Live with intent, take time, have patience and gain a new perspective. See how having a relationship with your teen can change both of your lives. Say goodbye to status-quo.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It’s Not Personal

One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as a Mom is that it’s not personal. Meaning I can’t take things personal in regard to my teenager. A lot of what we go through with them will feel like its personal, or maybe I’m just more sensitive! I’ve come a long way with not taking things personal, but it still creeps in now and again—I’m only human, right?!

What I’ve seen is that our kids have there own issues too. For me to not take things personal, meaning that my daughter is doing something against me or because of me, I’ve had to separate the label of her being my child, and me being her Mother. It might sound odd or even crazy Ville, but honestly it has helped so much.

For me to detach from those roles, even if it’s just for minutes, it helps. I look at her as a human being. I view her as an individual apart from me, someone who is just a girl, trying to get through these trying years as a teen. If I view her in this way sometimes, it helps me see that she has her own struggles, and they really don’t have anything to do with me, but with her.

She went to Prom a few weeks ago, and we were doing pictures at her boyfriends home. When we arrived with my daughter, we were not greeted. Her boyfriends Mother didn’t say how beautiful she looked let alone Hello. For the next hour it was like an organized boot camp, and extremely uncomfortable. I was so taken off guard and so shocked at the way this woman behaved that it through me off my game. I spoke up and asked directly and politely when we were going to do photos with my daughter and her family. When I did that my daughter shushed me.

That kicked me in the gut. I felt at that moment that she was embarrassed of me. I noticed throughout this photo taking boot camp, that my daughter was very keen on what would come out of my mouth. Almost like she was watching me. I could feel the tension.

I felt awful, I was totally taking it personal. I felt like my daughter was against me and for her boyfriends Mother. I felt like she was choosing them! It was very difficult and painful to go through.

And we never know what is going to throw us off. I mean why would something like this throw me off? Why would it affect me? Why was I so hurt? I wasn’t even hurt by the other Mother, I was hurt by my daughter.

It took us a good week to iron this one out. But WE DID. With commitment and perseverance and TIME. It might be something a lot of people would just move on from and not get to the bottom of, but I refuse to accept that. I want to teach my daughter conflict management, and I can’t do that if we just move on or sweep it under the rug.

We knew there was a deeper issue here, and we got to the bottom of it together. She even said a few times, “Mom, I’m so tired of talking about this, we’ve been on it now for days, can we just let it go?”

My response was that, yes there is a time and place to let go, but if conflict hasn’t been resolved, or even in the midst of it being resolved you can take breaks, but until we are reconciled, it’s not time to let go.

We learned so much about the both of us—I learned again that it wasn’t personal-she wasn’t embarrassed of me, she wasn’t choosing them over me. I learned that my daughter is at the age where she can hurt me; whether intentionally or unintentionally. And that I need to learn how to handle it when she does.

My daughter learned that she cares too much about what others think. She’s known this for a while, but she put caring about what they think above recognizing that the whole family was uncomfortable and it was frustrating for us. I told her that all she had to do was come up to me quietly and say, “Mom, I know this is super annoying and frustrating, I’m with you, I hear you, but it’s almost over.” Something like that. But hey, she’s 16! A lot of adults don’t do that!

We both see new (and old) areas of our worse self that we need to work on and improve. We are both up for the challenge and together we are stronger for going through this rough patch!

Everyday I’m learning more and more that it’s not personal, my daughter is not just my baby girl, she is her own individual with her own struggles and short comings. It’s not about me most of the time, it’s about life and herself. But I had to make the time to see the truth of these things. I’m so thankful it wasn’t about me, because I have my own self to manage!


  1. Hello Gina, What a great article - thank you so much! I'm not a parent, but I am a Conflict Resolution Coach and Mediator. This article was of great interest to me because I am currently working with a mother and her 16-year old daughter. I am going to print this for the mom to read. Gina, I would love to dialogue with you some more if that is at all possible, perhaps you can email me at: eudine@herbertmediationcenter.com

  2. Thank you so much for your comment, I am just seeing this now (I was sick for a few weeks). I would love to be in touch with you--And I am so grateful this article could help so much!