The inalienable right of the teenage girl to feel misunderstood.

Feeling misunderstood is an inalienable right of the teenaged girl.Adolescence may be far behind me (thankfully), but I have not forgotten it.

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.


25 thoughts on “The inalienable right of the teenage girl to feel misunderstood.

  1. Such a great reminder for me as a wife. My Hubs is the worst mind reader and I certainly need to stepup my communication efforts…for my own sanity and happiness. Poor guy, my expectations are so unrealistic sometimes when I expect him – to have a clue. lol

    • It’s no wonder we’re a mystery to them. We think we’re being so obvious, and they’re wondering why we don’t just say what we want in as few words as possible.

  2. Teenagerhood is all about the push and pull of testing independence – Get away from me I can do it myself!/Why aren’t you HERE when I need you?

    I’ve heard it’s even more challenging in mother-daughter relationships, you don’t tend to expect as much of the opposite sex parent, but who knows? Love this convo, and yes, men are not mind-readers.

  3. Bravo, I love this Ginger. My daughter is slightly older and sometimes she still tells me she hides her emotions because we don’t comfort her or understand. So thanks for that.

    • I’m figuring it will stop about the time she has children of her own, or at least it will stop the first time one of them pulls out the, “I hate you, Mommy!”

  4. I remember feeling and being misunderstood as a teenager. You sound like parents who take the time to listen to your daughter and it is really great to know that some parents still do that. Thanks for sharing this story.

  5. I wish someone had told me that about men when I was young. I probably wouldn’t have listened, but I might have. It is so much easier to just people what you are thinking or what you want. It saves time too.

  6. Love this line: “We have an annoying habit of encouraging teens to think.” You must be a really BADj parent to encourage thinking in your child 🙂 When my sons take offense to my ernest attempts at parenting, I simply tell them, “just wait until YOU are a parent.” Maybe they’ll remember that some day (?)

  7. Your responses to your daughter are great! It’s good that you just let her ramble on. Although teenage girls may not want advice, they always want to be listened to. You’re right that feeling misunderstood is lonely and isolating. I remember feeling that way as a teenager too.

  8. So true so true….it’s funny because a parenting book I like a lot says at that age to just listen, and not try to fix or offer suggestions. Sounds like you guys have figured that out for yourself. MEANWHILE was so not expecting that end, and let out a laugh a little too loud for Panera!

  9. I can’t say anything that isn’t annoying to my teenager, so I am going to shut my mouth and let her ramble. Very relatable post of me – loved it!

  10. Oh thank God. I feel much better after reading this. Thing 1 is only 10 and she’s already chronically misunderstood. I explained to her just the other day about how she might as well get used to not liking anything I have to say for about the next 30 years.

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