Raising a teenager, in today’s society, can be a handful of frustration. Then add into the equation that not only are you parenting
a teenager, you are parenting a teenage girl, and one can become quite overwhelmed during this phase of life. As mothers, it is common to regress in thoughts, back to our own teenage stage, and remember all the obstacles and hurdles that were there to overcome. However, it’s a new age, and that which plagued your generation has intensified and magnified even more for today’s teenage girl. But still, a glance back in time can help you begin to embrace a sympathetic and understanding perspective with respect to handling your teen daughter.
How to approach and handle conflict:
Teenage girls are surging with hormones and emotional changes, which are indeed the framework of their adolescence. The up and down emotional rides come and go like tides rushing in to shore, intermittently. Important elements to remember are that you, mother, are a woman, and she, daughter, is one too. So, you know how your own body and mind handles hormonal changes, emotional changes, and adapting to stress. This is a very important tool in learning how to help and handle the teen stages of your daughter’s growth and development. Of course, it is easy to forget that we too go through those changes because we are now adults, and with that comes authority. In other words, we have already been there and done that, and our daughter’s should not have to; but that is not how it works, and they too have to experience what we have already learned from.
This brings us to the first step in surviving these years. Realize that you and your daughter share something very similar. You are both female, and with that comes hormonal changes, emotional challenges, and stress. How you, yourself, handle those aspects of your life, will transfer on to your daughter. How your daughter handles it, will no doubt, affect you. It becomes a cycle, and we are their best teacher. So, if you tend to give into the rages of your hormones, chances are your daughter may learn to as well.
That, however, may not be the case, and you may not be a raging bag of hormones, but she is. So, what do you do then? Now, you have to implement a practice that you should have made habit of from the time you birthed that beautiful bundle of joy. You have to lead with unconditional love, actively listen, keep calm, and keep communications open. As mothers, we have to be mind readers. If you are observant, you will see the trigger points that assist your lovely daughter in transforming from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, and instead of us being the irritant, we can become the loving mentor who helps her ride through each wave. Too often, we step right into their rage, we further incite it, instead of understanding it, and we make the matter worse than it may have actually been. For example, you see that she comes in from school, and places her books down with a little more force than normal. That is your cue; she had a bad day, or is in a bad mood. You have two choices. Do you push her buttons? Or, do you silently smile; give her a reassuring hug, letting her know without the words, that you are there for her? It seems that when we choose to push the buttons, by trying to make them speak when they are already beginning to peak on their emotional roller coasters, we are asking for an explosive conflict. When we bring our relationship into that realm, nothing is accomplished, and by its usually angry end, nothing is resolved; and more often, you did not even accomplish finding out why they were having that bad day. But now, you both are having one. Whereas, if you silently acknowledge that you obviously see that they are not in the best of moods, you give them the chance to take a step back, look at the situation, and maybe even decide to lean on you for a good pep-talk, because they are aware that the door for discussion is open when she is feeling ready to share.
Too many mistakes are made when we believe that they have no right to have a bad mood or a bad day for that matter. We have to keep in mind that, no matter the age, we are all human first. You have the opportunity to be her mentor, and teach her how to approach her feelings, how to tame them, and even how to interpret them. When she feels that comfort of knowing she can express to mom about anything, she will come to you, and then you can use each opportunity to give her the coping tools she needs to handle each emotional turmoil her teenage years may throw at her.
At the same time, we want to established mutual respect. Utilize the calm communicating opportunities to remind your daughter about respectful tones of voices, and remember to compliment her when she does come to you to talk.
Next, we must keep in mind that we are not always going to like their choices, their interests, and their decisions, but we have to love them unconditionally. If, before they entered the teen phase, you established right from wrong, enlightened them about bad choices, taught them about actions and consequences, then they will be better prepared to make those decisions during this phase. Too often, we set down rules and regulations, but never discuss them or the reasoning behind them. It is my way or no way, there is no compromise, there is no listening, and you close the door on all communications, by creating a force field they are afraid to penetrate. Well, guess who your daughter will not be coming to when they are about to make negative decisions or decisions which may have a dramatic consequence? They will search out and align themselves with peers who will give them the unconditional acceptance, understanding, and communications, which you closed the door on. You want your daughter to feel that no matter what the subject is, that you are her first line of defense and access to knowledge.
How to handle your daughter’s fashion sense:
We all know that we no longer live in the days where we wore tank tops, and halters because it was hot outside. Nope, today it is a fashion trend and bares a sexual connotation. It is disturbing that, as females, we cannot dress for comfort and weather, without the fear that what we wear is suggesting sexual promiscuity. With that said, we mothers need to teach our daughters early on that this is what has happened. That at one time young girls, and teens, and adult women donned skimpy shirts in the name of summer heat, but that today, due to many reasons, certain attire worn by girls will have them fall prey to an onslaught of condemnation. Today, we are labeled by what we wear, which is a stereotyping practice. We need to teach them to be individuals, and we need to teach them about what they can do to not degrade them self, but rather respect themselves. If you don’t allow them to buy trashy clothes with your money, then they will not have those trashy clothes to wear.
How to help them handle relationships with the opposite sex:
Humans are sexual by nature, and we build attractions. Help your daughter understand the changes in her body and her sexual feelings. Find the correct information to help her become sexually educated. Of course, no mother, or parent for that matter, wants to think of their teen as sexual beings, but the truth is, they are curious, and it is a normal aspect of growth and development. We can stand there and forbid them against being sexual, and close the door on that topic; but then where do you think they will go to acquire knowledge about their curiosities? They will go to their friends, the internet, or just plan learn from trial and error. Would it not be better for them to feel they can talk to you? Especially about a topic as sensitive as sex. Abstinence should be the goal, but making sex a forbidden topic, only makes it a topic more intriguing to them. Why not prepare them with the knowledge about what they are feeling, how it is normal, and how you too went through those same feelings. Help them understand that they do not have to act on those urges because sex should never be something we as women are pressured into doing. Also, teach them about staying safe and what the consequences are if they choose to engage in sexual intimacy. Speak to them about date rape and other important sexual issues. What you want to create is an environment where your teen daughter is empowered by you as a mother, and that you nourish her mind so she can make the best decisions.
The bottom line is, we as mothers have to be the mentor for our teen daughters. To stifle the relationship behind dos and don’ts, and locking the door on open lines of communications, you are setting yourself up for a troubled teen. Think about this, the relationship you establish with your daughter will be what she models her relationship with her own children after. As a mother, we should be who they run to when the chips are down, and we should be the one’s they run to when the chips are up. We have to be their authority figure, but we do not have to be so rigid that it makes them fearful of us as parents. We do not want to develop a friendship with them, yet we want to let them know we do have things in common, maybe just on different levels. We should share in their trials and errors, and be there unconditionally by empowering them with all the knowledge we can; so that, they leave their teen years behind, emerging as a smart, strong, and independent woman.