Written by Doctor G

A Teen Who Clings to Mom

school busMy 14 year old daughter wants me to walk her to the schoolbus stop. Except, she doesn’t want her friends to know, so she makes me hide a block away behind a car, and wants me to wave to her as she gets on the bus.  At first I thought a kid was being mean to her, even though she denied it. But no, she is happy as can be. Her 9 year old brother doesn’t want an escort and they ride the same bus. This seems pretty silly, doesn’t it? What should I do?

Vanessa, in (state not provided)

I see why this feels a little silly! Standing behind a parked car, checking on a child you’re not even worried about, waving to her when no one is looking, it seems like something from a TV show. 😉

Walking your daughter most of the way to the bus is not bad for her in any way. But, having to hide a block away may feel a little undignified. It’s hard to know if your daughter is having trouble letting go, or has a concern she hasn’t voiced.

First of all, it’s important to remember that being 14 years old is often a seesaw of emotions, sometimes feeling 24 and sometimes feeling 4 years old. This makes “acting your age” a very difficult proposition!

You could:

  1. Keep doing what you’re doing until the end of the school year, and then ask her to reassess at the end of the summer. It may be that she just needs a little more emotional development before she gives up the security blanket of your presence.
  2. Walk her all the way to the bus stop and stand with her. If her friends tease her, she can “blame” you. “Oh, my mom is so over-protective!” You can let her know that if she is too old for that, you don’t need to go with her, but you are done hiding out. If she still wants the security of the connection, can you text with her while she waits?
  3. Stop walking her to the bus stop. If she panics at that idea, it would be great to use her strong reaction as a motivation to help her verbalize her feelings.

Vanessa, is it possible that she is worried about a stranger who lives or works near her bus stop? Has someone made her nervous or uncomfortable and she knows that you can swoop in to save her if something that concerns her actually happens?

Do a little investigating if you’re worried. Ask a few gentle questions of your son, about anything he’s noticed. Maybe encourage her to invite her bus friends over to hang out (and eavesdrop a little).

If your daughter can’t or won’t explain her anxiety, and you can’t figure it out, it seems reasonable to continue what you’re doing now. She needs to know you’ve “got her back” and this is one way to show her that for sure. On the other hand, if you really believe she is relying on you too much, try the texting idea to ease her out of it.

Understanding our teens’ motivations is challenging, especially when they don’t always understand themselves!

Parents, what have you done with a teen who requested something you thought was appropriate for a much younger child?

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