Category Archives: Adolescence

co-parenting

My husband and I have been married for almost 22 years.  In this time we have known great highs and devastating lows.  We have known times of peace and times of anxiety and tension.  I think, by far, the greatest time of tension that we have experienced as a couple have been the past few years parenting our now 17 year old daughter.

Parenting an older adolescent is a whole different universe than parenting an infant, or toddler or young child.  The issues then are very much centered around physical safety:  baby-proofing, making sure they don’t run out in the street, or wander away from you at the mall.  Parenting an older teenager is about safety too, but the game is utterly different.  Instead of baby-proofing, you wonder if the group they’re with will be drinking or doing drugs.  Instead of keeping them from running in the street, you’re praying they don’t get an accident while they’re out with the car.  Instead of wandering away in a crowd, you’re terrified they (or someone they’re with) will do something incredibly stupid or dangerous (or both).

And instead of tucking them in at night, you’re worried about them picking the kind of major in college that will enable them to get a decent job.  Instead of tucking them in at night, you’re trying to prepare them to be without you.  To fly solo.  It’s about finding the balance between holding on too tight so that they’re unprepared, and letting go too quickly or at the “wrong” time so they crash.

I’m spending a lot of time feeling afraid.  But I think I’m coping better than my husband, who is just plain terrified.  Because of my childhood, I tend to err on the side of freedom, while he errs on the side of control.  As a result, we’ve had some pretty interesting disagreements and discussions over the past year or so.  As I said, there are times when the tension is THICK – times when I think he’s suffocating her, and he thinks I’m irresponsible.

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I never expected to be fighting over differing parenting styles.  It’s been a bit of a shock and very disconcerting.  And of course the “truth,” the “right” way to go, is somewhere in between.  But there’s no formula for figuring out where that happy middle is.  It all feels like such a roll of the dice – which only adds to my fear and his terror.

I find myself sometimes wishing I didn’t have to co-parent.  It would be so much easier if I didn’t need to consult my husband or compromise or admit when I’m wrong.  But I know that’s just fantasizing to relieve the tension.  I know single parents.  And I know single parenting has its own tensions and fears and is HARD.   I knew parenting would be hard, but I had no idea HOW hard, and no idea the toll it could take on a relationship.  When divorce statistics are thrown around, you always hear about money being a source of stress, but I wonder how much having an adolescent figures into divorce rates?  Not that we’re going that route BELIEVE ME – I LOVE my husband, and like I said, my fantasy of being a solo parent is just that – a fantasy to escape the hard work of dialogue, understanding, and compromise. “Opposites attract” sounds nice, but the reality of it can be… complicated.

I never thought about parenting styles when I had children.  And I guess you cannot possibly know what kind of parent you will be to your adolescents until you get there.  It’s not something I think people generally talk about when they’re falling in love and think about having children together.  I know my husband and I certainly didn’t talk about how we would handle our hypothetical teenage daughter wanting to drive an hour to a hypothetical concert with her friends.  And I know that how I act in the reality is often different than I ever imagined it.

My daughter has been in therapy since the spring, and I think her therapist is excellent.  One of the reasons I feel this way is because she’s spending time with all three of us: my daughter alone, my daughter and I, my daughter and my husband, and my husband and myself.  She’s guiding us through some of our confusion and fear and tension in parenting.  I don’t think we’ll be able to work our fears away (I don’t think that’s possible for anyone who takes parenting seriously), but hopefully we’ll cope with them a little better, and also be able to work through some of the tension in our parenting styles. Less tension between the two of us around the last years our daughter is home would be a good thing.

Anyone else out there go through this?

 

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push and pull

I’ve been pretty silent here on the blog lately because I’m having problems deciding what is appropriate to share.  Quite honestly, right now, I’m having more issues navigating life with my 16 year old “typical” daughter than I am with my 13 year old autistic daughter or 9 year old son.  And because my oldest is 16, the issues I’m dealing with are a lot more complicated than potty training or sleeping through the night.  I would have no problems sharing that kind of information here.  But the issues I’m trying to cope with are more interpersonal – my relationship with my daughter, her relationship with me – issues of independence and control.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write.  Believe me, there have been moments recently where I’ve wanted to lay down a blazing rant, but even in my anger and frustration I still want to protect my daughter’s privacy.  She didn’t ask to have her life chronicled in a blog.  I’m also fully aware that even as I stand tall in self-righteous indignation, I am only seeing my side of the story – or there are times when I can see her side, but think it’s completely ridiculous, or see her side and feel badly for her as a teenager wanting to be older.  I know what it’s like to want to be free from parental control and rules.

One of the HUGE differences between my daughter and me is that I grew up in an abusive home, and actual rebelling was NOT a realistic option for me.  I was brought up not able to openly question or disagree with my parents, especially my father.  Indeed, I grew up with a lot of fear.  I didn’t want that for my children.  The result?  My daughter feels perfectly comfortable disagreeing with and questioning me to my face (and my husband’s face too while we’re at it).  I love that and am SO uncomfortable with it at the same time.

She has always been this way, but since she turned sixteen back in October, there has been a more dramatic shift.  She somehow thinks that sixteen is a license to absolute freedom and autonomy.  Well, not in my house.  I never (to my knowledge) gave her any impression that once she turned sixteen she would be free to do whatever she pleased with whomever she pleased.  So there has been considerable pulling and pushing in the past few months as she has tested the limits.  For example, she can be angry, argue and even yell at me, but on New Year’s Eve she started hurling personal attacks at me, and THAT was unacceptable.  She got grounded for the first time in her life.

I recognize the need to give her more freedom as she shows us that she can handle it.  She gets very good grades and overall has a good head on her shoulders.  But like any normal teenager, her capacity to sense danger is limited if non-existent.  I’m afraid every time she goes out the door and gets in a car with friends (many of her friends are in the next grade up and have their driver’s licenses already – she is still learning).  Isn’t the fact I let her drive in a car with friends to the mall (or so she says) proof that I’m not an overbearing mother?

But the fear is almost overwhelming.  I’m afraid every time she goes to a friend’s house, every time she gets in a car and drives off…  I have set certain rules for those things that I think are reasonable.  But kids will sometimes be kids and work around those rules or lie outright.  I know she doesn’t tell me everything, and I don’t expect that she will.  I can only hope the lies she tells me (or the things she doesn’t tell me) aren’t ones that will endanger her safety.  Perhaps that is my biggest fear.  And there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.

I think my job is to balance my fear with her freedom.  There are times when I have to “suck it up” and let her go, to stifle that voice inside of me that’s screaming “NO!  Don’t you leave this house!”  But there are also times when I need to pay attention to that voice, trust it, and let that voice come out.  But dang it, there’s no rhyme or reason for when to listen to that voice and when stifle it.  Flying by the seat of your pants IS NOT EASY OR FUN.

I had high blood pressure before this.  I think I may need to “up” the dosage on my medication.  I’ve got two and a half years before she graduates from high school.  Then, when she’s living on her own, I’m sure I’ll enter a new kind of hell.  Pray for me please!

Sweet Sixteen

Last week my family experienced a significant milestone.  My oldest child turned

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In some ways it seems impossible that I could have a sixteen year old.  This is ridiculous of course since I’m just shy of 50.  In reality I could be a grandmother – but we won’t talk about that!  In other ways it also seems impossible that my daughter could be sixteen because, I mean, wasn’t she just starting kindergarten?

It’s a tradition in our household to torture our children with their birth videos and baby pictures and birth stories on their birthdays, and this special birthday was no exception.  I often tease my daughter that she was the only one of my three that kept me up in labor all night long, (she was born at 7am, while my other two were born at night and in the afternoon), and that it was a sign of things to come.  I have indeed lost a lot of sleep over her, especially in her last middle school years and sometimes still as I worry about how she will fare going out into the big bad world sooner now rather than later.

She had such a terrible awful time of it in 7th and 8th grade – actually it was pretty horrifying how badly she felt about herself.  It’s her story to tell if she ever wants to go into the gory details, but from a parent’s perspective there’s no almost no worse feeling than watching your child go through a dark period, knowing there’s nothing you can do to take it away, praying that they don’t succumb to the lies depression or the bullies at school tell them.  Lots of lost sleep, sometimes just watching her sleep, doing my best to WILL her to feel better.  In addition to all this parental worrying, we also had her in therapy.  You don’t just try to will or pray the bad away.  She was over her head, we were over our heads, we needed HELP.  And we got it.  It’s not always easy, I get that.  The financial burden of therapy is huge.  But the pain of a dead child – that’s “huge-er.”

Thankfully her first year of high school was an immense improvement, continuing now into her sophomore year.  She is in quite a few clubs, has many good friends and her grades are just fine (except for Geometry – she’s working on it…).  She works out and trains in mixed martial arts and wrestling (the professional kind, which is what she wants to do for a career – God help us!)   While wanting a very public career, she’s a bit of an introvert in her personal life – like me, needs a lot of “alone” time, so she doesn’t go out a lot – sometimes, but not often.  A sign of this was her sweet sixteen party.  My husband and I were willing to do whatever she wanted, but it was her choice to just have a few friends over for pizza and ice cream, to hang out and laugh and invite them to sleep over if they wished.

In many ways, the personal issues she’s had – along with having pastors for parents and the church work we do with the poor, AND having a younger sister with autism – have made her wise beyond her years.  She is a deep thinker.  She has questioned and stretched her faith in ways I have rarely seen in a teenager.  She is a boundary pusher.  She is unafraid to voice her opinion, even if it’s not popular.  She has a profound  sense of justice and right and wrong – and is passionate about sticking up for the underdog, probably because she feels she IS one.  Don’t get me wrong, she still has plenty of “typical teenage” moments where she shocks me with her self-centeredness and impatience and immaturity – but that’s part of adolescence I think, to vacillate between maturity and childishness.

I worry a lot for her.  I worry about her career choice mostly.  Entertainment is a risky business.  Sports entertainment is not only risky financially – it’s risky physically.  The potential for serious bodily harm is real.  And the potential for being taken advantage of in a field that’s not well regulated and where women aren’t as respected as they could/should be is also high.  I worry a lot about that.  But I’m NOT worried about the kind of person she is and will become.  Whatever profession she chooses, or whatever profession chooses her, I have confidence that she will be the same person she is now, only stronger.  I don’t always agree with her.  I don’t always understand her.  But I am always in awe of her.

the apple who falls far from the tree

As I write this my teenage daughter is being flipped by a man who is the size of a professional football player, until it’s her turn to flip him – and I sit and watch.  We are at wrestling school, PROFESSIONAL wrestling school.  Please pray for me.

that's my girl, being thrown around while I watch.

that’s my girl, being thrown around while I watch.

My daughter will be sixteen in a few short months and has wanted to be a professional wrestler since she was about twelve.  At first my husband and I thought it was a passing phase.  Then we hoped it was a passing phase.  Now, after almost four years of this being her single focus, and after three months now of attending a wrestling school and it being her joy, we’re praying it’s a passing phase.  But also:

  • Praying that if it’s not a passing phase, that she has a good enough head on her shoulders to make the best connections in the business that will help her be successful.
  • Praying that if she’s not monetarily successful at wresting her “plan B” (aka day job) is one that will provide her security, happiness and enough success so that she can wrestle on the side (as most of the people at this school/training center do).
  • Praying that she isn’t taken advantage of in a business that has no real governing body and that she stay strong in a business that, in the opinion of her father and me, isn’t very respectful of women.

That’s a lot to be praying for.  A lot to worry about.

However, in this midst of all this praying and worrying there ARE some things for which I am thankful.

  • She did a lot of research before presenting to my husband and me where she wanted to train. She found a place with a good reputation and a fair fee.  It’s an hour away, which is a sacrifice for the rest of us, but so far it’s worked with only a fair amount of complaining by her siblings.
  • The people at this school/training center are really wonderful.  I would say “sweet” but that might ruin their reputation.  Outside the ring they are respectful and friendly.  There is only one other female at the center right now, and my daughter is the only minor that attends regularly, so she works with almost all adult men.  Might sound scary at first (and it was!), but these men treat her like their little sister or daughter.  In fact, one of the more gruff senior wrestlers, who often gives the guys a hard time told her, “I have a daughter your age.  If ANYONE gives you trouble you tell me and I’ll flatten them.”  He’s not the only one who’s said something like this to her either. Now, I’m not a fan of violence, but I’ll take it. These men have become very protective of her, and I’m grateful for that.
  • Before starting at this center she was really rebelling against my husband and me whenever we talked about her going to college.  Since she started training she has completely changed her tune.  The owner and head trainer told our daughter at her opening interview that it was a REQUIREMENT of attending his program that she get good grades in school and have a college plan.  He has made a good case to her about how college will equip her well even if she’s able to wrestle full-time and gets to the WWE. He made the case to her about having a good “plan B” as well.  She wouldn’t listen to her father and me when we said this, but she listens to her trainer. Thank God for him!
  • She’s not only thinking of what to do besides wrestling, she’s thinking about what she would like to do when her wrestling career is over.  And all those ideas swirling in her head are different, but involve helping the poor and politically oppressed, being a voice for the voiceless and an advocate for the powerless – which is just more proof of what an awesome person she is and is becoming.

So, my husband and I still might be praying she chooses a more secure conventional occupation, but we’re perhaps not quite as AFRAID as we have been.

In this whole process I’ve come to a few realizations, and this for me is the most important:  one of the hardest parts of parenthood is letting go.  Not just the “growing up” part of letting go – what I mean is letting go of the natural expectation of our kids to be just like us (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree).  Sometimes this natural expectation plays out:  an artistic dad has an artistic daughter, an numbers mom has a numbers son, a lawyer begets a lawyer etc… Because of this natural and often unconscious expectation we’re shocked if our children choose paths for their lives that are out of step with ours.  The accountant with a child who wants to be a mechanic, the peace loving hippies who have a child who joins the military,  the “outdoorsy” hunting fishing dad whose son becomes a drag queen (don’t laugh, that’s a real life example from a guy I knew in high school!).

But we need to realize that our children are not supposed to be carbon copies of us.  They are their own people, and it is our job as parents to help them discover who that is.  Sure, it’s our job to guide, but not to stifle or suppress them into being who WE want them to be – IT’S THEIR LIFE NOT OURS. Many times, however, this is easier said than done.

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I am so incredibly proud of my daughter no matter what she does with her career life (unless of course she turns to a life of crime or profits from exploiting others!).  What we DO and who we ARE, while closely related, are NOT the same thing.  One can be highly educated and incredibly monetarily successful and also be a jerk.  I’m confident that will not be an issue for her – she is already too concerned with justice and “right and wrong” for that to happen – and I’d like to think in that  way at least, the apple hasn’t  fallen far from the tree…

the minefield

Parenting is NOT for the faint of heart.  Problem is there’s no way to know that until you’re “in it.”  Sure, parents may warn you beforehand, but you think, “I will be different.  My children will be great because I’m going to ace parenthood.”  You already know what you’ll do differently from your parents, or you’ll do everything exactly as they did – depending on your family history.

You survive the sleep deprivation of infancy.  Your child survives the physical dangers that tempt toddlers.  And you feel a wonderful sense of pride as you send them off on their first day of kindergarten.  Life hums along and you confidently think as God did when looking at creation, “Yes.  This is good.”

But then something happens.  You’ve “got” this parenting thing, you’ve hit your stride – and the next moment you realize you’re in the middle of a minefield and you have no idea if the next step you make will set off a BOMB.  You have no idea how to move your feet – in what direction or how far.  Each step you make could have far-reaching and serious consequences.  How did this happen?  How did you end up here?  It’s called…

A D O L E S C E N C E

Edvard Munch, the scream

Edvard Munch, The Scream

Adolescence is a minefield.  You tell yourself you’ll do things better than your parents – and you WILL. BUT… you and your teenager will find other roadblocks in your way instead.  Ones you could never have anticipated.  You’ll find yourself replaying scenes from your own adolescence.  You’ll be amazed at the buttons your teenager is able to push, and how you fall for it without even realizing. And the hormones and developmentally exploding brain!  Sometimes all I have to do is look at my daughter the wrong way and a bomb goes off!  Say “no” to a request one night and I get a shrug and a grumble. Say “no” to a similar request on another night and the roof comes off the house and she hates me.  One moment your child is the most generous, kind human on the planet, and the next acting like the most selfish, thoughtless human being in history.

Career goals start to come into play.  You might end up looking at your child and saying, “Who are you and what have you done with my baby?” or “How could this child be MINE?”  You have expectations of college and your son aspires to be a heavy metal drummer. You see a lawyer before you, but your daughter wants to be a mechanic.  Or conversely, you wish you had a liberal daughter who would want to be a heavy metal drummer and she wants to be a lawyer for the Republican party!  How far do you let them go in following a dream, especially if it’s risky (like the drummer) while trying to prepare them in case the dream fails (which in their eyes it could never, because adolescence).  And can you prepare them at all, because of course you’re the last person in the world they want to listen to!

If their other parent is involved in their life, it’s a minefield you have to maneuver with your co-parent as well. When the kids are small decisions are fairly easy – keeping your child physically safe, how much tv, how much processed food, when should bedtime be etc…  But when your child hits adolescence, you may find your parenting styles differ.  (And no matter how much you’ve talked about parenting styles and philosophies before, when you’re “in it,” it’s a different thing.)  Your different childhoods may clash. Your different views of the world may clash.  Things like gender expectations, how boys and girls are treated, the kind of freedom you want (or don’t want) to give your son or daughter.

There are decisions to make like:

  • “when does she get to go to a mixed gender party?”
  • “How late can he stay out?”
  • “How old does she have to be before I DON’T have to know everyone she’s going to the movies with?”
  • “When do we let him drive with friends?”
  • “How often do we check the parent’s page on the school website to see his grades?  Every day?  Once a week?  At progress report time?”

Many times you have to make up your mind or set the rule on the spur of the moment, because they’ll fling a situation at you that you hadn’t thought about, and you don’t have time to say, “let me track down dad/mom and discuss it with them first.”  And woe to you if it’s a decision your co-parent disagrees with! And then, if you stick by your guns, but have a standing agreement with your co-parent that you don’t “put down” the other parent in front of the child, you find yourself defending an opinion to your child that you don’t hold yourself!  My husband and I have had fights before.  Heck, we’ve been married for twenty years, we’ve had LOTS.  But the disagreements we’ve had over parenting styles and decisions now that our oldest is fifteen are HARD. Really hard.

A minefield I tell you!!!

I have no words of wisdom.  No advice on how to get through it, because I’m still IN it.  Pray for me – and I’ll pray for you.

Nobody warned me about the fear

There is NO time in parenthood when you can relax.  I’ve been at this for over 15 years now and every new experience just reinforces that sad truth.

My teenager had a horrible middle school experience.  I won’t go into great detail out of respect for her privacy, but it was utterly frightening to watch.  Everytime she left the house, or even when she closed herself in her room we were afraid.  More than once my husband and I almost pulled her out of the school, in fact asked her if we could PLEASE pull her out and either homeschool or get a tutor for her, but she refused.  She was miserable, despondent, hopeless, dark (and yes, she was receiving professional help).

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She graduated from 8th grade in June, and in September started at our regional high school.  Five towns combine into one high school, which means a whole new mix of kids, and a bigger student population.  Many people told us that she would find her groove at the high school and we prayed and prayed and prayed that would be true.

In the past few months we have had a new person living in our home.  She is HAPPY.  She has made many new friends.  She is confident.  She cares about her classes.  She cares about how she looks (and by this I mean she cares if she’s showered and brushed her hair, not what designer label she’s wearing).  She has a new boyfriend who seems really nice.  I’m thrilled for her.

fear imageBut I’m still afraid.  Before, I was seriously afraid about the possibility of suicide and self- destructive behavior.  I was afraid because she disliked herself, had few friends and no social life.  I’m SO SO SO thankful those fears are gone – but they have been traded for new ones.  Now that she has friends and “hangs out,” I fear adolescent group mentality and the propensity to make poor choices.  Fears of sex (not just of her having it, but of STD’s and pregnancy!), drugs, fears of her expanding freedom and that with her new social life she may find herself in a precarious situation and not realize it or know how to get out of it.  We’ve talked about all these things with her, and once or twice she has called me to pick her up from a situation in which she felt uncomfortable, but still, the social pressures for teenagers are enormous, and sometimes those pressures can override their instincts and common sense.

I naively thought that once my daughter was in a better place I would be able to relax.  Nobody warned me that fear would be a constant companion in my parenting journey.  Sometimes it feels paralyzing, overwhelming.  For the most part I’m able to manage the fear beast though.  I can’t let fear rule my parenting – what an awful experience that would be for both her and me!  I can’t seal her in bubble wrap.  It’s part of the cost of loving – this intense desire for the well-being of the one you love, the fierce protectiveness against all things that might cause your child harm physically, emotionally or spiritually.  It goes against every instinct to let go, yet it’s the one thing we must do.  She has to learn to live her life, and the only way she can do that is if my husband and I allow her increasing freedom.  That means letting her go, little by little.

These new set of fears seem more natural to me than the ones I had when she was in the depth of her depression and self-loathing.  They’re fears that go along with the normal course of a teenager starting to break free, taking those baby steps towards adulthood.  They’re fears that are associated with living a life and not with being held back from life. The trick is knowing when to tell the fear to get out of the way, and when to listen to it – because there ARE times when you have to say to your kids, “Nope, not this time.”

 

What I never could have done

I grew up afraid.  Having an alcoholic father taught me that.  We were never allowed to disagree openly with him, and his anger could be fierce.  I learned to bury, and even lie to myself about my emotions in order to survive.  I learned to lock myself in my room as much as possible, where I could feel some semblance of safety.

When I had children I vowed that while they would have a healthy respect for my husband and me, they would not feel the fear I felt.  I wanted them to be able to express their anger, even at me.  I wanted them to be able to stand up for themselves.  And they do, within certain limits.  In our house anger is okay, but we’re not allowed to belittle another person, or use words like “stupid,” “idiot” or “shut up.”  We can say “I’m angry with you,” but not “I hate you” (although that does come out once in a while).  I am far from being the world’s perfect mother or wife, and I’m sure my oldest has spent a good amount of time complaining about me to her therapist – but I try, and I feel like I have a good relationship with all three of my children.

So…

Something happened recently.

My oldest, who’s 15, has been participating in the school marching band’s color guard (you know, the kids who run around the field or march with flags).  She loved it at first, but has been on a steady path of disillusionment for months because the director has, in her opinion, been singling her out.  She has been in tears many times lately, only bolstered up by her fellow students telling her it’ll be okay.  Now, although I love my daughter, I know she’s not perfect, and usually I’m pretty good at seeing the teacher’s side of things.  But this director has a reputation for being downright mean, which I’ve heard from other sources besides my daughter.

A few weeks ago the director publicly benched my daughter because it was cold, her fingers were numb, and she dropped her flag – during practice.  She felt humiliated and seethed with anger and hurt for the rest of practice as she watched, then during the game in which she was allowed to perform.  She cried with her friends on the squad, and when I picked her up after the game was over she cried with me.  My daughter had enough.  She wanted to quit.  I encouraged her to stick it out.  It was then the playoffs – I reminded her that she made a commitment to this, and that it was important to follow through, and not to let her squad down.  I told her I’d be disappointed in her for letting down the squad, but that she had to make her own decision.

After this incident, and all tears, she went to talk with the director of the music program (who’s “above” the color guard director) and told her that she wanted to quit.  I wasn’t there for the conversation, I know only what my daughter told me afterwards – but if even half of it is true I really wonder how these people end up leading our youth.  I’m chalking the whole thing up to the color guard director just being mean, and the music director (who is new) being inexperienced.  The music director basically told my daughter that she couldn’t quit and that she was being melodramatic and self-centered.

SHE’S FIFTEEN – OF COURSE SHE’S BEING MELODRAMATIC!!!!!  Duh.  Fifteen year old’s are incredibly melodramatic and self-centered – it’s called adolescence.  What planet is this woman from???

I’ve never coached a team.  But I have been “in charge” of people.  And here’s what I’ve learned.  To be an effective leader and get the most out of those you lead you have to know your people.  Some respond well to the angry coach – “shape up!” “don’t be lazy!” – and some respond to the cheerleader type – “I know it’s hard, but you can do it!”  Some folks, and I can imagine a lot of teenagers, respond well to a comforter, “I know you’re having a difficult time, I understand, hang in there.”  My daughter definitely responds best to the comforter – and neither the color guard or music director knew this – and they’ve known her for two years.

The day after this “talk” with the music director, getting up for school on game day, she cried.  Again.  Cried that she couldn’t face another Friday night game.  She didn’t have it in her.  Again, I told her that I would be disappointed if she dropped out because she had made a commitment to her squad.  I told her to try to see it through.

Shortly after her school day was over she texted me to pick her up.  I asked her about color guard practice and she said she just couldn’t.  She couldn’t face it.  She emailed the music director and that was it.  She got in the car looking lighter than she had in weeks.

My daughter has done something I could never have done at her age.  The more I thought about it, the more I saw MY behavior and attitude as playing my “old tapes” – take the abuse because you can’t fight back.  And the more I thought about it, the more I moved from being disappointed in her to being downright PROUD.  She saw herself being mistreated and wasn’t going to be passive about it.  She was sad for her squad, but wasn’t willing to subject herself to poor treatment as the price for staying.  She did exactly what I’ve been raising my children to do – she stood up for herself.

Quitting isn’t always the best way to deal with a problem.  Sometimes quitting is taking the coward’s way out.  But sometimes quitting is a sign of health, strength, and can be downright BRAVE.  I love this girl!

***p.s. – The game she dropped out of ended up being the last game for her team.  Most of her squad members, even if they didn’t agree with her decision, respected it.  She has not heard from the color guard director or the music director since.  Also, out of respect for my daughter’s privacy, she read this first and gave me her permission to post…