No Sacrifice Too Great For The Princess….

Dear Readers,

  1. Those of us from earlier generations have learned this concept well. So, it’s not surprising that we respond in disbelief when we feel that our children do not appreciate the things we do for them and the lives they are blessed to live. As we seek to empower our children as they take their places in this world, we too must assume the responsibility of modeling self-care in a fast moving, ever-changing world.

 

Dear Visible Man,

I am frustrated and in disbelief at the behavior of my teenage daughter.

I am a black female single parent who is well educated and employed as a teacher in the one of the local school districts in Washington State’s Puget Sound region.

We reside in a modest middle class single-family residence. Although I am struggling to provide for my family, it was important to me that my daughter attend a private school.

I drive her back and forth to her school activities during the week, and on the weekends, I host sleepovers for her and her friends, take the shopping at the malls and give her spending money for other activities.  And, I provide the coverage for her cell phone plan as well as other items she may want.

So, what does she do in return?  Nothing.  She refuses to do household tasks, keep her room clean or look after her younger sister so I can run a few short errands.

Although I am frustrated, I am determined to help her become a strong, independent African-American woman. My mother was a good role model for me.  I want to do the same for my daughter, but I’m afraid that she’s spoiled. Have I created a monster?

Seeking Answers, Seattle WA

Dear Seeking,

Have you created a monster? Let’s take a look.

It sounds like your daughter has a wonderful life.  The problem I see here is that the foundation for that life has been built on your blood, sweat and tears.  Consider the following realities:

  • Your daughter is clueless and unprepared for the world that as an adult she is about to enter.
  • Your daughter has been shielded and pampered, causing her to achieve only the minimum that is expected of her.
  • You have assumed the responsibility for her failures and successes at the expense of your own life. (After all, your mother did the same for you, right?)

Welcome to the grand illusion of parenting.   It is not unusual for parents, regardless of ethnicity, race or culture, to fall into the following traps:

  • The desire to provide opportunities for your child that you didn’t have when you were a child.
  • The desire to have your child advance further than you have in your life.
  • The determination to endure any and all sacrifices to obtain that advancement, regardless of the financial or emotional costs to yourself.

All of the above are noble concepts. However,  as your children move into pre adolescence, adolescence, and early adulthood, remember that:

  • Your child is a member of two environments: within the home and outside of the home. Consequently, she is not only being influenced by the parents at home, but they are also impacted by peers and communities outside of the home.
  • Your child is reacting and responding to internal conflicts, demands & stimuli as she seeks to find herself and her status in her family, community and society.
  • Your child is transitioning in a fast moving, technological world. The model that you as a parent may be utilizing (i.e. your parent as a model) may be outdated and therefore useless as you and your child seek to move forward.

The major focus lies not only on parental expectations, but also on assisting your daughter as she moves towards young adulthood.  Helping her to resolve internal conflicts, demands and fears associated with emerging into the society as a young adult will prepare her to handle situations as they occur.

A model that may be of assistance to you is “The ABC’s of Parenting From Adolescence to Adulthood.”  Briefly, the components of the model include the following:

  • Advocacy- the parent “transforms” to become a “parental advocate.” The focus is on providing encouragement and a supportive foundation for the adolescent’s movement into adulthood.
  • Balance- the parent “accepts” the role of an “observer.” Here the parent comes to terms his/her own stress and anxiety.   The parent struggles with balancing and observing the adolescent as he/she works through the internal conflicts of making mistakes and wrestling with choices and decisions.
  • Consultation-the parent transitions to the role of a consultant, instead of the leader. The parent shows the willingness to provide consultation upon request, and in doing so, the value is reinforced when information is requested from and not demanded by the parent.

Closing Remarks

There is an internalized benefit in the use of the ABC model.  It allows the  “all giving & all sacrificing” parent an opportunity to focus on self-care.  I would recommend that such individuals take a moment for reflection.

In doing so, with the understanding that you love and are committed to your daughter, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What about me?
  • What do I want for my life?
  • Where or when does my life begin?

As parents, we must want to acknowledge that our lives do not stand still while we wait for our children to leave home.  With the economic difficulties impacting our young adults today, the concept of becoming “empty nesters” is beginning to become a relic of the past.

As we seek to empower our children, we must be willing to model the behavior and in doing so, seek to live the fullness of our own lives. The error made by this parent may be that she is focused on changing the way the adolescent is behaving, instead of focusing on change and transformation within her psychological self.

“Change is the law of life.  And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.’

John F. Kennedy

The Visible Man

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