I am Doing the Right Thing for my Teenager?Tracey Clark
My daughter and I both agreed that this blog would be a good thing for us. For me as a mother, for her as a teen, and for us and a mom and daughter duo that want to not only maintain but also cultivate our relationship. We’ve been brainstorming and sharing ideas and thoughts, working together in a creative and collaborative way. The planning stage has been awesome. But, now it’s time to put our plans into motion. To put us—her—”out there.” But tonight, for the first time in this process, I am paralyzed by fear.
I often brag that my daughter is the most exceptional person I know: bright, funny, resilient, enchanting—the list goes on and on. In fact, I am so inspired by her inherently kind heart, positive attitude, and insightful perspective on teen-hood and the world at large that I keep urging her to write a book of wisdom from her very unique teen perspective. When the opportunity came to share stories of motherhood and raising a teen at Reframed, I couldn’t imagine doing it without her. My dream has been to give her a platform to share her gifts with the world, knowing full well that the world would be a better place because of it. But…what about her? In sharing herself like this, would she be better because of it? I have been looking at it through the eyes of a mother eager to connect with her teen in a new way; sharing stories and ideas on this chapter of both of our lives, and so I’ve always thought this would be great for both she and I…but now I am second guessing myself. Maybe I’ve been naive. I am now wrestling with all of this.
Tonight she wrote her first post—or at least what we anticipated to be her first post. But when I read through her real and raw descriptions of what was on her mind and in her heart (school stresses and friend troubles), a wave of dread washed over me. If I am giving her a public platform to share herself openly, honestly, and vulnerably, then I am the one pulling back the curtain and allowing the world to see her. All of her. Yes, she wants to be seen, and heard, and understood. And of course, I want that for her. But being in the public eye means that I’m not the only one seeing, hearing and hopefully understanding her. With this blog, we’re leaving the confines of our controlled environment and I am suddenly petrified. I have built this stage for her to stand on; what happens if she falls? What if she doesn’t get the warm welcome I had foreseen for her? What if her friends find it? What if strangers find it? What happens if she shares too much or feels too exposed on my watch? What then?
It’s one thing when she’s making her own choices and things go awry. But, I am her mother and it’s my job to protect her and keep her safe from harm wherever I can. What if by encouraging her to share herself on a blog with me—her very own mother—things go wrong? I am no stranger to the online world. I have been putting myself out there for years; telling my stories, sharing photos of my life, being as open and honest as possible. I’ve built a career around it. But, that’s me. I’m an adult. She’s still just a child. She may be almost 15, but I still want to protect her like I did when she was just an infant. That’s what mothers do.
So, what now?
I am swimming in a sea of self-doubt and fear, afraid of making the wrong decision on my daughter’s behalf, afraid of failing her as a mother.
All this is to say: I don’t have this thing figured out. And we both really want to move forward and create this wonderful thing together, whatever it’s going to be. But now, I am turning to you, mothers and fathers of children that are teens now or one day will be, imploring you to share your thoughts. Moving forward, I will need you and this entire community of parents to be here for us; she will need you to be here for her. As she laid down to bed last night and she asked if I was going to share her first post. I told her we I thought we needed an proper introduction first, and maybe a little more of a game plan. The first game play comes now and it’s the one where I ask you the only question I have before we begin.
Am I doing the right thing here?
For more about Tracey and how she elevates the everyday, visit her at traceyclark.com.
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