She is NOT Me! ~ It’s true I had a youth full of trials and challenges similar to those which my daughter is facing now, but She is NOT Me and I am not Her. Her stories and dramas appear and sound as if they share the same structure as those in my past. I remember my personal struggles; my changing body; social awkwardness; parental disdain; infatuation with the opposite sex; my emotional HIGHS and lows.
Now I understand the dynamics of it all, but then, not so much. Yes sex-ed was taught in school. I was told about the importance of healthy self-esteem. My parents said, “Someday you will understand”. I knew my hormones changed with my cycle and on and on, but I didn’t really get it not until now. Even now I don’t truly get it, because it’s not mine to get anymore! It’s hers and She is NOT Me.
I remember thinking, “Nobody understands,” and feeling isolated in my own world full of torment, torment I often believed was inflicted on me and I felt powerless. The criticism at that time was frequent. Peers, teachers, siblings, family and even society all seemed to have something negative to point out about my process. I was told it would get better, that someday I would look back and remember those days as precious times. It didn’t make sense. If they were so precious then why wasn’t that my experience going through them?
The fact is life is immensely different then when I was growing up. Social pressures have changed. Our children are experiencing technology that I couldn’t have even begun to imagine at their age – texting, facebook, skype, who would have thought? The concept of sex, well, that’s an entire article all on its own. My point is this, my children are unique and trying their best to make their way in a very crazy world. The last thing they need is my righteous attitude, dogmatic opinions and pressures.
I am consciously working to not inhibit my daughters esteem. I am listening more and having fewer opinions, because I remember how it felt to always “be told things” rather than simply being respected and listened to. I ask more questions and say things such as, “Wow, that sounds very challenging! If you could counsel “them” in being better communicators, or behaving differently, what would you say and why?”, then I listen and often agree.
I once heard a quote, “It’s more important to teach our kids how to think then what to think.” I really believe this. I also believe in the importance of allowing my daughter to “feel freely”! Who am I to tell her to stop crying or that she should not feel that way? Who am I to be the cause for her doubting herself and question her personal life experience? I am NOT her.
She is NOT me. My experiences and injuries, emotionally, physically, mentally are mine, not hers. True I do my best to prevent her from experiencing pain, but I know she will hurt. It’s absolutely normal.
As I proceed in being her parent I will do so with the full intention of allowing her to experience life more freely. I will do my best to not impose my past on her present. I will also be careful to not direct her toward a life I wish I had had.
My daughter is a teenager now who knows the basics of right from wrong. As she moves through these next few years I must allow her more freedom to choose her own way and form her own character. I am NOT Her therefore I cannot save her from herself. I can gently guide her and be here as I always have to help her up when she falls. She like me will live and learn and one day will look back on her childhood. My hope is that she will say, “My childhood was amazing.”