“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.” ~ Debra Ginsberg, Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World
The last few months have been difficult. I wrote about it in my last post. It is quite probably the lowest point for me this year: my relationship with my daughter.
I know that most teenage daughters start to hate their mothers during puberty. I don’t know why that is, and I try to think back to when I was a teenager. Did I hate my mother then? Probably? If I am remembering correctly, what I hated the most about my mom was that she never stood up for me against my father who was a tyrant and who never let us out after 5:00 p.m. My parents were old-school, strict Asian parents who never let us talk during dinner, never let us express our feelings or opinions, and who treated my siblings and me like little toy soldiers who had to follow the general (my father), or suffer punishment that included slaps and beatings.
When I was younger, I felt as though my childhood was not all that bad. After all, my father had a good job that afforded us a large home in the suburbs, and we generally lived a cushy life, not wanting for any material things.
But if you dug below the surface, my siblings and I lived a very stressful childhood. We were constantly under a microscope by my parents, and it seemed like we lived our whole young lives just trying to please my father. Nothing was ever good enough in my his eyes, and I grew up always feeling like I was never enough. My top grades in school, my school graduations, my earning a black belt in martial arts – none of those landmark events in my life meant anything to him. In fact, he never attended any of my graduation ceremonies.
The only attention I received from him was when I did something “bad” – if I came home late, if I brought home a bad grade, or if I expressed an opinion that differed from his. Only then would he pay attention to me, and of course that attention was never pretty. I would get slapped and berated, sometimes for hours, and my mom would just sit there. She would not say anything. I hated her for that.
When I became a parent, I tried to be the opposite of my father. I always celebrated my daughter’s successes and tried to encourage her whenever things did not go well. She and I had always been close, but something changed this year, and now I have no idea who she is.
It started out small. Lying about where she went. Coming home later and later. Then it built up to wanting to sleep at friends’ houses more and more frequently. Until one night, she decided not to come home at all and she would not answer her phone. She came home the next morning and said she had stayed at her friend’s house. When I asked her why she did that, she flatly responded, “I just want to have fun.”
She sometimes sneaks out at night and her bed would be empty in the morning. She is defiant and hardheaded, and lies about every single little thing.
I talk to her calmly and without anger, and we have even made agreements that I thought were peaceful and compromising to both our sides, but she is not complying with the terms. She still breaks curfew and last night she said, “I want to live on my own.”
She is fourteen.