My tender, dewicate, feeeewwings

By Mir
March 9, 2011

I once had a fellow mom-to-an-Aspie comment to me that her kid (unintentionally) hurt her feelings all the time because, you know, Aspies aren’t so good with interpersonal relations, on the whole. “I know it’s not intentional,” she confided, “but sometimes it just really hurts.”

Funny; Monkey only very rarely hurts my feelings. I think it’s BECAUSE I know that the stray rude/hurtful comment is likely unintentional (or, conversely, totally intentional but generally spurred on by anger or frustration that has very little to do with me personally) that I’m able to let it just kind of roll off my back. Plus, Monkey is an extremely affectionate kid; very huggy and kissy and generous with the compliments. In fact, I’ve recently tried (unsuccessfully) to explain to him that really, I have no desire to be 29 again, and he should please stop insisting that I am. (One overheard quip, man, and that’s it….)

Chickadee, on the other hand, hurts my feelings constantly. I assume this is her birthright, and all, but it still sucks.

Look; I was nearly-13 once. I remember feeling like EVERYTHING was very DIRE and UNFAIR and CONFUSING and DRAMATIC, and I remember being angry at everyone and everything most of the time. Some of that is hormones, I guess? Some of it is probably personality. (Dear Everyone in My Life And Hers, I’m sorry. I just… I’m just sorry. For everything. Love, Mir.) I get that it’s a difficult time in a girl’s life.

And I think I understand my role at this point, too: Love and encourage, set and enforce boundaries, enjoy when possible, never let her see me sweat when it’s, you know, NOT enjoyable. That’s my job.

I kind of suck at my job.

See, Monkey’s preferred method of insult is the rare “You would understand that if you were PAYING ATTENTION” barb, which honestly is more likely to leave me choking back laughter than anything else. But Chickadee’s thing is complete and utter disdain.

She looks at me like she wonders how I manage to even respirate given the clearly addled state of my brain. She speaks to me with scorn dripping from every disrespectful word. She looks me right in the eye and flat-out lies with the genuine earnestness of one who believe you are simply too stupid to catch it, and too inconsequential to the world for it to matter even if you do.

So I love (rather more when she’s not acting this way, I’ll admit) and encourage, grimly set and reset and reinforce those boundaries, try to gently point out that I would rather enjoy our time than what is happening instead, and periodically, yes, just blurt out that I have no idea why she’s so mean to me all the time.

(I am not full of tiger blood. Kitten blood, maybe. If the kitten was easily traumatized.)

Everything is my fault. My every request is ridiculously unreasonable. My every action deplorable. My very existence her cross to bear.

And no, it’s not like this all the time. But lately it feels like it’s this way more often than not, and it’s all the more awesome when she gives me a dose of behavior that would’ve gotten me knocked halfway across the room, at her age, and then turns around and is sweet as pie to her father on the phone. (When I happened to point this out to him, his response was, “Great! Keep doing whatever you’re doing!” Awesome.)

A good friend was kind enough to point out to me—as I agonized over yet another Appropriate Consequence For Inappropriate Behavior—that I have to remember that she’s a good kid. She’s an angel at school. Her grades are excellent. She’s helpful to others. And when she’s not busy treating me like some dog poop she stepped in, she’s a funny, loving, absolute joy to be around. So it’s not like OMG I’M RAISING A HOODLUM! But I do worry about losing sight of the line between understanding and enabling.

At the same time, ow. OW. The constant nastiness and attitude just hurts. Age-appropriate or no, it’s no fun to be treated poorly (especially by someone I love so much and do so much for). Even when I know her brain is currently drowning in estrogen soup. Even when I know she doesn’t mean it. Even when she apologizes, later. We cycle over and over with her cutting me to the quick, realizing she’s overstepped, apologizing, a brief period of harmony, and then… once more.

I need to toughen up, I guess. In the meantime, she’s leaving on a school trip on Friday. Maybe it’s the big “WOOOOO PARTY THIS WEEKEND!” sign I just strung across the front of the house that’s got her miffed…?


  1. Holly

    Someday she’s going to come to you, I’d guess around 25 or so, and apologize for all this rottenness. I know I went to my mom when I was around that age…Keep your chin up! Teenagers are NO fun but you’ll both come out the other side much, much stronger!

  2. Beth R

    Let’s be honest: it shouldn’t be called “puberty”. It should be called “Perma-miffed for no apparent reason”.

    Hugs and a margarita always help :)

  3. amy

    Honestly, and I don’t know where I heard this, it’s a compliment that she feels SAFE enough around you to treat you like this, and know that you still love her and won’t freak the eff out. She HAS to act good for the teachers, she HAS to act good in front of her father that she doesn’t see as often as you and Otto, she HAS to be awesome in front of her friends, etc. I know, it’s kind of backwards, but kind of works too I guess. I hope. Cause I’m right there, in the trenches. Mine likes to sigh, huff and roll her eyes like I have NO IDEA what I’m talking about, or how DARE I ask her that. Her life is HARD, y’know.

  4. carmie

    I get it from my almost-5 year old CONSTANTLY. He is wise, perceptive, and manipulative beyond his years, thanks to his dad. Luckily, since he’s so little, most of his insults are hilarious but the intent and the contempt behind it tears me to shreds. I am dreading 8 years from now.

  5. MomCat

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect better treatment. I know they relax at home and act that way because Mom is ‘safe,’ but why should we be the constant punching bag? They gotta learn that such behavior has consequences. “Did you know that most everything you do is a *privilege* that can be taken away?” usually did the trick to wipe a scornful look off a teen face.

  6. Liza

    I know it must burn to see her being so charming with her dad and so awful to you. But as I explained to my mother, when Noah started being naughty at her house, it is a weird and terrible compliment, actually. She knows, bone deep, that she can be that way and you still love her. She has the space to be a hormone-addled, toxic teen with you. And only you.

  7. Heidi T

    I have a Chickadee in training here. She is nearly 8 and I read out your post to my husband and it makes us cry because we already see signs of this. Like Chickadee, she is a straight A student and an absolute angel around everyone but us, but I seriously believe she thinks we are idiots.

    We are very concerned about puberty here.

  8. Ellen

    Sounds exactly what the last 9 years have been like with my daughter. She is 22 now, and we hardly speak, but for the last few times we have, it has, I cautiously hope not to jinx, been good.

  9. sonia

    I have three girls. My oldest is 7 and my twins are 3. You are scaring me. Do I have 5 full years of happiness/sanity left or did the turmoil start when Chickadee was younger?

  10. Chelle

    You have just described my daughter circa 2007-2008. The good news is, my daughter circa 2011, is an absolute delight to be around. She has settled into her hormonal angst and has rediscovered her love and affection for her family (of course she has her days but, don’t we all? Oh, and the eyeroll is here to stay, unfortunately, although; we see it on a dramatically reduced basis). There is hope, is what I’m saying.

    In the meantime, might I suggest copius amounts of red wine? That is what got me through some of my darkest days.

  11. Karen R.

    It is tough. Neither of my daughters went through this (though my youngest did it 24/7 from birth to age 8, so perhaps she got it all out of her system then). But I went through it, and my son went through it in a big way. With him it was an every-other-year thing, until he turned 17, and then it was all-hell-all-the-time. So years 11, 13, 15, and 17-18 were awful, leaving us all wrung out, and often in tears. And 12, 14, and 16 were good. We all heaved a sigh of relief when he left for college.

    So, my sympathies. I hope you get the every-other-year respite, or that things improve shortly.

    Good luck!

  12. Kathryn

    I have a 14 year old daughter and a 4 year old son, so I get it from both. It’s interesting, though, because seeing it from both of them makes me realize it’s a stage (that my 14 year old went through when she was younger, then stopped for a while) and so I have an easier time shrugging it off. That didn’t stop me from sitting down my daughter, at a time when both of us were calm, and telling her how I felt about her attitude. I told her that if she wants additional freedoms (which she really does!) then she needs to start showing some additional responsibility, which includes improving her attitude. We’ve seen some small improvement, so hopefully that did the trick, but I think I’ll need to have the conversation a few more times to really make it stick.

    Now, if I could just do something with the four year old….

  13. Erin

    I’m pretty sure that I was a LOT like your Chickadee. BUT unfortunately my mom was not a Mir and sniped right back at me. Which is probably why we still (I’m 34) aren’t that close.

    I was such a little bitch. And, I’ll be honest, I’m a little afraid that my future spawn will be like me (I know I was cursed with that often enough).

    I think that the important thing to remember (and the thing I wished my mom had remembered) is that you do have a good kid. It sucks that she’s taking out the puberty-hormonal angst on you, but would you rather she was taking it out on teachers or drowning it in drugs or sex? Probably not (I’m assuming, anyways). I was also a good kid. Straight A’s. Didn’t drink, do drugs, or any of that crap until I was much, much older & more mature. (So, you know, like 19.) She’ll be okay, and likely so will you. I do echo the “red wine” prescription, though!

  14. Tracy B

    I can completely understand this post today. My daughter and I weren’t friends until last year when she turned 22. She is soon to be a mom herself and I can’t wait when hers becomes a teenager. She will get NO sympathy from me, I assure you. ;o)

  15. Dallas

    You know, it’s one of the great regrets of my life that my mom passed away when I was 14, and now that I’m 26, and realize how rotten I was to her, I wish desperately that I could apologize, and talk to her about life.

    All of that is to say: it sucks right now. It sucks real hard. But she’ll grow up and wish she’d never treated you that way. I promise.

  16. meghann

    My turn is coming with this in a few years when my girls get to that age, but right now, it’s my husband who can feel your pain. Ryan is exactly like him. Watching the two of them argue is like watching a guy arguing with himself in the mirror. Ryan does say things to try to hurt him, and it’s really a struggle. It’s hard for me to have to watch, too, especially since Ryan and I have really connected lately and are getting along pretty well.

    One funny thing though, Ryan sometimes tries out insults that he read somewhere. Last night, he yelled at the hubby “You’re delusional!” I asked him if he even knew what that meant, and his response was “. . . . . . . . .no.” We all had to laugh.

  17. Stacy Q

    I read what you write and I so badly fear it’s the writing on the wall for me. Oh gosh I am so doomed! Five, maybe six years from now…

  18. bob

    I think every teenager thinks that their parents are absolutely clueless. I did, but I was smart enough not to show it, because it only took once…….. I didn’t tolerate that kind of behavior with our kids, I guess they figured out how to not show it. At least to me. Maybe this is more of a mother-daughter thing or a mother thing because I recall my wife complaining to me that they wouldn’t mind her like they would me.

    So, my natural reaction is that this behavior is unacceptable and it. will. not. happen. again. period.

    But that doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. Or moms? I dunno – but I do know you have all of my sympathy.

  19. JoAnne

    Your posts like these are the reason I nearly cried when I found out I was having a girl. At age 2 I can already see my future. Is it too early to look at boarding schools!?!?!

  20. bj

    Ooh, frequently it seems like you’re raising my child, only a few years later. Especially the “good kid” part. I’m suspecting that we are the vent valve for these good kids, that we’ve done something right: we’ve made them realize that our love really really is unconditional. So, while they’re performing well in all the activities for which rewards are conditional, they save all the other behaviors for us.

    I know, too, when I watch my daughters with her peers that I have very high standards for her behavior, that I expect a lot from her. She’s capable of it, I know, so it’s easy for me to forget how young she is, when she forgets (for example, to take her phone with her).

  21. Jet Harrington

    I. Hear. That.

    Thirteen and fourteen were our toughest years – in every way you mention, and some just special to my daughter. At the beginning of seventh grade, she and her father had a falling out, and she no longer went to his house or spent any time with him. Until well into high school. So there wasn’t even that banner weekend thing. (They have lunch or dinner occasionally now.)

    I toyed with the idea of military school, but the fact was, she really was a good kid. With EVERYONE BUT ME.

    Now she’s 18. She heads to college on the other side of the country in the fall, and I know that we will miss each other desperately. We have come through to the other side. That tone will still drift into her voice sometimes, but mostly it’s describing something else. She rarely takes it out on me, and when she does, apologises promptly with pretty good self-awareness of what led to it (hungry, tired, whatever).

    And I am reminded of something I learned when she was a baby. Whatever it is – awesome or tragic – this, too, shall pass. Hang in there.

  22. Kristi

    Straight up? My 11 1/2 year old is a bitch. She hates us all just for the fact we breathe the same air as her. And yet, those moments of kindness and smiles and laughter we see from her, are so glorious and hopeful. It is just my job, and unfortunately her 3 siblings cross to bear, to get through this and know that one day, she too may have a daughter.

  23. Karen

    Mir, I was the young teen in a divorced household who was pretty rotten to my mother, although I, too,was a “good kid”. I never got into trouble at school or with friends and I held down jobs from the time I was twelve. We had a comfortable home and I was not abused, although my parents were emotionally distant from us and from each other. I think, with many years of hindsight and a much better relationship with my mother now.. plus therapy!!….I know I was hurt by the divorce in ways I didn’t quite understand and couldn’t articulate at the time. There was resentment, and because my father was not living with us anymore, she was the person I took my resentment out on. It’s not as if my parents were in a war, either. But I felt their resentment toward each other and I acted out by being hard on the one parent who was always in my view. Hard to explain.

    It is not OK to be a continual punching bag. You have a right to feel hurt. Any teen will give it occasionally, this is true..I’ve raised two. But this sounds a little more significant than that to me. I mean no disrespect. I only tell you this because I was in chickadees shoes and I know what I was feeling then. I did not have someone to talk to about it… but I think you have said Chickadee has been to a counselor? If so… terrific, you’ve given her an avenue to help understand feelings. If not, it might be helpful in your relationship. Having a brilliant brother who requires a lot of attention too perhaps adds to her resentment. That’s normal, I’m sure… but the combination might be building up, then throw in hormones….triple whammy.

    I apologize for the lengthy comment and I sure hope I haven’t offended you. I don’t think there are two better or more dedicated parents out there than you and Otto. Good luck.

  24. pam

    I know you’ve probably heard all the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ blah blah blah, but I promise it DOES get better.

  25. Kate

    We are a foreign service family. My husband is required to serve one year in an unaccompanied danger post sometime in the next ten years. He has chosen to do this the year my twin daughters turn 13, about the same time I will be hitting menopause. I fear none of us will be alive when he gets back.

    Also, when my 13 year-old son started being an asshole, we removed his bedroom door. Privacy is a privilege that is earned with good behavior and showing respect! He got it back, and I’m pretty sure he still hates us, he just keeps it to himself. Oh, the look on his face when he came home from school that day and saw that his door was gone. Priceless.

  26. Donna

    My oldest daughter is 13. When she’s being rotten, it is usually because she is hungry or tired, just like a baby!!! I try to remind myself that she is a really good kid about 95% of the time. But her attitude the other 5% of the time makes me want to run away.

  27. Kristine N

    My daugher at 23 still at times will lash out at me, mind you not like when she was in her teenage years. I often also think that my head would have been on the other side of the earth if I dared to talk to my parents the way she does to us at times. My only hope is that someday she will have a daughter just liker her and she will think of me when she gets a dose of her own behavior. I cannot imagine what it will be like then. I only hope that I am alive to witness it.

    Stay strong :)

  28. Missy

    My husband and I both grew up with non-neurotypical siblings. Although our parents are very different, neither set was capable of understanding what it really means to have a sibling with so many exceptional needs. No matter how much they tried to make things fair, the reality was that our entire lives from birth for my husband and from kindergarten for me, were dominated by our siblings needs. We both grew up feeling guilty for being normal. My husband just waited out the pain, trying to be as little burden on his parents as possible, then moved out of the country for college, now, a decade later, his sibling is in care which we pay for, but my husband rarely visits. I did the super overachiever thing, I think just trying to get as much attention as my sister, but in late high school, couldn’t deal with it anymore. It was an utterly normal event for our family that set me off. I was receiving an award and begged my mother not to bring my sister to the ceremony. I was told, no, we’re a family, and she wants to be there. She came, melted down in the middle and ruined “my” night, again. I ran out of the building and ran away from home. I was 15. I was gone for 3 months. It was scary and a lot of horrid things happened to me, but it still seemed better than going home. My home wasn’t abusive, in fact my stepfather/adoptive father was a fabulous guy. He’s the one who eventually found me and arranged for me to go live with some friends of his with kids my age in another state. My mother never forgave him for that and they divorced a year later. My mother is a good person, and she’s given up her life to care for my sister instead of institutionalizing her, and I admire that, but there’s no place for me in her life.

  29. Nelson's Mama

    Love how Kristi called a spade a spade. Frankly that was my oldest daughter for years (and still can be at times). Just before she left for college last fall, I began to see glimpses of the beautiful child that I remembered from years ago. We’ve finally found a common ground (we both love to cook) and I’m no longer a complete idiot, but no one can cut me to the core like she can and sometimes I think she relishes the thought.

  30. Jane

    I want to thank you for these posts, on this topic. Now I will have something to refer back to in a few short years. I’m already a little scared, plus, I’ve a lot of work to do in perfecting my style. Thanks for the help!

  31. Nancy

    In 11 short years my daughter will turn 13. I am scared.

  32. Heather @Critter Chronicles

    My mom could have written this post about me when I was Chickadee’s age. I thought I was always right and she was always wrong and no amount of persuasion could change that mindset. Unfortunately my dad often sided with me, which only served to make me further believe in my right-ness and which also drove a wedge between my parents. I’m almost positive their marriage improved the moment I left for college 600 miles away; in fact, now being married myself I’m impressed they survived me.

    The problem was, I was a GOOD KID. I had four close friends in high school, the parents of whom my parents knew. We spent our weekends having drug- and alcohol- and sex-free sleepovers at each others’ houses; we all babysat and held other part-time jobs; we were all members of the tennis team and NHS and we all graduated in the top 10% of our class. I was never disrespectful to anyone other than my mom; all other adults felt I was a model citizen. So, like you, her hands were somewhat tied: she’s got this rotten daughter who is otherwise a terrific human being.

    My mom likes to say that the day of my wedding (at the ripe old age of 21, three weeks before I began my senior year of college) I woke up a completely different person. And we’ve had our share of conflict since then but we’ve both learned to change our tone with the other to be more respectful in our disagreements. Or maybe I’ve matured enough not to let the things she says visibly ruffle my feathers. Probably a bit of both. I haven’t yet apologized to her for my teenage angst, but I know when my daughter hits that age I’ll be looking for moral support. Even if my mom laughs while she’s saying, “I always wanted you to have a daughter Just Like YOU”.

  33. Chris

    @Missy, I think that is a touching, heartfelt, and heartbreaking story you shared. Really. Not taking anything away from you at all with the following comment.

    But can you see how maybe your personal experience isn’t terribly encouraging here? Mir’s trying to make this work for everyone. Really, really trying. That’s kind of the whole point of her blog and her sharing all that she does with the world. And maybe you could honor that while sharing your own (very valid) experience.

  34. Deb

    I found that I needed to remind them that there was nothing wrong with what they were saying, it was the tone they were saying it with that made it unacceptable. I would allow them to re-ask, re-state, re-tell, with a different tone. Sometimes this had to be done a few times, but it sent the message that I was willing to listen, but only if it was said in a proper tone. If they couldn’t pull it together, then I wasn’t going to listen, help, etc., and, oh, by the way, you need to scoop the litter box, empty the trashes, etc.

    Respect is a two-way street. If they wouldn’t talk to their teacher or their grandmother like that, why should I allow them to speak to me that way.

    Just my two cents worth.

  35. Amy

    Chickie = Me at that exact same age. Although I may have been worse because I have the red-headed temper to boot. And now? My mom is my very best friend in the whole world. And has been since I left home at 17 to go to college.

    And thank goodness your younger child is a son instead of a daughter. My poor mother dealt with me and then two years later had to deal with my sister. Who I would also like to point out considers our mom her best friend in the whole world.

  36. Megan

    Dunno why, but my hormonal/angsty/wound-so-tight-she-could-explode daughter never did this to me. I’d like to claim awesome parenting. I’d like to say it was because from the time they were five or so all three of our kids were coached in cliched phrases about parental oppression which took all the fun out of it (really, we taught them to roll their eyes and say, “you’re RUINing my LIFE!”). I’d like to claim that my constantly repeated mantra that we care MORE about our family than anyone else and therefore we treat them BETTER (or else, kiddo) filled my children’s black little hearts with loving kindness.

    But I know better.

    She just saved it for her siblings. Which, gah! I think I’d rather have it addressed to me, thanks so much! I mean, what do you do when one of the people you would die for to protect her from pain spends half their time inflicting as much agony as possible on the other people you would die for to protect them from pain?

    Oh, but good news, she snapped out of it at 18 and is a wonder and a joy to everyone (and has, miracle of miracles, repeatedly apologized to her siblings whom she now cherishes and adores ALL the time and not just during the odd blue moon!)

  37. Joanne

    I think Amy hit it on the head, and I am strangely seeing similarities to Monkey here. She is SAFE at home… and can let lose with the feelings that have been striking her all day. She is keeping it together in all other locations.. and she knows she is safe at home to be as evil and mean as she wants… and you will keep loving her.

    I find myself doing this when I am coming down with something…. I keep it together at work, and snap at people at home. Why? Because I feel lousy, and is is a tiny way to let some of the repressed feelings out.

    Doesn’t make it nice, and it certainly doesn’t make it any easier to be on the receiving end… but that’s my 2 cents.

  38. mamalang

    You know, people always talk about how bad the teenage years are, and I won’t deny that there have been some bumps with the current 17 year old. But when she was 9-11, it was a very good thing we loved her, or we might have voted her off the family island. It was bad…so very bad.

    My current 12 year old is very much like your chickadee (I read a lot of your posts about her out loud to my husband so we can laugh and exclaim “it’s like she lives in our house!), and she isn’t even as bad as the oldest was.

    Good luck.

  39. jwg

    Don’t know if it is still true, but the British Navy used to courtmartial people for what was called “dumb insolence” That’s the eye-rolling, smirking thing. Just think of that at appropriate times.

  40. Jaelithe

    I say this as a person who was once a teenage daughter in a divorced-and-repartnered family where I was the oldest sibling:

    I was a great student, a good friend, a fine, upstanding teenage citizen, who volunteered for good causes and kept herself out of trouble (I was never in detention; I never even smoked a cigarette). And I was also a straight up bitch on some days to my mother. I was under a lot of pressure from various sources to Be a Good Girl and Keep Up Appearances and Be a Good Role Model for Your Brother and Sister, and I tended to let off steam that I couldn’t vent elsewhere in my mother’s direction, often in not-so-constructive ways.

    But I felt bad about it sometimes, even then. I bet your daughter feels bad about it too. It’s just REALLY hard to admit you are wrong when you are a teenager. It’s hard to apologize.

    I have no doubt that she loves you as much as she ever did, and I also think that, whether she shows it or not, she will HEAR you if you tell her, calmly, honestly, that her behavior is hurting your feelings. Especially if you explain that insults hurt extra coming from her because you love her so much. I mean, she will probably roll her eyes in response to your totally lame adult mushiness, but I think she will still hear you.

  41. The Mommy Therapy

    I am becoming more and more frightened of my sweet 9 month old baby girl. Right now she is painfully adorable, apparently in the next 10 or 12 years she’ll be mostly painful.

    I remember being like that. I remember wounding my family with my words and trying everyone’s patience with my inability to control my emotions. I hope my daughter will have a watered down version of my estrogen surges due to her two older brothers. Wishful thinking I am sure.

    I guess it’s just part of it, right? Hopefully it eventually ends and wounds heal and you and your daughter can move on to that blissful mother-daughter/best friends relationship I see so often. I totally don’t have it with my Mom, but I see that it does happen. Maybe I wounded her too much during my tween years? :)

  42. Dani

    Gah, this reminds me that I am in so much trouble when my daughter is her age. Luckily she’s only 2 so I’ve got a wee bit of time still. That being said, my personal view with my friends and their kids is that we are always worst to the ones we love. Because they are the ones where we can lower all of our barriers and just let it out. She probably works hard to be the good kid everywhere else and just needs to decompress when she’s with you.
    That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with but it helps me feel a little better.
    As an aside, I really enjoy your blog and I’m especially happy that you are sharing all of your stories about monkey. My son is 5, but we’ve already talked with the doc about the possibility of aspergers. Add a few minor physical issues and I am already worried about what school will be like for him. I am already frustrated by his IEP and the services he gets and I know it’s not going to get easier. But it helps to read that someone else is in the trenches too.

  43. Linda Sherwood

    My oldest daughter will turn 17 in May. She is a LOT like this. I too needed to be reminded that she is a good kid in terms of grades and behavior to everyone else but me. For a while, her dad thought my future relationship with her was in serious jeopardy (and I was worried too). Her dad and I aren’t divorced, and she does the same thing you describe Chickadee doing — I’m the devil and her dad is wonderful. She has gone so far at times to say that in the future her dad can come live with her. Her dad and I were talking about caring for our parents. At first she just implied that I wouldn’t be welcome, but she came out and said it too. That hurts even though I never want to have to live with my kids. I finally sat her down and talked to her basically letting her know that she wasn’t going to shock me about the things she didn’t think she could talk to me about. Since then, our relationship has been better in that she pretty much quit lying to me. Her dad and her tend to fight more now. But she still gets the attitude that she is barely tolerating me. I don’t think it is all hormones. Sleep-deprivation does seem to make it worse. I have no real advice, but I want you to know that the “dad is better” attitude isn’t just because dad isn’t in the house. That probably doesn’t make it feel any better.

  44. Jennifer

    Boy, if only you could save all these “two cents” you could add to your pile of buckets of money!

  45. Tenessa

    I was not especially horrible, but I had my moments. When I was being especially hormonal, my mom would just love on me. Her favorite form of retribution to ANYONE who is angry or rude is to be as sickly sweet to them as she can. It either makes them so mad they can’t articulate their ire or it diffuses their anger. I found it grating and highly irritating as a teenager, I mean what’s the comeback to that? But I find it endlessly amusing when she’s aiming that tactic at someone else. The clerk at the grocery store? The voice behind the speaker at a drive through? The “customer service rep” at a department store? Her boss? Oh yeah, it’s grand.

  46. Andrea

    My stepson is only 8, and his most favorite thing to do is ask me a question, roll his eyes at my answer, and turn immediately and ask his father the same thing. Are you telling me this will get worse as the years go on?! siiiiigh……

  47. Michelle

    I have the same round and round battle with my 12 year old son. What’s a mom of 3 boys ( others are much younger) to do with a tween boy who’s mom is always wrong, at fault, and extremely not worthy of his presence?

  48. Rinatta, the Health Conscious Mommy

    Mir, what if you cried when she hurts your feelings? A kid specialist told me once to do that when mine hurts my feelings. It seems to shock him right out of bad behavior. Unfortunately not for long, but it does work in the moment.

    As for me, now that I am a parent, I have apologized to my own mom countless times and will continue to do so. But it took nearly 30 years for me to get there.

  49. Tarrant

    Welcome to that age that is known for about 2 years as 13 year old girl. Evil spawn. Heads spin around and spit pea soup. You may survive. At least, I hope that is the case–E is the same way and her two older sisters were just as evil at that age.

  50. Heidi

    Boy, I don’t know how my Mom instilled it in us, but disrespect or talking back weren’t even remotely considered by the five of us kids. There was never a threat of being knocked across the room, or threats of any kind, for that matter. If I knew how she did it, I could write a book and make piles of money. As it is, I’m kidless and have not been subjected to such experimentation/torture. I sure miss my Mom…

  51. Robin

    Should I send you a copy of my “I am a person, too” speech?

  52. Jenn H.

    I’ve read through most of the comments and wanted to hone on a few of the ideas:

    1) I agree that there is an element of frustration/lack-of-control re: divorce playing out here. (I say this as the product of one, myself) (** not intended as a guilt thing– just helps to understand)

    2) Teenage girls often think dad is wonderful and mom stinks. (I did for years. Until my dad left our family, and my allegiance quickly shifted.)

    3) Teenage girls are moody. :) (But that doesn’t mean they should get away with disrespectful behavior.)

    I currently have a 3 yo and a 5 yo girl, but my time is coming. We see glimpses of it now with our 5 yo, and although I have no experience with teeangers, I have felt so empowered by my husband’s support in dealing with the bad attitude. Whenever he witnesses the sass, he quickly nips it in the bud by saying “You DO NOT talk to my wife like that. You WILL NOT disrespect her. Do you understand me?”

    Not sure how the dynamics of that would play out in your home, but has Otto ever stepped in to squelch the disrespect? Just curious. (I know you’ve mentioned him doing fabulous parental disciplinary things with Chickadee before.) It really seems to help our daughters realize that my husband and I are a team– he has my back– and that they cannot come between us. And that I’m not as dumb as they think I am– because he is willing to defend me. :)

    Just my two cents…
    Praying for peace in your house!!

  53. elz

    I hate to say it, but I think 13 year old girls are just like “this”. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Chickadee reminds me of me when I was her age. And, ultimately I turned out pretty awesome! Heh. I don’t think I dripped contempt for my mother at any point, but I certainly didn’t make her life easier. I wasn’t a bad kid, in fact, most people would have been shocked that I had any attitude problems at all. I did, just at home. Over time I learned to chill the eff out and realize that my parents were actually incredibly smart and kind. My mother and I are now very close and I apologize all the time for my tween aged nastiness. I know that doesn’t help. But, eventually it might?!

  54. Daisy

    Those overheard quips – our young men with Asperger’s take them soooo literally! My boy overheard me telling my husband that “any meal I didn’t cook was a good one!” and he took that as a cue to reassure me that yes, I’m a good cook.

  55. zuzuspetals

    If you want to have any kind of good relationship with her when she’s older and out of this phase, you have to do whatever it takes to NOT take it personally. My own mother never figured this out, and our relationship has never recovered. Oh, she’s all sunshine and unicorns now, but it’s too late. I will never be close to her and have a long memory of the horrible things she said and did. I too, was a model citizen outside of our house, but she never saw or acknowledged the good.

    It was very hurtful when my own kids went through it, but unlike my mother, I did my darned best to never take it personally. As a result, we are very close and love each other’s company. I also learned to choose my battles wisely, and didn’t always insist that it was my way or the highway, another lesson my mother never learned. It was a peri;ous road at times, but my kids and I came through the other side unscathed.

  56. mamaspeak

    I could throw out my 2cents here, but really, I’m in for it and I know it; two girls, current ages 7 & 4. Couple things I know now that I didn’t know then;

    -a lot of thing my mom conveyed to us were actually from my dad, or at the very least from both of them. My mom used to tell me that, but I didn’t believe it till in my 30’s when I finally was hearing it from him. (Finally go old & cranky enough to say it himself.) She took the brunt for a lot of crap bc of this. I feel bad for her to a degree when I think about it, but she’s also big on playing the martyr so I suspect this was also a part of it.

    -we are all human. My parents didn’t always do best by me. They often did best by them, but not to without regard to my brother & I. I do have some regrets, but mostly that I didn’t figure this out early enough to understand that their issues were theirs not mine.

    I guess my 2cents are to do what’s best for YOU in the long run. You know you’re a good mom & you’re going to do your best by your kids. Just don’t do your best by them to your determent. I liked the advice about you and Otto being a united front/team, (my husband does that as well,) and I also liked the advice to “cry” or let them know how much what they do/say hurts you. It’s not okay to hurt people, especially ones you love. Maybe you could equate this to being bullied (she understands that one). And when all else fails, bc it will, take her door off her room, etc… she’ll learn some impulse control rather quickly I suspect.

    And have some wine & chocolate. (Go to utube & look up laughing babies, always makes you feel better.)

  57. Patricia

    Before I could comment, I had to check and see if my mom had written a comment basically saying “I had one of those rotten kids too. I was thrilled to see her off to college. In fact, she was pretty rotten until 30, when she called me and apologized. I think she might mean it.”

    Well, that’s pretty much the truth of the matter. I was awful to my mom. I was awful to my dad. I was a good kid, except when I wasn’t — but in most ways I wasn’t the worst kid around, but rude to an extreme. Oh, and my mother WAS stupid and mean and ruining my life — except that’s not true when I finally see it her way.

    The thing is I know she hurts you — she hurts you because she is like you. You see yourself in her, and she being like you is lashing out at you with the things that hurt her — thus they hurt you. (Yes, I have a major in circular logic, why do you ask?)

    I want to tell you that it isn’t personal, but it is, in that it is you and your daughter. I want to tell you that it will get better, it will, but the road is long and bumpy between there and here. I want to remind you what you know — you are a great mom, and the best mom that she needs.

    But mostly, I want to tell you that someday (and I promise this) she is going to be more thankful that you forgave her for her awfulness than you are that she apologized. (Mind you, she may be married with kids when that happens — that’s when it happened for me — but it happens.) To this day, it is a wonder that my mom is willing to acknowledge me as her daughter — something I’m rather glad she does. (But oh, it was touch and go there for years.)

    Do you do Lent? Can you suggest she give up eye-rolling for Lent?

  58. Julia's Child

    I totally agree that you’re her SAFE person. She craps on you because you’ll still love her after she tries out her worst. On you.

    Also– “Blessing of a B-” is an amazing book about raising teens. This author is kind, empathetic and astute– but she helps you remember why it’s all happening. You might want to give it a try.

  59. Chuck Mann

    WOOO! Have a nicer relaxing weekend, you deserve it.

    I think it’s admirable that all of us survived our teenage years. I must have done several things that drove my parents bananas. My mother was usually very patient but when she lost her temper it was pretty scary.

  60. kattebee

    When my darling daughter was in high school I went on many a field trip. The joy of personal days at my work place.

    The teachers liked me to come along. why? Because I trained as teacher for the K-3 crowd. And I work by the theory that to deal with teenagers take their age, subtract 10, think back to that charming stage of their life.

    The only difference is you can now use bigger words and you can’t physically put them into the time our corner.

  61. Debra

    OMG! Mir!!! I know exactly what you’re going through. My Mom went through that exact same thing about… oh…. 32(!!) years ago.

    I am sooooooooo sorry and I need to send my Mom some flowers.

  62. Another Dawn

    My two are about to turn 22 and 26. The increase in my apparent intelligence over the last few years will make medical history, I’m quite sure.

    Hang in there. She can express her hormone-induced angst to you because she trusts you deeply enough to love her even when she is at her least loveable.

    That said, the teen years suck loudly.

    MORE WINE!!!

  63. Heather

    Maybe there needs to be an “it gets better” campaign for parents of tweens and teens!

  64. Laurie

    What #53 Jenn said. “You will NOT speak/treat my wife like that”. Takes the stepfather issue out of the deal, and sets the tone of discipline – it’s not a mother-daughter thing, a step-parent thing – it’s a respect thing on how he wants his wife to be treated.

  65. Dorothy

    I cornered my darling precious 16 year old and strongly suggested that she pretend that I was a total stranger since she spoke to strangers in a kind, friendly voice. She didn’t get it. She is now 40 and we actually enjoy each other. But I will admit it was a lloonngg road.

  66. Randi

    I don’t remember being that way at 13. I DO remember being all “I know more than you do” when I was around 16, 17ish. My mother was not sunshine and lollipops. She still isn’t to this day. My grandmother, who was my second parent, was much more tolerant than my mother, but do you know what I remember the most about those days? WHY I tried so hard to learn how to stop snapping at my mother and grandmother? Because I disappointed them.

    I think we, as parents, sometimes have it wrong. We look for punishments to end bad behavior. While I definitely think that punishments are good for behavior, I think there’s more to it. My grandmother would give me a little “that’s nice, dear” praise for something small that I did where I was hoping I’d get HUGE praise. She saved the HUGE praise for something that was truly due HUGE praise. Because of that I was always striving to get the praise that I wanted. Which, in turn, meant that whenever I disappointed her, and she let me know that I disappointed her, I was crushed. I would rather you have made me go to bed early for two weeks than for her to tell me that she was disappointed in me. It may sound bad, but I’m hoping to do the same with my children. I hope that they feel that me being disappointed in them is worse than any punishment I could dish out.

  67. ChrisinNY

    To quote the Trevor Project- “It gets better.” I actually found the tween years to be the most confict riddent, hurtful time in relationships with my strong, bright daughter. She is now 17 (and mostly) a delight to be around. Hang in there.

  68. ChrisinNY

    uh, “ridden”.

  69. Rita

    Chickadees twin is living at my house. Also almost 13, drowning in Estrogen soup and constant derision. We were having lunch with a friend who almost choked on her taco when my Chickadee rolled her eyes at me… it was a world-class eye roll. My goal, keep her fed (she’s mean when she’s hungry), keep her rested (even if it means taking away the Ipod and Sodoku books, I’m so mean) and keep on loving her (even if it means wrestling her to the ground to get in a hug). Eventually we’ll become smarter again.

  70. Rock Your Marriage

    Boundaries are so important. At least you are taking an introspective look at all of this. The rest will come with time and perseverance. Keep it up!

  71. s

    I was horribly rotten to my mother – I expected her to do it all for me, mostly because she did. I was spoiled rotten with a capital S R. I once called her a jerk and she cried – I was astounded. But she still continued to do everything for me. Would I have treated her differently if she had put her foot down? I don’t know honestly – I think I just felt entitled. A divorce which changed her situation (she couldn’t do for me as much as she had both financially and timewise) and some years of growing up and I realized how good she was to me and I stopped being a rotten b-i… but it can not have been easy for her. We get along great now – in fact, if my daughter treated me poorly, my mom would be the first to stick up for me and tell me how I should nip it in the bud (funny, the things she tells me and I think back to my childhood and say to myself REALLY? but I only say it to myself…bc my job as daughter is to smile and say yup mom and just do my own thing right??).

    I dreaded having a daughter for this very reason – I didn’t want to go through those difficult years, feeling alienated, being treated poorly. My daughter is on the cusp of this, although right now she’s taking it out on one of her brothers, which is really unpleasant for us all (he gets upset by it which of course just eggs her on more and then we get involved and oh boy, its just a carnival ride around here).

    post the solution when you figure it out – in the meantime, just tell yourself what do 13 year old girls now – we all think you are awesome!

  72. kakaty

    I was the exact same way from about 12 to 17. Sorry – I know you’re in for the long haul here. My mom was ALWAYS getting complements from teachers and other parents about how mature and respectful I was. I got great grades, too. I never acted awful to my dad either (and they were/are still married and we all lived together) because he would have 1) smacked me or 2) ignored me. And I know it doesn’t feel like this but I’m sure she’s doing it because she feels safe, loved and whole with you. There’s something about being a teen and holding your hormonal shit together all day that makes you want to just be raw and open for a time – like a turtle out of its shell. And to do that you have to be in a place of 100% trust.

    And yes, I did apologize to my mom for those 6 years when I was in my early 20s. I’m guessing Chickadee will, too.

  73. joaaanna

    Yup – I was that daughter too. Sounds like there were a lot of us who were pretty rotten. And most of us come out of the ordeal with a really great relationship with our moms.

    Although I do remember once my mom actually leaving the house in tears once and that knocked the wind out of me pretty good. It scared me to pieces and I honestly think made me start behaving and treating her better. I don’t think she did it so I would have that reaction, I think it was so she wouldn’t grab my dad’s hunting rifle and end up in prison.

    Sorry that you have to go thru this sucky part.

  74. Lynda M O

    My daughter is twenty-five and I still have weeks and months where I don’t speak with her or about her. I am giving up hoping for a future with her. She brags to me of her similarities to the biological father I divorced before she was born for truly reprehensible behavior.

  75. Cele

    Mir I am here to give you hope. I was an absolute trial for my mother when I was between ages 11 and 19. My mom never gave up on me, taught me the good morals that I operate on today, and actually told me once that She might have to love me because I’m her daugher, but that doesn’t mean she had to like me. I’m fifty five now, my mom has been my one of my best friends for three decades.

    Girl you layed all the right foundations, it’ll pay off in the long run.

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