The door slams for the final time...
Arguing with a teenage girl is never a pretty sight. You both have said things that were hurtful and you really did mean (although some of it you really did, you just didn’t present it well) and in a fit of frustration she made her decision and she is now gone.
Chances are there has been continuous arguing for an extended period of time, teenage girls typically don’t just move out of their home when everything is quiet and fine. There has been a mountain of stress for every member of the family and it would even be natural for there to be a momentary sense of relief when a quiet calm settles over the house.
Despite the calm you are a parent and you love your child and you want what is best for her. The most common argument that drives teenage daughters out of the house is arguing about a boyfriend that you absolutely can not tolerate but she is madly in love with and has been happily chatting about marriage and babies. You’ve watched her grades slip and her interests wane because she thinks she has found the one for her at the ripe old age of sixteen.
It does happen. Sometimes people find their one true love in their teens. I have a cousin who has been with her husband since they were thirteen. They are now approaching thirty with a happy marriage and three kids. Most of the time, however, she is simply experiencing strong emotions that she didn’t really think were out there and she wants to absorb every moment she can with this individual. While he may make your stomach turn or you’re sure that he is a bad influence or you’re worried that she has become sexually active, attacking him will lead to the inevitable.
If you make something forbidden your children will crave it more. Sometimes the fact that it upsets you so much will actually extend the relationship beyond its normal lifespan. She doesn’t want to have to admit that she was wrong about this guy, and the fact that she got you so worked up was actually an unexpected bonus somehow. Teenage angst can take over perfectly good kids and turn them into these little manipulative beings that you swear can shoot fire from their eyes.
Despite the legitimacy of your feelings, the one thing that she is absolutely right about is that who she chooses to give her love to is really her choice and not yours. While it is acceptable and responsible for an adult to set limitations on their child’s behavior, it really isn’t right to dictate who she can feel emotions for. This may not be the last individual that she brings home that you will not be pleased with, but that is her choice. Respecting her also means respecting her partner.
The second most common argument that drives teenagers out of the home is sexuality. Teenage girls typically don’t come out of the closet when they realize they are gay, they usually need more motivation than that, and that usually involves a girl that she is in love with and all she really wants is for you to understand that whatever feelings you may have about her sexuality you still love her.
You don’t have to agree, but you should realize that it is not a choice for her. She’s not doing this to anger you or to be different. Ask one hundred gay women if they choose the lifestyle and you will receive one hundred answers that will back up the notion that homosexuality is not a choice. Ask one thousand and the answer will be the same. How much easier would their lives be if the gay community could just be straight? Your daughter is going through Hell and your reaction can either welcome her home or drive her away. Unconditional love doesn’t mean agreeing with everything they do, but letting them know that you disagree but love them just the same.
The third most common argument is about basic freedom. Children who were forced to grow up too fast or have been dealing with a step parent that barely tolerates them or a child who feels they have lost the ability to be themselves are likely to leave the house much earlier than those who feel like a valuable member of the family.
It is not easy to pull a young woman back from wherever she is running to when she feels ostracized in her own home. Wherever the feelings are coming from, to her they are legitimate and she would rather have resolution than to feel she needs to leave. Highly dysfunctional families are prone to teenage girls that take off. The good news is that she really wants to come home, she just doesn’t know how to express her needs.
Regardless of why she left, the bottom line is that she is your daughter, she is too young to be out there on her own, and you love her. Whatever the issues are, there are resolutions, and even if you need to seek professional help in finding those resolutions, it really needs to be done. If you let her go the effects will be long reaching and though it was her choice to begin with, she will resent forever that you didn’t care enough to get her back and make her see that her reaction didn’t solve anything and that she only complicated the problem. Her life will be more difficult without a place to call home, and you will lose out on so much by not stepping up and helping her find a better way to deal with the issues that are facing the family.
Teenage girls are a complicated species all on their own. I was one once and I know how complicated things can become. What you really want is the same thing she really wants, an effective way to communicate your needs and have your feelings taken into consideration. In the end, that’s all she wants as well. Considering that everyone is really looking for the same things, it is reasonable to believe that there is a solution out there that everyone can happily live with.