My morning TD with some background…
We are a family with teenagers and all sheltering in place. Our house has been under construction since before the pandemic began.
My oldest daughter, a senior in high school, is the most challenging one for us to parent. Luckily I’ve been in scholars for a while and have changed my approach and my actions to create more harmony. My husband doesn’t have that benefit.
Example of recent event – we ordered in dinner last night. At 6pm when we ordered, she said she wasn’t hungry and didn’t want anything.
At 7pm before I was in the dining room, I heard her say to her dad “what do you mean I can’t have any?” And he said “you said you weren’t hungry and didn’t want to eat.”
(backstory is she eats way too much and is very out of shape, and is “too big” of a personality for him – loud, focused on herself first etc. She’s also a very social kid, and as a senior she’s very much missing the second half of her year, her sports season, her friends etc She is definitely buffering with food, social media and shows)
She storms out of the room. I come in and try to neutralize the situation and tell her of course she is welcome to join us, but just realize we only ordered for 4, but we’d love to have you and please help yourself. Just be mindful of sharing. Next time try to think ahead even if you aren’t hungry when we are ordering ” to which she says she doesn’t want to join us because he’s being mean. After a bit of me “making excuses” for my husband – saying things like “he just didn’t expect you to join us because you said you weren’t” (but in my mind my heart is breaking that he is speaking to her with a tone and making her feel unwelcome. Knowing this and all the other comments he’s made affect her.)
This pattern is repeated daily in different forms. I’m trying to cut my husband some slack – it’s difficult to be in a small house under construction during a pandemic. Having more together time with her, when they have such different personalities has been challenging for him. I’m empathetic to his feelings. I know he is often disappointed in her. But I’m upset when he talks with her in a negative way on a daily basis.
Note, I am not a people pleaser in general. So I’m not just taking actions to keep the peace. I care about both of their well-beings. I’m very empathetic to her and all of her classmates across the country. They’ve been dealt a tough hand. My reaction during this time has been to be creative, resourceful, challenge myself, to come out of this a stronger person etc. I know I can’t expect everyone to respond that way.
As a student for a while, I know for sure I can only control my own actions (a fact repeated to my kids frequently), but that doesn’t preclude me from wanting to help my whole family when people aren’t acting kindly.
How can I respond in the moment when he says these things to her?
I model ways to respond to her actions, but he doesn’t seem to be affected by them. What can I say to him to help him see that he can treat her with more kindness and empathy?
How can I share the concepts of buffering with my daughter to educate her so perhaps she’ll realize what she is doing?
I know I can’t “change” others. I get that. But I also want to do what I can to help improve the situation.