We Were Just Crying

Friends & Colleagues,

Before we dive into childrearing, can I give you a quick idea? Think of it like pressing the “easy” button if you’re a professional who works with kids and families. Use this newsletter for content and ideas. I wholeheartedly give my permission for you to forward this newsletter to friends, colleagues, parents from your clinic or classroom, and whomever you think would benefit from it. I work with pediatricians and educators who simply forward messages that resonate with them to their entire classroom, or post it on their patient portal. My passion is that everyone who works with and touches the lives of children and families receives messages that build resilience. So, when you’re done reading this, copy and paste or forward or whatever you do to inspire others! 

Ok, on we go!

Oh geez, raising kids is tough. I know, the picture here looks incredible – no complaints, right? (If you didn’t read my newsletter about vacations with kids, you can find it here!) What if I told you, just before this picture was taken, we were both crying?  

I felt frustrated and disconnected from my teenage daughter. She felt misunderstood and sad. I could feel tension between us. It had been building before vacation as we tried to figure out more independence and freedom as a senior in high school. She’s navigating becoming a young adult, having her first boyfriend and heading to college this fall. And me? I’m navigating it too – not well. This human being that I’ve invested 18 years in has turned out incredibly well. She’s funny, smart, kind & thoughtful. I LOVE her company and I’m so proud of her every day. I’m going to miss her. So, I had expectations about what our vacation would look like – lots of memories of connection. And while we were both trying, there was definitely disconnect, short fuses and frustration at times. And tears.

So, I headed down to the beach and invited her to join me. Sometimes, walking with kids is the best way to talk – less eye contact, focus and movement are your friends. I shared with her why I felt disappointed and she shared that she was feeling constantly corrected. Sigh. As we walked, we repaired. 

I want to underscore an important aspect of parenting: ruptures are unavoidable. But repairs create opportunity to heal. We talked about miscommunication, expectations and disappointment. Only 3 days into our vacation, we made an agreement to try things a bit differently. Here’s a snippet of what I expressed to my daughter, if it feels helpful:

“This is my first time doing this (having an 18 year-old). Yours too. I want to give you lots of freedom and independence and I know you desperately want that too. And you want trust and leeway – and I want to give it to you. But we’re going to miscommunicate what that looks like sometimes and feel frustrated. Maybe you’ll feel like you wanted more leeway and I needed more communication. Or maybe I felt like you weren’t ready and you’re exasperated with me. There will be times when you need my help and times you resent it. My experience is that talking more and sharing feelings will help. I can try harder too.” 

So, we made a point to talk daily and things felt better. Post-vacay, we’re still stumbling through senior year and navigating many “firsts” in anticipation of college and more independence. But one thing I know for sure: I’m confident in the daughter I’ve raised (we, really – me, my husband and our village). She’s a good person through and through. We’ll continue to walk through this trying time and connection during the rough patches will be paramount. More days than not, we look at each other and there’s a joint feeling of “We’re gonna miss this…” 

To all of you walking a path with your kids – hang in there!