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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Mom, can you just be quiet and listen?!

May 3, 2016

You're not listening to me!!!

You’re not listening to me!!!

Somehow my mom and I just didn’t get along when I was in high school. (Hey, it happens.) I was an overweight, overachiever who believed nothing I did was good enough. It didn’t help that my dad, aka my #1 fan, died suddenly when I was fifteen. I was my mom’s youngest child, only daughter. After she lost my dad she couldn’t give an insecure teen the support and encouragement I craved. Conversely, she expected, no hoped, I’d provide her with support and comfort. That didn’t happen.

I remember her yelling: “You’re not listening to me!”

I was listening, I just didn’t like what I heard. I didn’t agree with her and I wasn’t going to do what she said. Even if she had a good idea, I’d reject it, on principle. What principle? That it was her idea.

Our relationship turned into a quagmire of hurt feelings, misunderstandings and miscommunications.  We both longed for a cease-fire, but didn’t how to call one.

When I moved across the country, distance made the heart grow fonder. And when I became a mom, my mom and I learned to appreciate each other a lot more.

Now you understand why an email from a teen with parent problems gets to me. And why I do understand.

Like this one:

Teen: I have this disorder where I feel like I’m suffocating in my own self but can’t die. My mom says she understands but I think she understands what she wants to believe and now she says she wants to send me away to foster care because she doesn’t want to deal with me anymore… what do I do??

Annie: Aside from your mom, who else have you talked to about your feelings of “suffocating in yourself?”

Teen: I have a counselor but whenever I try to talk to him it never comes out right.

Annie: How about writing out what you’d like to say… like in a letter? Take your time. Choose your words carefully. When your letter says what you want it to say, go to the counselor and hand him the letter. Sound like a plan?

Teen: yeah. Thank you, but what do I do about my mom??

Annie: Hopefully, after you talk to the counselor, he will have a conversation with your mom and help her understanding your feelings better. You need her help but she can’t give you what you need until she understands what’s going on. It’s going to take both of you working together to make this better.

Teen: Hey, so I talked to my mom myself and explained everything and it helped sorta. We still have a lot of work to do.

Annie: I’m proud of you for talking to your mom. That took courage and you did it! I’m glad it helped. Keep talking and listening to each other.

I hope you and your mom have a Happy Mothers Day.

In friendship,

Annie

 

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4 Comments »

  1. I 42 and my mom still has trouble listening! Over the years, I have learned to distance myself, so we only talk once per week. Grant it, we have a boat load of other issues but that’s working for right now. My relationship with her caused me to really work hard on having a great relationship with my tween girl.

    Comment by Tiffany — May 4, 2016 @ 3:15 am

  2. Hi Tiffany, thanks for being real about your relationship with your mom. It’s hard to speak the truth, especially during Mother’s Day. Thanks also for taking what you learned from the mothering you got to create a healthy relationship with your daughter. Awesome! Happy Moms Day!

    Comment by Annie — May 4, 2016 @ 2:28 pm

  3. Writing their own thoughts (in a letter) is easier than express them by voice, even if spoken thoughts hit much more than written ones.
    Maybe because while writing, we can better elaborate our thoughts.

    Comment by Zak — May 5, 2016 @ 7:54 am

  4. Hi Zak, I agree. Writing can be an easier way to “elaborate” our thoughts. With writing vs talking, we can take as much time as we need to choose just the right words to express what we’re feeling and what we need from the other person. All that without the pressure of the other person standing right there.

    The other thing about a letter is that it gives the recipient as much time as he or she needs to respond thoughtfully.

    Win-win.

    Comment by Annie — May 5, 2016 @ 8:12 am

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