50 Things I’m Glad I Did In Raising A Teen Girl

Lessons in Raising a Teen Girl

When my daughter was thirteen, I took her on a road trip. It was a dream I had as a mom of only one girl, a dream where she and I would bridge her childhood and womanhood together as I set aside time to pour lifelong wisdom into her. The summer after her sixth grade year, we piled into our Chevy Lumina and headed to the East Coast.50 things for raising a teen girl

By day two we were in a shouting match. By the end of the week, the idyllic heart to heart discussions I hoped for were non-existent. But we got past the power-struggles, we laughed, sang and made lots of memories.

She was entering adolescence.

Now that girl is twenty-one and exploring life through international internships, apartment living and collegiate experiences eleven hours away from home. Our journey from there to here was not-so-easy. As a professional working with adolescent girls, I support parents as they try to navigate through hormones, temperaments, fears and angst in raising teen girls. As I’ve reflected on my own journey, I’ve compiled a list of things I’m glad I did in raising an adolescent daughter.

50 Things I’m Glad I Did In Raising A Teen Girl

  1. Took her on a road trip.
  2. Was mentally available for her even when it required sacrifice.
  3. Was honest about my life when she asked hard questions.
  4. Had her dad intervene when we couldn’t communicate.
  5. Had her dad take her on dates when other girls had boyfriends.
  6. Told her dad what girls need to hear from their fathers.
  7. Wrote her notes when she didn’t want to listen to me.
  8. Made time for her even when exhausted.
  9. Talked to her about sex at age-appropriate levels.
  10. Stayed up late when she wanted to talk.
  11. Stood firmly with her even when it hurt.
  12. Held her loosely because it was easier to let her go.
  13. Told her I’m proud of her.
  14. Gave her space when she needed it.
  15. Let her and her siblings work out arguments.
  16. Let her develop interests that were outside of my own.
  17. Gave her opportunities to have mentors influence her life.
  18. Gave her service opportunities in other cultures.
  19. Said “yes” no her dreams unless I had a real good reason for saying “no.”
  20. Picked her up from places she where felt uncomfortable.
  21. Required her to have a job and the fiscal responsibility that goes with it.
  22. Allowed her to pick the college of her choice even though it was out of my comfort zone.
  23. Reinforced that life wasn’t fair when it wasn’t.
  24. Validated her feelings when her heart was broken.
  25. Validated her worth when others crushed it.
  26. Let her experience heartache.
  27. Realized when she was lashing out that it wasn’t always directed towards me.
  28. Learned to control my anger.
  29. Learned to walk away even though everything in me said I had the right to the last word.
  30. Learned to give her grace.
  31. Learned how to hold her accountable without crushing her spirit.
  32. Took privileges away when necessary even though it hurt me to do so.
  33. Watched almost every sporting event when I knew she needed her mom in the stands.
  34. Prayed during the times I didn’t have a clue of how to help her.
  35. Learned to say “I’m sorry” without pointing out blame.
  36. Learned to receive her forgiveness.
  37. Learned to listen to my heart when it said she needed someone to listen to her.
  38. Understood that female hormones really do play a role in a teen girl’s emotions.
  39. Told her high school is not forever.
  40. Did special things with her when she felt like “a loser.”
  41. Learned to hear what she was NOT saying with words.
  42. Reinforced that her worth was not dependent upon her looks or what boys thought of her.
  43. Expected the best effort, but not perfection.
  44. Had her dad teach her how to drive
  45. Taught her independence rather than dependence.
  46. Allowed her to push the limits as long as they were safe.
  47. Let her know I wasn’t perfect.
  48. Let her know she wasn’t perfect.
  49. Was honest with her when she had questions about sex, dating and boys.
  50. Told her I love her.

I could write a list of things I wish I’d done differently. But as my daughter has grown older, she’s validated many of these fifty things with “Thank-you’s” and gratitude. It’s easy to get caught in our failures rather than being encouraged in what we’ve done right.

As a parent, how do you need encouragement in the things you’ve done right? Where are you willing to give yourself grace to look past your failures and focus on the positive things you’ve accomplished? We’d love to hear from you!

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Brenda has a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in education. She's a speaker, freelance writer, author, counselor and teacher who's spent two decades working with and raising teenagers. She's a mom of four, from middle school to young adult, and lives with her family on a farm in Indiana. She writes about life, faith, and parenting beyond the storybook image at Life Beyond the Picket Fence at brendayoder.com.

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  1. says

    Thanks for sharing, my daughter turns ten in December, I already feel like I’m going crazy but your list actually brought tears to my eyes and made me wish my mom had done some of these things with me instead of being such a stuffy parent during what seemed like the more challenging times of my adolescent life. Thanks again, hopefully Kensie will thank me later for the road trip when she’s 14… lol

  2. Karen says

    After reading this and raising one daughter and working on the other I see that I have done everyone of these things and more. My girls have self respect, they are dependent, and well rounded to start. The only thing I didn’t allow with my youngest I did with my oldest was let her have a job. I believe she is better off not working while in school. I believe that should depend on the child no matter male or female

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