Tuesday, 17 May 2011

How do you survive the teenage years in one piece?

The Teenager is 14 and going through what can be called 'a difficult time'. She's too young to do some things, too old to do others. She's still a child but looks like a young woman. She's a feisty, confident girl and I love those qualities in her, but it makes it all the more difficult to deal with her sometimes.

She wants more money.  I give her a modest monthly allowance for clothes and can't really afford to give her more, but she is always complaining that she gets less than her friends do. While I don't like the comparison with her friends, I do understand where she's coming from and I sympathise - but I still can't give her more money. I've suggested looking for a part-time job, which she is keen to do, but we live in a small town and there are limited places she could work while she's still only 14. We'll keep looking, but as things stand she's desperate for money to 'do things' like buy clothes and toiletries and shoes.

She wants more independence. We're constantly clashing on curfew times, what she's allowed to do, where she can go, etc. She thinks I'm too strict, I don't think I am but I don't know - maybe I am? When we were talking about a part-time job she wanted to travel into the nearest city to work at a weekend and get the bus back in the evening. I said no, it wasn't safe for a 14 year old girl to be travelling on public transport at that time of day. She thinks I'm suffocating her and trying to keep her from doing things.  She's a sensible girl but  she's still only 14.

I think she has a fair amount of freedom - certainly more than I did at her age - she gets to go out with her friends, goes to parties, has sleepovers and goes to others, meets friends in the evenings at Starbucks which I drive her to and from. Her complaint is that she has to be in too early, earlier than her friends she says which does appear to be true, but I don't make rules based on what other families are doing. Apart from anything else I have to pick her up before her sister goes to bed at 9pm - I don't leave the house after that - and I think picking her up from her friends' at 8.30pm on a school night is late enough. Am I being too harsh? Too inflexible?

It seems that we are constantly clashing over everything at the moment. Everything. She doesn't like the meals I cook, she hates the way I talk to her friends, she is always accusing me of preferring her sister because I don't tell her off as much, she's always asking for money and saying that she can't wait to leave home because she hates living here.

I'm sure (I hope) that she doesn't mean a lot of what she says, and I know she's at that difficult age, but how do I help her through this phase?

I would really appreciate any tips, advice or suggestions you can send my way.

I love my Teenager, but it's at times like this that I recall this phrase: "when your children are babies they're so cute you could eat them. When they're teenagers you'll wish you had." I don't want to spend the next couple of years at loggerheads with her over every little thing, but I'm at a loss on how to make things easier.

Please help!