Growing Pains: Surviving the Tumultuous Teen Years
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I lived my life. My daughter and I have a number of things in common and, as she grows older, we’ll have even more. She likes music. I gave her my old turntable. Sometimes I loaned her an album or bought her a new one. I didn’t pretend to be a Taylor Swift fan. But I made some Spotify suggestions and listened to her music without judgment.
I stopped asking “How was your day?” and “Is everything alright?” That just pushed her away. Sometimes we played catch with the football and, as the sun went down and we grew tired, she would confide in me. Some things she only told my wife. Some days were more difficult than others—for her and for us—but that’s to be expected. My teenage daughter was doing okay.
We got through it. The Lodger leaves her door open more often these days. She’s adjusted to being a teenager, and we’ve gotten used to raising one. We watch movies and occasionally play games. We talk about books and music and sports and people. Sometimes we argue, but she always apologizes soon afterward, or silently does a chore, which she knows I’ll appreciate even more than words.
Sometimes she wants to be left alone. She still spends a lot of time in her room, behind her closed door. Between homework and sports and Instagram, there isn’t always time for Dad. But she sends me emails, almost every day. We communicate by Link and Vine. Sometimes the text is only one word long. Seriously?! But now the one-word exclamation is directed at the guy in a six-second video, not me.
There are upsides to having a daughter grow up. She doesn’t color herself with my deodorant stick and say a ghost did it. She’s fully potty-trained. She can stay home by herself. Her independence, you learn, can also be your independence.
That’s our job, after all. At first we need to protect, advise, comfort and nurture, but, as they grow older, one of our primary duties is to stop protecting, advising, comforting, and nurturing. We need to let them go. My teenage daughter is almost a woman. She’s changed a lot since the day she was born, but she’s still my sweetheart. I miss the little girl she once was, but I’m proud of the person she’s become.