Jo Ann Dearden

Guest Blogger Jo Ann Dearden shares important pivot points – fulfilling and challenging – that have marked her relationship with her daughter.  Many parents of teenagers and young adults will recognize this story.

Raising a teenage daughter is a big challenge.  Some mothers had told me that their daughters developed the teenager attitude at the age of 12.  I guess I was one of the luckier mothers—my daughter, we’ll call her D., didn’t develop her attitude until she was 14 – a pivot point for both of us.

Her attitude was one of total disrespect and condescension.  She was always angry and nasty.

It was then, I became dirt.  I was sub-grade to anyone living.  There was nothing I could do or say that would pass muster with D.  I became persona non-grata.

A good example with a little bit of history…my biggest passion is I love to sew.  I made all my clothes growing up and I used to make D.’s special holiday dresses.  They were gorgeous.  She would say to me, “Mom Easter is coming.  We better get to the fabric store.”  I was so proud.

When D. turned 16, she was invited to go to the Junior Prom.  She very strongly said she did not want me to make the gown for her.  She wanted to go to the cool stores and buy one.  Ok, it is a great experience to go out and try on all the lovely gowns and find the one that makes you feel special.  I understand.

I got really excited.  I thought how much fun it was going to be to see my little girl try on dresses for her prom.  Momma’s pride and joy.  Well, that dream crashed REAL FAST – I was blindsided by this pivot point!  I was told she would not allow herself to be humiliated with Mother there.  Only her friends were allowed to help her pick out her prom gown.  My heart broke.

I felt like dirt.

This attitude continued until she went away to college.  She spent her Freshman year at a college in Ohio which is a 10-hour drive from home.  The princess managed to get a private room.  My story?  That was too bad.  I believe it would have been a good lesson for her to live with a roommate and learn to share.

Very shortly into the semester, she started missing home.  She went from not speaking to me at all to getting texts from her every half hour – we were pivoting back to the positive.  She even called me a couple times a week just to talk to me!

Her time away made her think about herself and her attitude.  Ohio was too far for her to drive home for fall break or Thanksgiving.  There was no mass transportation for her to take to get home.  So, she spent her first Thanksgiving away from home.  She found it a little tough.  Her big, bad attitude started to give way to compassion and understanding.

She began to trust me more and asked my opinion on life matters.  Many times, my advice was spot on and much to my surprise, she started using it.  When she came home for Christmas, I saw a slightly softer person.  I even got a hug and an “I love you.”

It was then I realized I had been elevated to beach sand.  As the year continued, she started respecting me more and talking to me with a civil tongue.

Today, at the age of 19 D. still has a long way to go to fully maturing.  But, I have high hopes it will happen…it is happening.  I see the pivot points and mark the moments with joy.

Who knows, maybe someday soon, I will be top soil!  A mother can only hope.

  1. This is a wonderful story and one that all parents can learn from…sometimes when our children do not respond the way that we want…never give up and never give up on them. Thanks for sharing…who knows she may ask you to make her wedding dress!

  2. My heart ached for you, Jo Ann, as I read this story. I have been through the “dirt” phase with all four of my kids. Actually, they were all teens at once so it was like a quadruple whammy. I know how painful it is to be on the receiving end of that kind of know-it-all attitude. One day your kid thinks you are the greatest mom ever and the next they are embarrassed to be seen with you.

    It is interesting to watch them grow out of thinking you don’t know what you are talking about to gee….maybe mom DOES know what she is talking about. The very best feeling however is when they start having their own babies and you actually see them looking at you with new eyes. I have told them that parenting is the hardest work they will ever do and they don’t believe it until they bring their own home and reality hits. It’s been great for me to see that awakening in the few who have started families.

    I’m glad “D” is growing out of that hurtful phase. I think you will reach the level of a lovely flower in your daughter’s eyes. Forget the top-soil.

  3. Hi Jo,
    Not being a parent myself, I’m am perpetually awed at the degree of patience and nerves of steel all the best ones have. Your story about D. was so poignant.

    But I bet the older your daughter gets, the smarter you’ll become (in her eyes).

  4. Bonnie and Anu, I agree with you; Jo Ann’s piece is touching…one most mothers [fathers, step-parents, and full-time guardians] can relate to. I love that she shared her experience so openly.

    If ever YOU would like to write a blog post for LIES That Limit, just submit your content. I enjoy offering our readers fresh voices, and providing those with something relevant to say a place to say it.

    Thanks for commenting.


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