As you read a bedtime story to your sweet and affectionate daughter in the early years of her life, it is difficult to imagine the monster she may one day become. With the teenage years, however, there is a transformation that seems to be almost inevitable. Suddenly your little girl will be rolling her eyes and shouting out that she hates you when you least expect it. Surviving the teen years can be tough, but maintaining positive communication will help you both to come out the other end unscathed.
Strive To Understand
With each generation, the challenges and fears change slightly. Ruth Peters, clinical psychologist and “Today” contributor, recommends educating yourself on the current teen girl culture, and working to understand how your daughter experiences her world. This may mean separating yourself from your own memories of the teenage years and recognizing that your daughter’s experiences are unique and varied. Don’t be afraid to talk to teachers or other mothers about the specific challenges teen girls may be facing today.
Though they may fight it, teen girls need those mother/daughter moments that you relish, according to Elizabeth Berkley, actress and author of “Ask Elizabeth: Real Answers to Everything You Secretly Wanted to Ask About Love, Friends, Your Body… and Life in General.” Take the opportunities you can to spend one-on-one time with your daughter, whether that means shopping together for a prom dress or instituting a monthly mother/daughter date for lunch. Find activities you both enjoy and exploit them in order to get your daughter excited about spending time with you as well.
Choose Your Battles
As a parent, it is important for you to set rules and consistently enforce them. This can sometimes be tricky with a teenage daughter, which means you should choose your battles carefully, according to Naomi Drew, Author of “Hope and Healing: Peaceful Parenting in an Uncertain World.” She suggests sitting down with your daughter after she has broken a rule and discussing the situation once tempers have cooled. Use this opportunity to go over house rules and to ask your daughter what she thinks her punishment should be. This will help her to feel like part of the decision-making process, and will also allow you the chance to get her insight on certain rules. Don’t bend on things that could potentially affect her safety, but allow room for compromises when possible.
Maintain your presence in your daughter’s life, whether that means attending her sporting activities as a family or offering your help on an assignment she seems to be struggling with. Allow her to see that you are always there for her, providing support wherever you can. Peters recommends recognizing your daughter’s unique personality and goals, and nurturing that side of her rather than trying to change her.