Even as a relationship coach, I don’t know everything – I’m fairly certain of that. I do not make this phrase in homage to a higher power nor to sound introspective in some smug pretentious way.
I say this because this weekend I really needed your advice. And by ‘your’ I’m referring to everY one of you that reads this web page or any other web page that this article may be shared on.
This weekend I cried. I felt tremendous pain. I felt delinquent in my responsibilities. I felt like the relationship between me and my daughter was flashing before my eyes. And I know a great deal of you have felt my pain.
So what happened you ask?
Before I go there, a bit of context is warranted. I pride myself for being emotionally available, connected and very close with my 14-year-old daughter. And, with the exception of a few hiccups here and there, her mother and I are incredibly civil, professional, flexible and supportive of each other’s roles as parents.
We’ve switched weekends at the drop of a hat because it benefitted our daughter to do so. We’ve paid for things that the other was supposed to pay for because it benefitted our daughter and we trusted each others intent and follow-through. This weekend, however, was the first time I felt as though I was replaced, even if deep down inside I know better.
So again, what happened?
My daughter wanted to switch weekends so that she could go to Homecoming. Two weekends later, she wanted to switch so that she could go to a Halloween party. These two switches would mark the third such switches in the then nine weeks since she has been in high school. Did I mention that I no longer get her on Friday nights because she cheers?
I know, I’m a big sobbing baby that needs to get over the fact that my daughter is a teenager who is carving out her own life and, like it or not, I will see less of her in the process.
That hurts me deeply. I thoroughly enjoy watching her grow. I like being the answer to her questions. I like being the voice on the other side of a conversation about Nash Grier and other YouTube boys that we went to see on DigiTour.
I love, strike that, we love going to Tyson’s Corner to clothes shop – even if we end up buying Vans shoes that look like they came from somewhere over the trippy rainbow. And we will because that’s how we roll. And roll we do. Unfortunately, I’m deathly afraid that we will roll less and less as she gets older.
I reacted to both requests by expressing, in a pragmatic way, my acknowledgement that she is in high school and that I understand her desire to go to homecoming and parties. I also told her that I love her so much it hurts and asked her what, if anything, I could do to support either event. And yes, I told her yes. But what else do I do or say?
She will never feel as though I say yes because of bigger priorities on my end. I am very open with her about how I feel about her and she knows she’s number one. She will never feel as though the less often we see each other, the less often we need to see each other.
Our relationship doesn’t have to be about volume. I’ve told myself these very things dozens of times and I believe them. And yet, here I am feeling the need to state and restate because it makes me feel better to do so.
Here’s where you come in: I need your help, your thoughts and your experiences in this area. I am a relationship coach seeking advice about how to deal with the changing dynamic between my daughter and me, even though I realize the only dynamic that’s changed is frequency. But damn does it hurt.
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