We can all agree that the teenage years are the most chaotic, frustrating, hormonal with emotional highs and lows, impressionable, risk-taking, yet rewarding years for our girls. I swear, weren’t we just changing their diapers? We can’t help but feel a bit of pride, right seeing them grow into young women? And then, we snap out of it and reality hits…our babies will be leaving the nest soon. I have raised two daughters and let me tell you not every day was a walk in the park, that’s for sure.
The transition from Middle to High school. OMG! Night and day! I believe that all parents do their best to raise their children, however, not all children chose to listen to their parents advise. My daughters’ association has been the most influential during this time. I reflect on how I was as a teenager and to be honest, today’s generation is not much different. (I will state that during my daughter’s upbringing their father and I did go through a divorce and both of us has since re-married. Co-parenting has its separate issues, I’ll save that blog for a different day.)
Noticing that this generation did not think that much differently, I left the ideology method that was ingrained in me and went with more of a holistic approach. As a result, this method has saved both my daughters and myself from most heartaches.
So, where did I start?
Communication. Not the simple and ordinary Yes/No conversations. Incorporating open communication in various ways that build emotional and mental health is key. The more powerful open-ended questions you ask your teenager the better. Some of the best questions you can ever ask are, “What else?”; “What was the best/worst part about your day?”; and “How did that make you feel?”, etc.
Educate using reality-based empathy. What exactly does that mean? It is imperative that you realize that your teenager’s hormones will spiral out of control sooner or later. Sex, birth-control, diseases, relationships, depression, self-doubt, and confidence are areas that need to be explained in great detail. Have those conversations with 100% transparency with zero sugar-coating. They have access to the world by way of cell phones, so you need to realize that they have probably heard and seen it all. Cultivate a safe space for learning. Teach them coping mechanisms when times seem challenging. Reassure them of how they are enough with unapologetic support. Encourage your girls to study hard and be the best version of themselves. Give them what the internet and social media cannot, you.
Active Listening. You must listen intently to what she says without reaction. Yes, without reaction. Harness your initial impulse response. Allow your child to express themselves freely. Remember, your teenager sees all forms of body language and will shut down at the first sight of any judgmental behavior albeit verbal or non-verbal. You possess the power to change the entire narrative of any conversation with your teenager by remaining present.
Reflect. We were all teenagers once; now is the time to ask yourself questions similar to the following: Did you wish your parents handled certain situations differently? Was there a subject area where you wanted your parents to be more understanding? What conversations do you wish you could have had with your parents? In hindsight, what could your parents have focused on more with you or what did you learn too late? What would you tell your teenage-self, if you could? Answering these questions will honestly start guiding you in the right direction regarding certain matters.
The sense of belonging. This is such an old adage that will never go away from being a teenager. Recognize that there is an innate quality within teenagers that will cause them to want separation from their parents. Friends are now will their priority. No, you have not done anything wrong. The key is not to take this personally. You can also learn and grow with your teenagers during these pinnacle years. Take a breath to reflect and enjoy these years. Following these key principles will aid in an amazing relationship with your teenage girls.