Accept them for the amazing people they are, right now. They are growing, still. These years are a time of transformation (remember?).
It’s a privilege to walk near my girl, to listen and encourage her as she discovers who she is and who she wants to become. She’s a pleasure to be around, whether she is cheerful and optimistic, or burning with anger over the latest injustice in the world (or her world), or sad because she can’t fix all that’s wrong in a friends’ life.
I’m not claiming that this journey is always a blast. I can almost see the unsettled feeling she has about life right now, swirling around her like a storm. I know she is striving to move above it, and often straight through it to find her way, as we all do.
And like every phase of her life, I’m trying to hold on a moment or two longer.
I know this transformation is painful, but you are not falling apart; you’re just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful. -William C. Hanran