Most of the blogs I read about “typical” parenthood (rather than “autism” parenthood) involve babies and toddlers, and I’ve been increasingly curious about that. As much as I enjoy a good laugh over potty training and baby talk, it’s just not where I am. I love to offer support to mothers with very young children, but as my children are getting older, I need supportive places for myself where I can find parents of teens and tweens.
Maybe it’s harder to find these blogs because as children get older issues of privacy start to get more serious, plus what teenager wants their parents writing about them? Well, in this post I hope I’m able to artfully avoid embarrassing my daughter, while at the same time sharing a pivotal event and seeking support from other parents. Also, because this blog is anonymous, none of her friends or our family will see it, so she is protected – AND she reads this blog, so if there’s anything in here she doesn’t like, she has editing rights.
Recently my oldest child, the 14 year old daughter mentioned above, began dating her first boyfriend. This has opened up a whole pandora’s box of issues in our relationship with each other. I have always prided myself on the two of us having a wonderful mother/daughter bond. We truly enjoy one another’s company. But since she started seeing this boy I’ve felt her being dishonest, secretive and distant. This past week I caught her in a lie outright, and found out that she used me, abused my trust, “played” me, in order to do something she knew I would disapprove of. Needless to say I felt hurt and betrayed. I felt like I didn’t know her anymore. Thank God for therapists.
Yesterday we had a “mega” session with her therapist. I was able to confront her about the lie, and after some initial denials and the stereotypical “it’s my life” “it’s none of your business” responses, she came clean with me. She watched me cry as I told her how hurt I felt over being used, she genuinely apologized and cried too. I was able to share my very real concerns for her as she navigates what has been a stormy adolescence thus far, and my new additional concerns that she be able to journey safely, responsibly and thoughtfully through her sexual feelings and desires. Did I say thank God for therapists?
Her therapist was a wonderful guide through this very painful and awkward conversation. I didn’t want a shouting match, since I knew that would get us nowhere, except entrenched behind warring battle lines. She was able to help us keep the volume down through my daughter’s initial denials, and engage us in truly meaningful conversation. My daughter was able to hear me and I was able to hear her – and we were able to come to a place of understanding, if not complete agreement.
She knows that the rules of the game will change now, and that there will be consequences for her deceit. I haven’t figured out what the new rules are going to be yet – although my husband and I are in the process of working them out. But she has agreed to accept whatever the rules and consequences are.
This whole event has signaled a seismic shift in my relationship with my daughter. She is still young, but she IS growing up. She needs to accept that it is STILL my job to parent, but I also need to accept that she is able to start making certain decisions for herself, even if I may not agree with them (within the bounds of safety and reason of course). It’s becoming a more adult relationship – and that will mean a certain amount of confusing, sloppy maneuvering on both our parts. For this, I need all the help I can get!
p.s. – I won’t even get into where my poor husband fits into this mess! He is in COMPLETE denial as I guess happens with a lot of dads when their little girls turn into more independent and “sexual” beings! I need all the help I can get with THIS too!