Raising children is a constant dilemma between doing what you think is right as a parent and trying to raise, happy, care-free kids. But there are times when those two things don’t align and as a parent, a decision has to be made. Two weeks ago, my heart broke into a million little pieces as I heard my daughter voice these powerful words for the first time, “I hate you!”
I’ve always tried to be her best-friend, the cool mom who lets her get away with things that didn’t really matter just so we can maintain peace at home. As a mother, seeing my daughter happy is all I ever wanted, but there comes a time when it’s imperative to be the parent. Although I think I did the right thing, those three words are still ringing in my ear and making me question my motherhood.
I have a 14-year old daughter, who believes she’s a grown up already. It’s difficult to instruct her to do things a certain way as she’s her own person, already. She’s a pretty good kid; she helps out around the house, she’s respectful to both her father and I, she takes care of her little sister without us even having to ask and she even gets good grades. I’ve always felt I raised her to become a pretty decent person who will turn into a beautiful, strong, independent woman with strong values.
At the age of 14, Amal already has friends who smoke, do drugs, steal their parent’s cars from behind their backs, have boyfriends and have no parental supervision most of the times. Those are the things she tells me, so you can imagine how worried I get about the things I don’t even know. But, we had a special bond and she felt comfortable sharing things with me, unlike most teenagers.
During winter break, most of her school friends were travelling to celebrate New Year’s Eve in various parts of the world. The only people who were left behind from her class were four female friends and two male ones. This year, she wanted to celebrate with her friends. We told her she could not only have her female friends over, but also invite them to a slumber party. But, that wasn’t enough.
My daughter wanted to invite the two male friends who were also in Cairo, too. As a conservative Egyptian mother, I calmly explained that we couldn’t leave them alone at home with boys without any parental supervision as she knew our house rules. She was furious, trying to argue how unfair it was, how uptight we were.
We come from a pretty conservative family, but we try so hard not to become overprotective parents who confine their daughter. Amal goes to a well known international school and we’re constantly faced with the struggle of raising her with the strong values, beliefs and rules we have at home, but also letting her enjoy her life in the same way her friends do.
As I tried to calm her down and reason with her on how there are things that are 3eeb or 7aram and that she’d only understand when she grew up, her arguments of how her friend’s parents let them do whatever they want and how she ALWAYS feels like an outcast. I remembered how furious it made me as a child when my parents would use these stupid excuses and how much rage it caused me.
Seeing her crying hysterically because of how ‘unfair’ we were being and how ‘uptight’ and ‘closed-minded’ we were was a huge stab in the heart, but hearing her scream ‘I hate you’ as she stormed out of the room and slammed her door shut really shattered my heart. And now, I just don’t know anymore, am I really being a bad mother just because I want to protect her? Did I do the right thing? Will she hate me forever? Am I turning into my parents? Parenting feels like a daily struggle.