Before I even met Tabatha, I had already talked with her mom on the phone for over an hour.
Margy, Tabatha’s mom, had called me because she was concerned about her 15-year-old. Margy and Tabatha’s dad had recently gotten divorced.
Although it was an amicable spilt, Margy confessed that she was still concerned that her only child was having a rough time.
On the phone Margy presented as concerned and caring. She was clearly invested in the well being of her daughter for whom she wanted only the best.
Tabatha and I quickly made a connection. An enthusiastic, insightful, and intelligent young lady, she seemed self-assured and confident; not the type of girl I was expecting after having talked with her mother.
Margy had described her daughter as having become irritable and judgmental, sullen and sad since the divorce.
When I asked Tabatha about her relationship with her mother, she related that they had always been very close.
She then suddenly stopped talking. She looked down and when she looked up again her face was red with embarrassment. Her body language suggested she felt shame (slumped shoulders, hung head, averted gaze).
She then blurted out in a loud voice and rapid pace, “Since the divorce, my mother has become a cougar and it makes me feel disgusted and ashamed of her!”
I must admit, I was caught quite off guard by this. It was hard to believe the anxious, concerned mom I had spoken to on the phone was capable of this.
I put my own preconceptions of what Tabatha meant aside and encouraged her to tell me what she was trying to say.
Her tale of concern and woe was quite touching. The thumbnail version: her mother regularly dated very young men.
According to Tabatha, anyone over 30 held no interest for her mother. She believed her mother made these connections over the Internet.
She was not only embarrassed by this, but also quite concerned.
Although she had expressed her concern to her mother her mom had simply scoffed and told her not to worry, as an adult she was well-equipped to handle the situation.
As if to add insult to injury, Tabatha also related that her mother was constantly flirting with her male friends. One of her friends even told Tabatha he felt like her mom was “checking him out.”
I would be remiss if I did not clarify that this situation was indeed a unique one at least for me.
It did, however, get me thinking. It is not uncommon for teens in general to be embarrassed by the things their parents do and say.
Some days you may feel like your teen is more concerned with what you’re wearing than her own attire.
It may feel like your teen is constantly monitoring and at times judging you. It is as if he views you as a reflection of him... instead of him being a reflection of you the way you thought it was supposed to work with your offspring.
When single parents date, their teens can be particularly sensitive. Your teen wants the best for you just as you want for her.
You are certainly entitled to a social life. As an adult you are free to make your own choices. It is important to recognize, however, that what you do and how you go about it can have a great impact on your children, especially if they are teens.
Be sensitive to their concerns. It is important to use your perspective taking skills to see the situation from their point of view. Here are the questions you should ask yourself:
If this were my mom or dad would I be embarrassed or ashamed?
Would I be worried or have safety concerns about the situation?
Would I even want to know?
As a parent you take your responsibility to protect your child seriously.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have a life, it just means you need to consider how your behavior may impact hers.
More from GalTime.com:
- The Link Between Sexting and Sex: What Parents Should Know
- The Show You Might Want to Watch with Your Teen
- 5 Ways to Deal with Your Child's Social Media Addiction
- Your Teen's First Heartbreak: How to Heal the Hurt
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Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual." They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.