I was Christmas shopping for my sons at an outlet mall. I have two teen boys and a college-man coed. My store options were Adidas, Under Armour, Nike, and other jock retails. After the first round of purchasing basketball shorts and swoosh t-shirts, I was bored.
I slipped into a co-ed fashion shop, gravitating towards things pink and fun. My mind quickly flashed-back ten years when shopping for my thirteen year old daughter. Being the firstborn, only girl, pink-hyper-girlness was my life for years. How different different our life is now.
I stood there thinking how different it is parenting girls and boys. I watch the differences morph before my eyes as a school counselor to tweens. Girls have different needs than boys. If you’re a parent of teen girls, here are 10 things you need to know as your daughter goes through adolescence.
1. Your daughter is different from you. As she grows and finds her identity, it may look different then what you think. It’s okay. You’re different than your daughter. She needs to find out who she is.
2. Her emotions are real, even when they’re extreme. Adolescence includes magnified emotions. When your daughter talks in absolutes, don’t discount what she’s saying. Instead, focus on what she’s saying outside of “never” and “always.”
3. She needs you. Even when she’s pushing you away, she still needs you. She needs you to stick with her despite her words, rebellion, and emotions. She needs both parents – Mom and Dad, because both provide significant needs for her growing identity.
4. She feels like she’s alone in her insecurity. Remember how you felt as a junior high girl? Your kid, at some point, feels the same way. If not, more; the added influence of social media sublimely magnifies and makes her doubts and insecurities real. Let her know other girls feel just as insecure as she does – even the popular girls. And don’t dismiss her feelings.
5. If she’s crying out for attention, don’t dismiss it or make it about you. Cutting, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, inappropriate or risky behavior; these behaviors manifest for a reason. The causes are varied and should be taken seriously. Seek professional help, and be engaged it treatment. Focus, first, on the needs of your daughter. It’s important.
6. Don’t put that smart phone in her hand without guidance and active discussion. Until she leaves home. Your daughter’s world is highly engaged to social media, and she needs assistance navigating it socially, emotionally, and sexually. You may trust your daughter, but you don’t know who’s on the other end of that camera or video chatting with her. She may not either.
7. Get her involved with activity and clubs of her interest. Start her thinking about what she wants to do after high school, even in middle school. There are several personality interests inventories and career surveys online. Not only does this help her career-goals, but it aides in self-discovery, confidence, and affirmation of her strengths.
8. Talk to her about sex, values, dangers, and the current culture appropriate to her developmental stage. Your daughter’s raised in a much more sexualized environment than any other generation. Let the line of communication be open between both of you so when she needs to talk, she can. She also receives your values about sex, not just her peers.
9. Take time for her.
10. Listen. Even when you’re too busy or she’s talking your ear off, listen.
Raising girls and boys each have their own challenges. Getting your daughter from 10 to 20 will have highs and lows. Practicing these ten principles will help the process.
What would you add to the list?
As a parenting coach and counselor, my passion is encouraging and empowering parents during the teen stage. One seminar I offer is Blurred Lines: Being Real in an Artificial World for teen girls and parents. I’d love to share this with your community, group of daughters, parents, school, or youth group. Contact me here for more information.