#ParentFail Raising Strong Daughters

2014 October 2

I’ve failed at parenting 101.

As far as I’m concerned the only goal for daughters is to raise them strong.
The end.
And apparently I failed at that one thing.

I’m partly horrified and partly really angry.
Both at myself.

#parentfail how do you help your kids speak up when they are in pain or troubleToday I picked up my daughter for an Orthodontist appointment.
You know. Just one of 20 or 30 total over 2 and 3 years?
Our secret girl time. Shhh don’t tell her teachers.

I pick her up from school always scheduled around her lunch time to both minimize her time away from classes and to take advantage of mother daughter secret lunch time. Usually the appointments are less than 20 minutes and after a nutritious lunch at Chick-Fil-A or Taco Bell (close enough to nutritious?) we head back and deposit the 13 year old firmly back in Middle School English. You’re welcome Ms. Smith.

These appointments are rarely eventful.

Changed to a larger wire.
Changed to a smaller wire.
Keep wearing the rubber bands.
I know we PROMISED you would be over the bands after one more visit.
We Lied. (It’s a THING with Orthodontists, never believe their timeframe.)

But today was different. She was agitated after the appointment. We were making the neverending 6 week follow up appointment and clearly she was in pain. I asked if she needed Ibuprofen. She said no… her mouth was numb but bothering her. Numb is weird for the Ortho? I guess they had to ‘file’ between her bottom front teeth and there was a need for numbing drops or something?

While telling me some of this she was trembling and began crying just a little bit. Not the tears of pain although she was clearly hurting. These were the tears of a little girl who felt ignored and although 13, had no idea what to do about what had happened. She felt belittled and neglected. She felt shame even.

And can I just say. WHAT is the deal with NOT allowing mom to be back in the treatment room with the kids during Ortho procedures?! (I could rant on this for hours. And next visit will insist.)

What happened?

She was sitting in the Ortho chair and while they were waiting for her mouth to properly numb she says they walked away and left an air blowing type of device hooked over her lips and somehow blowing/drying(?) the numbed area. And this is what kills me.

It was hurting her.

It was cold air and I don’t know about you but if a dentist attempts to blow cold air into my mouth directly on sensitive teeth (nearly all of my teeth are) I nearly jump out of my chair and have been known to accidentally flail and smack people. It’s not just painful it’s an icepick directly into the nerve of my tooth and fire & ice shooting into the back side of my brain. EXTREME pain. And it might throb for a bit after they stop. I make them wrap my unaffected teeth in cotton while they work on the other ones.

Back to my daughter. She didn’t know what to do, and didn’t dare ask for help, so she LEFT THE OBSCENE COLD AIR THINGY attached to her mouth and blowing directly at her teeth! Causing extreme pain and discomfort and I don’t even know how long it continued. Long enough that 45 minutes after we left her teeth were still throbbing and in a strange level of numb-yet-pain.

First. Our lunch date was totally ruined.
And I hate the Ortho folks just a little bit for ruining the tiny fraction of one on one time with my middle daughter. But I hate myself just a little bit more because I’m most horrified that my STRONG, SMART, STUBBORN daughter did not dare to stand up and speak up for herself. Even though in THAT level of pain.

Especially when in pain? What the heck?!

If my daughter can’t speak up for herself in a relatively safe situation because she doesn’t feel that she can upset the authority in the room, then I have Failed as a Mother.

  • How do we help our daughters know deep in their stubborn little selves that they NEVER have to sit in a chair while a tortuous device hurts them? NO MATTER WHAT.
  • How do we help them understand that getting up and walking out of ANY situation be it a terrible movie or a slumber party where the words have turned hurtful is always their choice? NO MATTER WHAT.
  • How do we help girls of any age but especially teen girls know that there is no one in the world ESPECIALLY never a grownup who gets to hurt them knowingly or unknowingly? EVER.
  • my strong happy daughter goodncrazy carissa rogers photographyHow do I help MY daughter speak up for herself in EVERY situation she finds herself in?
    Speak up for herself. For others. And for those who can’t speak up.

I want my daughters to not only be strong for themselves in situations that are unsafe but I want them to be strong for everyone around them as well.

I’m going back to square one in parenting 101 of daughters.

The First Class: Speaking Up For Yourself



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13 Responses
  1. October 2, 2014

    It sucks that she had a bad experience at the orthodontist. They should have known better to just leave her with the air tube in her mouth or at the very least they should have checked in on her. I don’t think that you’ve failed as a parent. She freaked out and if she hadn’t freaked out I’m sure she would have called out for help.
    Twitter: yummommies

  2. October 2, 2014

    Great post, horrible experience. I feel like my ortho visits are never ending, I thought I was going to be done almost 2 years ago believe it or not.

    Unfortunately this was a rough day, but fortunately this was a situation that could have been something VERY different where she felt like she couldn’t speak up for herself.

    I think often times we raise our little ones to do as we say and not question it, or to “give Aunty a kiss” even when they don’t feel comfortable. Allowing them to say no at a young age gives them boundaries that they’ll need when they are adults. Especially for girls, but equally for boys.

    Thanks for sharing this unhappy experience. Hoping a lot of people read and share.
    Twitter: mommybknowsbest

  3. October 2, 2014

    I worry about this as well. I feel, like you, that I have taught my children to speak up when they are not ok. However, in some circumstances they do not feel that they can (at least this is what my kids say). Parenting is always a work in progress. You’re not done yet. You haven’t failed. Even better, this was a good learning experience for both of you.

  4. October 2, 2014

    oh man, what a horrible experience for you both. But, in my eyes, this was no #parentfail – seeing that there was an issues, acknowledging it, and learning from it more than equals #parentwin

  5. October 2, 2014

    I love this post, but I hate the reason for it. I like to think of myself as a strong, independent woman who sticks up for myself, but when I thought about this and put myself in that situation – I don’t know if I would even move it? It’s kind of scary when you think about it how easily we can be beat down and force ourselves quiet when we don’t need to be.

    I think you are doing an amazing job. I think sometimes as moms, we just need to hear that. The fact that you care enough to have taught her the way that you have and for something like this to really resonate with you says a lot about the kinds of mother you are and I think this can be a great tool for you almost in teaching her how important it is to always, always stand up for ourselves in ANY situation.

  6. October 2, 2014

    I’m so sorry that your daughter had this experience! And you soooo have not failed as a parent! You are an excellent parent! And you have great kids!

    I remember when I was 4 or 5, I was at my cousin’s wedding and was dancing with my uncle. He had a cigarette in his hand and one time when he swung me around, the tip of the cigarette burned my hand. I remember it so vividly. It REALLY hurt, but I didn’t react. At. All. I just sat there letting it burn me. I didn’t even move my hand, because I didn’t want him TO FEEL BAD.

    And I STILL do this. I don’t like to make people feel uncomfortable, or embarrassed, or upset. I WILL speak up for myself much more now than when I was younger, but I still just deal with it internally because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings/I like to avoid conflict.

    I try to teach my kids to speak up for themselves, but to be polite. Sometimes it’s hard for them to say something because they think it will be impolite or that “they are a grown up so they should know what’s right for me”.

    I guess the best way to help them to know that it’s okay to speak up for themselves is talking with your kids over and over about what to do in a situation that makes them uneasy.
    Twitter: mym0mmybrain

  7. October 2, 2014

    Thanks everyone for your support and encouragement.
    I agree how will they know they are ‘allowed’ to speak up for themselves if they don’t see their Mother speak up for herself and if they don’t somehow practice those situations?

    I vow to do better myself and have the important conversations with my daughters (and my son).

  8. October 3, 2014

    I’m going to have dental nightmares tonight for sure! That is 100% horrible. I sooooo feel for her! And for you, knowing how you’d never want her to be in any amount of pain.

    Here are my thoughts:

    1. You aren’t to blame for this. You are already an example of strength and speaking up to your daughters. So, they know how to stand up for themselves.

    2. She told you about her pain, which means she trusts you. That’s awesome!

    My thoughts on raising strong kids? There are many definitions of strong. Asserting ourselves is just one definition. For some (girls or boys), it comes easy (probably based on our natural personalities). For others, not so much. Like anything else, it requires learning and practice. Sometimes, the fear of speaking up can be more painful than the fear of letting that air tube sit there blowing on your hurting teeth. It is a life lesson for all of us to learn (and practice and learn some more) to choose whatever battles we’re facing in life and to know when to assert ourselves and when stay quiet, even if it hurts. The experience for her, however painful, will help her to know what to do next time, which means growth. And you being there to support her is probably one of her biggest takeaways.

    I think you are awesome! xoxo
    Twitter: momitforward

  9. annette permalink
    October 5, 2014

    Would be strong and positive resolution for both mom & daughter to visit orthodontist,
    and talk to the Dr about the painful situation calmly & respectfully, being sure to
    communicate that she was a) left alone b) in pain … neither is ok & an apology
    is warranted, to both mom&daughter.

  10. Missy permalink
    October 5, 2014

    I agree about teaching our children to advocate for themselves but on another note I have to say, no parents in the treatment room=another doctor for me. I am a pedi ER nurse and we even allow parents to be present during resuscitation if they so choose. So yes, teach her to protect herself but demonstrate that by advocating for her.

  11. October 7, 2014

    I’m sorry! So sorry that this happened to your daughter. I can’t imagine how awful that must have been for her. And for you to hear it. Poor thing. I’m glad it prompted you to write this post – though – and share that it’s important to teach our kids to use their voices. Fortunately this was something that in the future you can ensure is resolved. Hopefully using your own voice will remind her to use her own, as well. (hugs)

  12. December 12, 2014

    Ugh. Oh my goodness, that is horrible. Sadly, I can definitely commiserate with your poor girl. Hopefully it was a wonderful opportunity to have that chat with her and she learned something valuable from it!

  13. June 12, 2015

    I know the pain she must be in if the slightest breeze hits my teeth they feel like metal almost, im around her age and i find my mother raised me well enough to make decisions every once in a while yes we all mess up or get stubborn but its life and as you grow you learn to stand up to your problems based on what they are,in her case i’d have probably done the same thing but for a different reason i understand the pain but if they needed the air to be there and any place would do the same then follow what they need to be done because it needs to be done. That’s my opinion but i’m not everyone so that how one of many children may have thought in that situation thanks for hearing me out thanks for the post also it’ll help me think about motherly opinions.

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