COUPLES AND PARENTS
What can I do to reach my sixteen-year-old daughter?
My daughter is now sixteen years old and she doesn't give a damn. She claims freedom and is allergic even to the shadow of any advice. How can I deal with her?
A crying mother
A crying mother... like so many mothers today! Many fathers also weep in their hearts, if not outwardly!
They are concerned about someone they love from the bottom of their heart, a teenage boy, an adolescent girl...
Numerous parents today are tormented with anguish. They cannot sleep at night and they age prematurely. The civil laws that allow too much freedom too soon for so many young people, do not help them at all.
Be that as it may, there will come a time when the young shall leave the nest. That young man, that young woman will dare to soar into an uncertain future with the advice and cheers of those who love them. Yes, your children will go; they will leave the home that nourished and protected them. That day is always feared. It always comes too soon! In a way, "your children are not your children...!"
The question you asked me concerns your daughter, a young sixteen-year-old girl. She claims freedom. No doubt, she has entered the world of adolescence and she is in the thick of it. She pretends she is free. Free from what...? Free from whom...? At 16, can anyone say he or she is free? At this age, young people may well liberate themselves abruptly from their parents' protection. But, what happens then? They submit to other influences. At 16, what youths are not enslaved by the fashions, the opinions, the mentality of their peers? Freedom is elusive. To keep it and exercise it properly, one must be grown-up and mature.
You say your daughter does not listen to you anymore... But, maybe she does! Maybe she will, if your attitude respects her age together with her legitimate desire to speak her mind and grow in the freedom she requires. You will need a great deal of kindness and patience, with firmness for essentials and tolerance for the rest. Most of all, your daughter must be able to see you as a deeply loving mother. One day, she will know better. The seemingly negative stage of her life is in fact positive and must be gone through. She needs to be loved just the same and accepted as she is, a budding adult, not a child.
Show her the example of a life based on true human and Christian values. At that age, young people look for an authentic, even enthusiastic witness. They need someone in whom they can confide without fear of being condemned. They need true dialogue.
Your role as a mother is not over, but it must evolve and adapt, without yielding on the essentials, without giving up any of your morals, your values or your profound convictions.
You seem to be sowing in a barren land good for nothing but thorns. I do not think so! Especially if your earnest efforts for the education of your daughter are not just starting out of nowhere. You may have made consistent efforts all along, but now she has come to reject them because of what she is, not because of what you are.
She is at the age when the assertive individual tends to reject the feelings and ideas of others no matter what. So, do not be surprised if your daughter defends herself without being attacked, and if she does it with uncalled for aggression. One day, the seed you have sown in spite of all will grow and bear fruit.
Since you are a Christian, do not forget prayer, a prayer full of confidence in the Lord and Mary. Ask and you shall receive. God too loves your child!
Together with your husband, make a special effort to find a way to influence your daughter without hurting her. Let your discussions be calm. Let your dialogue be friendly, especially without any aggression on your part. Encourage the most you can. Reproach the least you can. Invite your daughter to a meal at the restaurant with you for a friendly tête-à-tête. And do not forget, accentuate the positive. Congratulate her on any small act of honesty and generosity she happens to make. It is a step in the right direction.
Above all, keep calm. Your interior peace will create an atmosphere of mutual understanding and fruitful dialogue. The stage of adolescence is difficult, but it is rich in promises for the future.
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