I wanted to write this post last month before school went into winter break but, things got so hectic and I fell way behind schedule. Last month, my daughter and I had a breakthrough moment when I was trying to figure out why she had been behaving differently besides the countless recent changes (baby brother, new county, new school, puberty). Every time I asked her why her behavior had changed so drastically and not for the positive, she would go into shut down mode. Then an epiphany hit me; I would use my teacher/mentor skills. Since we were in my classroom and it was the end of the day, I had her close the door and retrieve a dry erase marker. I told her to write on the board all of the things that I expect from her that are unreasonable ( her main complaint was that I didn’t care and I was unfair). At first she hesitated but, then she started writing. I didn’t say anything during this process even if I disagreed with some of the things that she wrote down. I let her voice (scribe) her opinion and when she was done, she stopped, closed the cap on the marker, and faced me. I then let her know that we were going to discuss each one and explain ourselves. This process ended up with her crossing some off the list because she realized that they may not have been accurate depictions of the situation. The one’s that were left on the board, I promised to work on to keep our bond strong and the lines of communication open. At the tail end of the conversation, the breakthrough came which led to tears and a big hug from my tween who had been stand-offish prior to for some months. The overarching theme is that she felt that I thought her opinions and feelings didn’t matter. She thought I felt that she was unimportant and the only thing that mattered was what I wanted and how I felt. I realized that my actions probably led her to believe this. The part that hurt me the most, is that is exactly what I felt about my mother and still do to this day. It devalues you as an individual. How can I support a strong sense of self-esteem in my young lady if I am devaluing her, whether it be purposefully or not? I let her know that it was never my intention to make her feel that way and I have been working on myself so that does not come across as often until I can stop it altogether. This exercise helped both of us see the reality and brought us closer together. The pure act of taking the time to hear her out, was in fact healing. My behaviors towards my daughter are part my own and part learned from my own mother. But, when we become parents and especially if you are a single parent with no other parent for your child to turn to, it is imperative to extend the olive branch, open the lines of communication, express humility, and start mending what may be broken. I am not saying that I have this parenting thing down pat, but I am on a constant road to healing and learning, and growing. Hears to your breakthrough moment!