That’s why I let my daughter feel misunderstood.
Feeling misunderstood is not at all the same as being misunderstood. Being misunderstood is a lonely, sad feeling.
Feeling misunderstood is an inalienable right of all teenaged girls.
Perhaps it makes them feel mysterious, beyond the comprehension of mere mortals, i.e. parents. Perhaps it is hormonal. Perhaps it is due to underdeveloped brains or the emerging sense of identity.
Whatever the reason, I accept the Right to Feel Misunderstood as something absolutely necessary in small doses for the development of the female adolescent.
So I listened to my poor, misunderstood daughter tell me the other day how she never tells us her problems because we, “Do not comfort her.”
My husband, never having been a teenaged girl, finds this troubling and worth discussing, but I just listen, because we are obviously having a Misunderstand Me Moment, and I don’t want to ruin it.
She continues to say that she hides her emotions from us because of our lack of understanding and comforting.
Her dad cannot resist asking what she means by comforting.
“Making me feel better. Not asking me questions and trying to get me to think about things and solve my own problems. That is NOT comforting. That is ANNOYING.”
She’s right. We have an annoying habit of encouraging teens to think.
I listen to her detail a few other ways in which we do not understand her or her needs.
She seems to perk up the longer she talks. There is, apparently, joy in being misunderstood.
We let her ramble on about our poor comforting skills, annoying questions, needless “watching” over her, and ridiculously high expectations of honesty.
Then, she seems to forget that the whole dialogue is about Being Misunderstood, and she proclaims, “My friends can’t really tell what I’m feeling. Mom reads me like an open book.”
My husband, who really loves teachable moments, tells her that this is because I love her, blah, blah, blah, and I care, blah, blah, blah, and..
“Then why can’t you read me, Dad? You love me.”
I can’t resist, and blurt out, “Because men are not mind readers! No man you will ever meet will be able to read your mind. No matter how much they love you. Just let go of that idea now, and you’ll save yourself and your husband a lot of trouble! If you want a man to know what you’re thinking or feeling, you just have to tell him. Sometimes more than once. They can be slow.”
She laughs. We all do, but I hope she remembers it, too, because Feeling Misunderstood is less appealing in the adult female.