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Published Tuesday October 20th, 2009 at 5:50pm

Original Article by Jenifer Fox

Between the ages of 14 and 16 girls begin their search forindependence. This journey begins with a girl's need to establish anidentity that is separate from her mother's. This process is often asource of conflict for the young girl who is often still immature andunsure of just how to separate from her mother. It is even moredifficult and conflicting for a daughter who has been adopted becauseshe is trying to find her own identity as separate from her adoptedmother, but underneath, she is also unconsciously trying to find outwho she is in relation to the absent birth mother. This produces moreconflict in the adopted teen because she often feels the need to begrateful for being adopted at the same time she experiences the need toreject the parent in search of her own identity. This creates confusionover who she is rejecting--her birth mother or her adopted mother? It'sboth. Rarely are girls mature enough to see this, but my experiencewith dozens of confused adopted girls has validated that the coming ofage process is sometimes more turbulent for them.

This all happens at the same time an adolescent girl is undergoingenormous hormonal changes. This process is not easy for anyoneinvolved, however, understanding what is going on can be very helpful.

The most difficult year of high school for most girls is the 10thgrade. For some girls, the process begins at the end of the 9th grade,but in general, the 10th grade is the most difficult year of highschool. Keep in mind--this doesn't last forever. Sometime between 10thgrade and the junior year, girls begin to settle down and find theirstrength as independent young women in their own rights.

Common behaviors are more time spent in the bedroom (a girl's roombecomes her sanctuary). You may suddenly see signs on the door thatsay, Keep out! Girls who have been thoughtful and sweet, may suddenlyturn impulsive and prone to saying less than kind things. Everything is"so stupid","boring" or " like, duh". Eyes roll, tongues cluck, "asif". Her cell phone is always clutched in her palm, or pulled from herpocket in the middle of an important family moment to receive a textfrom--who? Who is it? She brushes her parents off. Her excessivecommunication is the result of one thing: in her mind, her friends arenow the most important people in her life.

In becoming a person in her own right, separate from her mother, shewill push her parents away and pull her friends in too closely. Herfriends, no longer her mother, are her new role models. She may becomecritical of her mother, making unkind comments on her style, her shoes,things she says. This behavior can be very painful for mothers.

Calming the Storm

Here are some simple suggestions for making these times go a littlemore smoothly. First of all, despite her behavior, your daughters wantyou to talk with them--not at them. They want you to listen to themmore than anything else. Girls will talk and talk and often motherswill respond with sage advice. To the dismay of many mothers, girlsoften do want advice; they simply want to feel understood. Resistingthe desire to give advice is practically counter intuitive; however,there is a time and place for giving advice and it's not the same aslending an ear. When things are really tense and upsetting for teengirls, parents can help with empathy: "I know this is a hard time foryou, it's hard for me, too, we will get through this. Tell me what youare experiencing, I want to understand"

Girls who are adopted want to talk about being adopted. Yet, theyare scared to talk about it with their adoptive mothers because theysometimes feel guilty. One girl once said to me " I am starting to feelmad at my birth mom and I can't possibly bring this up with my mombecause it would get her mad to think I was thinking so much about my"other" mother--especially now that we aren't getting along."

The reality is that parents and teens, adopted or not, are in ittogether and a sense of togetherness coming as an offering from theadult will help girls with all the confusion they are feeling.

Remember, even though your daughter may say and do things that hurtyour feelings, you have a responsibility to guide her through thesetimes.

Pick your battles. Don't make every issue the big issue. If you wantto preserve family time, maybe you should let up on the messy room.Many of her new behaviors will rub you wrong, but if you are constantlycorrecting her, she will only recoil. Take a stand on the things youbelieve are most important and be patient in the passing of some of theother behaviors.

The turbulent years for mothers and daughters often give way torewarding adult-to-adult relationships. Half the battle is inunderstanding what is normal and what isn't. Rapid change in weight,either loss or gain; drastic change in physical appearance; too much ornot enough sleep; rapid, significant change in friendships are warningsigns that something may be amiss and not healthy.

There is a wide range in the definition of normal for teens, sodon't be shocked by the often clumsy attempts at defining themselves.Let them choose their own style, their own hair, clothes and music.Avoid criticizing their choices, this will only entrench them. Be clearabout what matters most to you and negotiate these things with her soshe feels you are respecting her independence. Finally, remember, likeyou did, most girls will mature and time will cause the storm to passif you walk through it listening to her unique voice.