Learning to Like My Teenager
I never expected to dislike my own daughter so much! She went from being my precious toddler to being a rebellious, ungrateful teenager. I could not understand what had happened to my little angel. I knew that she was growing up, but she had also grown away from me and I struggled with how to get her back.
I was reminded of the Lord’s directive in Proverbs 22:6 to “direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” I realized I had interpreted the verse as meaning she would always walk the right path because I had taken her to church and taught her about God and prayer. I was rudely awakened to the realities of rebellion.
It started with the usual boredom with everything that she used to love doing and escalated to lying so she could do the things she now wanted. When she was around seventeen years old, one particular incident informed me of her secret life and introduced me to this person who used to be my daughter. She left school without my permission to go for a ride with friends. As a result, I grounded her for 30 days including taking away her cell phone. I found out all about the tattoo and belly piercing she had; the company she was keeping; and the choice names she reserved for me. I was hurt, angry, and shocked.
I began to seek the Lord for wisdom and counsel and found the answer to be prayer. . . and more prayer. The Lord reminded me that she never belonged to me. He had merely entrusted me as a steward over her life for a very short period of time. The teenage years mark the struggle for control on a whole new level. I was attempting to keep control of her life and she was attempting to take control of her life. My daughter’s very strong, independent personality made the struggle more pronounced.
I was reeling in feelings of guilt, failure, and disappointment. I began to question how I had gone wrong as a parent. I knew the right thing to do was to maintain the rules of my home and require compliance which I did. I did not know what to do with the overwhelming sense of failure gripping me. I did not know what to do with the fact that I did not like her at all and she was my very own flesh and blood.
During this time the Lord sent encouragement through friends and co-workers who had already traveled through this season with their adult children. They promised me that we would make it through and be the best of friends one day. I thought, “not in this lifetime.” I continued to pray and the more I prayed, the more I realized the Lord was helping me to release her.
My job as a hands-on parent was transitioning to a coach and mentor. He wanted me to trust Him to capture her heart just as he had captured mine. He wanted to navigate her journey based on her responses to Him. I had pointed her toward Him and He was now going to lead her. I had to learn to trust Him to do so even when it did not look like it. He reminded me He has heard my prayers for her since the time she was in my womb. He wanted control of her life and He needed me to release her to Him.
It took me about a year to finally reach a place of peace. I began to see a change of heart during her sophomore year in college. She cried out for prayer during a time of stress and discouragement and I sensed the Lord was pursuing her. My daughter completed college and is now living on her own and doing well. I still pray for her daily. We have a much better relationship (though not quite the best of friends yet), but I like her again.
*Note: The author’s name is a pseudonym.