2013 27/02

If 40 is the new 20, is 7 the new 16?

Shortly after Abbi was born, someone said to me, “These are the easy years! Parenting a teenage girl? Good luck!”

While I wouldn’t necessarily say that the newborn, baby, and toddler years are easy and I know I’m a few years off from the official teen years, I can say that parenting Abbi now, at this stage, definitely comes with its own set of challenges!

These past few months I feel like Abbi and I are butting heads at every turn.

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She wants to wear a Summery dress with no leggings in the middle of the Winter. I say NO WAY, go find some clothes appropriate for Winter. Which translates into her mind as “I don’t love you and you can never pick out your own outfits.”

She wants to watch cartoons like Bratz or Gravity Falls. I ask her to turn the channel because those cartoons are not appropriate. “It’s fine mom! I’ll just skip over the bad parts!” Umm, no! You can watch something that is actually appropriate.

I’ll call her in from playing outside with the neighbor kids because it’s getting dark and she still has homework to do. Obviously I just don’t want her to have any fun or friends. Or so she tells me.

It’s exhausting.

I know she’s transitioning between little girl and pre-teen and is grasping for all this independence, but COME ON! I had no idea this period of time would be so difficult. I had no idea we would be going through this so soon! I thought we had another four or five years before we navigated these waters. But then I look at the world around my girls and I get it.

Everything from clothing to tv shows is pushing these girls to grow up faster. TV shows that undermine adults and parents. Belly shirts and high heels in the kids clothing section at Target. It’s all around us. I can’t even turn the radio on in the car in the mornings on the way to school because every other song is about sex or the morning show hosts are talking about orgies. It’s a battle.

I’m desperately trying to help us find a balance or some sort of compromise when I see issues rising up. Unfortunately it’s a frustrating process for both of us. And I am too quick to just toss my hands up in the air and tell her that either she does what I say or else.

Like I said, it’s a process. An exhausting and frustrating process. Especially when I think about the fact that I know this stage is no where near over and Zoe is soon to follow.

So  tell me, all you wise parents who traversed this before me, how did you handle this? Do you feel like this stage has come earlier than in previous generations?

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  • I will be watching this closely; as I am in exactly the same situation and have no answers. I don’t understand how “no, that’s not a good idea” turns into a 7 year old who spends the next 3 hours in her room completely put upon, and grumbling about how hard her life is.

  • Selfishly, I’m glad I’m not alone in this, Jen! Yesterday I got the “You’re just trying to ruin me!” because I wouldn’t let her watch some Bratz-type cartoon on the iPad. What? Really? I think it’s the exact opposite, my dear child!

  • Wow… I’m not too far behind you gals with my 6yo. Have I told you lately that I’m glad to know you both? ­čśë Thanks for keeping motherhood real.

  • Haha! My 7yr old threw a full-throttle temper tantrum in the dentist’s office this week and I had to physically carry her out of there. It doesn’t get more real than that!

  • We are starting to even out with Ainsley… I think. The last 2 years (7-9) have been tough. It’s taken a lot of patience and talking, but I think we are starting to get through to her. I find our biggest challenge is not what we are doing, but the outside influences of other kids who’s parents have great homes, but much lighter restrictions on some things. It’s hard to explain why it’s “okay” for those kids and not your own when your child is the same age or even older in some cases.

    Our biggest tool has been compromise. Because she has been showing a higher level of responsibility we let her get her ears pierced earlier than we had originally set. Also, with the clothing my response (when not a special occasion) “You can wear what ever you want as long as it covers what it needs to for the weather. You can go do it now or you can lose your favorite stuffed animal.” She has always decided it’s best to go pick out something that covers her rather than lose that stinky rabbit.

  • I completely agree with the outside influence stuff, Sarah! I can tell, sometimes, when she’s saying something that it’s something she’s heard from a friend or tv. I don’t want to talk badly against those other parents’ choices/rules so I just tell her that all parents have different rules and these are my rules. I will say that TV & media definitely do not help!

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