Dear Guru Stu,
I'm a single mother of a teenage daughter. Lately, my daughter has been
ignoring her household duties, coming home late and neglecting her schoolwork.
We've always had a good relationship, but suddenly she's a stranger to
me. How can I recapture that special rapport that now seems to be gone?
Concerned Mom of a Teenager
Raising a child in a two parent household is difficult enough (especially
when they are teenagers); so kudos to you for doing it on your own.
As far as those chores are concerned, Steve Covey recants a wonderful
story of how he helped his teenage son gain personal responsibility in
taking care of the lawn in his book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective
People," which I highly recommend reading.
But, what the heck, I also recommend you read my stuff
. So I'd
be wasting space here if I didn't at least share some guruisms with you.
After all, that is why you wrote to ME.
So here goes
The act of raising children is "passing the torch"
In the beginning, children need everything from you. As they grow, they
pick up all the tools they're going to use the rest of their lives. And
it's not exactly like you give them responsibility over time (although
you can play a very active role in that). Basically, kids TAKE over their
own lives as they grow.
They are changing
Their bodies are changing; they are being influenced by things that they
do not control, nor understand. It's one of the biggest adjustments they
will make in their lives.
They are trying to find their way
As kids enter the fringe of adulthood, they are trying to define who they
are. Every day is a discovery. There are amazing successes and huge disappointing
several times a day. They think they're going through it
alone; they think no one else (especially YOU) understands.
The best thing for you to do is
They have to get THROUGH it
So give it time. Remember, it took you time too, and you did get through
so be patient.
don't just give them all your "wisdom." They think
it's outdated and no longer applies anyway. So LISTEN more than you talk;
ask questions; offer encouragement.
Sometimes they actually DO need to know you've been through it too.
Change with them
However difficult it might be, let go of the past. Trust them enough to
start making their own decisions. Maybe you might just discover something
that your teenage daughter is turning into a beautiful
and your new relationship, though different, is equally as