I hope we all realize that no one is so far gone that they cannot be reached. Perhaps the most difficult part of being a parent is knowing when to step in and when to let our daughters learn life’s lessons on their own. Watching your daughter hurt herself is possibly the hardest thing a parent can ever experience, and it is my wish for the entire Spears family that they find love and forgiveness and shelter from the storm they are going through.
That being said, parents, it’s time to step up to the plate. If this type of crisis is happening in your home, it’s crucial to her future well-being that you get a handle on it, starting now.
You want so many of the same things, but she doesn’t understand that yet. She wants to be independent, and beautiful. And you want that for her, too. You also want her to be capable, strong, loving, and viable. She doesn’t even know what that means.
It’s likely that you have no credibility with her right now. Even if she sees you as the most awful, stupid, mean parent… stand your ground! Remember, she’s not done growing yet. She thinks she’s grown, but her brain is not yet fully developed. Whether she likes it or not, she needs your firm, loving guidance.
A daughter in crisis is not going to appreciate the following suggestions, but consider them anyway. She’ll thank you when she’s older. As her parent, you need to know what you’re dealing with so that you can figure out how to proceed.
SNOOP in love. If she’s not telling you the truth, you need to know about it. After all, it is your house. Don’t advertise your snooping. Simply decide (like you did when she was three) that it is time to do a thorough cleaning of her room. Do a COMPLETE reorganization while she’s at school or at a friend’s house. No matter what you find, finish the project. Leave her room looking nice. And if you find something, don’t tip your hand just yet.
If you find cigarettes, drug paraphernalia, or items she stole from a store, it’s going to be tough, but Do NOT let yourself get angry. She’s not going to want to admit to it, and she’s going to very unhappy that you snooped. But not learning the truth gives her adult rights and permission that she’s not mature enough to handle. Her misbehavior as a teenager is one thing, but once she’s an adult that same misbehavior can result in jail time, expensive Los Angeles Bails Bondsman fees, pregnancy, or a lifetime of grief. Do what you can now to prevent that… in love.
Restrict or remove technology if necessary. A teenager taking nude or suggestive pictures of herself and sending them all over the place or posting online is not responsible enough for that level of technology. Or mature enough to date, for that matter. So what, if all her friends are doing it? You’re not raising them. Take away her phone! Place the computer in a common area of your home, where you can monitor its use.
Look for the warning signs. Falling asleep in class shows disrespect for the teacher and should be investigated. If she’s slurring her speech and acting drugged-up, get her drug tested by your physician. Make sure you specifically request a barbiturate screen as this is not commonly included.
Be present as her parent. Make sure that her misbehavior is not the only focus of your time together. She is precious, and has to know you believe she is an awesome, incredible young lady, capable of great things. Understanding how the choices she makes now could potentially define her life is the most important thing for her to grasp. Everything you do from here on out must be dependent on her ability to make good choices for herself.
Express your unconditional love, and never give up. Tell her constantly how highly you regard her generous heart and her strong willful spirit that you never want to crush, just guide. Never give up. She is amazing. People love her style, wit, and enthusiasm. She is beautiful, and more so every day.
Fathers, this is especially important for you. Hug that girl and smile at her. Ask about her classes and show interest in her friendships. Give her tasks to complete so that you have opportunity to praise her. Work with her on something.
By standing firm on your daughter’s behalf now, you’re helping her to rediscover who she really is, resist negative social pressures, and finish growing into that wonderful young lady you always know she would be.
Thanks to Live from Waterloo for including this post in the Carnival of Family Life, to Anja Merret for featuring this post in the Blog Carnival of Observations on Life, and to Her Family Blog for publishing this post in the Everything Family Blog Carnival.