I suppose I was this way long before I was a teenager. My mother had the first edition of James Dobson's The Strong-Willed Child prominently displayed on her nightstand throughout my childhood. But pubescent hormones and increasing independence combined with stubbornness and a strong will made for even more tumultuous teenage years, especially between my mom and me.
After one particular fight with my mom, likely over my retainer or a boy, I fled to my room in tears and started a list entitled Things I Won't Do To My Kids When I'm a Mom. Furiously writing, I listed everything I could think of, keeping a record so I would always remember what it's like to be a teenage girl.
Before you get the wrong idea about my mom, you must know that she is a normal mom who expected normal things from me, like keeping my room clean, respecting my curfew, maintaining good grades, dating nice boys, and dressing modestly. She also taught me (or tried to teach me) well.
Our personalities, however, are night and day different. As a teenager, I did not understand her perspective. Or perhaps, more accurately, I did not try to understand her perspective. As an adult, I wonder if I ever even considered that she was a person at all, with her own worries and concerns and passions and interests. And she likely was just trying to keep her head above water trying to rear a wild-eyed teenager. Perhaps her (understandable) frustration muted her own memories of what it's like to be a teenage girl. And in all the confusion, our signals crossed.
Though I couldn't see it at the time, what we needed in those years were a few conversation starters, something to build some common ground around, something that would open our eyes to each other.
My friend Shauna Pilgreen has co-written a book meant to be that conversation starter between a teenage girl and her mom. It's called The Same Page and is a short novel following one story from two perspectives: a loving mom and a teenage girl moving toward independence. Best of all, the book provides open-ended questions for reflection and sharing between a mom and her daughter that allow both to gain a perspective on the other. The Same Page is a conversation starter every mom and daughter could use.
Oh, and Mom, my apologies for those teenage years. At least you got your money's worth on that Dobson book. I love you!