Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

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

Mom, Daughter and the Art of Button-pushing

August 26, 2013

Unless you’ve got like 40 years experience in meditation, you’re going to get your buttons pushed. When we lose it, it’s usually because other people can be so annoying. If everyone else just got it together and met our personal standards of perfection, we’d be happy. C’mon universe, is that too much to ask? Guess so, because the universe doesn’t seem interested in making any of us happy all the time. Which kinda sucks. But there’s a creative challenge in there that’s intriguing. It’s about figuring out how to find our own peace of mind… even when other people are so… you know.

Mom has lost it... again

A girl was having a rough time with her mom and wrote to me for advice.

Teen: A few years ago I lied to my mom and told her I was getting a B in French when I was getting a C. She still says she can’t trust me even though I’m a good student. Mostly A’s and a few B’s. I want to prove to her that I am trustworthy and I want to stop us fighting so much. More recently our fights seem to be bigger and scarier and I’m surprised she hasen’t hit me because often she’s so angry she can only stutter. All her brothers and sisters joke how out my mom has an anger problem. (It’s true!) I know she has my best interests at heart but I need her to back off a little and stop being so critical. I’m scared we’ll have a horrible relationship when we are older because of this useless fighting!

Annie: This sounds like the unhappy relationship my mom and I had when I was a teen. Part of what’s going on here is probably normal: Teen girl starts to grow up, expresses her individuality and mom feels uncertain about how to relate to this emerging young woman. Seeing our kids as young adults reminds parents that our “job” has changed. We don’t have the same level of control over our kids’ lives. That can be scary for parents, though it sounds like you know how to make healthy choices (aside from lying about your French grade).

It takes two people to have a fight. Since you can not control your mom’s behavior try to get more control over your own. If she starts complaining or arguing what might happen if you don’t get all worked up in response?

Teen: I have never shouted back at my mom, I usually just sit there and stay calm while she yells- hoping that she will stop soon! I try not to let her anger get to me- but I think that could be something that annoys her, the fact that I don’t really show angry/mad/sad emotions. Maybe she feels like she has to yell extra long and loud to make a point.

Annie: You want more independence to make your own decisions without feeling negatively judged by your mom. And in a few years you will have that independence. The real challenge is “How do we co-exist in a more peaceful way, until then?” Have you ever talked with any other adults in your family about the challenges you’re having with your mom?

Teen: I’m close to my dad. He’s definitely more relaxed than my mom about all this growing up/girl stuff, but usually he doesn’t take sides. Wise man! What can you recommend that would help my relationship with my mom?

Annie: Slow deep breathing (AKA re-centering) whenever you feel tempted to “engage” in her negativity. Check out  The Breathing Challenge. It is a challenge not to get stressed when the people around you are!

Also, try opening up to your dad and tell him how much you want a healthier relationship with your mom. Ask for his help in talking to her. Perhaps some calmly worded feedback from your dad would make your mom aware of how her behavior is contributing to the arguments. So talk to your dad and practice breathing. OK?

Teen: OK- thanks a lot Terra, I think I will be able to handle these situations with my mom better in the future.

Filed under: Parenting,Teens,Tips — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 4:35 pm
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What do moms & daughters want from each other anyway?

February 17, 2011

Love comes from understanding

I recently led a very special Mom/Daughter workshop. Sixty moms showed up each with a middle or high school daughter in tow. My goal for our 90 minutes together was two-fold:

1) Offer pragmatic calming down strategies which I knew would come in handy next time Mom & Daughter find themselves in one of those “I can’t believe we’re fighting about this again!!!” fights.

2) Provide Moms & Daughters with opportunities to understand and appreciate the unique challenges facing the other generation.

I introduced the Calming Strategies: I’m going to teach you how to do re-centering breathing. So next time you feel off-balance (and believe me there’s always a next time), you can get yourself back to the place where you do your best thinking. Give me a couple of  minutes of your time and you’ll have a tool you can use whenever  you’re about to ‘lose it.’  It’s very easy to breathe. The real challenge is to remember to breathe when you need to. And that would be any time you and your daughter or you and your mom get locked in a DESTRUCTIVE WASTE OF TIME yelling match – which covers pretty much all yelling matches.

Here’s how to breathe. Go for it!

As for the Opportunities to Understand one another, those came in the form of 20 posted questions lining both sides of  the room. These first six were for Moms and Daughters:

1. I’m very proud of my daughter/my mom when______

Most common Mom answers: Shows backbone. Achieves a goal she’s worked for. Helps others.

Most common Daughter answers: Wears cute clothes. Does what she loves. Trusts me & relaxes.

2. I wish my daughter/my mom would _______ more.

Most common Mom answers: Help (do chores) without being asked. Open up and talk to me.

Most common Daughter answers: Trust me. Understand me. Listen to me.

3. I’d like to apologize to my daughter/my mom for______

Most common Mom answers: Yelling & losing patience. Being critical. Not listening.

Most common Daughter answers: Being rude/disrespectful/bitchy. Taking things out on her.

4. Sometimes I’m embarrassed when my daughter/my mom ______

Most common Mom answers: Is rude to me in front of others. Dresses like she does. Gets upset over nothing.

Most common Daughter answers: Dances/sings/laughs/talks too much. Gets too ‘involved’ w/my problems. Tries to act cool around my friends.

5. I feel especially close to my daughter/my mom when______

Most common Mom answers: She confides in me. We hang out together.

Most common Daughter answers: We do stuff together (shop, watch movies, etc.), We talk, We hang out.

6. Most of our conflicts are about______

Most common Mom answers: Chores/helping out. Homework/time management. Siblings.

Most common Daughter answers: Attitude. Grades. Clothes. Social stuff (Curfew, Parties, Texting)

Then there were four Moms Only questions:

7. I could do a better job as a mom if I______

Most common Mom answers: Calmed down. Slowed down. Just relaxed. Had more patience. Had fewer tasks to do.

8. The best advice I could give my daughter is______

Most common Mom answers: Respect yourself. Trust yourself. Do what makes you happy.

9. The hardest part about being a mom is _____

Most common Mom answers: Being patient. Feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing.

10. Sometimes I _____ (Same thing I hated as a kid!) I’m trying to change this behavior.

Most common Mom answers: Get mad about the messy room. Say things I should know are embarrassing to my daughter. Want my daughter to be someone different (from who she is)

And here are the four Daughters Only questions:

7. I would be easier to live with if I______

Most common Daughter answers: Wasn’t so emotional/stressed/bitchy. Listen more. Argued Less. Cleaned up after myself.

8. When something is bothering me I’d like my mom to______

Most common Daughters answers: Leave me alone. Be nice.

9. When we argue I sometime_____ (even if I know it’ll increase tension). I’m trying to change that behavior.

Most common Daughter answers: Yell. Say mean things.

10. If I’m ever a mom, I swear I will_______

Most common Daughter answers: Have an open relationship with her. Be cool if my child wants to go out. Listen.

______________

As you read the questions and mentally answer them you’ll probably wonder how your daughter would respond. Maybe you could use them as a way to let each other in on how each of you feels about your relationship. I invite you to take these questions and your answers as tool for identifying what works in your relationship with your daughter. Celebrate those positive things and continue making time for them. On the flip side, use what you both learn here and work with your daughter to change the aspects of your relationship that could use improvement.

Oh, and one more thing… don’t forget to breathe.

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