Fighting with your teenage daughter can really suck

Guest post by Aimee Stilts

Meadow as a baby! Photo by Aimee.
She was so cute as an infant! Such a roly-poly chub with a wispy tuft of white-blonde hair. I fought the good fight in so many ways to get her here. I remember when she started to walk. I wasn’t home. I was at work while she waited for me at my foster mom’s house. Not long after that I commented, “I can’t wait until she talks!”

And talk, she did. One of the first coherent words that she spoke was “beer.” I can say that and laugh now because she’s not using drugs or alcohol. When I first heard it, I was torn with a range of emotion from mortification to glee that she was already challenging the status quo.

Now, Meadow Bliss is 14 and still expanding people’s understanding of what they think is “normal.”

She’s 14 and we fight like cats. A week doesn’t go by without a spat. They’re not usually too serious; it typically ends with me telling her to keep her trap shut followed by a battle to have the last word. Tonight was different. Tonight ended with the two of us clinging to one another in the kitchen, crying our eyes out and apologizing.

What is it about mothers and daughters that makes it so we have to fight? My favorite school of thought believes that we fight as she is beginning to assert herself in the world and becoming independent. I like to think that if we didn’t fight, she wouldn’t ever want to leave home.

Wait, leave home? Eek!

Meadow doesn’t seem to know how deeply I’m affected by these fights. Maybe I don’t realize how they affect her. As the adult, I know it’s my job to approach every situation calmly and with compassion. As an educated adult who has successfully completed the obstacle course of adolescence, I know that it’s normal for my teenaged daughter to feel inexplicably irate at the smallest things. I know that she may be confused by what her compulsion drives her toward and what her heart knows is right.

I also know that we both act out.

It’s the ultimate betrayal, right? That our daughters somehow find a way to grow up. They grow boobs and they become women. Primally, another female in the pack presents competition. But what’s the competition here?

Light-bulb moment.

Am I jealous that my daughter might be more successful at being a teenager than I ever was? Am I worried that she just might fuck it up?

I had a tough adolescence. I ended it at 16 with pregnancy. I was messing with boys much older than me and experimenting with drugs as early as 12. Meadow, on the other hand, seems to be staying away from this path. So it seems that, I may be jealous that she is taking the right path. On the other hand, I’m worried that she’ll still end up doing those things.

The biggest frustration for me is the attitude. I know, I know — it’s what teenaged girls do best. Attitude is the new black, right? And hasn’t she shown it all along? I mean, she is the girl that, at two years old, said to her preschool teacher, “Jah Rastafari! Don’t oppress me!” And then she was busted at another preschool for dropping an F bomb in front of her teacher. Spirited child, indeed.

At the same time, her attitude is one of my favorite things about her. She’ll never take any shit from anyone. Including me. Gulp.

Aimee and Meadow at a wedding last summer.

Tonight I came home like Pavlov’s dog. I was resisting conditioned response as much as I could. My husband James told me around three this afternoon that Meadow’s grades were slipping. I did some investigating on the school website and discovered at least 12 missing assignments, resulting in an F in at least one class.

I got through the dinner-making process, calmly talking to Meadow all along. Things escalated a little when the attitude kicked in. And then… they escalated a little more. Then BOOM! I lost it. I shouted, no, I screamed at her. I threw her school planner across the room. I was yelling, using foul language, telling her that I was sick and tired of the attitude and the lack of concern over her grades. My tirade lasted about 20 minutes. It left Meadow in tears at the table. At one point she told me that I was scaring her.

I wanted to go hold her and tell her how very, very sorry I was that I’d blown up like that. But I waited. I was too ashamed. I still am.

I told her to go to her room. Neither of us ate any dinner.

Shaking, I went outside for a smoke before going into my room and collapsing in tears. I laid on my bed thinking about what I’d done, and how I’d acted toward my daughter. I wanted to go hold her and tell her how very, very sorry I was that I’d blown up like that. But I waited. I was too ashamed. I still am.

After a while I got up and started cleaning the kitchen. Normally the kids are supposed to clean up after dinner but I think I was making a very weak attempt at apologizing for being a monster. While I was unloading the dishwasher (Meadow’s job), Meadow walked into the kitchen and offered to take over. I told her I would do it. She looked at me and told me she was going to go to bed. Then she walked over to give me a hug and I could no longer hold back the tears. They flowed out of us both like a tide of sorrow and forgiveness.

One of Meadow’s preschool teachers once told me that you know some huge developmental milestone is swelling inside a child when kids start really pushing your limits.

Maybe we’re on the verge of something special.

Comments on Fighting with your teenage daughter can really suck

  1. My mom and I fought constantly from age 14-18. I mean, screaming, knock-down, drag-out brawls. I recall once I told her she was a bitch and she slapped me. It was bad. really bad.

    Now we talk on the phone every day. She’s the first person I think of when I need someone to talk to. We say “I love you” daily. She’s sleeping on my couch this week (after having driven from Pennsylvania to my home in Massachusetts) waiting for the birth of my son, her first grandchild.

    It will get better. And your daughter totally loves you.

  2. Speaking from a high school educator’s perspective, I think you need to make your daughter responsible for her own mistakes. It is the hardest thing in the world to keep your cool and respond to a misbehaving teen with empathy instead of anger, but that is exactly what you should do. Teens tend to feel misunderstood because cognitively they have trouble understanding how their actions affect others. They also tend to misread the emotions on other people’s faces. They tend to read a face as angry even when it isn’t, for example, and don’t really recognize worry or fear as easily as adults do. They are also highly ego-centric. They believe that everyone is watching them and that their flaws are highly visible and the subject of judgement. If your daughter seems to have a bad attitude, it is likely the result of feeling extremely vulnerable and criticized (despite the fact that you may not be highly critical at all.)
    I use a method called “Love and Logic” in my classroom and have found it to be hugely successful. The basics of the method are to respond to your teen with empathy when they make a mistake (“So I see that your grades have gotten pretty bad. That’s such a bummer”). Then make it clear that you can’t put up with that sort of behaviour (“I’m going to have to do something about this”). The last step is to make sure your teen owns her own problem and comes up with the solution on her own as well (I can’t allow someone who is failing to watch TV every night, because I’m worried that it’s keeping you from studying. What are you going to do?”). You just keep placing the ball firmly in the teen’s court and ward off any complaints of unfairness, etc with empathetic statements such as “I know, this really sucks” or “bummer.” You must say these things without sarcasm, and you must try to be genuinely empathetic. Your daughter will have a hard time yelling at someone who refuses to get mad at her and instead expresses sorrow at her predicament. Your job is not to come down like a ton of bricks, but to make sure that she learns from her mistakes, right? If you want her to do that, you should try to be her ally, not her enemy. For more info on the “Love and Logic” method, you can go to their website:

    They also have some great books, including a teen-specific one. I highly recommend it! Good luck with Meadow, she sounds like an amazing kid with a mom who loves her very much. I have the feeling things are going to be just fine.

  3. I admit I started tearing up at your post. I remember fighting with my mom sooooo much. It was always about stuff like music I listened to, dying my hair, my tomboy fashion sense, then it moved onto staying out late, teenage freedom issues, stuff like that.

    Now we just fight about really dumb shit, but we get along better than ever. 😀

  4. Awesome post! I am so afraid that this is what is to become of Me and The Sprout. I often joke that the clock is ticking and when she turns 12 (T-minus 11 years, 6 months, 2 weeks and counting) it’ll all be over. My mom and I had a tumultous relationship . . . I often wonder if there is any way to avoid the mom/daughter teen angst conflict? I hope so, but as my mother often says, you can wish in one hand . . .

  5. It’s hard. I think society builds up this need to fight with your parents too, that they won’t understand. Lydia made some awesome points too. I had the added issue of a huge age gap with my own mother (she was 38 when they adopted me). We didn’t fight often, but our relationship was rocky.

    The most important thing I learned from my experience is to listen. Give them time and space to talk. My mum has a bad habit of playing devil’s advocate and wanting to solve the problem, but frequently what was needed was time to listen before that. Time to actually talk about things, find out what’s going on in her life, as much as she is willing to tell you. My mom’s strategy was to be present, as much as she could, in the hope that I would want to talk to her. It resulted in pretty few conversations, but occasionally I’d open up, despite not feeling safe to do so.
    Make her take responsibility, but definitely make her feel like her own feeling and situation count. They are valued and they are okay. But they have consequences.

  6. My mom and I fought hard from 12ish to 19ish. There were holes in walls, broken glasses, lots of tears, and a LOT of four letter words. But at some point (prior to my 20th bday), my mom and I started to change. We started to fight less and from that point forward our relationship was awesome!!! She told me one day “I was the best mom I could be for you at the time. I wish I could of done more.” That moment I realized she was the best mom for me. I am not an easy one to deal with but she was the best mom I could of ever asked for.

    I share this because I believe in my heart you will have the same moment in the future because you love her and are trying your darnedest to make sure she is the best. I have heard from a lot of moms/daughters that have fought hard during the teenage years, they end up being closer when the daughter is an adult!!

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am working hard every day to find new ways to respond (or not respond) to my tweenage daughter, but of course, she can’t see that work, and we end up in an ugly spat about once a week once I’ve had enough. I was sooooo sure, when she was little, that I’d NEVER fight with her like my mother did. Life said “Hah!”
    I’m struggling with you, and learning, learning, learning. Thank you for this post.

  8. I am not trying to be a downer after a lot of the more positive “things will get better” comments above. But I do want to say that my Mom had the same kind of relationship–lots of arguing and crying. It did not get better. We did not get closer. I didn’t stop speaking to her or anything, we just never had the kind of close relationship we both would have liked. Then she died of lung cancer. Now I have my own daughter and I am so afraid of the same things happening. I have a temper, too, and constantly regret losing it with both of my kids. All I can do is try every single day to do better than the day before. My approach is to explode less often, explode less explosively, and explode for less time–stop it before it gets out of control and apologize. I’ve gotten a lot better but I am FAR from perfect. But the stakes are high because I think teenagers are SO vulnerable (especially girls) and just when they are pushing their Moms away the hardest, they need them the most. Honestly, I dread the stage you are in. Best of luck.

    • I am hugging you right now, Chante. We’re all in this together. It really does take a village to raise a child and my hope is that you’re surrounded by supportive family and friends.
      We break cycles every day and I believe that you can break the chains that bind you to the cycle of distant mother-daughter relationships.

  9. i can offer a bit of the reverse perspective – i rarely fought with my mother (or my father) when i was a teenager. i was very sheltered, very much on a straight-and-narrow path, and couldn’t even conceive of what kind of “bad kid” might yell at her parents. i wasn’t some kind of brainwashed automaton, but i did have a pretty limited view. so i spent high school, which was already boring and pretty easy, staying home and being obedient.

    the fact that i never rebelled at all in high school meant that when i got to college, i was awestruck and overwhelmed with all of the options open to me. i could NOT do my homework? i could take drugs? drink? get pierced? OMG. so i spent a lot of time in college doing that stuff – figuring myself out. all the time being obedient and calm in high school would have been much better spent getting my rebellion out of my system, so that i could focus on getting the most out of my education and my growing-up when i was older.

    i have a great relationship with my parents now – the rebellion was intense, but only a few years long. i guess my point is just that these fights, the rebellion, they are getting a lot done in a kid’s development. and if that stuff gets done when the kid is under your roof, you can guide her. and if it happens in high school, she isn’t already deluged with the demands of a college course load. i wish i wouldn’t have been so quiet and obedient and easy when i was a teen. i think that, in retrospect, given what they dealt with when i was in college, my parents do too.

    • Ditto. I was a good girl in high school, and didn’t start seriously rebelling from my mom until after I left the house. Two adults fighting is bad, and can have serious long-term consequences on the relationship. Much better to get it over with earlier.

    • I can’t say I agree with this. I was a “good” girl in high school, and never had a rebellious period. I did things that my parents didn’t agree with, but we very, very rarely fought. I didn’t have a rebellious period in college either. I have absolutely no advice though… I think part of it was that I am adopted and I am different from my mom so we didn’t have the same personality features clashing.
      It was also hard to rebel against people that took everything in stride. I probably could have done drugs, but I don’t think they would have freaked out. They would have just given me that, “disappointed” look (I think we all know the one!) and that would have totally sucked. Even in college when I did things they thought were idiotic, they just said, “That is idiotic, but do what you want.”

      P.S. I love that someone submitted another story about parenting a teen… I don’t have a teen, but I love that this site is catering to parents of older kids as well as younger. And the pre-kid people like me. The diversity of it is awesome, and it couldn’t be done without people who are willing to submit their stories like you!

      • Much of what you said is true for me too.
        I wasn’t adopted, but my parents were pretty old and had three grown-up sons when I came along. I guess they’d seen it all before ^^ So I never had a loud rebellious period, but I’ve always been less afraid to take the leap and much more independent than most of my peers. I wish I knew how they did that.

      • My point is not so much that if kids are calm in high school that they must rebel later.. It’s more to reassure parents whose kids are going kind of nuts as teenagers that some of the alternative options – raising such sheltered kids that they can’t conceive of fighting, or making it clear that displaying anger and “talking back” are terrible, punishable offenses – can come with their own difficult consequences. I wish my parents would have taken things in stride like it sounds like yours did!

  10. I couldn’t agree more with your perspective about the jealousy that she will do it better and the worry that she will be like you. I have a 12 yr old daughter and when I think back about what my life was like when I was 12 I am certain that I must have been an older 12 because she is still such a little girl. But my home life was all sorts of fucked up and hers is so far from that that I am counting on stability to get us through.

    Best of luck to you, and thank you for sharing!

  11. I’ve always wished that my mom and I could fight and make up and it would just be a normal mother-daughter relationship like that. I am 18 now with a 15-month-old baby girl. I took my baby and ran 2,000 miles away from my mother so she couldn’t have any influence as a grandparent. Her and I used to fight every night except it would end in her hitting me over and over again. She never apologized (in fact I hear every day still that I make her so miserable etc etc).

    I’m glad that I have a daughter though. I know that when she gets to that age where she will be dealing with puberty and all the other stresses in the world (literally just went through that like 5 years ago), we may spat a bit too. But I know I will never do what my mother did and it will always end with ‘I love you’.

    Thank you for this post it was probably good for me to read it.

  12. Wow…you know what, Aimee? Your post makes me think that perhaps my mother and I should have had some fights like this one. I’m 25 and I really love my mother and am rather close to her, but there are some topics (which, I think, stem from the time I was a teen) on which I very much disagree with her, which sometimes make me want to withdraw from her. Perhaps if we had had screaming fights about those topics, they would feel more…resolved now? At first sight, such fights seem terribly destructive, but perhaps they are not always just that.

    • In my experience, the screaming fights just do more damage and alienate you even more. I am also 25, and my mom and I have been fighting about many of the same things since I was a teenager. At one point our relationship was so bad (ages 17-20) I didn’t think it was reparable. This was when we would both just go at it and end up hurting each other. I think at some point you just have to acknowledge that you will never agree on certain things, and try to respect each others’ differences. I am totally with you in that having these points where you just cant see eye to eye does make me withdraw from her but to me, this is better than the tension and pain that is caused by fighting about it.

  13. I’ve been an Offbeat Mama reader for a few weeks now but this is the first post that I’ve felt compelled to respond to. I’ve been there, but on the “daughter” side of this.

    There’s a lot of really good advice others have commented, but, Aimee, it sounds like your heart is already telling you what to do. All you have to do is listen.

    As the 32 year old daughter who fought hard with her mom for years (12-17years old pretty much non-stop), I can tell you that the hardest part is to say you’re sorry. And what a valuable lesson you could model for her with that!

    You wrote about having the urge to hold her and apologize and it seems to me that might be a great way to work on something like this together. Meadow would see you, taking that first step, and meet you halfway.

    The fact that she’s your daughter is secondary to the fact that she’s a person and makes mistakes – and so are you! Give yourself room to make mistakes and when your heart tells you to hold your little baby and tell her you’re sorry, try to do just that.

    And good luck – it’s clear that you really love this young woman that is your daughter!

    • This! I have a memory of my dad apologizing after a bad, screaming fight we had. It made a world of difference to me and it really helped me see that my parents loved me, although the world sucked majorly when I was a teen…

  14. Thank you for sharing this.
    On a light note, I was walking down the street this week and saw a mom and her sulking teenage daughter and the mom was saying, “Well I’m glad you f***ing hate me, that means I’m doing my job!”
    I gave the mom a big smile and told her, “Right on Mom”.

  15. Thank you so much for posting this! I have a 15 year old daughter, and the last year has been intense. The additude, the drama, the arguements, the temper tantrums, all of this has me doubting my skills as a parent. I wonder if everyone was right when they disagreed with my “alternative” parenting. (no spanking, homeschooled, cabin in the woods, etc) Its a relief to know that I am not the only mother going through this. I could relate to everything you wrote. Thank you so much for sharing.

  16. My teenage years ruined my relationship with my mother. Only partially because I was stubborn about dating a certain guy. Mostly because my mother’s bi-polar disorder she refused to medicate for made her crazy. I still have scars from getting the hell beat out of me for leaving a wet towel on my bed, or for complaining about her on the phone to a friend.

    Hate that woman so much sometimes, even a decade after moving out.

  17. Ah I’m so happy you shared this! I didn’t fight with my mother all that much. I was a very quiet, sneaky sort of teenager. I didn’t do much rebelling while in high school but after 18 it was on. 😀 Luckily I was 600 miles away from my mom so she wasn’t privy to a lot of bad behavior and I got over the whole rebel phase quickly. I found it over rated. ;] My mom and I were always very close because we could understand each other very well and now that I’ve passed through my silly teenage stage we are even closer.

    On the other hand my sister (16) and my mom fight like cats and dogs, all the time. It’s frustrating to watch because I just went through the whole teenager phase not long ago. As most teenagers she seems impervious to logic. My mom is very emotional, heart on her sleeve, mostly because she cares so much about my sister and I. It makes the fights that much more horrible. At one point my mother literally ripped the screen out of the window of my bedroom and started throwing all my sister’s clothes out into our front yard because she was kicking her out to go live with our bio-dad. That was pretty rough on everyone. But they make up every time and I think/hope they will get closer.

    My sister is smart, as I think Meadow is too, and eventually teenagers become adults, grow up some, and have babies of their own. (Terrifying I know!) Then they come back and say “OH GOD WHAT DID I DO TO YOU?” I totally did that with my mom after my son was born. :]

    I’m linking this for my mom to read and my sister. 😀 Keep on trucking!

  18. My last two years of high school were basically a rollercoaster ride between me and my parents – we were all waiting until the next time we had a huge blowout. We fought about stupid things, really – mostly keeping my room clean, which I just fail at consistently. I remember being so outraged that out of all the things I *could* be doing, they were picking on me for not having a clean room. And my dad would always bring it up to use against me in the slightest tiff, there was so much resentment.
    Though I was always self-righteous about room cleaning, we had fights about other things and the best part was I KNEW I was wrong, but I felt if I didn’t put up a good fight they’d never respect me.
    When I finally went to college in August of ’09 (after several screaming fights over the summer – “I CAN’T WAIT TO MOVE OUT OF THIS HELLHOLE!”), my parents and I fight a lot less, which I think is partly due to exposure but also that I think they’ve finally realized in the long run that my messy room isn’t a symptom of how I can’t manage my life, and that I can actually take care of myself just fine.
    This too shall pass. =)

  19. Other than our easily frayed tempers my Mum and I have almost nothing in common – totally different value sets etc etc. As a teenager I was (in retrospect and despite being a snarky little princess on occassion) an incredibly well behaved goody-two shoes, but was made to feel like I was some kind of crazy rebel (not vacuming my room once a week, staying up late to read novels – oh my!). Mum and I had a terrible relationship, with stand up screaming fights over all those sorts of things. Fortunately for both of us, as soon as I finished school I moved halfway across the world. That space let us become a little closer. We still fight about stuff (what do you MEAN you aren’t going to Cousin Blah’s wedding?) but the fighting is something that happens in our relationship, it’s not the whole relationship. I think if you’re already at that stage with a teenage daughter everything really will be ok 🙂

  20. Thanks so much for sharing this. I can really relate to this because me and my mom always had a tough relationship. It has gotten better over time, but it is still very distant. But I think that’s both of our faults. The relationship will get better if both mother and daughter are willing to make the effort to transition into a new kind of relationship. The teen years were tough for me, but I know in my heart my mother was hard on me because she loved me. She just didn’t know how to discipline without being really harsh or borderline cruel. And even after years of that kind of relationship, I still deeply crave having a close, nurturing relationship with her. But teens really need discipline and to know that there are consequences. You are doing it for their own good. And kids are pretty resilient and hopefully one day they’ll appreciate that you were trying to be a good parent and you did your best.

  21. Thank you so much for sharing a post about being a mom of older kids! my daughter is 12 and has ODD on top of being a very spirited, strong willed and stubborn kid. so we have ugly fights quite often. so i feel your pain. mornings are the WORST in our house so i’ve started this technique with her that seems to work. i’m **always** nice in the morning to her & say sweet things, even if it’s through gritted teeth & deep breaths. i make sure to keep an even tone and say please and thank you and sweetheart and you’re awesome and good job and i try to let her have the last word no matter what. even if i don’t exactly mean it. it makes the morning routine smoother and i’d rather that than have her go to school upset and angry. it doesn’t always work that way. sometimes we just have bad mornings. but if i put forth a little extra effort (with a big cup of coffee) mornings are a little better. and the rest of our day is better as a consequence. this is unnatural to me so it’s not easy. i want the last word. so does she. but it’s a baby step for us. try it & see if it helps any.

    but being an offbeat mama, it’s not easy to raise my daughter to be strong & be her own person without contradictions.

    how can i tell her to ‘question authority! (just not MY authority)’ or not to cuss when i can’t get a sentence out without a profanity. or ‘always stand up for yourself! (except THIS time you need to back down)’ or ‘be yourself!! (just not at grandmas house)’ so i understand my daughters frustration with this. it’s frustrating to me!

  22. I am seriously overwhelmed by the responses from all of you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and lend me your thoughts. It’s all so constructive and non-accusing. It was hard to let that be out there in the open where other moms would read it and just think I’m a horrible mother.

    Meadow and I have been doing really well for the last week, I’m happy to say. We had an awesome adventure over the weekend with all four of us and a close family friend. I really do love that girl. She’s amazing…until she isn’t 😉

    • I know I am a year late, but THANK YOU for posting this. This is my life right now and I was feeling pretty hopeless about my relationship with my 17 year old daughter. She is very much like your Meadow: beautiful, smart, spirited, & very strong-willed. I even ran away from my daughter for 9 days last week, just to get a break from the fighting and drama. Things are so bad, my daughter has applied to a boarding school in Bosnia; and, I really want her to get in. Sick right? I really love my kid, but I really want us to stop hurting each other. I don’t want to do irreparable damage to her. I want her to be able to go out into the world & be strong and confident. Many of the posters say things get better. What can I do to make things better? Right now we are pretty much in retreat mode, keeping our distance from one another. Again, thank you for sharing your story, this helps so much.

  23. Hi Aimee,

    Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you are a wonderful mom to a great daughter. I fought a lot with my mother growing up, unfortunately; a big realization for me was recognizing a lot of it was not my fault. My mom is wonderful in many ways but open communication is not one of them. However, I can see here that it’s a different story for you because you show you care so openly! 🙂

    I’m also a high school teacher so I wanted to comment on the grading issue. I think it’s very important and positive that you logged onto the school grade website to check on your daughter’s grades and assignments. I wish more parents would do that!! I know some teachers approach things differently but I certainly want to work with parents, when possible, as a team to help best support their children’s learning.

    I am ecstatic when a parent contacts me about their child’s progress with an open mind. I recommend you get in touch with that teacher if you haven’t already and here are some tips:

    – Use email or call outside of school hours, when you’re relaxed, if possible. Tone is very important!

    – Identify yourself with your name as well as your daughter’s!

    – If possible, compliment the teacher on something you’ve heard Meadow mention about the class: for example, that she really enjoys XYZ or the unit on ABC really made her curious.

    – Tell the teacher you see Meadow’s grades are low and you want to know what you can do as a parent to support her academic success in said class.

    In other words, you’re showing that you’re concerned without making the teacher feel the need to become defensive, which will ultimately help Meadow in class. I don’t know what the teacher would do — maybe it’ll be generous like a chance to make-up or retake assignments or maybe it’ll just be about making that first contact so you can chat more later if something else comes up. I hold students responsible for their work but I also believe in second chances, especially at such an early stage in a teen’s schooling!

    Good luck! Again, it’s clear you are very caring and are doing so much that’s right! If you have any follow-up questions about the teacher contact, please let me know here and I’ll try to help!

  24. Oh, the mom-daughter brawl! Ain’t nothing like it in the world. This post really made me realise how much one’s own experience governs reponses to these kind of things. So even though I know it is an aside I thought I would share:

    My mom, for all her coolness, was is many ways (much to her horror) her mother’s daughter. My grandmother was a firm Southern European immigrant who was tough on her kids–especially about school. My mom totally picked this up. It never crossed my mind that I could come home with less than straigh As (even an A- would raise Mama’s eyebrows). At the time, I was simply afraid, but now I am grateful. My mother’s ridiculously high academic expecations taught me that excellence is not just a nice out come it is something that should be expected. And that, m’dears, has served me well.

  25. I had these catastrophic fights with my mom, and they ended when I left. After a big fight, where my side was “I don’t like how you treat me” and her side was “I treat you just fine, but even if I didn’t, I’m your mother so I can do what I want,” I told her for the first time (after ten years of fighting) that I hated her. I locked myself in my room for two days, then packed my bags and left while she was out of the house. I haven’t spoken to her since, except to tell her I would have a relationship with her if she agreed to family therapy. She refused.

    One of the biggest reasons — maybe THE biggest — that I am not sure I want to be a parent is the fear that I would replicate this relationship with my own daughter. I don’t want to have the relationship I have with my mother with any other person, let alone someone I would create, raise, and support for at least 18 years.

    Does anyone have tips for how to create positive relationships with your children after such negative ones with your own parents? I’m afraid that I don’t know how to be a mother, because the only model for that role I’ve had has been my own mother — mean, controlling, selfish, insecure and childish. If I could look into the future and know for sure that I would be anything like my own mother as a parent, then I would get a hysterectomy tomorrow.

    Surely several of you out there had crappy relationships with your parents but are successful parents. Any advice you can offer? Because I could DEFINITELY use it.

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