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Michelle Renee Headshot

Teaching My Teenager to Be Her Own Champion

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My daughter is going through a lot right now. She just turned 18, her boyfriend and first love is leaving to go to college on the other side of the country and we just moved from the place we had spent nearly 6 years in.

As her mom, I want to be consistent in giving her more responsibility over this next year as she finishes high school. But what I have noticed about my daughter and me lately is that I am her biggest champion. There is nothing wrong with that and actually I believe it is my job to be right there beside her every step of the way being her biggest fan. But at what point do we know that it is time to step back and begin to teach them how to be their own biggest fan?

How do we begin to allow them and guide them into a place where they look in the mirror and become their own champion?

As a single mom her whole life, I get that overcompensating has been a part of my parenting and knowing it helped to keep me from going way to far overboard in that area. Still, I know I am guilty of it from time to time and at varying degrees.

But when I sat back the other day surrounded by boxes in the new place and watched my daughter walk up the stairs and say, "I'm going to watch a movie," my unpacking boxes alone while she watched a movie just didn't sit all that well with me. In fact, I began to go over the past several months in my mind. She hadn't done any work on her Algebra coarse she signed up for online. She didn't try out for cheer for the first time since she was 12. She waited until the very last second to print a school package that I had been reminding her to print for over two weeks. Now that it was crunch time and she needed it, the printer was packed and the cord was missing. Instead of going on a mission to set it up so she could print it, she grabbed her laptop and headed upstairs to watch a movie thinking I would be her champion as always, rescue her and get everything unpacked, set up, and ready for printing. Why would she think that? Because I was guilty of doing this time and time again. It was time for a shift. For her and for me.

In the healing process we often forget to be our own champion. Recovering from violence and abuse taught me that. We get used to relying on others to help us feel better, get better. But there is a point when we must begin to take action on our own behalf and ask ourselves: What can I do today to be my own champion of healing, hope, and empowerment? I sat on the couch thinking of that and how much that applied to raising my daughter. She had gotten so used to me helping her that she never learned how to be her own champion. I stopped her on the stairs and said, "Let's go out to the garage together and look for the cord." While out there, I began to have a conversation with her on the issues of her procrastination, used props in the garage to make a barrier between her and her goals she has for herself and had her visualize what she needed to do to get over, through, or around them to reach her goals. What she needed to do, the action steps she needed to take, to be her own champion.

It is a big step for us both. My being a single mom her entire life and now needing to shift my own way of thinking about my own life, new goals, is exciting and yet a bit scary. By teaching her to be her own champion I realized I need to be my own as well now that I am 45, single and now have an adult daughter.

My perspective shifted, it helped to begin my daughter's shift towards taking action on her own behalf and not being so mommy dependent all the time. This was clear this morning when she woke up, drove herself to school for the first time on business day and said, "Mom, I got this." The champion in her was shining right through those sea green eyes.