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Malia, Her Mother: A Road Well Traveled

Mother-daughterIt is highly unusual for my daughter to ask me for advice. Until recently, I can only remember a few occasions when she sought my wisdom regarding the profundities of life.

Maybe denying the need for help from parents is mapped in our genetic code. I never asked for much assistance from my own.

However, recently Amy came of age. At 36, she finally decided it was time to lean on dear old Dad. On this rare occasion, during a recent phone call, a bombshell was hurled. Amy retorted, “Dad, what can I do to rein Malia in a bit? My feisty four year old daughter is wearing me out!”

As a psychotherapist, with plenty of parenting expertise, I’m sure that Amy was waiting for my most profound response. However, my spontaneous reaction took both of us off-guard. Impulsively, I replied with, “I don’t know Amy – I sure as hell didn’t know how to cope with you – maybe it’s payback time.”

We both had a good laugh as we processed the parallels between Amy and her precocious, pesky daughter. Here are a few of the significant similarities:

    • They both are a strong-willed handful.

    • They became non-stop talkers before they were developmentally capable of walking.

    • They both love to carry the show with intensity – camera, anyone?

    • They are both too smart for their own good. Going to school comes disgustingly easy, but is filled with the challenges of unmet academic needs.

    • They both are similarly assertive, bordering on aggressive; please look out when they’re unhappy!

    • They both appear affectionate, but seem to be overly-sensitive to other’s feelings.

    • They are extremely independent people. They know what they want and you don’t dare hinder their progress!

One area of temperamental variance is worth noting. It is a fascinating distinction and the area where I believe my daughter is being punished for her past. Malia insists on wearing pink clothes and accessories at all times. Malia has a pink handbag, beret’s and beads to match her feminine looking clothes. This fashion statement, required by Malia, is a foreign concept to my daughter. At first, Amy tried to encourage Malia to wear different colors, but to no avail. Malia resisted wearing anything but pink.

Amy wonders where she went wrong. She was the queen of the Gothic look, wearing black as her only color scheme throughout school as a theater buff. However, when Amy came home from the first semester of college, a miracle occurred. I found a pastel colored sweater lying on her bed. “What are you doing with this pretty sweater?” I replied. Amy laughed and said it was a new day in her life.

When I see Malia, I see the wonderful reflections of my daughter. I see the smile, the passion, the precociousness, and the personal need to be understood. They are versions of the same person. Being out-of-state, I don’t see Amy or Malia that often, but when I do, I’m so grateful that my granddaughter has not forgotten who I am. She’s a slice of my daughter and a good one indeed!

James P. Krehbiel, Ed.S, LPC, is an author, freelance writer, and nationally certified cognitive-behavioral therapist practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona. James is the featured Shrink Rap columnist for, an upscale arts, entertainment and lifestyle web magazine. He has contracted with New Horizon Press to publish his latest work entitled, Troubled Childhood, Triumphant Life. This book is about the impact of “unavailable” parenting on adults and the people they become. James can be reached at