I am writing this on March 1st, 2022. In just two days my daughter Ella will be turning 13. It is a very exciting week over here in my house. Saturday will be Ella’s Bat Mitzvah. Ella is so excited, and it is warming my mama heart. Ella, I know you are going to read this blog, and I want you to know how very proud I am of you.

Ella has been studying for her Bat Mitzvah for months. Every day I hear her practicing for the big day. When Ella saw her big brother Max getting ready for his Bar Mitzvah, she wondered how she was going to be able to do it. She doubted herself. As proud I am of her, what is even more special is that she is proud of herself. She sees that determination and hard work pays off. She sees that she can do anything that she sets her mind on. When your children accomplish hard things that is where their confidence is built.

When Ella was feeling really stressed about her Bat Mitzvah, I asked her if she even wanted to do it. Seeing Ella so stressed out about it wasn’t worth it to me. I know that I can be too easy on my children. I can hear my husband saying, “She will practice every day and she will be fine. She’s doing it.” He’s the stricter one and they need both of us.

Ella told me that she wanted to do her Bat Mitzvah. She told me that it was very important to her to carry on this tradition. I wanted to check in with her. If she was finding it to be too stressful then there were a few things that we could have done to help her. I think it’s important to check in on our children.

I parent my children very differently. Do you try to be the same parent for all your children, or do you think they need different things from you? I would say that my three kids are very different people, and they need different things from me. I told my husband Seth that I just wanted to be my authentic self with my kids and that I was frustrated. He told me that it is me being different versions of myself. That line was so helpful to me that I wanted to share it with all of you. I think our kids need different versions of us.

I listen to a lot of podcasts to help me with my parenting and to help me with my work. I hear therapists tell us that when parenting teenagers, we need to remain completely nonreactive. What that means is that they want us to be calm and cool when we talk to them. Any sort of reaction can turn them off. Anger can definitely turn them off but so can my passionate excitement. As a very emotional person, I have to keep myself in check. Did you know that parenting would give you a degree in acting? I had no clue. This totally applies to my daughter Ella. She loves that her father can be so even in his temperament. She loves that he calms her down. She needs us to be a steady force for her. I want to give her what she needs, so I work on this for her. She is great motivation to keep becoming a better version of myself. She is such a sweet and wonderful person and I want to give her what she needs because I think she deserves that.

Ella is a very good student who gets very good grades. That is important to me, and I am glad that she is so smart and hardworking and gets such good grades. However, there are other things that are much more important to me than her grades. Ella finds school to be very stressful and it upsets me on a daily basis. It is easy to send your kids to school when they love school. When Lillie dances to school to see her amazing teacher my heart smiles. When Ella tells me that she really doesn’t want to go to school today it makes me so sad. I wanted to drive by her school and take her home with me today. I am happy she is excelling in school grade wise, but her mental health is more important to me.

Ella often tells me that school is just too much. She would tell you that she is overwhelmed and overstimulated and that the kids bother her. There are a lot of behavior issues this year. The kids were off school so long that they regressed in their social skills and in their ability to behave in school.

Ella and I have a lot of similarities. I have made a lot of improvements in my day, and I hope that I can help her. I often rush through my day feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I drop the kids and realize I have from 9:00 AM to 1:45 PM to get as much done as I possibly can. I think Ella rushes through her day in a similar fashion. We both need to work on our state of mind during the day. I would say this past year I have made a lot of improvements in my mental health during my days. I would like to be able to teach Ella before she is 45 like me.

I have learned to slow myself down. I have learned to take things one step at a time. I have learned to give myself breaks and to talk nicer to myself. There are so many things to teach our kids. Kids feel stress. I have often heard parents minimize their children’s stress level. I can tell you that I wouldn’t want to go back to being a teenager and that I would rather be 45!

Ella’s advice to me as a parent to an almost 13-year-old is to listen more and not feel like I need to solve her problems. She also thinks parents in general need to realize that we won’t always understand what they are going through. If my child is hurting, I want to jump in and fix it. However, that isn’t what Ella wants. She wants me to listen. Also, if we jump in and fix it all the time how are they going to learn how to fix things themselves?

My hopes for Ella this year:

  • I hope Ella can slow down more and smell the roses.
  • I hope she has more faith in herself.
  • I hope she feels more confident in her social skills this year.
  • I hope she is more present in her days.
  • I hope she can find school less stressful and more enjoyable.
  • I hope she continues to love theater.
  • I hope she makes a lot of fun plans with friends.
  • I hope she still enjoys family time.
  • I hope she continues to work towards her goals and dreams.
  • I hope she feels less anxiety and more happiness.
  • I hope she feels less pressure and more happiness.
  • I hope to continue to support her on her life journey.
  • I hope she knows how loved she is.

Talk to your kids. Ask them how they are doing? Ask them how you can help? Ask them what you are doing right and what you can improve? We can keep trying to be the best version of ourselves that our children need. It won’t stay the same. What Ella is telling me at 13 may not be what she tells me at 14 or 15. I will keep working on being the best parent I can be for Ella and for her sister and brother. Happy Birthday to Ella. I hope that this is a fantastic year for her. I hope she has a great birthday and a wonderful Bat Mitzvah. If anyone deserves it, my sweet girl does.

Laughing, Learning, Loving,

Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R

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