Fighting is Just Part of It

“If anyone is a parent of a teenager and isn’t fighting, then either they aren’t paying attention or they are doing something wrong.”

This was my husband’s wisdom shared when I asked him if we were being too restrictive, after assuring me that we were not. We were sitting at the dinner table with the boys, Jane having opted to spend mealtime in her room, curled up on her bed, likely thinking we were extremely unreasonable.

She’s been asking for a bikini. Actually, she’s been asking for a non-tankini two piece swimsuit. She’s perfectly willing (and actually would prefer) to have a very modest lifeguard style top, like a sports bra.

But we aren’t ready for her to show that much skin. And she can’t articulate why she wants to.

We certainly know why we don’t want her to. She’s thirteen, approaching the end of seventh grade. No one would know that looking at her though.

We ran across an old friend, a photographer, who hadn’t seen Jane in some time. His eyes bugged out when he saw her and he said, “Whoa!” – not believing how big she was.

“Will I be taking her picture soon?” he asked, referring to his rather brisk business in photographing High School Seniors. He was shocked to find out her age, insisting that he would have put her in at least tenth grade.

And therein lies the problem.

She may look like she’s 16 or older but she most certainly is not. Her body is much more mature than her mind and certainly more so than her emotions. She is not in the least bit equipped with the skills needed to recognize and properly respond to the kind of attention she would get.

And so we say no.

And she gets angry.

And I feel sad.

And he is oh so right. Teenagers are basically only happy as long as everything is going their way. If anything isn’t what they want, when they want it, how they want it, then they shed any resemblance to human decency and turn into irrational beasts, angry at the world.

Sometimes I just want to give in. I hesitate to say that since she reads this blog and I don’t want to give her incentive to push harder, but it’s true. Sometimes I just want the anger and the glares and the distance to stop. I just want to get along.

But what kind of service would that be to her? What kind of a person would I be helping shape her to be? I’m certainly paying attention but if I gave in, I’d be doing something wrong. So the fights must continue. For now.

Still. I’ll be happy when her brain catches up with her body and rationality and cooperation prevail again.

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7 thoughts on “Fighting is Just Part of It

  1. Sounds like we had the same evening. Sometimes I think we should just move our families in together. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really needed this today. I’m feeling a little less lonely, and a little less evil empire. Tnx!

    • LOL! Glad I could help. Although having SIX kids in the mix, even with twice the parentage sounds like a nightmare to me. Unless you are offering to take over and let me take a breather. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. In my career as a 7th grade teacher, the female students who were endowed with an 18 year old body connected to a 12 year old brain were always difficult to deal with. You have both my sympathy and admiration. Hang in there. Boys are easier than girls.

  3. I wouldn’t allow make up until they turned 16. Talk about battles, are you are right, they didn’t give in. Mine insisted that they were right and I was the only parent of the face of the planet that acts this way. Years later I was thanked for sticking to my guns and how appreciative they are that they didn’t get caught up in any of the other crap their peirs got involved in. Stay strong, it’s a long hard road.

    • Ah, yes… the makeup fight… She wears mascara but I periodically have to confiscate blush and eyeshadow and lipstick. It’s kind of hard to get away with wearing makeup undetected. *grin*

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. This is a tough one to navigate, I’m sure. My feeling (as a non-parent but a woman well over 35 who has always had a lot of contact with kids, especially teenaged girls) is that incremental privileges work well. Perhaps a compromise where she earns the privilege to wear a little more makeup IF she learns the appropriate techniques and keeps it limited to a very natural look. I agree that the girl who has a body which makes her appear to be much older than her chronological age has a big struggle ahead, and one which will last for many years.
    When I worked with teenager girls in a protective custody situation, nearly all of them had extremely developed figures despite being between 12 and 15 years old. As I recall, all of them had been endowed with breasts considerably larger than my own, although I was approaching 30 and had a rather balanced hourglass shape. You can imagine the reactions these girls endured when in the company of boys and even some (eeewwww!) men who had no sense of how inappropriate it was to comment or gesture in reference to the girls’ bodies. In that setting, I made it a priority to help the girls understand that a mature body was nothing to be ashamed of, but also required extra diligence to pay attention to how their clothes fit, etc., so that they might reduce the unwanted attention. They also needed to learn how to react, or not, so that people with whom they interacted understood that the girl herself demanded to be treated with respect.
    As for the makeup, one thing you might try if you haven’t already is to bring Jane for a makeover at a specialty retailer (Origins comes to mind) or salon where the emphasis is on healthy skin and the makeup is secondary. The healthier her skin, the less makeup she will want or need, now or in the future. Have a chat with the manager prior to Jane’s appointment and express your concerns. The pros will have some tips which are tailored to her individual needs (even if she currently has gorgeous and problem-free skin) and will show her the most flattering but subtle makeup techniques. We used to do this when I worked at a skin care company and mothers routinely brought their young teens to us for this purpose. We gave them the whole treatment and kept it natural and within the mother’s particular comfort zone. A stranger who works professionally guiding women through the maze of maintaining and improving personal appearance may be able to have an impact that (unfortunately) might go largely ignored when you or your husband try to express it. Like all girls and women, Jane has to learn how to present herself in her own way, but also protect herself from giving the wrong impression. I hate that women have to worry about men misinterpreting or making assumptions about a woman’s appearance but this is the ugly reality. And I feel for you both, having to watch and worry as your little girl becomes a teenager and a young woman and will increasingly be the object of unwanted attention. As she learns to assert herself she also has to learn how to navigate and sort through the types of attention offered NY the opposite sex. I’m sure you don’t want her to be fearful, but also not be too easily led by her hormones and impulsivity.
    I’m also sure I’m not saying anything you don’t already know, but I want to reassure you that you always sound like fair and reasonable, thoughtful and loving, intelligent and careful but realistic and FUN parents. You’re doing just fine. Hang in there.

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