My Daughter Pushed Me Away, When She Needed Me Most

Now that it’s the season to wear shorts my daughter has been looking so cute wearing her little biker shorts with oversized T-shirts. It reminds me of how I used to dress as a teenager in the early ‘90s.

She’s started driving now and always runs to get in the driver’s seat first whenever we go anywhere.

A few days ago she was talking about a conversation she had with her cousin and I saw a light in her eyes and heard a spark in her voice that had been missing for a really long time.

I asked her about the shorts– they had skeletons all over them– they were something she had bought with the money she’d earned from her new job and reminded me they’d come in her big SHEIN package the night before.

sad teen girl
Even if your teens push you away, keep showing up for them. (Twenty20 @OlgaPink)

My teen daughter has scars from cutting herself

Just below the hem of her shorts are several, maybe even one-hundred, tiny white lines going down her right thigh. They are scars from last fall when she started cutting herself. There are more lines going down the top of her right arm. And some on her side.

It’s hard for me to look at those, of course. It makes me feel like I failed her in some way. Maybe if I’d caught it sooner, maybe if I tried harder, maybe if I didn’t work so much, she never would have spent so much time alone in her room cutting herself with a razor to try and numb the pain she was feeling inside.

When I found out what she was doing, she tried to tell me they were cat scratches. Then, she told me it made her feel better but she’d stop.

My daughter and her friend were cutting together


I could have left things alone then. She was incredibly mad at me and barely talked to me for months. She didn’t appreciate the fact that we combed through her room together and got rid of anything sharp. She was furious with me when I called her best friend’s mom to tell her what was going on. I had a deep suspicion they were doing this together on FaceTime chats. I was right.

She pushed me away so hard there were times I had no idea if I would ever be able to reach her again. I insisted on therapy and she wanted no part of it. I hugged her several times a day even though those hugs weren’t returned.

I asked her about her feelings in the morning even though I never got answers. I spent time with her when she didn’t want me by going into her room and sitting on the edge of her bed watching a show with her. I sent her several texts a day which went unanswered and I watched her in a way she could tell I was watching her.

It took a really long time, but she stopped pushing. Then, it wasn’t long after that when I was downstairs watching television and she sent me a text asking me to come up and sit with her in her room.

I hung in there until she stopped pushing me away

She cried really hard and told me something was wrong but she didn’t know what it was. I told her she didn’t have to have a reason to be sad and we would feel it together.

That was a turning point for us. My daughter likes me again. She wants to spend time with me again. She is back to the way she was before life got a hold of her and made her want to do things like push people away and cut herself.

If your kids push you away, I know how frustrating and maddening it is. I know you feel helpless and there are times you want to give up because you have no idea what to try next. As a mom to three teens, I’m telling you to just keep showing up for them. Simply show up with huge compassion and interest in their lives, even when they try to convince you to leave them alone.

If they shut the door, keep coming back. If they don’t hug you back, keep your arms around them. If they don’t answer you, keep talking.

It’s not easy but it’s worth it.

The author of this post wished to remain anonymous.

More Great Reading:

The Pressure To On Teens To Achieve Is Real: Here’s How Parents Can Help

10 Summer Activities For Your Teens To Keep Them Healthy And Engaged


About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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