Sylvia was 10 when I posted Kids and Communication, and imagined what life would be like raising a teenager. Re-reading it now is like looking back at myself as a teenager and thinking, "ah, if I knew then..."
My core beliefs have not changed, but actually living them is a lot harder.
I still believe that the best first option is communication, but what's become so much harder is getting her to talk to me. And it's harder to keep myself from lecturing than I thought it would be. Everything is harder.
She's a great kid, she really is. She's funny, she's talented, she's sweet, and she is mostly happy.
And it's not that she doesn't talk to me at all. It's only when it's something important that she clams up.
It's hard for me to remember, when I'm trying to have a substantive conversation with her, that she probably genuinely can't answer me. I expect too much from her when it comes to rational and reasoned responses.
The truth is, she's 14. She doesn't always know why she does what she does, or what she was thinking at the time.
I also have learned that as much as it might seem like she doesn't care what I think, she really does. She clams up sometimes because she fears disappointing me. She may know in her heart that I love her unconditionally, but that doesn't stop us from clashing over issues, of course. I'm still her mother, after all.
I also try very hard to tell her something in as non-judgmental way as possible, but that doesn't always stop her from responding defensively. It may have nothing to do with me, or it may have everything to do with me. Still, no matter how many times I tell her, she doesn't trust that sometimes I tell her things because that's my job and not because I'm trying to criticize her.
And every so often, most often in the car and when it's just the two of us, she will open up. The lack of eye contact seems to help. Which is one of the reasons I don't mind our commute. If that's what it takes to have genuine communication, I will take it.
I still believe that the most important aspect of any relationship is communication, but my humility and patience (and a car ride) are needed to achieve it.