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Daughter Hates Fighting with Mom

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My mom and I are fighting. We were getting along so well and then we got in a huge fight about me not coming home. She says I am always out and I have responsibilities at home. She also says that I don't do a very good job of cleaning. Some of my friends and I are going to different schools soon, so I want to spend as much time as I can with them until then. I know I should try to understand the situation from her point of view (a single mom with two children) but I feel as if she isn't trying to understand my point of view. What can I do to try to solve this?

A: You seem to have a very good understanding of what's going on emotionally in both your life and your mom's. From what you wrote, she and you have had a good relationship and this recent fight was a rare occurrence. I think that the core of the disagreement and her frustration and anger might be that she has depended on you for a certain level of household help. Even though you are still helping/cleaning, you are not doing it as thoroughly or as often as before because of your spending so much time with your ninth-grade friends. I understand why you feel a need to spend a lot of time with them and down deep so does your mom. But she is probably feeling overburdened right now because she is doing more than she is used to or wants to in terms of household responsibilities.

My suggestion would be for you to tell your mom that you want to continue to help her out and that you would be willing to work out a schedule of household responsibilities with her. Keep the schedule posted where you can both see it. Don't agree to do things that you know you are not going to have time to do, given your social life. I think that she will respond positively to this effort and to your letting her know how appreciative you are of the things she does for the family.

If these are true friends, they will also understand your family circumstances and cut you a little slack every now and then to help out a little more at home. My guess is that you have been great at helping out your mom for a long time. You love her and she loves you. You are old enough and mature enough to let this fight pass and to apologize, if necessary for anything you may have said in anger that might have hurt your mom's feelings. You might want to ask her to remember what it was like when she was 15 and how she would feel if she were in your shoes with her friends in this situation. So if you can both put yourself in each other's shoes and think about how you love one another, then I am sure that you can come up with a solution that may not be perfect, but it will be OK. Thanks for writing and let me know how things work out.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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