Monday, February 14, 2005

Teenage Influences

As you can tell by the title, I'm the mom of a teen. She's a great kid (and I'm not at all prejudiced, right?) Seriously, though, she's a good student, has a sense of style I envy, and is full of compassion for others.

A couple of my friends have shared their struggles with their daughters. The biggest struggle so far has been grades. (Yes, I realize we're a lucky group.) In all cases the teens are bright but don't turn in their homework. Funny thing, teachers tend not to give students good grades when they don't do the work.

My friends see how well my daughter does and ask for advice. What can I tell them?

Much as I like to think I have influenced my daughter, the reality is that I'm just lucky. My daughter is highly motivated to get good grades. Once she got a C on a test and she was just miserable. I've had to talk to her about accepting what she gets as long as she does her best. She understands what I'm saying, but I'm pretty certain that her next C will make her feel just as badly as her first one did.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately because she has undergone a major attitude shift. It's a shift for the good. She has always been a loving, caring person and she expects the same of others. This tender-hearted thinking has caused her a lot of pain from bullies and other classmates.

This year she has met some truly nasty kids. The worst that has happened to her is that a boy in her class pretended he was going to kick her in the face. He was on a table and she was sitting in a chair when he called her name. As she looked up, he swung his foot out towards her face. He barely missed her. He then said he should've done it, but didn't because he'd get in trouble. He then proceeded to call her names that would've made her feel awful a year ago.

Later that evening my daughter shared the story with me. I was pretty shook up. I kept imagining what would've happened if he had misjudged and actually kicked her. It didn't bother her at all. None of the bullying this year has bothered her. Her attitude was basically along the lines of "What a jerk!"

Through the years we have talked about bullies and how to handle them. We have talked about how bad she feels when people make fun of her for any reason. I've tried to teach her to consider the source when she's insulted. In other words, the people who are nasty to her aren't worth feeling badly about.

For some reason she has finally internalized those lessons. I asked her why she's so much stronger this year. Maybe I was even patting myself on the back a bit as I wondered what I'd said that finally hit home with her.

It turns out that I didn't to anything. Avril Lavigne gets the credit. My daughter has been listening to Avril a lot and taking in the things her music says. (I've written a weblog about her, including information about her various songs, at Needless to say, I'm now a pretty big fan of Avril Lavigne.

I'm glad my daughter has chosen to listen to songs that help her become stronger. I'm grateful to Avril for singing songs that tell girls to be strong and to be themselves, and to sing them in such a way that teenagers will listen. I feel lucky beyond belief that my daughter chose this influence instead of getting into the darker music that's out there.

My only concern is that if the luck runs out, I'm not sure what I'll do. I can only hope that the close relationship my daughter and I still share will continue. I will hope that if the time comes that she really needs my influence, I will say and/or do the right things.

In the meantime, I'm humbled. I've also learned that what my husband says is true: if I had the choice between skill and luck, I'll always take luck.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're a really good writter. Keep up the good work.