Anger, Disappointment, and Acceptance
She's going to let you down sometimes. Be it with grades, actions or emotions, there will be times when you think: Where have I gone wrong? Channeling that in a way that does not harm her but teaches her and yet does not eat away at you is like winning a triathlon. But with the right training, you
Everyone knows it's not good to yell at your children, and it is never acceptable to strike them. But there are times you are all challenged and yes, there are times when some folks spill over. If you yell in an aggressive way at your child, it's crucial that you make amends as quickly as possible. This can be tricky for you and for her. Your first concern should be her: no parent should raise a girl to think that verbal or physical abuse is ever acceptable. So when you apologize, you need to do it with a plan. It is a good idea to say something along the lines of “I am sorry. From now on when I am angry I will take a walk before we talk it out.” It is not okay to say “I'm sorry and I don't want to talk about it again. We all freak out from time to time.” Think about the message you are sending: Would you want her to allow a future significant other to act in such a way on a regular basis?
If you hit your child, you need help. Seek it immediately and let your child know you are doing so. She needs to see you understand that it is wrong and that there are consequences to your actions. Anger management can be your consequence.
Yet for your own good, you cannot just swallow your anger. Such action causes stress, anxiety, and depression, not good states to be in when you are trying to raise a teenager. Find a way to get your anger out through exercise or the like, and then work at using good conversation and words to reduce the number of angry interactions you have with your daughter. And always assess what it is you are mad about. Is it
Even from before she is born, you start building your own set of expectations for her. You want to raise a tennis star or a valedictorian or an artist. In time you have to realize that because you've raised an independent and unique person, her dreams may not be the same as yours, and her skill set may not match what you wanted her to do. This needs to start from an early age, but if you suspect you may be guilty of living your life again vicariously through her, you'll need to take steps to change that immediately.
Such disappointments can be harmful to you and your child. Think of it this way: if you always dreamed of a dancer and she's a tomboy, try to see that as a chance to learn all about softball or football or whatever sport it is she's in love with. And let her know from the start that you love her for who she is becoming, not for the person you expected her to become. Parents who can adapt to their daughter's life as she grows into it can find it to be a wonderful, educational road for them that they never could have imagined before.
Such acceptance helps you relax and enjoy her life as it comes along and helps her see clearly that you love her for the unique person she is and is becoming.
It's her life, not yours. As much as you may want her to follow your road, learn to celebrate the road she chooses and help guide her along her own path.
Letting Go: Seeing Her as a Woman
It really will happen. Your little girl will one day be a grown woman, and it will happen in the blink of an eye. It's a time you can look forward to, but expect some mourning on your part as well.
True, you raised her and helped her through every moment of her life, but your daughter will grow to become the woman she chooses to be. There will come a time you'll have to “meet,” and more to the point, accept that woman for all she is and for the person she has chosen to be. This can be a challenging concept for a parent. After all, from the day you first held her, you formed your own dreams for her future. She may have gone in a completely different direction than you hoped at that first moment, but that does not mean she's not interesting, vital, and wonderful to know. As your daughter becomes a true woman, you'll want to get to know all that and not only understand it, but accept it and even celebrate it.
Remember those “alone times” you used to force her into as a young teen? It's time to begin them again, only now as a mother with another woman, or a father with the woman he raised. Have a regular “alone adult time” with your grown daughter to keep close to her.
As you get to know your daughter as an adult, treat it like any friendship that is blossoming. Think of how many new ideas and even hobbies you've been introduced to by new friends. You daughter in her adult splendor can do the same thing for you. Listen to her ideas; debate her with respect and consider things from her grown-up point of view. While you should see some mirroring of your self, it is more exciting, and more a sign of a well-raised girl, that you recognize her own individual opinions, interests, and beliefs too. Enjoy getting to know them and consider letting her influence your life.
Particularly for fathers, it's hard to let a little girl grow up. But remember, in the end, she truly is always your child. If your relationship has been a good one, or even if you've weathered a bad one to come out good on the other side, you've formed a tie that binds. And forever, you'll be the person she can count on through thick and thin. You are forever her parent and she is forever your child. You'll always be close and have time together.
Remember, you are still the parent. Even as she is an adult, she does not want to hear about your sex life or other such things. Work on your adult relationship, but remain respectful.
Be ready to be there for her when she's wants to cry or scream; be ready to listen to her fears and complaints about life as an adult. You'll always be that for her. The only change is that now it's up to her to make things better and make things work. Even if you have to watch her struggle (in a relationship, a job, or just in life), you know that the best thing for your “baby,” now that she is a woman, is for you to let her listen to your advice and let her know she that she can lean on you. She has to make things happen — for better or for worse — on her own from here on in. If she falters, remind her you will always love her, When she soars, sit back and enjoy the view.