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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Invisible no more ...

Posted October 12, 2014

If you are the parent of teenagers or adolescent children, there’s a good chance that at times you feel invisible.

My now high schooler never needed my help with homework in middle school.

“Need any help?” I would duck my head in her bedroom on occasion and ask even though I already knew the answer.

“Nope. I’m good. Thanks,” she replied without even looking up from her computer.

A fiercely independent child, I didn’t expect her to really need me. Her younger sister had asked for help with homework here and there, but that too waned as middle school approached for her.

Frankly, I hardly recalled a time when I was growing up that I asked my parents for help as they always seemed too busy, too tired or too pre-occupied with the business of running a family to worry about complicated algebra equations or quizzing me on my French words.

Still, it’s nice to be needed. So, when both of my daughters recently started asking me to weigh in on some of their assignments, especially ones that involved writing, I was secretly very pleased.

“Why don’t you try wording it like this?” I said to my daughter after reading over a paragraph she had written. “I like what you’re trying to say, but I think if you switched the order of those two ideas it would make more sense.”

She took to the keyboard and re-worked the sentence and then turned the computer screen back in my direction for me to review her work.

“Yes, exactly. That’s a lot better,” I smiled. “Now let me quiz you for that test,” I said picking up a stack of index cards with phrases and definitions she had carefully crafted.

It’s as if in the midst of the teenage shutout and the adolescence angst where mothers don’t know anything and can’t do anything right, there is this one area where they have found some value in me. Like a spy in enemy territory, I tread lightly, afraid that at any moment they will learn that I am not as smart as they think I am and the jig will be up.

The other day, my older daughter actually gave me a rare compliment after I assisted her with a project.

“Mom, you’re actually a pretty good writer,” she said oblivious to the irony of her remark.

“Thanks, sweetie,” I replied with sincere appreciation. She sees me, she sees me, I silently cheered.

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.

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  • RGMTRocks Oct 13, 2014

    I love this article! I live it every day. My Senior daughter does usually ask me to review some of her writings but that's it. Last night, she finally asked me to review her college application essays. I was pleased that they were indeed excellent and I only had a few minor suggestions to make. She liked those and said they actually made the essays much better. Yes, I felt 'seen' and valued and that's big for a mom of a smart, independent teenager! Now for those college admissions reps to see them the way I did and send her those acceptance letters! Fingers crossed. Senior year is so busy and STRESSFUL - but trying to enjoy it all as best as I can and help her to do the same. Life will change drastically all too soon and she's my baby, the last one.

  • JAT Oct 13, 2014

    Oh yes, kids don't think parents ever went to school, doesn't matter if you went to prestigious college or was valedictorian of your high school. It means nothing! But everyone once in a while you get a glimpse of "wow, mom really knows her stuff" and you feel appreciated momentarily. Even, if you have to work a problem backwards to get to the answer and then teach it in the common core way.

  • Cindy Rose Oct 13, 2014
    user avatar

    I know how you feel...momentary blips on their radar. Sorry to tell you, it only gets worse. Then comes the empty nest...

  • Amomoftwo Oct 13, 2014

    I just had to laugh when I read this post today! As the author of many books, a fabulous reporter well-respected on her field....I love that the highest compliment came from your daughter that you are a "pretty good writer".....we are invisible in our children's lives!