Q. I'm worried I'm pushing my 16-year-old away. She and I argue all the time about nothing. For example, I'm teaching her to drive and she gets very defensive if I offer a suggestion or tell her she made a mistake. I'm sick of all the fighting. What advice do you have? —Julie H.
A. It's unfair but it's just a fact that children get incredibly irritated with small things parents do. You laugh, sneeze, or clap, and your mortified child begs you to stop because you're so loud (for the record, I'm not a very restrained clapper). As for the driving lesson, add that your daughter is trapped in a confined space with you while you're constantly correcting her. Plus, you're likely doing that thing moms do in this situation—gasping and clutching the door. So get someone else to teach her. And accept that part of the special mother-daughter bond is that you can aggravate each other better than anyone else. Trust me, there are some milestones in your children's lives that bring up so much emotion, everybody loses sight of the goal. Those are the times you should probably back off.
Originally published in the July 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.