A quick three cheers, please, for beleaguered, under-appreciated, INCREDIBLE Working Moms: It’s no mean feat to juggle the clamouring needs of home, work and family with a desire to have independence and stimulation.. Then add a stroppy teenager, blaming you and your career for her problems into the mix and you’ve got what? A Mom at the end of her rope … often.
Q: ” I have two kids. They’re 18 and 17 now. Luckily, I’ve had a fairly well paid job for their lives and with their father who also works very hard and long hours, often away, have been able to pay for them to have a decent, not flashy, but definitely comfortable enough life.
There has been a cost to this though, it has meant that I have had to work hard, very hard for most of their lives. Why should I feel bad about it? Despite all of this my oldest daughter feels very hard done by. She brings up how hard it was for her to grow up with a working Mom, the whole time, sometimes, I think using it even to wield guilt. Her father, of course, gets off scot-free. No complaints about him. It’s all me. My fault. I “ was never there,” “never picked me up.”
There seems to be very little, only grudging, pride in me or my achievements and minimal gratitude. And to be honest I’m actually even a bit cross with her. I wonder how to balance her need to tell me how she does feel like she never matterred enough and felt abandoned and blames some of her issue on the fact that I was “never ( it’s always “ never”) there, with the feeling I have that at her age she should start to learn some gratitude and perspective.”
A: ” Print out pics of things you’ve done together, and display them, but don’t bring attention to it. Playing the blame game is detrimental to everyone concerned and a pattern that continues through life, perhaps get her to unravel her feelings with an experienced and neutral therapist.”
” She probably sees it hits home with you when she says this. Ie she is getting an effect. So work on your own feelings of worth and get clear that your choices were sound and good… after all this is YOUR life too. Plus think about saying some of what you wrote directly to her… mention her sexist double standards for one and give her some comparative examples of kids who have had far less… it probably won’t get much more understanding but at least it might shut her up.”
” Perhaps you should go for mediation/counseling at a FAMSA type centre. Let her ‘vomit’ out all her grievances. I am sure once that rant has happened it’ll be smooth sailing.”
” Gratitude for all you have done doesn’t come naturally unless it is taught from a young age. If you have always provided a certain lifestyle then that is all she knows and she’ll only gain perspective on it once she has to work to provide the same for her family as she’ll then realize the hard work and sacrifices made. She is seeking attention and justification. Why don’t you ask her to sit down and write all these feelings down so that you can go over them and respond and put things into perspective. Remember her feelings are valid and justified in her mind as that is how she experienced it, so try not to feel hurt by it but put things into perspective for her using memories and photos where you can. It’s not a justification of your decisions, but rather to help her see the bigger picture beyond herself.
From my own life I can easily say my parents weren’t interested in my education because they always paid more attention to my siblings. On sports days both my parents would be at the rugby field cheering my brother on, and neither of them would be at the netball field to offer support to me. The list goes on. The thing is that my brother NEEDED them, and I would have appreciated them. So they went where the need was. It has taken a very long time to come to terms with these things and understand why it happened the way it did. My resentment hasn’t disappeared though, it has shifted from my parents to my siblings for always “hogging” my parents, but I’m mature enough now to not make a scene about it.”
” Unfortunately the gratitude will only come when she is “adulting” by having to pay her own bills. So until that happens you need to explain why u had to work and get some mediator in to talk to both of u in a way that you can reach an understanding through seeing it from each others perspective.”
” It’s obvious that she has feelings of some sort that she is struggling with. She might not be expressing them in a healthy way or even attributing what she feels to the right cause. However it is important to understand that she is trying to say “help”. Perhaps it’s best to take her aside and invest time in her when you can. This child has a “quality time” love language and is most probably very different from you in temperament. Gratitude will come when she matures but for now, at her age she only knows how to say please love me, in a self centered manner.”
” I’m taking a flying leap here, and I suspect this is more about projecting and acting out rather than the actual things she raises. If she’s had a tough time, she may not have had opportunities to process or work through, and her unconscious dissatisfaction and feelings of unresolved issues are bubbling through in other ways.
To me this sounds very much like a need for a therapeutic space, mostly for her, so that she has an opportunity to vent, act out and then work through that onto a path of resolution, and develop a toolkit which can help her with these things in the future.
In this situation who have two reactive people… she’s acting out her own vulnerabilities and issues – towards you – and you in turn will act on your own sense of hurt and injustice. The fact that you were the more present and involved parent does often mean that we make ourselves the biggest and safest target for our kids to project their issues onto.
If you do decide on therapy for her, raise the topic with love and tenderness, not as something “wrong” with her that needs to be “fixed.” Therapy can be such a huge gift to us when we have things to offload and say but don’t know how to do it, or what to do with our overwhelming feelings of anger, abandonment and resentment. And if we can’t direct those feelings healthily, they get directed inwards, into the soft underbelly of our homes and often the people we love the most.
You don’t have to make excuses, or be be defensive, or even prove the times when you were fabulous or everything youve done. You can say there were challenges which you may not appreciate or understand right now, but I have always, always done my absolute best, and I hope that in time you can understand that.
Don’t get drawn in. It’s a vicious and destructive cycle, and if she’s unable to hear you because of her own issues, there’s no point anyway.”
” She won’t be able to move past this until she feels that her feelings have been heard and validated, even if her perceptions feel wrong to you. If you can, let her talk, ask her questions, draw out her feelings and empathize. The conversation that results could lead to interesting places and her hurt might not even be with you.”
” My mom worked very hard my entire school career. I was at home with a nanny and never had my mom at school events. I also felt resentment. I am now a stay-at-home (in fact I call myself a career mom). I have been so over involved in my kids schooling. At every.single.event, every meeting, every outing, EVERYTHING. You know what my snot-rag grade 7 tells me? Omg mom, why are you ALWAYS at my school? It’s so embarrassing.
Moral of the story, kids can be self centred asshats no matter what you sacrifice for them. So you do you Mom! Do what makes you happy. She’ll survive.
P.S I have obviously gotten over my feelings of “abandonment” by my mother. She was doing what she had to do, and I get it now.”
” I’m a single working mom and a high school teacher. I’d say the single biggest gift I can give my child is to show her I am truly authentically happy, that such a state exists and is achievable. It’s really hard as life is unfortunately mostly tough but they see the truth and if you can’t show real happiness then what’s it all about. If a career makes you happy then it’s important. I guess it’s a bit about instant gratification (fetch me from school now) vs long term real happiness and a life well lived. I also run an NPO which takes sacrifices but the joy and satisfaction make me intensely happy and I figure that’s a good thing to model.”
” It is wonderful that your daughter is self assured enough to let you know that something important is bothering her. Her ability to vocalize her feelings is a huge asset. However, in order for this to be a constructive chat and not a destructive one, you might consider bringing in a mediator. She needs to be heard – yes. Definitely. But so do you. A good mediator will facilitate a calm and supportive discussion around this issue that allows both you and your daughter to fully express your feelings. No raised voices. No butting heads. The added bonus of this conjoint would be, that you will both walk out of the room with authentic feelings of empathy for one another having really heard each other’s truths. It’s a great place to start building from.”
” As the daughter of a mother who worked full time, I honor and respect your dedication to providing. As a mom, who for the most part has been self employed, and had flexibility, I think I did way too much for my kids. I grew up fiercely independent, and I’m grateful for it. One day she will be, too.
Remember about our sometimes less than grateful sprogs, they need to blame us for stuff they don’t like in their lives, because it’s easier than taking responsibility for their own shortcomings.
When my kids accused me of being a crappy mom, which still happens, though for less often, my response has always been, ” When you get there, you will be so much better at it, because you’ve learnt so much about how NOT to parent, from me!””
” Sometimes (actually quite often) when I read posts here about our ungrateful, entitled, self-absorbed offspring, I have a moment of shamed recognition of the person I was at 18. And an itch to pick up my phone and call my mom to apologize…Good luck to this mom, well done on setting an invaluable example of a work ethic to your daughter, and may she recognize sooner rather than later that you did it all for her. I don’t know whether telling her that will help right now, but I hope she gets there eventually, and that perhaps the realities of adulthood will bring with them a fresh perspective on her part. I’m certainly counting on it for my own kids!”
” This seems the age that the maternal guilt sets it. I gave up working to look after my kids full time. I have done so much above and beyond for them. Teens are just ungrateful as my one child said to me that it was my choice not to work! Its seems that they always want the opposite of what we give! Do what you do best: just be their mom!! Whether it’s full time or while working full time.”
” Use the opportunity to talk to her about the importance of being a financially independent woman and how tough it has been for you to get the balance right. My mom, who always worked, used talk about important it was not to have to rely on anyone else financially. Although i am certainly not the primary breadwinner in our family I have the potential stand on my own 2 feet and could take on something bigger and more lucrative if i needed to, but that comes from having a consistent and stable career. Its the 21st century. Life is expensive. When kids understand the value of money, by working themselves and being forced to buy themselves the luxuries they want, they begin to appreciate parental contributions all round!”
” Don’t take it personally. Teenagers know exactly which buttons to push. She’s got yours! Take comfort in the knowledge that your choices were made to support your family. She needs to work out her own feelings. Treat her with love and compassion… She’s hurting… But believe in yourself. This too will pass.”
” Sadly, its far easier to blame and be annoyed at “mom” for anything and everything!! I too was a working mom for my son’s whole school career and also ran around like a chicken without a head, fetching and carrying when I could – I hated not being there but no choice. When your daughter is older she will understand why you had to work. I realise that doesnt help right now but maybe just tell her “I am sorry you feel that way, because I actually chose to work for YOU” and leave it at that.”
” Its soo tough nowadays…kids and living is expensive…you stay home for kids, u give them all of your time..(potentially end up brain dead from lack of stimulation and battle financially)…..or you work and then they feel neglected ….men never suffer from this guilt and balancing act women do…hopefully one day our kids realise the sacrifices moms make for them on a daily basis. What happens when they leave home…they are with us for a short while and then they move on…we need to make sure as moms we still have a life when they go forward.”
” One day (when she is a mom) she will learn first hand about the sacrifices you made to be a great mom. Until then her comments will hurt and it will be hard to ignore that, but just know she will learn soon enough.”
” I have had no choice but to work full time. I have had slightly more flexibility to watch sports events etc. With my younger daughter who is now 13. There have been ups and downs and the torn between two worlds feeling is constant. My kids mean everything to me and somehow I have managed to remain involved in their lives however many occasions in school holidays etc I have had to make arrangements for them as I had to work. That is the hardest as I long to spend that time with them. Because I have not had a choice I have tried to be positive about it. My brain is always stimulated, probably over stimulated, I am independent, I have broadened my horizons and have brought up my two girls with as much love as possible I.e.quality time. My 19 year old daughter is insistent on getting a qualification and being independent and I like to think that somehow her seeing me work hard has had some influence. I try not to drop the ball when the kids need me. In saying all that its tough and I wish for her the choice and flexibility in her future. Your daughter will understand how hard it must have been for you.”