The Heartbreaking Reason Why Family Meetings With Teenagers Are Never Easy

Family meetings with teenagers sometimes require tough talk.

The other day, we had another family meeting. It is morning. I say to the house, “We need to have a family meeting.” “Ok.” the house says. And the front door opens and the house empties out for the day. I get in the KIA to begin my day of driving all over town like I always do. Really, I wish to have this FAMILY MEETING now. But family life being what it is in this, the modern age, we will not reunite until this evening.

Family meetings with teenagers can be difficult depending on their attitude

So, all day long I get to think about the many family things on my mind that have been slipping, or changing or ignored. House rules, common courtesies, respect and dare I say, ATTITUDE. Living with a teenage daughter is tiring, reader. Especially one who is as strong willed as daughter is. One who has an EDGE, sometimes quite an unpleasant edge. Plus, I am tired. And daughter has been ramping up as of late. I do not know why seventeen thinks seventeen is an adult. Seventeen is SEVENTEEN. It does not matter that seventeen is ALMOST eighteen. EIGHTEEN is still EIGHTEEN.

So it is 8:30PM and I am arriving home from teaching the Monday nighters. Daughter and Philly have cooked up the taco night dinner. Including guacamole. The table is all set and ready for MEETING TIME. “Ok.” I say. “Who is going to start?” I say this because it is almost ALWAYS me. And THIS TIME, I do not wish to go first. Daughter begins. Her opening statement includes the words: First of all, (event) will NOT be happening.” Daughter is sitting in between Philly and I. I cannot even bring myself to look up, because I fear what may come out of my mouth in reaction to this, the seventeen-year-old DICTATORIAL statement. I wait for Philly to speak. Philly takes the reasonable content-based approach. “So you seem to be saying you do not want to do (event). Would you like to do (event) another way?” I try to sit still and just listen to this reasonable exchange on (event).

Family meetings with teenagers can have sad consequences

Finally, I cannot take it any longer. I say, “I really do not understand WHY you daughter, think it is OK to open a conversation with your family with this daughter dictatorship voice. This is not a conversation. This is a directive. May I remind you: You are a PART of this family. Further, YOU ARE SEVENTEEN.

And there it is. My problem with daughter through many years of daughtering is rarely content. It is almost always tone and manner. Delivery. Expectation. So it begins. Daughter and I go back and forth. She says things that hurt me and I hurt her right back. I, the mother, have almost always gotten the crap end of the stick with the nasty. I am now too old and tired to play nice. Many things are said. Things I am not proud of, reader. Inside, my mama heart breaks at our heated exchange. When she talks about moving out, or living on campus next year, I feel sad. I know this is not a solution. This is an escape. We wind the conversation down. I cry. Daughter cries. There is no big crescendo. I go to my room and I go to sleep.

At family meetings with teenagers, you realize how they won't always stay by your side.

Now I write this blog. I have had my cries in the car as I have been thinking about the recent changes in daughter. I realize once again I cannot save her from herself. I cannot even save her from myself. She is free to make her own choices. She will start college and she will sink or swim. She will make her lunch or she will go hungry.

In our Family Meeting all of these things are not easy to talk through: College, self-care, courtesy. But the really difficult part is I MISS my daughter. I miss her talking to me without an argument. Without defense. I know there is nothing I can do to change another person.

All I can do is let go reader.

Let go or be dragged.

What’s the toughest thing you had to deal with at a family meeting?

Darlene is a teacher-mother-designer-writer-doula who is recently transplanted to Philadelphia from Brooklyn. Her writings on mothering and growing up female emerged as a sanity-saving device and productive alternative to crying on the kitchen floor. She can be found at [email protected] or you can read the antidotal stories of insanity, reality and progress on her blog.

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