Sober Moms: The Tween Years Are Here!
Well, it’s happening, my daughter has definitely entered her early adolescence and the wonderful tween years! What an interesting time in my child’s life – so much going on, and so many wonderful changes!
OMG! Who am I kidding!? I am going nuts here! My sweet little girl has become “moody, over-dramatized, self-centered, focused almost solely on friends, close-mouthed, surly, back-talking and condescending!” (Aha! Parenting). Everything is boring and everyone is annoying, and I, of course, I don’t understand anything – “Gwod, mom!”
My daughter’s life is much different from mine when I was her age. By the time I was 11 my dad had remarried, my biological mom was long gone, and I was pretty much left to my own devices. At the same time, I lived in fear of my dad who had a very solid fist and was quite unpredictable with it. I would never dare to say NO to him, or disobey him in any way. None of the sassiness that my daughter has been displaying was ever allowed when I was her age; although I did try it on a few occasions, but I quickly learned that this was not advisable! So, I am often appalled by the disrespecting words that come out of her mouth lately!
Of course, I’d like to think that I’m a gentle, patient person, and that I am able to stay calm when confronted with a stressful situations. But, this belief has been quickly dispelled every time I have had an argument with my daughter. Last Sunday she wanted to stay for dinner at the neighbor’s house with her friend. I told her that Sundays we eat dinner together and then get ready for the week ahead, and that I wanted her to eat with us. Well, that didn’t go over well! After what seemed like the longest list of reasons why she should be able to eat at the neighbor’s, AND my continued declaration about eating dinner as a family, AND all this, intertwined with her semi-crying, growling and yelling, she finally screamed out that I was the meanest mom ever, and then ran upstairs to her room! And that’s when I just lost it, and I found myself yelling out the same, crazy things that my dad did when I was her age! Oh, good grief!
I sat in my safe place (the bathroom), in an attempt to regroup. There is nothing worse than feeling like a failed parent! UGH! The self-bashing tape started rolling, and I found myself just wanting to check out and get drunk; I mean totally wasted drunk. The feeling was so strong that it scared me! I felt absolutely overwhelmed by a situation that seemed trivial, yet I had no clue how to resolve it! This got me really worried, and I knew that I didn’t want a repeat of what just happened. The change in my daughter’s behavior has come in quite suddenly, and I haven’t yet learned how to deal with it. I really need to figure out how to be a parent to her in this new phase of her life, and how to protect my sobriety.
So, I quickly decided to use some of my sober tools:
- Quick text to someone in recovery
- Little walk outside
- Serenity prayer
- Deep breathing
- A reminder that this too shall pass
- And a reminder that: I don’t have to drink over this and that I am going to be OK!
That night, I started Googling all over, in search for some answers and solutions. I found several helpful articles, especially one at Aha! Parenting, called Staying Close to Your Tween Daughter:
Tips to make parenting your tween girl less drama, and more delight:
1) Be willing to change. You can’t parent the way you did when she was little; it just isn’t appropriate or effective. If she gets testy, that’s a signal that you need to adjust your parenting style.
2) Focus on the relationship, not on discipline. You’ll get no respect if she doesn’t feel connected to you. Fight like the dickens to stay close to your daughter. Do not let her push you away. She still needs you, she just can’t acknowledge it. Find every opportunity to connect. (Continue reading here >>>)
Lots of great advice there, yes, I have to change, adjust and stay connected – sounds familiar! But I really felt like I needed more! I am sure this is hard for any parent to deal with, but I am not sure if “normal” parents just want to get wasted when they get frustrated with their kid’s behavior too, but that’s where I go – this is my standard reaction to a stressful situation that I don’t know how to deal with.
So I tried to identify my feelings, and compare them to the feelings that I already know, then maybe I could use the same method to deal with them as I have previously. My first though was that my feelings were similar to when I have to deal with unreasonably difficult people. In those situation, my ego tells me to stick up for myself, and my immediate reaction is, “I can’t stand this crazy, insulting behavior!” Then my ego kicks up even more, and I try to defend myself! Which ultimately leads to more frustration and anger. I know that staying calm and collected in these situations is the best; anger only feeds more anger.
I found these helpful suggestions on dealing with difficult people from the Psychology Today site:
- Keep Your Cool: Maintain self-control. Avoid escalation of problem.
- Shift from Being Reactive to Proactive: Minimize misinterpretation & misunderstanding. Concentrate energy on problem-solving.
- Pick Your Battles Save time, energy and grief: Avoid unnecessary problems and complications.
- Separate the Person From the Issue – An effective communicator knows how to separate the person from the issue, and be soft on the person and firm on the issue.
- Set Consequence – Proactive not reactive. Shift balance of power.
I can definitely relate to dealing with difficult, and I think this will help me keep the feelings in check when my daughter is being unreasonable. Now I needed to learn more about my tween’s new phase of life, and what that’s all about, so I can better understand what my daughter is going thru. I found this great article on CNN Health, called Parenting: When Puberty Hits
When to expect it: ‘Tude can start before any physical changes. For girls, between 7 and 14; for boys, between 9 and 15
What to expect: Brace yourself: Hormones won’t just change children’s bodies — they’ll go straight to their brains, too. Their emotions will go on more roller-coaster rides than the summer crowds at Six Flags. Sensitive. Moody. Intense. Like you when you’re PMS’ing, but about 1,000 times uglier. As tweens get older, the influx of hormones triggers abrupt mood swings and irritability. Part of the freak-out comes, too, when tweens see the physical changes their bodies are going through and realize they have no control over theme. (Continue reading here >>>)
After reading the CNN Health article it all stated to make much more sense! So, she doesn’t really hate me?! Oh that’s a relief! It’s just those damn hormones! UGH! I also found this great, and very funny article on Modern Mom! (BTW, this site is full of great articles!)
Holy Hormones! – Handling My Tween’s Pre-Puberty Crying Jags
by Risa Green
Excerpt: If there were ever six words in the English language that resonated more with me, I don’t know what they could possibly be. Okay, maybe “I need a drink right now.” Or, “I must buy some new shoes.” Then again, “I’m not answering to ‘mommy’ anymore” could be another. But anyway, the point is, with “I don’t know why I’m crying,” the kid was definitely speaking my language. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I utter those very words at least once a month, and usually around the same time each month, if you catch my drift.
It was one of those classic, smack-yourself-on-the-side-of-the-head, I Should Have Had a V-8 Commercial moments. She wasn’t tired, or adjusting, or missing camp. She was hormonal. Oy. (Continue reading here >>>)
I absolutely laughed out loud while reading the Modern Mom’s article! I feel so much better now that I have gathered lots of information and a box full of new tools! I just need to be calm, supportive, don’t take it personally and remember that her hormones are responsible for this fluctuating behavior!
In the end, the best part of it all is that I am sober! This is truly a gift! Because if I was not sober, I wouldn’t even be here trying to figure out how to get along with my tween daughter! And things are not all crazy, all the time! There are many great positive changes too. Recently, we have had some really amazing bonding moments, like shopping for the new b.r.a.’s – that is our secret code, because her little brother can’t spell bra! Lol! We also hung out at the mall and tried on fun clothes and goofed around. We like talking about the new hot music stars, and of course we like to chat up on the current happenings with her BFF, and other friends. So, I just need to keep focusing on the positives and continue to practice patience and tolerance, and keep sobriety #1!
If you have any tips on how to deal with a tween, please share in the comments! I would really appreciate any help with this. Thank you!
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*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).