I’ve always said she wants to be my hat and sit on my head. When my daughter is feeling needy, she can’t be on top of me enough. Everything that she emotionally needs is drawn from me and it’s more than draining. The give and the take between a girl and her mother is exhausting and it’s necessary. I need to be very conscious of creating a mother buffer zone.
The obstinance and the emotional output she aims at me however… isn’t personal. But most of the time, it feels that way. If there’s an issue of independence that she needs to resolve, her misbehavior will go on until she has decided that she has worked it out. Until I have let her know to her satisfaction that she is worth my attention and the discipline to show her when her behavior is unkind, unnecessary, and unwanted. Not her but her behavior. And she gets to decide when that lesson has been learned.
Meanwhile, I am also a human with hormones and bad days and sometimes/eventually, I’m worn down and worn out. The crying cannon aimed at me feels personal and torturous. I can’t wait until she gets on her school bus some mornings. My irritation rises and the post-traumatic stress disorder starts to set in.
But what I realized this week is that even though I am her mother, what she sometimes wants from me is stuff from the concept of mother. She pushes against the authoritarian concept of mother. She needs her Mommy when she’s hurt because we mothers are home base, a conceptual safe comfort zone. They happen to be working out their issues with us specifically yet the humanity of their emotional trials need not be taken personally but instead, compassionately by us.
If we allow for a Mother Buffer Zone between us and our children, an understanding that our children need to work out their independence and self-trust in the mirrors they have with us, then we can all be human. We can acknowledge their growth work and our emotional maturity for respecting that and we don’t have to take it all personally.
I will add that I am always making sure that the way that I’m treated is respectful. My children are entitled to be mad but they may not be disrespectful to me. In that way, I also model what self-respect looks like to them that they may go out in the world and say, “You may not treat me this way.”
Understanding the dynamics of the 6 – 9 year old’s need to create and be OK with their independence can remove a little of the pressure from the parent. Allowing for independence to not be a bad thing fosters independent children. And I assure my daughter that she will be leaving me eventually but I will never leave her. I’ll be here for as long as she needs me. And hopefully, if we do this the right way now, the teen years will be amazing.
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