Mothers & daughters fight the most of any parenting pair. Fathers usually have no idea what to do about it and feel helpless or disgusted.
What are Teen girls so unhappy about with their mothers? I hear the same refrain; “She doesn’t understand me.” “She doesn’t have a clue who I really am!” “She just doesn’t listen!” “Why is she so judgemental?” “She is so hypocritical!” These are all very ordinary complaints. It is by fighting with Mom that teens are able to make themselves known.
Terri Apter is a brilliant psychologist who has done a lot of research on mother-daughter relationships. She has written a terrific book to help mothers navigate the confusing territory of adolescence. The book is aptly titled: You Don’t Really Know Me.
Apter makes wonderful points, too numerous to tally. Here are just five:
1. “A teenage daughter maintains a critical watchfulness over her own identity & locates herself carefully by being ‘not my mother’. pg.22
2. A teen perceives Mom outlining faults & mentioning past mistakes as being shamed. Humiliation is never a good thing. pg.55
3. Teens are “insulted by parental concerns.” pg.60
4. Absence of conflict is not evidence of a good relationship. The Teen lies to get along. pg.151
5. These relationships improve in part because “a girl’s experience of her new powers in hurting her mother can actually offer the recognition she is seeking.” pg.226
These are just a sampling of the insights her book offers. If you are exhausted by the pain of fighting with your adolescent daughter this book offers a very valuable paradigm shift. Instead of just being so tuned in to your daughters’ complete lack of respect for you, it will help you to flip that point of view by recognizing, that she doesn’t feel respected either.
One of the things I repeat over & over on both the blog and the website is how a lack of respect dooms relationships.
The only bad thing about this book is that it wasn’t published until 2004 and I needed it in 2001. There is no doubt in my mind I would have been a better mom to my daughter if I had known about it even in 2004.