Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Raising teenage daughters


I'm not sure how this happened but I appear to have two teenage daughters. Well, I have a 15 year old and a 12 year old - not quite a teenager, but a tweenager - but you catch my drift.

Ask anyone with who's raised teenagers and they'll tell you that it's a tricky time. Tricky, tricky, tricky. But ask for any specific tips on how best to survive unscathed and, well, they tend to have forgotten what it was like.  I like to think it's a bit like childbirth - painful at the time, but it soon passes, we forget the pain and we're left feeling relieved it's over. And so it is with raising teenagers.

A few years ago I attended a training day led by an educational psychologist who said something that shocked me. She asked if any of us had daughters, and then said "it doesn't matter how lovely your daughter is right now, but when she gets to 14 you won't like her." Harsh I thought, very harsh and clearly she doesn't get on with her daughter.

But a few years later, when the Teenager turned 14 and those hormones kicked in I remembered her words.  And since then there have been plenty of times when I really haven't liked the Teenager very much at all. She has the ability to drive me to distraction with her regular demands, laziness and untidy, festering bedroom.  She has a vile temper, she can be inconsiderate and quite harsh with her sister. She is extremely opinionated on most things, particularly me - how sad, unfashionable and how uncool I am. Her behaviour can be horrible. Her tone of voice also, horrible and she has tons of attitude. And don't even get me started on her tantrums when she has to do the occasional chore.

But here's the thing - she's a great girl.

She's clever, funny, does well at school, and is a great judge of character. She's very sociable, always out with friends and - by all accounts - a good friend to her friends.

And most of all I admire her for her strength of character, she's feisty ( I bloody love that word, and the fact I can use it for my own daughter) and of course that's why we clash so much.  She's been like that since she was a toddler and I used to say I didn't want to break her spirit - and thank God we didn't because I'm convinced it will stand her in good stead in the future.

She's good company and able to talk to adults in a mature way, and I've never had anyone comment on her behaviour (outside the home at least!) other than in a positive light.

I'm totally and completely proud of her. I tell her everyday that I love her, and even when I don't like her behaviour she knows that that love is unwavering.

Yes, okay, we still have a long way to go before we emerge from the teenage years - especially as Tall Daughter is already on the turn but all in all I think we'll survive. Just.