Southern Voice: Millie Kirkland

“Mom, you just don’t understand,” I hear myself exclaiming as I attempt to storm out of a conversation. It’s true, though. While at times, my relationship with my mother borders on a “friends” level, at others, the 30-year age gap is apparent and difficult to traverse. Mother-daughter relationships are both rewarding and complicated, and in the heat of emotions, communication is often lost. So, moms, in the spirit of honesty — and since we can’t always find the right words in the moment — here are a few things I and some fellow 18-year-olds wish you knew.

Sometimes we can be friends! My own mom and I getting ready to enjoy the extremely large milkshakes in the background.

What several 18-year-old girls wish their moms understood:

“When I get annoyed with you, 99% of the time, it’s stemming from something or someone else … I wish I could tell my mom she chews loudly also because that’s the 1% part of her that does piss me off.”

Hormones is something that hasn’t changed in the past 30 years. You were once a moody 18-year-old, and now we are. Recognize this, please, because usually, when we are “mad” at you, it stems from other issues. It just so happens that you’re an easy scapegoat for simmering emotions. Please don’t get offended by these mood swings; we are really sorry for the fumes, and we thank you for your patience.

“I’m a good child, and little, tiny things like not unloading the dishwasher doesn’t make me bad.”

Tip: There is a big difference between a person doing drugs and forgetting to run the dishwasher. Please, put some things in perspective. Maybe your distrust stems from your own wild experiences as a teenager, but believe it or not, most of us are not actually that bad. When we’re grounded for trivial mistakes, it only makes us want to rebel. Which brings me to my next tip …

“Grounding is not always effective.”

I am no psychologist, but from my own observations, the stricter the parent, the wilder the child. Something about having chains placed on us makes us work overtime to get them off. When you ground a child, it only directs their anger towards you and hurts your relationship. There are more effective punishments. It’s also slightly hypocritical when you teach us to learn from our mistakes and then, as punishment for said mistakes, keep us sheltered away with no chance to learn.

“College is my decision.”

This one is pretty self-explanatory. You had your turn at college, now let us decide, please. College has changed over the past 30 years, and we love that you loved your own college experience, but even if we were to follow in your footsteps, our stint would be different. Also, college is really our first taste at independence, so help us in making that transition, but let us experience this freedom.

“Friend groups are much worse than they were in your day with snap maps and social media because you know when you are being excluded.”

Social media in general tends to be a sensitive subject in any parent-child relationship today. A tool so common to our generation is foreign to older ones. While perks to social media include the ability to keep friends that live in other states, the downsides are clear as well. With social media, your life is constantly on public display.

Instagram identities are not real people. They are the most flattering images taken at “the best” event or on the “dream” vacation. The image is meant to create the perfect person — always happy, always “on,” and always fun. We know this, but even so, it doesn’t make it any easier. The social media façade makes for relationship drama. When we are sitting at home, it’s easy to see when our friends are not because they make sure to post about it. It’s hard to be happy — even if you chose to stay home — because we see our friends’ smiling faces elsewhere. The irony is that they probably are not having as much fun as it seems, but social media is crafted so we have to be having a good time at all times.

This didn’t exist 30 years ago. Knowledge is power, but often, ignorance is bliss. Our generation has the information and the ability to know the instantaneous whereabouts of peers while yours didn’t. This is something we wish moms understood. No matter how much you want to relate, this is a generational difference, and if you want to help, try to sympathize, not empathize.

“Give me my space when I’m upset; I really don’t want to talk things out.”

Similar to the one above, we know you mean well, but your help is not always well-received. Giving us a bit of space when we’re upset is actually beneficial to both parties involved. If given time to simmer, we are less likely to explode on you thus escaping a meaningless argument. If approached, though, a fight is almost inevitable. We will turn our anger with the situation back on you, when, really, you did nothing wrong. Our emotions will often trigger your own emotions in defense thus causing a fight to break out between us.

“I am not you.”

While your daughter may look like you and perhaps even act like you at times, you are two different people. Shared mannerisms are one thing, but you cannot blame us for being different. This goes for the daughter as well. We cannot criminalize each other for your differences — we just have to accept them. You may be shy, and your daughter may be outgoing. You may need to share your emotions while your daughter may prefer to keep them inside. Acknowledge that we need different things in life. By coming to terms with our differences, we will be able to form a better relationship that’s beneficial to us both.

Born and raised in Nashville, Millie Kirkland is a senior at the Harpeth Hall School. Between keeping up with school work and after-school activities, she makes time for the things she loves with the people she loves: good food, long runs, yoga, adventures, and cooking. She is passionate about languages and cultures which stems from time studying abroad both in Madrid, Spain and Santiago, Chile. 

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