Surviving Teenagers: When You Can't Protect Them

04/10/2011 23:34 | Updated 22 May 2015
Mother comforting her teenaged daughterRex Features

My daughter has just been royally shat on by her best friend. Best friend chose to go with the crowd rather than thinking about my daughter's feelings and said, in response to tearful remonstrations, 'What can I do?'

When you're the mother of a teenage girl, it doesn't take much to pitch you back years to when you were the same age yourself. I said, hugging her, 'I know. It really hurts when a friend lets you down.'

That's a bit of an understatement. It can feel like a knife in your guts.

'Has it ever happened to you?' said my daughter looking up, her eyes smudgy with wet mascara.

God, yes. So many times. There was the memorable evening when I was 16 and Sarah, whose surname has disappeared in the mists of time, gave emergency mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Andrew Kennet at a party when I thought, silly me, that he and I were still together. It was his fault, of course, for kissing her back. But it was her betrayal that really hurt.

She came up to me the next day and said sorry. I thought, sorry? Sorry? You put me through that excruciating public humiliation and think that saying sorry will put it right?

'Yes,' I said, 'quite a few times.'

'It's worse when it's a girl,' said my daughter. 'You sort of expect emotional ups and downs with a boy because that's part of having a relationship, but you think you can trust a girl friend. You think she'll never let you down.'

There are many times, as a parent, when you feel called upon to say something wise that will put everything right. But there are also those hopeless times when you have to admit defeat. There's nothing you can do to make it better.

'I'm really sorry,' I said.

I stood there, holding her tight, and thought, this is what's shitty about having teenagers. They have to go through all this pain and there's nothing, absolutely nothing you can do to protect them.

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