This one right here. I almost broke her spirit.

So alike that we butt heads like two rams fighting for the same space.

So different that sometimes we feel like we live on separate planets.

I have a problem with biting my tongue. She likes to have the last word.

Sometimes we both go too far.

And I almost broke her spirit.

It’s tough to raise a strong-willed child, especially when you’re a strong-willed adult.

It’s tough to find the line between when to push, when to pull back, and when to let go. It’s tough to find the balance of watching her make mistakes while keeping her safe.

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Truth be told, I messed up a lot. So did she.

When our relationship was good, it was great. And when we went off the rails, we went a mile off the tracks.

I nitpicked about the small stuff and lost my mind about some of the big things. I needled. I pried. I threatened and yelled.

She dug in sometimes and ignored me on other occasions.

Both of us were wrong, but neither of us was right. But sometimes I forgot I was the grown-up.

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I can’t take back some of the words I said to my daughter any more than I can uncrack an egg—but someone once told me that discipline without love equals rebellion, but discipline balanced with grace often grows into respect.

So, I stopped the nitpicking and let her feel like she won sometimes. I gave up control of the things that didn’t matter. I gave grace even when it pained me to my core.

I didn’t let her walk all over me, but she always knew she was loved.

And sometimes it was so hard.

But when I backed off, I watched her spirit soar in the beautiful ways I knew it could. She became kinder and more considerate and (mostly) easier to get along with. We learned how to enjoy each other and found a mutual respect.

Our relationship isn’t perfect, but I’m proud of how far we’ve come.

I almost broke my daughter’s spirit, and what a loss to the world that would have been.

Originally published on Whitney Fleming, Playdates on Fridays

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.