Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Just Like Mom Not!

You love your mom, big-time. It's a huge, honkin' bummer, though, when she has one idea about how you oughta cruise around that big roller rink called life and you have another. When Mom makes decisions for you, tries to live through you or forces you to be her Mini-Me, you feel beyond icky — and that's natural!

Worried the situation is outta your control? Not so, sistah! There's tons you can do to make it better. When you and Mom don't see eye to eye, it's about using your smarts and strengths to help her understand and respect your wants and needs.


THE MAMA DRAMA Your mom never got the chance to go to college — so she's decided you've gotta get into Harvard. She watches your grades like a hawk (nothing but a straight-A flush makes her happy), is constantly on your back about advanced placement classes and double-checks your homework. You're so stressed you feel like a balloon about to pop.

YOUR STRATEGY First off, see it from her view. It must have really hurt her back in the day when her college dreams got dashed. No doubt, she wants you to have an amazing future. Still, you are under no obligation to live the life she wishes she had — you've got to live the life that's right for you.

The best move? Sit down with Mom, and let her know you see where she is coming from. Then, explain that her non-stop riding you about school is force-feeding you a giant stress sandwich. Let her know you need a breather — after all, you've got a little time before you need to think seriously about what you want to do about college. The key is to be totally upfront about what you want to do — or don't want to do. Honesty between you and your mom will definitely make you closer.


THE MAMA DRAMA Your mom was an amazing dancer when she was young but, hey, ballet isn't your bag. If you have to do one more pirouette, you're gonna scream. Still, Mom won't let you swap lessons for softball camp, which you're dying to play.

YOUR STRATEGY Know that your mom is probably pushin' the pink toe shoes on you because she wants you to experience something she really loves — and hopes you'll love just as much. It's like the first time you read a Harry Potter book. You just couldn't wait to tell your BFF she had to get a copy, right?

Still, it's not fair for your mom to expect you to groove on something just because she did. You might feel guilty that you don't dig dance like Mom wishes you would — after all, you don't want to disappoint her. But a huge part of growing up and becoming your own person is knowing your likes and dislikes — and not being afraid to do what you really love.

Explain to Mom that you love softball as much as she loves ballet. Ask her to think about how troubling it would have been if her 'rents hadn't let her dance and tried to make her do an activity she wasn't feelin'. If you present your case in a calm, so-not-freakin'-out-or-whining way, Mom will be impressed with how mature you are.


THE MAMA DRAMA Your mom tries to make all of your decisions for you — and we mean all of 'em. Did you pick out the pink dress you're wearing to Spring Fling? Nope, she did. Did you get to decide how to spend your stash of birthday cash? Nope, she popped it right into your savings account. Heck, she even tries to order for you in restaurants. And if you try to assert yourself, a huge fight happens. Ugh.

YOUR STRATEGY In your mom's mind, she's trying to spare you problems by calling all the shots. She doesn't want you to make a flub that'll cause you grief — major or minor. But the truth is, she isn't doing you any favors in the long run. You learn responsibility through missteps, and figuring out how not to rewind and repeat them.

Sit down with your mom in a totally stress-free spot (not at the mall while you're shopping or out to eat, please) and tell her that, although you appreciate her intentions, you feel controlled. Explain that you really trust your own judgment and remind her of a few choices you've aced recently (picking that tough algebra class and doing great in it, for example). Ask Mom for leeway in making certain decisions, like choosing your clothes for a test shot of, say, a month. Then, during that month, make sure your decisions make you truly look your best, feel positive and move forward in the world. Go in with that attitude, and you should have success in winning Mom's trust and feeling way more sure of yourself.


THE MAMA DRAMA Your mom wants you to look and act all sweet and neat 24/7. You know, like the kind of girl who dresses up just to walk the dog, never forgets to write a thank-you note to Grandma and has the world's tidiest room. You, on the other hand, are human (a little bit tomboy, a little bit forgetful, a little bit sloppy) and hate having to live up to her picture-perfect vision of who you should be. You simply can't be some teenage drone. Does she really want a Stepford daughter?

YOUR STRATEGY OK, being a clean, polite, considerate person is a lot different than being a prissy robot. Your moms master plan is probably just to make sure you're putting your best foot forward where other people are concerned, not to mold you into a plastic princess.

The solution? One word: compromise. First, let Mom know you understand that being kind, appropriate and responsible toward other people is absolutely right-on and that you'll be sure to act that way. In turn, ask her to ease up a little on the polished-image trip. It won't be tough to settle on some ground rules that cover both how Mom thinks you "should" appear to the world and who you really are. By meeting each other halfway, tension will be zapped, you'll feel much freer to be yourself — and, hey, you might find out that you actually like vacuuming your shag rug on a regular basis (you can actually see what color it is again).


THE MAMA DRAMA Your mom thinks only her opinion on any given sitch is the right one, and she wants you to make like a parrot and echo her every thought. If you put out another idea, she doesn't take you seriously. Exhibit A: She eats meat and wears leather, so when you told her you were considering going veggie, she interrupted you to say, "Of course, you're not doing that." You feel way dissed, like her views are valid and yours mean zippo.

YOUR STRATEGY Know right up front that Mom probably isn't out to upset you on purpose — she's likely just very set in her ways when it comes to what she thinks is right and what she's sure is wrong. After all, she's been sounding off about her thoughts for so long, she may have almost stopped hearing what other people think. So, in a big way, it should not be taken personally. Mom has probably also tried to raise you to believe the same stuff she does. So when you sound off with a different viewpoint, she may worry that your choices could hurt you in some way — maybe she frets over whether a vegetarian diet is healthy for a girl at your age.

Still, while all that's true, you have the right to say what you think just as much as she does. The trick is to do it in a way that Mom can really get behind. Here's your secret weapon: humor. Next time Mom gives one of your views a pass, laugh a little and say, "I just love it when you tell me I'm wrong, Mom!" Then take the opportunity to tell Mom you really think it's good to disagree about stuff sometimes — it's a great way to learn about each other, and maybe see a sitch in a fresh way. Mom's not always going to be wrong, and neither are you.

Ask her to make a pact with you: The next time you state an opinion that's different from hers, instead of dismissing what you say right off the bat, ask her to ask you why you feel the way you do. Then, you guys can have a real, significant convo about the issue. Make a habit out of this, and your communication in general will be so much stronger.

The bottom line is that it's all about give and take — respecting your mom's position, while respecting yourself at the same time. If you show your mom that you're willing to consider her points while still being your own person, you'll have achieved the perfect balance. The sweet outcome is that Mom will be incredibly proud to have such a cool, confident daughter.

By Lisa Mulcahy



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