A unique perspective on parenting a teenager

I was talking with an old friend today and it dawned on me that I haven’t written much about my new perspective on raising a teenage girl.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve shared much about that experience at all.  Maybe a few hints here and there in some of my updates.  So here it goes.  I suppose I should say – trigger warning – this will be a rough story involving some very touchy subjects.  I won’t go into great detail – but they are kind of necessary to understand the catalysts behind things.

***** Read above first please *****

It’s been almost 3 years since my daughter attempted suicide.  My girl… my baby… I’ll never forget the phone call from my ex husband.  It was late.  I was to meet them at the ER.  She was ok, physically, but she was not ok.  I was shocked.  I didn’t know it was coming – not by a long shot.  I climbed into that hospital bed and didn’t leave her side.  Quit my job.  Spent a year off just to get her to a healthy place again.  We got therapy for her.. and me.  We talked.  And talked.  And talked some more.  I learned more than I wanted to learn – but wouldn’t change it for anything.  She had her reasons – and while I won’t share any more of her end of that story – suffice it to say that these reasons were valid and justified and horrifying and nearly ripped my heart from my chest when I finally heard them.

Since then… we’ve built a new type of relationship.

We share absolutely everything.  I am transparent with her about absolutely everything.  So long as she asks.  There is no topic off limits, and no topic where I won’t give her a very straight up, very real answer to.  Even when it’s uncomfortable for me. I swear, the first time she asked me about masturbation and sex toys I damn near fell over!  But, over time, it’s become easier and quite frankly it feels more natural.  Sometimes I’ll preface things I say to her with “I’m telling you this because I’m being transparent, but I want so badly to shield you from it…” kind of statement.  Or I’ll say “I’m going to put my foot in my mouth about this…” and then share.

So many who meet us – think I’m nuts.  That i’m too open about things.  Too real.  But she’s going to be a full fledged legal adult in 2.5 years.  And she’s already been exposed to a lot of very grown up situations, as much as I would have wished otherwise.  At this point, the only thing to do, is to be real with her.  To break down and dissect the world around her, and make sure that home is safe, and that the people I let into my world are safe for her too.

And can I say – this whole experiment…because that’s essentially what it is – I am in unknown territory and am just trying to find my way through experimentation… has been eye opening.  I’m glad I went about it.  And I don’t believe it works for EVERY kid.  But I will say, it’s working for her.  She’s blooming.  She feels safe.  She’s making healthier emotional choices and seems to have healthier relationships now because of it.  She’s looking bigger picture and not getting so wrapped up in petty high school drama.  It’s inspiring to watch. The people in our world, who know her, and what she’s been through, have all commented that they see a change in her.  That she seems happy now.  She’s thriving and I’m so proud of the woman she’s become and is still becoming.  When she was born – I remember whispering to her that she was “the greatest thing I ever did”.  And even now – she’s one of 3 of “the greatest things I ever did.”

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