Parenting Blog

The Push and Pull of Parenting My Pre-Teen Daughter

The push and pull of parenting my pre-teen daughter

For over fourteen years I’ve been waiting for the scales to level, for the other shoe to drop.

Things have been too smooth, too easy, relatively speaking, and while the shoe is still on today, the laces are undone and the seams in the socks are annoying as hell.

Parenting the 11-year-old has become more difficult over the past 6 months or so and sadly my gut reaction is to push her away, to put distance between her anger and my serenity. I know that’s the wrong approach, stupidly wrong. I know it, I do, so I fight against that shameful inclination of mine to isolate, to put aside the puzzles I am not equipped to easily solve.

While I don’t know what is happening, I know for damn well certain I don’t want it to happen alone.

Instead of her and I and air in between, I’m trying to pull my youngest daughter in closer than ever before.

For the majority of days, this feels nice, for everyone, but hugging a flame means there will be burns and scars needing time to heal. Sometimes we’re both too hot to handle each other in a kind and gentle way.

We’re both still still growing up and it’s damn hard right now.

I’d had a Washington Spirit NWSL road match with the kid circled on the calendar for a while now but last week I had had enough with her and was ready to scrap it.

I couldn’t see any joy in traveling with her up to New Brunswick, NJ and back again, that is, not if she was having, I dunno, let’s call it an episode of angry unreasonableness for lack of anything concrete or easily definable. But I feel wiser now, confused still without question, but a bit wiser. I think she needs more of me, more love and attention, more of my focus, not the opposite.

My plan to scrap the plan has been scrapped — a double negative of sorts that in this case works. We’re going ahead with it tomorrow night, just us two, dad and daughter, to see Mallory Pugh play in person for the first time, to eat some overpriced sweets from the concession stand, to hopefully laugh, see a goal or three, and, in dusk’s golden light, make some happy memories we might both hold on to dearly should things get darker again.

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