I am at first happy that this 15 year old girl has a father at home who cares. I am, on the other hand, somewhat concerned about the deeper issues of a cigarette-smoking, gun-toting dad who publicly embarrasses/shames his daughter allowing spectators to weigh in on his and her behavior.
I move from the perspective of, “all women marry their fathers.” Meaning, a girl will grow into a woman who marries who her father was or who she wanted him to be or she will seek the exact opposite of what he was – – rarely to find him. More often than not, a woman will attract and be attracted to the man who replicates the experiences she had with her father; the good and the not-so-much.
We create our experiences from our subconscious mind. At 15, a young woman is growing into her sense of identity. She is developing her voice. She is learning what is and is not expected of her. It is a delicate time when a father has the opportunity and responsibility to support his daughter in developing a sense of who she is and will be as a woman. More often than not, the teenage years are the time when young women lose themselves and their voice to boys, mean girls, unconscious sexual activity, drugs etc.
Far be it from any of us to judge what goes on in this household or, to say that it is good or bad or right or wrong. However, listening with an inner ear to what the daughter wrote, she needed to vent and probably believed in her 15 year old brain that Facebook was an appropriate venue. At 15 she is learning to ask for what she wants, to stand up for herself and to develop intimate communication with her peers and those in authority. She is learning to accept responsibility for the consequences of her actions and, to take calculated risks. At 15, mistakes must be reviewed and appropriate alternatives explored so that when she is faced with a similar decision, she has a bank of information to draw from.
It is not clear to me that the possibilities are available to this young woman. She did a wrong thing. She is being punished. The teachable moment is lost. This is a sign of the times. This is what our children have been allowed to do. This is what we do as adults when we do not have the courage, the language or the skills required to communicate in an intimate way when we experience an upset. The fruit is not falling too far from the tree.
I confess that most of what my children needed from me I learned long after they needed it. I confess that as a mother, I often experienced frustration and anger in response to my children’s constant complaining, bickering, whining and requests. I also confess that on many, many occasions I did not give them an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings. I shut them down. I dismissed their rantings. I ignored their outcries for my time, my patience, my indulgence and my dollars. I am now aware of how my behaviors, responses and reactions impacted them. I have witnessed how they carried their experiences of me and with me into their lives and dealings with authority figures. I confess that as a mother there were many, many days when I considered my children to be thankless, greedy brutes who only wanted me around if they wanted or needed something from me. I was outraged when they pointed out my shortcomings usually in response to what I did not/would not give them or allow them to do. I experienced deep hurt and indignation when they failed to recognize the time I spent, the energy it took and the sacrifices I made to ensure they had all of what they needed and most of what they wanted. I confess that on many days I did some things and said some things in response to what I felt were rude and disrespectful behaviors, laziness, ingratitude and, teenage insanity.
The difference is, I had no YouTube and they had no Facebook. Our differences were worked out within the confines of our home. We did not have thousands of people egging them on or encouraging me in the parent-child tug of war for power and control. I raised my children in a very different time, a time when my word was law and their behavior was a part of growing up.
I have watched this video several times today and each time my response is the same – – – sadness. I am sad that this young woman does not feel she can talk to a father who obviously loves her. I am sad that this father feels the hormonal rantings of his 15 year old daughter are a personal affront to him. I am sad that the young woman has a man in her life who believes that her mistakes must be addressed with shaming and violence. I am sad that this father may not have women in his life who can share with him authentically what a young woman really needs from her father. I am sad that this young woman has some pent up rage that is going unnoticed or is being misconstrued as defiance and disrespect. I am sad that this father has no idea of the role he plays in his daughter’s life and the space he occupies in her heart or how either of these will play out when she starts to date young men. I am sad that those of us who saw the video offered outrage or support or indignation rather than prayer. I am sad that this young woman does not see the blessing in having a father in her home and her life. I am sad that this father has reduced his love to calculations of dollars and cents. I am sad that our children are killing themselves with drugs and guns and risky behaviors. I am sad that we, as adults, parents and role models seem to be clueless about how we are teaching our children to do what they do. Herein my beloveds lies the problem and the lesson. Prayerfully we can all watch this video and identify our own lessons. I have seen many I shall take for myself.
Iyanla Vanzant is the best-selling author of five books on self-empowerment, personal growth and spiritual healing. As the founder and executive director of the Inner Visions Spiritual Life Maintenance Network, she conducts workshops, seminars and lectures nationally. Drawing from her own experiences of family dysfunction, abuse, and poverty, Iyanla encourages us all to look at ourselves, laugh at ourselves and then take the necessary steps to heal ourselves. Her practical message is based on the principles of universal law, self-determination and the power of Spirit. You can learn more about her work at www.innervisionsworldwide.com.
Iyanla has recently appeared several times during Oprah’s Lifeclass webcast segments. You can view the classes here: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/oprahs-lifeclass.html