Tell me this is normal?

It is normal - right? -  to hear your 16 year old girl say things like “everyone else is best friends with their mom” when complaining that she can’t stand to be around her parents during the pandemic. You’re not really all best friends with your teen girls? She is an only child and says she has spent 16 years waiting to get away from us. That one I *do* know is an exaggeration because pre-pandemic she was a pretty happy, social, and engaged kid. 

I am trying to tell myself that were we not in a pandemic, this is exactly when she would have been separating from us and seeing everything we do as wrong. And it just so happens that because of the pandemic she is isolated with very little positive in her life — so it makes her skin crawl to be around us at this point. I see intellectually that if it weren’t for the pandemic we would probably still be struggling but it might have been balanced with positive peer interactions that make us not seem so bad.

Others have gone through this - right? - and eventually regained a relationship with their young adult kids?

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RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

Sorry you are going through this. My son just turned 20 years old and we haven't been best friends ever since he turned 16. He's extremely immature, so I am hoping that he'll become his old sweet self by the time he's 25 or 30, but I am not holding my breath. Your daughter sounds like she's looking for ways to hurt you. It's emotional blackmail that girls excel at. My 8 year old says hurtful things like that when she's particularly angry and I call that out when it happens. My son hasn't done much of that until recently, since it's a more sophisticated way to be mean, but now he does that too.  I've learned to recognize it as attempts to make me feel bad, but it's still hard not to care.

Oh, and we are parents to our kids, not friends of any kind, let alone bffs. We provide for them, keep them safe, and of course love them, but we should also expect them to contribute back to the family and respect us. If you want to have a daily family dinner, it's your right as a parent to have her be there, help make it, set the table and be civilized with the phone off during it.  If they love us and enjoy being with us, that's an icing on the cake, but not the requirement. Yeah, pandemic sucks. And yet, she's got shelter, food, clothing, education and the spoils of modern society thanks to you working your butt off, which isn't easy during the pandemic either. How about her?  Is she a joy to be around? Has she ever considered how it is for you as parents to be around her? 

Anyway, she sounds like a typical entitled teen.  I come from a 3rd world country, and kids never had those kinds of argument with their parents.  Life was too hard and scary to be bothered with existential questions like this. One was grateful to have a home and food, and people who cared about them. Here in the US, kids remain kids till their 30s because we shelter them too much. Don't know about your daughter, but my son never had to cook for himself, I still do his laundry, and he almost never does his only chore which is to throw away the garbage.  Maybe it's not too late for your daughter to become a full fledged member of the family, the kind that doesn't just keeps taking and then complains that you guys aren't fun to be around, but the kind that's considerate and cares about you and contributes. 

RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

I am also the mom of a single child, a boy, 15. While he does complain and exaggerate, he doesn’t hate us and also isn’t best friends with us. I am certain that he doesn’t feel he can’t wait to leave us etc.  Personally, I’d listen to what she’s telling you and I’d take it seriously. The pandemic is probably amplifying her feelings, but this does sound a bit like depression. And if you love her, do you really want her to feel not close to you, and like she can’t wait to leave? I have a dear friend with a very challenging 16 year old (only child) daughter, who will readily say she loves her parents and isn’t itching to leave - even tho they for sure drive her crazy too. Again, probably not “best friends” but not in this kind of pain either. If my child ever says these things, I’ll ask WHY and listen quietly and very carefully, and probably get a family therapist. 

RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

Absolutely frickin normal. When I went through this painful process with my daughter I was told the startling truth that the fact that we used to be close the harder she had to push me away and claim her independence. (She started to push away when she was 12!) I remember the fact I was breathing was annoying to her! I mourned the loss of my daughter but trusted (as best I could) in the knowledge that she would come back to me one day. She went off to college and gained the independence she needed. We are very close now.

RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

Going through it now with my son and hoping it’s normal (he is also an only child). I take it with a grain of salt and a sense of humor even though it is exhausting and annoying. Hoping we bounce back once he’s off to college and beyond. 

RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

Ummm, no, I am not besties with my daughter. She loves me, but I am the object of ridicule for my singing, dirty feet and too loud talking. Being trapped with a teen daughter in my home during a pandemic has been hard! I'm not sure where she's getting the 'everyone is best friends with their mom' idea, but it certainly doesn't ring true to me. I was the same way with my mom. I eventually found her to be a treasure. 

RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

I don't have the "eventually" part of the story yet, but I can tell you that my 13-year old girl is going through something very similar, so that's a definite NO on all moms and teenage daughters being best friends. Our daughter went from being a happy, extroverted, sports-loving goofy kid pre-pandemic to cutting off all her hair, dying it, and wearing mostly black oversized clothes now, with eye-rolling and sarcasm being inevitable parts of our interactions. I consider it both normal in terms of the separation process, but also an understandable side effect of the pandemic. For us, I think puberty and the pandemic collided. The silver lining for you is that this didn't happen until your daughter was 16. But I know how hard it is to feel like you have lost that special relationship, and how hard it is to stay calm through the unkind words. I think you are correct that even without the pandemic, your daughter would likely be going through some kind of separation phase. I have talked with a lot of people who tell me to just be supportive and ride it out - that they do come back to themselves eventually. Good luck, and know that you are not alone.

RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

I asked my 16 year old daughter what she thought. We are pretty close but I don't think we'd say we're best friends - she has friends to be best friends with and her parents love her and vice versa. She said she's observed that kids, especially girls who are only children that she knows talk and think similarly. Having a sibling changes the dynamic when you have a co-conspirator to complain to your parents about LOL! Seriously though, I wouldn't worry too much - they do need to separate and maybe this is just her way - hang in there - by fall she should be back in school and she'll have more space to appreciate you! Good luck!

RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

From the other side -- I was just talking with a fellow parent (we met when our kids were in preschool) and we agreed that after age 22 our annoying, aggravating, misbehaving adolescents came around again and now are the decent, kind, responsible young adults we were hoping for after all the high school drama/trauma.  Hope this happens for you too!

RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

Hi there,

Yes, that's normal, no, the others are not all best friends with their mom.

I am in the same position.  Two teens who were already annoyed with me but it has increased 10 fold with being cooped up together.  What helps me is this study I heard about.  They looked at the activity in the part of the brain that gives you anxiety and agitation -- the amygdala -- in juvenile mice.  They found that baby and child mice got more anxious when they were separated from their mother, and their anxiety decreased when reunited with their mother.  This is clearly the case in most if not all mammals and makes evolutionary sense because it causes these vulnerable youngsters to cling and run to their mothers.  However, when the mice reached adolescence, they started having the opposite reaction -- they were MORE anxious when close to their mothers and LESS anxious when away from their mothers.  This also makes evolutionary sense:  it causes the mice to grow up and move away from their mothers and find their own way in the world. Well, it turns out humans have this experience too.  I don't know if anyone has studied the amygdalas of adolescent humans, but we CLEARLY see this in action.  Our teens feel the same agitation when close to their parents that makes them want to be away from us and instead with friends. Their brains actually cause this reaction to us and they know they'll feel better when they have distance from us.  This is obvious but the mice thing helps me get that we are all just mammals.

During the pandemic these kids cannot do what they are programmed to do (get distance from us), and it is raising their anxiety and irritation.  We are the usual target for expressing that.  I think my 17.5-year-old has reached his peak and is actually slightly less rude toward us.  I'm hoping that's the way we're heading.  It's bound to happen at some point....

Best of luck surviving this very long phase.

RE: Tell me this is normal? ()

Another parent from the other side... yes -- 22 was a definite turning point with my daughter. And believe me, she was a handful. Now, the person I had hoped was hiding in there somewhere has shown her face, and everything is so, so much better for us all. You will get through it, and it will be better. Have faith, and soldier forth.