'I embarrassed my teen daughter in front of her boyfriend. She hasn't spoken to me since.'

As told to Ann DeGrey.

I've always known that being a mother would have its challenges, but I never expected to find myself in a situation where my 16-year-old daughter Emma would cut off contact with me.

Our relationship has always been a bit difficult, mostly due to my anger issues. I've worked hard to manage them, but sometimes, my temper gets the best of me. Emma and I have had our ups and downs, but I never imagined something like this would happen.

As a child, Emma was just gorgeous and full of curiosity and energy. As she grew up, her strong-willed personality became more apparent. And that's why we've always clashed.  

Even though I've tried my best to be patient, sometimes my anger would flare up, and we'd be yelling at each other—she always hit back at me and that made me even more furious.

Emma is now a teenager and I realise she's trying to find her place in the world. I've tried to give her the space she needs while still being there for her, but it's a difficult balance, especially as I'm a single mum.

When she started dating a boy named Jack, she seemed very happy. I was excited to meet him and show Emma that I support her choices. So, about six months ago, Emma invited Jack over for lunch. I wanted everything to be perfect, so I spent the morning cooking her favourite food and making sure the house was nice and tidy.


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I was hopeful that this lunch would be a positive experience for all of us. I also told myself to try very hard not to do anything that would upset or trigger Emma. I was used to walking on eggshells with my daughter so I didn't think anything stupid would slip out of my mouth.

When Jack arrived, I could see how much Emma liked him. He was very polite, good looking and seemed very sweet. Everything was going smoothly until I made a comment that changed everything.

Emma was clearly nervous and fidgeting at the table, shaking her hands until she knocked over her glass of water. Without thinking, I blurted out, "Emma's been having a hard time lately because of her anxiety. We're working on it, but it's been really tough for her." 

This disclosure of Emily's private mental health struggle in front of her new boyfriend was mortifying for her. I still can't believe how incredibly thoughtless I was.

The moment the words left my mouth, I knew I'd made a mistake. Emma looked horrified. Jack tried to laugh it off, saying that he knows all about anxiety because his brother battles with it; but the damage was done.


Jack stayed for a little while longer, making small talk, but it was clear he felt uncomfortable. When he left, Emma shut herself in her bedroom and, when I apologised to her, she said, "How could you do that to me? Now he won't want to be my boyfriend."

I could hear her crying, and my heart broke knowing that I'd caused her pain. I felt like such an awful mother, but I knew she'd eventually accept my apology. After all, Jack said his brother has anxiety, so it's clearly no big deal to him.

The next few days were tense. Emma barely spoke to me, and when she did, it was with short, curt responses. I explained that I didn't mean to embarrass her, but she wouldn't listen. 

"Mum, I need some space. I'm going to stay with Dad for a while." This was very hurtful for me to hear but I knew I had to respect her wishes. She packed a suitcase and her Dad came to collect her. 

Since then, Emma has cut off contact with me. She won't answer my calls or texts, and I feel lost without her. It is absolutely devastating for me.

I've spent hours replaying that lunch in my mind, wishing I could take back my words. I know I've made mistakes, but I don't know how to make things right.


I'm trying to be patient, to give Emma the space she needs, but it's not easy. It's been six months now and I desperately miss her.

I've written her emails and letters, pouring my heart out and apologising for my mistakes, but I've had no response. The silence is killing me, it's so upsetting.

Even though I haven't spoken to my ex-husband for years, I’ve reached out to him and he replied, "Just leave Emma alone."

I tried reaching out to Emma's best friend via social media but her reply made me feel even worse. "Sorry, but her boyfriend broke up with her and she said it's your fault."

I hold on to hope that one day, Emma will come back to me. I want her to know how much I love her and how sorry I am for hurting her. Until then, I'll continue working on myself, hoping that when she's ready, we can rebuild our relationship. 

One thing I know now is that being a mother is a journey filled with love and mistakes, and hope, and I'm determined to keep moving forward, one step at a time.

Feature Image: Getty.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. 

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