By Natha Perkins of nathaperkins.com
I follow my daughter on Snapchat and Instagram but please don’t remind her of that. I never like or comment on her posts so I don’t draw attention to the fact that I’m watching but I’m curious about what’s happening in her teenage world and want what I see to be as uncensored by the “my mom might look at this” dynamic as possible.
As of this year, my daughter is officially a teen. Suddenly the words bitch and sick (pronounced: siiiiiiick) are everywhere, hair is flipping and eyes are rolling. Drug and alcohol slang words have arrived and hormonal boys are sending “joking” requests for nude pictures. She’s pushing boundaries and asking permission to do things that freak me out. Not because they’re bad, but because they’re, well, things that were off limits as a non-teenager. So I’m trying to take it all in stride and play it cool but truth be told, I don’t know the guidelines for parenting this new version of my child.
Adolescence, as we all know, is a time in life where your parents are basically the police and the object is to give them as little evidence as possible that they could and would hold against you in the court of law otherwise known as “My Parents Are So Annoying.”
I remember this dynamic well from when I was a teenager. Boys were the holy grail and I got involved with them far too early. In hindsight, I could have used a well informed parent to teach me a few things like “you never have to say yes to sex, ever” and “never chug vodka on an empty stomach,” but I made sure they weren’t aware of any of that. Do I want to support her in making better choices than I did? Yes! Do I totally relate to all of the challenges she faces? No.
We didn’t have YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and whatever the hell else those tech savvy Millennials keep inventing to help teenagers stalk the every move of other teenagers with socially acceptable, wild abandon. If we wanted to show a boy our body, we had to be live and in person. If we did something that we regretted, there wasn’t photographic evidence (cut to me on my knees, hands clasped, thanking some higher power for that stroke of luck). There were nasty rumors that were hard to live down, but could your best friend’s mom watch you casually smoking a bong on the screen of her iPhone because you let her follow you in 6th grade and forgot she could still see your Instagram account? Nope. Adolescence these days means hormones, rule challenging and up to the minute video documentation of everything you do.
So how do I successfully parent this former child, now full of hormones, pushing boundaries and obsessed with filming her every move? I feel like I’m in a math class dream; everyone’s busy taking the final and I’m trying to figure out why I was absent from class for the entire semester.
Do other moms feel this way? Like their precious children are being ripped away from them into a vortex of sexting, shifting rules and experimentation?
Maybe I’m being dramatic. She’s my baby girl, though! She used to need me, now she’s pulling away to be her own person with dramas that I may never even know about. I want her to grow and I want to keep her locked safe in the house. But that’s not the protocol, is it? I can’t bar her from social media. I can’t rid the world of drugs and alcohol. I can’t deny that she’s a young women with hormones and what’s happening is biologically normal and to be expected.
So, to say that I’m in over my head is an understatement. I often find myself mumbling swear words as I bite my nails and try to seem like I know what I’m doing. I don’t know what the limits are yet. I don’t know how to stop treating her like a little girl. I don’t know how to accept the fact that it’s extremely healthy for her to pull away from me.
And at the same time, I think it might be okay. I did a reasonable job preparing her for this, right? She’s got this, right? I will also admit, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that teenagers sleep in on the weekends (so I get to sleep in too!) Teenagers like to be with their friends more than they like to be with their parents (hell yes- free Friday and Saturday nights again!) Teenagers like to do a lot of things that don’t require my full attention like younger children did. In fact, once the newness and confusion begin to settle, I may just love this new parenting landscaping.
I’ll still be whispering obscenities to myself, but some things never change.
About the Author
Natha Perkins is a mama, an artist, a writer, and an intuitive life coach. For many years she owned a successful jewelry and lifestyle brand called Luscious Metals (featured in Cosmopolitan, Parenting Magazine and more). Making beautiful adornments out of metal and stones was definitely a dream job, but she decided she wished to be of service in a more meaningful way. Nowadays, she writes professionally and has been published in Elephant Journal, Scary Mommy, ManifestStation and more. When she isn’t typing away, she’s helping clients from around the world figure out what the hell is really going on in their lives (which is still an art, just of a different kind.) On a daily basis she also finds herself fighting the age old internal battle of whether to fake being perfect or just go ahead and risk exposing her own truths to the world. The struggle is real y’all. You can find more of her work at www.nathaperkins.com and follow Natha on Instagram and Facebook.