My daughter and I have always had a close bond. She’s been my little buddy, especially after getting divorced many years ago. It’s been me and her, forever and always. But lately, I feel like I only get glimpses into the sweet, loving kid she was before she hit the pre-teen years.
Everything I say and do is criticized by her. Every day I feel stress because there is just so much resistance. To. Everything.
She is constantly giving me a hard time for shaking my butt when I dance, but who doesn’t? I can’t help it. My body moves with the rhythm.
She thinks she is right, and I am wrong, about every topic. Even when she is proven wrong, she cannot admit it. Just the other day she made a huge deal that she didn’t want me to finish a special block of cheese. She made all these critical comments about how I probably would eat it without saving any for her (which I would never do). In the end, SHE ate the cheese before I came downstairs and didn’t save any for me, after throwing a fit that she was so sure I would do the same to her. This kind of behavior makes me worried – is she going to end up the kind person I tried to raise, or will she be entitled and self-involved?
Sometimes I don’t like the behavior I see she engages in with friends at school. Why do these friendships change so often? Middle school is rough, I know, but the girl-to-girl behavior is terrifying to me. She tells me about things that happen – kids spreading rumors, being mean via text, and much more. And I know that she is part of this stuff at times, too, because I keep tabs on her phone.
My child who once valued kindness is often moody and honestly mean to me. I know that this is probably age-appropriate, but it ain’t easy.
I hold onto those moments where I see her tenderness, compassion, and care. She is the first one in the house to notice if I’m having a hard time. She comforts me by playing with my hair. She still wants her lullaby every single night and she sleeps with her favorite stuffed animal she’s had since she was 1. It’s a weird blend of rebellion and still wanting to be a kid.
I’m not sure how to handle the preteen years in a better way. All I can do is continue leading by example, making sure she knows that she is loved and unconditionally accepted in our household. Fellow moms have always said, “bigger kid, bigger problems” and I didn’t get that until now. Our kids reach a point where outside influences are bigger than our own and all we can do is hope that between the eye rolling, texting with friends, and attitude problems, they are listening to our guidance and will turn out to be good humans.