The one thing I have learnt dealing with teenagers is when they share something with you, they don’t expect you to jump in and help them. They just want a quiet listen.
I learnt the hard way. Until last year, when my teenager shared anything with me, I jumped in to solve her problem- lock, stock and barrel.
There was the time when she told me her Physics teacher was not teaching lessons quickly enough and so the big tests would be on them before the portions got over. What did yours truly do ? As a dutiful mother, during PTA, met the teacher and asked her if she would mind my daughter sitting in the next door teacher’s class ( where he took classes after hours) so she could get her two cents from that teacher too. You would think this would have gone very well with that teacher or my daughter- well, no. The teacher took it out on my daughter in class without naming names and shamed her there. She came weeping and crying home and I got a real, solid dose from her at home. What did I do ? I just tried to find a solution to her problem but it turned out she didn’t want me to do anything about it but just listen.
This is her last year at school and her last few months there. The Founder’s day practices are going on in full swing, so the 12th graders can have a last chance to be children and enjoy themselves on stage, showing off their talents. My daughter is in for a group song chorus. After a month’s practice, she told me yesterday, she wanted to quit. I listened without offering any opinion( I didn’t want her to participate in the first place, as she was losing out on classes which she made up by copying notes from friends). A few minutes later she told me why- it seems the practice is getting all boring and serious and there is no fun in it any more. A couple more of minutes later she said, she is losing out on her hours in class( music to my ears, of course) and so she wanted to be back in class. Five minutes on, she tells me – the real reason is that she heard one of the boys whispering about her that she was only participating half heartedly in the sessions and would need to be removed- she wanted to remove herself from the group before she got the sack, it turns out. I told her, she could take her own decision after weighing the pros and cons in her mind- both options were perfectly fine with me.
When children are small, mothers have that protective instinct to protect their offspring from all harm and it might work in many situations but when they are grown up, often, we need to curb our instincts to jump into the battle and take up arms for our children. They need to fight their battles themselves and the funny thing is they don’t really expect you to fight their battles for them.
They just want a quiet space in which they can share their problems and maybe have a quiet cry. They can solve their problems themselves and you can be proud that you had a hand in that.