Plight of the 17 Year Old

Some days I think to myself, how did I ever make it this far? I have to ask my mom how she ever managed to get through my formidable “wonder” years. As I recall, I didn’t think I had such a bad time. I went through the occasional break up, the really big fight with my best friend, and the drop in my school work as I was crushing over the newest guy. All in all, it seemed like a normal path for any regular teenager growing up in the 90’s.

Fast forward a few years. I am now the mother and my daughter is the teenager. On the one hand I feel pretty blessed because we have such an open relationship, she feels like she can trust me with anything. We can sit and dish about things going on in her life and she doesn’t feel like she has to be sneaking around to do things. I feel that I can trust her to have good judgment, the way my parents did with me. Though I didn’t always make the right choices, I made them where it counted. I see a lot of myself in my daughter. This is where the conflict begins. All her life, she has always been told that she is a mirror image of me. Maybe as a child, we resembled each other, but as the years have passed, we no longer share too many of the same characteristics. Still, people never fail to say “Wow! You look just like your mom!” A phrase that she has grown to hate. What’s even worse is that the similarities don’t stop there. As much as she hates to hear it, her attitude resembles mine in so many ways it is scary.

This is why it is so hard for me to understand her reasoning sometimes. She thinks that I tell her things to keep her from enjoying herself or to shelter her from the outside world but in reality all I am trying to do is offer my advice on my own personal experiences. I guess at 17 I was the same and thought I knew everything. You would be hard pressed to try and tell me anything because I had all the answers. I guess that is where I have to learn to take a step back and let her find out for herself. It isn’t always easy being a parent. We want our kids to grow up independent and wise to the dangers of the world but we also want to keep them from making the same mistakes we once made ourselves.

When I look back on my relationship with my own mom, I remember having those head butting moments when I would stomp off to my bedroom and slam my door. That is until my mom got wise and had my door removed to teach me a lesson. It worked! When my daughter and I have a disagreement, she does the same thing, she walks away, muttering something under her breath, because like me she always has to have the last word, then slams the door shut as that one final shot. Sometimes I smile, remembering my own stubborn ways. Sometimes I want to run to my own room and slam my door but then I remember that I’m the mom and stooping to that level is pretty much unacceptable. I try really hard to remember how hard it can be to be 17. I force myself to remember everything that I went through and I take a deep breath. As hard as it seems to raise a teenager in this day and age, I feel like I have done a pretty good job. Next year she’ll be starting college and she may or may not choose to live away from us. I hope she’ll still feel the need to sit down and talk with her old mom. I know that as the years go on, she’ll realize that I knew what I was talking about and she’ll learn the humble words “You were right”. It will take some time, but she’ll get there. In the meantime, I will deal with the plight of the 17 year old and remember, I was 17 once too!

Thanks for reading!

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